People frequently mix up the two herbs oregano and basil. It can be challenging to distinguish between them because of how similar they appear, especially if you are a beginner cook!
What are the distinctions between oregano and basil then? Both basil and oregano are common herbs that are members of the mint family (Lamiaceae), but they differ in terms of how their leaves and blossoms look, how they taste and smell, and how they are best used in cooking.
Continue reading to learn more about the differences between basil and oregano’s flavors, sizes, and functions, as well as whether or not they may be used interchangeably.
What Is Basil?
Basil, officially known as Ocimum basilicum, is a mint-family plant that is used in a variety of cuisines around the world, including Italian, Thai, Indonesian, and Vietnamese.
It has been utilized throughout history and is renowned for its unique flavor and flexibility. The basil plant is also revered in religions such as Hinduism, where it is known as Holy Basil.
This herb has a glossy, deep green hue and pointy, oblong leaves with a smooth texture and a network of veins. It has a beautiful, sweet aroma as well as a spicy flavor.
Basil is extremely simple to grow at home and is usually found in kitchen gardens. It is most usually associated with pesto and as a condiment in tomato-based recipes.
There are approximately 60 different types of basil, each with its own distinct flavor!
The most popular kind is sweet basil, which is followed by Thai basil, which has an anise-like aroma. They differ in terms of taste as well as the appearance of their stems and leaves.
Other types include lemon basil, cinnamon basil, and spicy bush basil, which are named after their flavors and aromas.
Basil is available both fresh and dried, and each has its unique set of culinary applications. Fresh basil is preferred for cooking because the dried form is more concentrated because the dehydration process extracts more of the minty flavor.
The typical rule when substituting dried basil for fresh basil is to use one-third of the amount. For example, 1 teaspoon of dried basil will substitute 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped basil.
What Is Oregano?
Oregano, also known as wild marjoram (in the Mediterranean) and “joy of the mountain” in Greek, is also a member of the mint family! It is a fragrant herb that has been used for culinary and medicinal purposes for thousands of years.
Oregano, one of the most popular cooking herbs in the world, is known for its mildly sweet, herbaceous, and earthy flavor and is a perfect complement to a number of recipes, such as pizzas and spaghetti sauce.
Oregano is an essential ingredient in Italian, Turkish, Mexican, and Greek cuisines. Fresh oregano can be extremely strong and overbearing, hence dried oregano is most commonly marketed.
Like basil, there are numerous types of oregano! Mexican oregano is the most potent and has a pleasant peppery flavor. Spanish and Greek oregano are other kinds with less flavor intensity.
What Is The Difference Between Basil And Oregano?
Despite their shared ancestry in the mint family and superficial resemblance, basil and oregano are actually quite distinct herbs. When compared to oregano, which is more earthy and bitter in flavor, basil’s herbal, minty flavor with peppery overtones and more pronounced sweetness stands out.
They are interchangeable as dried herbs, especially when cooking with lots of fat and rich ingredients. Their unique flavors stand out more in meals with fewer ingredients. Let’s compare basil and oregano in terms of their appearance, flavor, and culinary applications.
Basil and oregano can be distinguished easily by examining their leaves and blooms! Depending on the cultivar, basil’s stem might be purple or brown in addition to being light green. Basil’s leaves are smooth, oval, downward-curling, and can grow up to 4 inches in length. They emit a strong scent when stroked.
The stem of oregano is dark green or brown and coated with microscopic hairs. The leaves of oregano are oblong with a pointed tip. They can reach a length of 2 inches and feature small, fuzzy hair around the edges. They are also quite fragrant!
Each is a flowering plant. Basil produces small, tubular flowers that are often white but may also be pink or purple. Flowers of oregano are often pink or pale purple and bloom in clusters.
Basil is a gentle herb with a sweet scent and taste. Depending on the cultivar, it might also have a strong and spicy flavor.
Basil is a staple herb in Italian cooking, but it is also utilized in other cuisines! It is also extremely popular in Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia, among other Asian nations.
This fragrant herb pairs exceptionally well with tomatoes in salads and sauces. Additionally, it is wonderful for flavoring vegetables and works well with fish and chicken. Basil can also be used to brew tea!
Oregano is a savory and aromatic herb commonly used in Italian, Spanish, French, and Mexican cooking. As with basil, it can be combined with tomatoes and olive oil-based meals.
Oregano can be used to produce delicious vinaigrettes or to marinate meat, chicken, and lamb in olive oil.
When dried oregano and dried basil are combined, they can be used as a substitute for Italian seasoning. It is also an excellent choice for flavoring infused oils.
Basil and oregano share many of the same health benefits. Oregano has a greater quantity of carbohydrates, protein, fiber, and lipids than the other option. The basil, on the other hand, is lower in sugar. When comparing oregano and basil, keep in mind that oregano has more calories yet basil has no cholesterol.
Oregano has a higher mineral content than basil, with significant amounts of potassium, iron, calcium, zinc, and copper, whereas basil has a lower sodium concentration.
Oregano also has a greater concentration of vitamins E, G1, B2, B5, K, and folate than basil. But basil has higher concentrations of vitamins C and A.
Basil Vs Oregano — Comparison Chart
Here is a comparison of the similarities and differences between these two prominent herbs in terms of flavor, appearance, usage, nutritional value, and more.
Now that we’ve discussed some of the fundamental similarities and distinctions between basil and oregano, we thought we’d address some relevant questions you might have.
Should you put basil or oregano on pizza?
When it comes to picking between the two, it depends on the flavor you prefer! When creating pizza, you can use the aromatic and savory herbs basil and oregano.
Choose basil if you want a flavorful herb that is both fresh and sweet. Oregano is a great option if you prefer a flavor that is more earthy, strong, and pungent.
Pizza made in a traditional Italian style with mozzarella, cheese, and basil.
Instead of dry basil, fresh basil is more frequently used on pizza, most notably on Margherita pizza. To avoid scorching them and losing their incredible flavor, it is preferable on add the leaves to the pizza after it has baked.
Both fresh and dried oregano can be used on pizza. While dry oregano can be added before, during, or after baking, fresh oregano is utilized similarly to fresh basil.
Can you eat basil or oregano on their own?
Yes, you may eat these wonderful herbs from from the garden! Although basil and oregano are popular cooking ingredients due to the tasty and aromatic qualities they bring to any recipe, there is no need to cook them to enjoy them.