Oregano vs basil: differences and similarities 

In the modern world, cooking has long ceased to be just a way to make your food, it is a real art where people can experiment with spices, creating new fragrant flavors of dishes. One of the additions to dishes, such as fresh thyme, is oregano and basil, which add a special flavor to the food, although they seem to be just grass leaves.

In this article, we will analyze what oregano mild herb and basil are, what types of them are, and also what are the differences between oregano and basil. Moreover, you will also be able to get acquainted with recipes separately for oregano and basil and also dishes where they are combined.

Definition of oregano and basil 

Before you start to understand the differences between oregano and basil, it is worth understanding the concepts themselves.


Oregano is a plant that belongs to the mint family. It is used in many types of dishes, as it is suitable not only for emphasizing salty but also sweet tastes. Oregano leaves have fluffy hair and are quite fragrant.

Types of oregano

See below for a list of oregano species.

Common oregano 

It is also called Organium Vulgare. This type of oregano has a pointed leaf tip and is very often used as an accompaniment to a prize-winning dish presentation. The flowers of this species of oregano are most often light in color.

Cuban oregano 

Cuban oregano will be difficult to find anywhere other than tropical climates. It is especially popular in dishes that are dominated by spices, such as sauces or rice, as it has a rather bright taste. Moreover, this type of oregano also has medicinal properties, such as improving metabolism.

Gold oregano

Golden oregano has a characteristic yellow color. It has a fairly wide range of uses from teas to meats. The color of this oregano is also light tones.

Greek oregano

Greek oregano is the highest type of oregano. It has a very pronounced pungent flavor and is surprisingly perfect for meat dishes.

Italian oregano

The last type of oregano is Italian. Usually, when cooking, the leaves of this oregano are crushed or crushed. Because of its flavor, it is well suited to harsh spices such as garlic.


Basil plant is a herb that also belongs to the mint family, however, unlike oregano, basil is used not only in cooking and healing but also in religion, such as Hinduism. Basil leaves are oval-shaped, but the taste and color vary between species.

Types of basil

Below you can find a list of types of basil leaves.

Sweet basil

Let’s start with sweet basil. This type of basil is very common and has a rather bright sweet taste. Also, this type of basil has a green color and a rounded shape.

Genovese basil 

Genovese basil is the basil most commonly used in Italian cuisine due to its very strong aroma and flavor. The leaves of this basil are also green, but darker than those of sweet basil.

Thai Sweet Basil 

Thai basil is the basil most commonly used in Asian cuisine due to its spicy and very bright taste. Thai basil leaves are also unusual, as they have a rather bright dark purple color.

Purple basil 

Barely one type of basil is purple basil. This basil is most often used in offset with vinegar, as it not only adds flavor but also adds color, as purple basil leaves are a vibrant burgundy hue.

Lemon basil 

The last type of basil is lemon basil, which gets its name from the characteristic taste of lemon. In cooking, the leaves of such basil are most often crushed.

Tasty recipes of oregano 

A good plus for learning the difference between oregano and basil is understanding what kind of dishes you can prepare from them. You can make meatballs from oregano in the first place, you just need to chop the oregano and add it to the sauce. Also, oregano goes well with Pizzaiola steak, you can finish the leaves in chicken sauce.

Italian dishes, like stuffed peppers, often come out much better with oregano sautéed with onions. Surprisingly, there are also oregano teas where you boil whole leaves of water and leave them for 5 minutes to make the tea as rich as possible.

Tasty recipes with basil 

However, some dishes will lose their flavor without the use of basil. Pesto, which is most often used with pasta, can become much brighter in flavor and aroma when using crushed basil. There is also a separate dish like basil spaghetti, where you add basil and sautéed tomatoes with garlic and add spaghetti at the end.

One of the most popular dishes using basil is mango and basil salsa. To prepare this dish, you need mango, jalapeno, red onion, and basil itself. You need to cut and mix everything, then leave for a couple of minutes this salsa can also be eaten with chips or bruschetta.

Tasty recipes with oregano and basil together 

However, in addition to those recipes where you need to use basil and oregano separately, there are also recipes where you need to use them together, such as olive oil-based dishes.

Below you can find examples of recipes that include both basil and oregano.

What is Olive oil? 

Olive oil is oil that is obtained from processed olives. However, very often, not only the olive extract itself is added to this oil, but also crushed oregano or basil, as in this case, the taste becomes more expressive. Also, some people add a mixture of basil with oregano to the already prepared olive oil-based dishes.

Garlic Baked salmon 

The first dish that can be made with basil and oregano is baked salmon. First, you need to clean the salmon from the bones and then get the steak or buy already cut. The basil with oregano here will be used in dried form to create a characteristic smell and aftertaste.

To prepare basil with oregano baked salmon, you need to make a sauce of oil, garlic, lemon, salt/pepper to taste, and basil with dried oregano leaves. After preparing the sauce, you need to cover the salmon with it and put it to bake in foil and oven.

Pasta sauce 

Many pasta sauces use either basil or oregano alone, but there is a recipe where you can use the two ingredients together. You can add dried pieces of oregano and basil to tomato sauce when cooking in a pan. Similarly, a dried oregano-basil offset can be used for carbonara sauce.

