What to substitute when you’re missing it from the cupboard

It’s pretty handy to know your spice and herb subs.

As there’s nothing more annoying than being part-way through a recipe…

And realising you haven’t got a herb or spice that’s needed for the dish.

And thank goodness for Google!

A quick search and you can find a few good ideas to substitute in.

That’s why I decided to put a list together in one place where you can find some of the most common herbs, spices and seasonings that I usually come a cropper on.

How to substitute dried herbs for fresh herbs

It’s also always good to know what the ratio’s are if you’re subbing in a dried herb for a fresh herb.

So, for any herb, you can substitute 1 teaspoon dried herb for 1 tablespoon fresh herb.

Spice and herb subs

Allspice: mix together equal parts ground nutmegcinnamon

Aniseed: fennel seed or a few drops anise extract

Basil: oregano or thyme

Cajun Seasoning: 

  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried basil (optional)

Cardamom: quite tricky to sub but try equal parts cinnamon and ginger or cinnamon and ground cloves or cinnamon and nutmeg.

Chervil: tarragon or parsley

  • 2 tablespoons paprika.
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin.
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder.
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder.
  • 1 teaspoon oregano.
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne

Chives: green onions; onion; or leek

Coriander: Cumin, Masala, Curry Powder, Garam Masala

 Or Mix These Spices: Equal parts cumin and oregano

Cinnamon: nutmeg or allspice (use only ¼ of the amount)

Cloves: allspice; cinnamon; or nutmeg

  • Cumin: Whole coriander or ground coriander. Coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant, which is also in the parsley family. …
  • Caraway seeds. …
  • Fennel seeds. …
  • Garam masala. …
  • Curry powder. …
  • Chili powder. …
  • Paprika

Fajita Seasoning: 

  • ½ tbsp hot chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • ½ tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 heaped tbsp dried oregano

Ginger: allspice; cinnamon; mace; or nutmeg

Italian seasoning: blend of any of these: basil, oregano, rosemary, and ground red pepper

Mace: allspice; cinnamon; ginger; or nutmeg

Marjoram: oregano is the best sub, then thyme with a 1:1 ratio

Mint: basil; marjoram; or rosemary

Mustard (dry): for 1 tsp., substitute 1 tbsp. prepared yellow mustard (for use in cooked mixtures)

Mustard (yellow): for 1 Tbsp., substitute ½ tsp. dry mustard plus 2 tsp. vinegar

Nutmeg: cinnamon; ginger; or mace

Oregano: thyme or basil

Parsley: chervil is the best sub then oregano

Rosemary: thyme; tarragon; or savory

Saffron: dash turmeric (for colour)

Sage: marjoram, rosemary or thyme

Savory: thyme; marjoram; or sage

Tarragon: use equal parts of dillbasil or marjoram

Thyme: basil; marjoram; oregano; or savory

If you want some more info on great spice to use, check out my Essential guide to spices.

Or if you’d like some ideas for meat rubs, check this post out, here.