Certainly, you can just purchase a ready-made jar of Italian Seasoning pretty much anywhere groceries are sold. It’s a widely-used flavor combination worldwide. But my Italian Seasoning Recipe makes it easy to conjure it up in your own kitchen any time you want.
And the big advantage of knowing what is actually in Italian Seasoning means you have the added advantage of using fresh herbs from your own backyard instead of using dried herbs from your grocery store.
But it is important to understand the difference between dried herbs and fresh herbs (a lot more on that in another post soon). But a couple of general rules are important to share before you try this recipe for making Italian seasoning in your own kitchen.
THREE GENERAL RULES OF COOKING WITH HERBS
Dried Herbs are best suited to low-and-slow cooking.
You add typically add dried herbs, such as my recipe for Kickass Italian Seasoning, to things that will cook a long time. Dried herbs are often optimal to use in soups and stews, dishes that are slow-cooked or slow-roasted. You almost always want to add dried herbs at the beginning of the cooking process.
Most herbs when dried have a more concentrated flavor than fresh herbs. But often they also have at least a slightly more bitter taste than fresh herbs.
Be sure if you keep dried herbs in your kitchen, replace them every year. The flavor of dried herbs degrades over time. For many herbs, bitterness increases. And any medicinal benefit is lost significantly after 12 months — particularly if sunlight hits the herbs.
Fresh Herbs in Italian Seasoning or in any seasoning have a brighter, sweeter taste and have more health benefit.
If the dish is uncooked, cooked quickly, or if you add herbs at the end of cooking the dish, fresh herbs are much tastier than dried herbs. And any medicinal benefit is far greater in fresh herbs than in dried herbs.
In anything raw (like pesto) or flash-cooked, fresh herbs taste a lot better.
And for some of us, the taste of fresh herbs always outweighs that of dried herbs, even in slow-cooked dishes.
Plus, it’s a lot more fun and satisfying to freshly clip herbs out of your own yard. Shaking old dried herbs out of a jar with a commercial label on it simply doesn’t allow you feel as connected to the dish as using herbs you have grown yourself. I happen to be a big believer that FRESH IS ALMOST ALWAYS BEST.
But, of course, use what you have.
Be sure to know the right ratios to substitute fresh-for-dried and dried-for-fresh herbs. And definitely know which herbs are simply awful when dried — even in our recipe for Italian Seasoning.
But for now, let’s stick to my basic recipe for
Kickass Italian Seasoning.
- 1 tbsp Basil
- 1 tbsp Marjoram
- 1 tbsp Oregano
- 1 tbsp Rosemary
- 1 tbsp Sage
- 1 tbsp Summer Savory
- 1 tbsp Thyme
- It is important to understand that even though this recipe says "tablespoons," you don't have to put it together in that amount. You can make as much or as little as you want. This is a guide to the RATIOS. At least start off with equal parts of each of these seven ingredients.
- Start off with a small amount -- like a teaspoon of each ingredient. And then the next time you make it, vary the ratios to your own taste. Or even do it as a taste experiment. The beauty of herbs is that really can't make a mistake.
- Dried VS Fresh. Use either. I happen to prefer using fresh herbs, even for slow cooking even though most people used dried herbs. And certainly if you don't have fresh herbs, let your budget and local availability be your guide. It is a lot easier to keep dried herbs on hand year-round in most locales.
- Experiement with fresh and dried. See which you and your friends and family prefer.
So what if I only have five of these herbs on the shelf in my kitchen?
By all means, use them. Any one of of these herbs is wonderful flavoring for almost any dish all by its lonesome. These seven ingredients are simply a long-standing flavor combination used in most Italian dishes.
But if you leave out one or two or three of them, the dish will still taste fine.
What if I don’t have time? Can’t I just buy Italian Seasoning?
Of course you can.
Just know that not all Italian Seasoning is created the same. You will find quite a lot of variation in the tastes. Sometimes even in ingredients.
So here are our two favorite commercial mixes.
You can find Tone’s Sazonador Italiano (Tone’s Italian Seasoning Blend) on Amazon. It is a bit on the pricey side at just under $12 for a 6-ounce jar, but this is the real deal from Italy. And the taste is fabuloso! If we have to buy it in a jar, Tone’s is our favorite. (We actually first found Tone’s in a neighborhood green grocer’s stall in Paris. But it’s hard to find in the U.S. except through Amazon.)
And the other commercial mixture we suggest you might try is The Spice Lab’s Rustico Italian Seasoning, also available on Amazon. This creation from The Spice Lab (based in the U.S., not in Italy) is a slightly different but excellent flavor combination that includes dried garlic and sea salt with the classic Italian herb mixture. You can usually find it on Amazon for about $7 for a 4-ounce resealable pouch. Since it is manufactured in the states, you may run across this one in a specialty market stateside. You might want to avoid it if salt intake is a problem for you — although we do not find it overly salty like many commercial seasonings are.
Be sure to try our recipe for BROCOLI ET CHOU-FLEUR ITALIEN that uses our recipe for Kickass Italian Seasoning.
Also be sure to check out our Dried-to-Fresh Conversion Chart for the herbs used in this recipe. It’s a great guide for all of your recipes.