You can take feta cheese, olive oil, spices, and cherry tomatoes. Place it all on a special baking dish and top with dried oregano with basil or even fresh leaves. Put it in the oven and start cooking the pasta. In the end, you need to mix the baked ingredients with a fork and add the pasta to the sauce.


You can add basil and oregano not only to different types of tomato paste or other sauces, but to create pesto sauce from them, which is ideal not only for pasta but also for bruschettas or other appetizers.

You need to take a blender and throw in basil leaves, oregano leaves, garlic, and pine nuts, and then activate the blender. You can also add other ingredients for flavor, such as cheese or olive oil.

What do basil and oregano have in common? 

Despite the obvious differences in species, these two types of plants also have similarities. Below you can find information about what basil and oregano have in common.


To begin with, both basil and oregano belong to the same mint or labiate family, as does fresh thyme, for example.


Both basil and oregano are not just used as single ingredients, but rather designed to add flavor to a dish, much like spices like cinnamon.


Basil and oregano can be substituted for each other in cooking as their flavors are quite similar and can be easily paired.

Differences between fresh basil and fresh oregano 

Finally, we come to the main point of this article, namely, what are the differences between fresh Basil and fresh oregano? Below you can find a list of these differences.


The first is, of course, the botanical aspect. Oregano with basil has different leaf shapes, flower characteristics, and stems features as well. Let’s start with the leaves, oregano leaves are bowl-shaped, while fresh basil leaves are more like flat ovals.  

Also, oregano leaves are almost two times smaller than basil leaves, since oregano leaves grow up to 5 cm, and basil leaves up to 10 cm.

Flowers are also a distinctive feature of these plants. Oregano flowers grow on top of light green stems, while Basil flowers grow all over the stem. Also, the stem of basil, unlike oregano, does not have hairs.


Fresh basil with oregano has completely different growing conditions and characteristics. And their main difference lies in the need for moisture. Oregano does not need constantly high levels of water and watering, as too much moisture can, on the contrary, harm the plant. Oregano requires well-drained soil to grow.

Basil, unlike oregano, does need regular watering as it is very sensitive to water. Moreover, moisture helps the basil to cope with irritants and develop. Also, it is better not to use fertilizers at too high concentrations for both types of plants.


Fresh basil with oregano, even though they belong to the same family, they still have a difference in the duration of life activity. Most plants that are basil beads long enough are guaranteed for more than two years, except for Genoese basil, which is an annual plant.

Oregano is a plant that will live longer than basil with the same care. Basil is guaranteed, as mentioned earlier, to live for 2 years, and oregano for 4 years. However, the life expectancy of plants primarily depends on whether you properly care for them and in what climate they grow.


The last point that makes the difference between fresh basil and fresh oregano is the taste. As mentioned earlier, their taste is slightly similar and they can replace each other, however, their taste is not completely the same. Basil has a bright sweet taste in most, however, different types of basil have different taste qualities, such as holy Basil or peppery taste.

Oregano, although it is a very aromatic herb, however, its taste is not particularly bright and does not have a sweet aftertaste, but with oregano, you will feel sharp and bitter notes.

Differences between dried basil and dried oregano

Differences exist not only between fresh herbs but also between dried basil and dried oregano. People most often use dried herbs precisely because they are much easier to store than fresh herbs, they do not require special care, and they retain almost the same characteristic aroma and taste.

Dried basil is made from dry basil, meaning you need to check that there is no excess moisture on top. Moreover, dried basil made from wet leaves is more likely to lose its flavor than dried basil made from dry leaves. It is very important during the process to try to use the same ratio between the herbs.

In the case of dried oregano, you need to use a 3-to-1 ratio of herbs. Also, oregano does not lose its taste and smell when dried, and when crushed and dried, it is especially good for sauces. Basil is mostly made up of water, unlike Oregano, and perhaps because of this, the taste is lost.


Can I use oregano instead of basil?

Yes, you can use oregano instead of fresh basil, as they both have a fairly similar aroma and taste. However, be sure to use similar types of oregano and basil, as it will be difficult to find the right type of oregano instead of lemon basil.

Is basil and oregano same?

No, fresh basil and fresh oregano aren’t the same, as they have completely different botanical characteristics, taste characteristics, growth characteristics, and also completely different aspects of the lifespan. However, you can sometimes substitute some leaves for others, in case you are sure that the taste of the dish will not change much.

Does basil and oregano taste the same?

Their tastes are quite similar, which is why they can be replaced with each other, but it cannot be said that their taste qualities are the same. Basil has a milder and more natural taste, while oregano will feel bright in any dish.

Do you put basil or oregano on pizza sauce?

Very often, basil or oregano is used as an accompaniment to pizza sauces to add a distinctive flavor, but fresh leaves can also be placed on top of the cheese layer of pizza for a beautiful presentation and intense flavor.


We hope that after reading this article, you now have a better understanding of what basil and oregano are, as well as what their types are and how they differ from each other. Moreover, now you know what dishes can be made with oregano and basil separately and in what dishes they can be combined.

Read also: Understanding the causes of why mint leaves turn black

Elizabeth Martin

I am one of the best chefs and I work in a very famous Washington DC restaurant. My main hobby is to complement different dishes with fresh herbs. Almost all of them are grown in my house.

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