I'm beginning to grow my own herbs and would like to put together something similar to the "Italian Seasoning" found in the grocery store spice section. (It's an easy way to add more flavor to pasta sauce.)

Is there a commonly accepted list of ingredients and proportions, or does it vary between the spice companies?

9 Answers 9


Having taken a look around some recipe sites and taken the intersection of what most of them consider the "core" spices (and leaving out the ones that showed up on too many 'variations' lists), it looks like the canonical ones are:

  • basil
  • marjoram
  • oregano
  • rosemary
  • thyme
  • 4
    I agree that this is the core of Italian Seasoning mix. If you're willing to put one together that's a bit more involved (but well worth your time!), check this recipe out: justrightmenus.com/recipe.php?id=73 Commented Jul 17, 2010 at 17:57
  • @JustRightMenus Are the herbs and garlic in that recipe fresh?
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Mar 16, 2016 at 6:57
  • I have used both and it comes out great either way. Commented Mar 16, 2016 at 18:01
  • I associate marjoram with middle eastern cuisine more so than Italian. I find marjoram to be used far more often in middle eastern cuisine.
    – Escoce
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 15:31

I cannot +1 Peter V because of my poor reputation, but he is right: in Italian cooking you don't go for mix, what you look for is a balance between a few ingredients, normally one from different kind of foods: one cereal, one vegetable, one spice for example.

The main spice (or fresh herb) is parsley: it is so common that it is used in figurative language as well, think about a celebrity you see everywhere, just like parsley.

Fresh basil is a must for spaghetti sauce and freshness, as Peter V said, is the only option.

I never heard about red pepper in Italian cooking; I bought mine during a travel in Asia and use it for Asian food. Black pepper is for sauces and meat, white pepper for fish, normally.

Oregano, thyme, marjoram, are common, and they normally don't mix. Oregano is widely used on the top of some pizzas, especially when they have got anchovies, capers and/or olives on top.

Pizza margherita requires fresh basil.

Rosemary, bay leaf and sage are used commonly with meat or beans/lentils: in this case you often prepare a bouquet tying together some small branches from these three herbs with a cooking lace and let the bouquet rest in your preparation for some time.

You should probably add fennel seeds to the most-common-Italian-spices list.

  • 3
    Your "poor English" is 100% better than my best Italian, Sergio! May I add that most tomato recipes are enhanced by basil, whether in the Italian tradition or not. I would also add savoury (santoreggia) along with fennel to any Italian herb & spices list. "Italian Seasoning" is an off-the-shelf product available in US and other countries. It approximates a US-style "taste of Italy" by being mostly Oregano with a little basil and thyme. A check of Schwarz UK's "Italian Herb Seasoning" lists the following: Oregano (70%), Thyme, Basil (5%), Parsley, Sage, Black Pepper (3%), Bay Leaves.
    – user28908
    Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 1:18
  • +1 for parsley. I dump load and loads of parsley into my Italian spaghetti sauces. I find sage used mostly in breakfast (morning meal) preparations of meats. Sergio, with all the upvotes you have from this answer, I bet you can vote now.
    – Escoce
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 15:34

I applaud your spice growing!

But, I would recommend you not mix your spices into a homemade Italian seasoning mix, for a few reasons.

First, some of the core mix are better dry, like Oregano -- Oregano needs to dry out to attain full flavor. Others, like Basil absolutely suck dried out, and taste way, way better fresh. Most spices taste better fresh.

Second, most legit Italian food doesn't use a big mix-o-spices. Classic Italian spaghetti sauce is actually just: milled tomatoes, olive oil, red pepper, salt. And it's unbelievably good, and indisputably 'Italian' tasting.

If you're going crazy, you can throw some torn up basil leaves into the pasta. Maybe you get where I'm going with this -- usually Italians cook with fresh spices, trying to bring out the individual flavors. Having your own herb garden will get you there fast, so don't worry about making the mix. (But do grow all those spices listed here, you'll use them!)

  • 4
    +1 for the minimalism of Italian cooking (even if you did leave out garlic). Visiting Italy taught me that if your dish has more than 5 ingredients, it's probably not Italian. Commented Apr 5, 2013 at 1:28

I think generally it is basil, marjoram, oregano & sage usually in the ratio 2:2:2:1 although it can differ and sometimes contains rosemary too.


I would throw in Bay Leaf as well, along with dried red chilies. I think the standards are Basil, Thyme, Oregano and Marjoram... Rosemary is not always considered Italian.

  • 1
    Bay Leaf can be kind of crunchy when used like Italian Seasoning is used. Red Pepper is definitely Italian, but I don't usually see it in those mixes.
    – Peter V
    Commented Jul 20, 2010 at 21:30
  • 1
    Yah, I usually use the whole leaf and remove before serving. I am a hot fan, so any Mexican, Italian, Spanish, Asian foods always have chili in them ;--) Commented Jul 20, 2010 at 23:22
  • 1
    Italian people do use rosemary; we use it together sage for meat roasts, and many other recipes. It's more Italian than chili, which is used more from Spanish people (we don't cook "meat with chili").
    – apaderno
    Commented Aug 4, 2010 at 22:06

There is rosemary, thyme and oregano in the Italian seasoning.


basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary,thyme, marjoram,sage, sea salt, black pepper.

  • 2
    Is this the ingredient list from a popular brand? Something from a recipe book? Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 12:14

We use marjoram, oregano, basil, thyme and bay leaf in Italian. If you can't have fresh then perhaps roast the dry seasonings together in a hot cast iron skillet, dry.

  • Welcome to Seasoned Advice! The part about chili doesn't answer the question, so I'll edit it out of your answer. (See the tour page for a quick explanation of how our site works.) I could convert it to a comment on the thing you were replying to, but the only mention of chili was referring to chili peppers, so it doesn't even make sense there.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 2:13
  • Also, roasting dry herbs is mostly just going to mess them up - you mainly want to roast whole spices.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 2:16

The main three Seasoning are oregano, parsley, and basil. Other can be used rosemary, thyme, marjoram, sage, sea salt, black pepper, truffle salt.

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