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Warm, rich and bold, Mexican Oregano is the perfect herb for flavoring hearty Mexican dishes like beans, stews, soups and meat. Read to find out exactly what it is, if you need it in your pantry, and how to substitute.
What is Mexican Oregano?
This dried spice also known as – orégano in Spanish– is from the plant Lippia Graveolens. It’s a flowering plant grown through the southwestern states, Mexico and several South American countries. This herb has a bitter, peppery taste with a fresh, bright citrus undertone. It pairs perfectly with Mexican cuisine, and is used in most bean and meat dishes.
Mexican Oregano vs Oregano
There are some similarities between the two, such as the fact that they are both bitter herbs, and they both have an herbaceous, peppery flavoring. In fact the Mexican Oregano is named such because of it’s similarities to the Greek (regular) Oregano.
Mexican Oregano: part of the verbena family, along with lemon verbena. Grown in Mexico and other South American countries. It is a hardy, flowering plant that is drought resistant making it perfect for growing in the drier terrain. Its strong flavoring is a perfect pairing for Mexican bean recipes (like Charro beans and Borracho beans), sauces, soups, stews and meat dishes.
Regular Oregano: part of the mint family, like basil, thyme and rosemary. Grown in Europe and Asia, it’s popular in the Mediterranean countries and is used widely in that style of cooking. Regular oregano is often used to season pasta sauces, meats and pizza recipes. This herb is sometimes referred to as a ”pizza herb”. While there is an Italian Oregano variety, the most common spice used in Italian cooking and throughout America is actually Greek Oregano.
What does Oregano taste like?
Mexican Oregano has a bright floral and lime citrus flavoring with a licorice, anise finishing. Regular oregano has a sweet, bitter and slightly peppery taste, with a cooling menthol taste and a hint of lemon citrus.
The best substitute is marjoram since they have a similar flavor profile. If you have neither of these you can use regular oregano, even though it does have a different flavor profile, it will fill in the need for an ’herby’ flavoring. If you need a bit of the citrus flavoring you can add a bit of lime juice, zest or a pinch of coriander.
Where to buy
This herb is found in the spice aisle of most markets in the Southwestern states. It’s usually sold in bags by the bagged dried chili peppers and other Mexican spices. If your local market doesn’t carry these items you may be able to visit a Mexican grocery store to find it. You can also shop online at specialty spice shops or Amazon.
How To Store
Store in a sealed container and keep in a cabinet or pantry, protected by direct sunlight, extreme temperatures, and humidity.
How to Use
Add to a dish in the beginning of cooking to allow time for it to flavor the food while it cooks. To help release the flavor crush it up by rubbing it between your fingers while you sprinkle it.
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Mexican Oregano Substitute
- 1 tsp dried marjoram
- ¼ tsp lime juice freshly squeezed
- Replace Mexican Oregano in recipe for an equal measurement of marjoram.
- Add a small squeeze of lime juice to replace the citrus flavoring in the recipe.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.