When it comes to spice blends these days, there are so many dotting the shelves in grocery stores that it can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re looking to try something new. But there are a couple of classic blends that most cooks keep in their cabinet—either store-bought or homemade—that inherently upgrade dishes from boring to flavorful.
Enter Italian seasoning and herbes de Provence, two spice blends that outwardly might appear pretty similar. Italian seasoning originated in the Mediterranean, but nowadays you’d never be able to actually find it in its namesake country. Its main use is to mirror the flavors of Italian cuisine outside of Italy. The blend is most traditionally made up of basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme, but often there are versions featuring garlic powder, sage, and cilantro as well. Culinary uses range from stirring it into homemade tomato or meat sauces, soups, and marinades, seasoning meats before roasting or searing, or sprinkling it on pizza, sandwiches, and vegetables.
Herbes de Provence, on the other hand, is a spice blend from the southeast region of France, used predominantly in Provençal cuisine. It’s savory and pungent just like Italian seasoning, boasting a blend of marjoram, savory, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and occasionally floral notes of lavender (but only in North America). When it comes to cooking, these herbs are typically chosen as a way to infuse a savory flavor in grilled meat, fish, and vegetables. The blend is often mixed with other ingredients prior to or during the cooking process, but never added after the cooking is completed, unlike spices like salt or pepper.
Both are sold in grocery stores along with the rest of the spice blends, but it’s also super easy (and a lot cheaper) to make at home: Just blend the dried spices together with a mortar and pestle, or add to a mason jar or something comparable and shake until well-mixed.
Simple additions of just salt and pepper can get tiresome and boring; next time you’re in the kitchen, look to level up your marinade or stew with a sprinkling of Italian seasoning or herbes de Provence.
Shake dried oregano, dried basil, dried thyme, dried rosemary, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt together for a quick and easy homemade Italian seasoning. Get the recipe.
Roasted potatoes are easily upgraded when they’re roasted with a dousing of Italian seasoning. Get the recipe.
In this spicy pasta dish, onions are cooked down with Italian seasoning to create a pungent base for a homemade tomato sauce. Get the recipe.
This one-pan chicken and gnocchi dinner is driven by a host of spices and sharp asiago cheese. Get the recipe.
For a homemade taste of the south of France, you can quickly whip up your own herbes de Provence. Get the recipe.
Brush a mixture of herbes de Provence, garlic, oil, salt, and pepper over a pork loin, then bake for an hour and a half. The result will be tender, spice-infused pork. Get the recipe.
This frittata—perfect for brunch—features eggs whipped with cottage cheese, herbes de Provence, and pepper, which is then baked in the oven with vegetables and slices of smoked salmon. Get the recipe.
Embark on a trip to France with this cassoulet: Chicken breasts are rubbed with herbes de Provence, then cooked into a stew boasting sausage, carrots, tomatoes, beans, bacon, and Parmesan cheese. Get the recipe.