Herbes de Provence refers to a set of herbs that grow in Provence and that are emblematic of that region’s flavors. This means that the Herbes de Provence blend is a crucial ingredient if you want to make classic Provencal dishes. If buying a premixed blend is not possible or feasible, try an herbs de Provence substitute. Many of the ingredients in substitutes for the Provencal herb blend are easy to find.
Your best bet: Make your own Herbes de Provence
If your spice cabinet is well stocked with herbs, you may be able to improvise a suitable blend.
The constant ingredients in Herbes de Provence are:
The variable ingredients include:
You can make your own Herbes de Provence by combining the herbs above. Remember that this spice blend is highly variable. You can vary the amounts according to your taste or omit certain herbs if you prefer. To make a simple blend using the listed herbs, you can combine 2 parts each of the thyme and savory with 1 part each of everything else.
Note that while lavender flowers have come to be identified with Herbes de Provence in recent years, this has not always been the case. While they do complement many foods and pair well with the other herbs in the blend, they are not a truly traditional ingredient. In other words, omitting them will not make your herb blend less authentic.
A decent second choice: Herbes de la Garrigue
Herbes de la Garrique is a similar blend to Herbes de Provence with the main difference being that it includes some of the herbs that are optional in Herbes de Provence like marjoram and mint. In addition, it contains rosemary and bay leaf; some blends also include sage. Like Herbes de Provence, it is a good complement for grilled meats and you can use it in soups and stews as well. Use Herbes de la Garrigue in the same amounts that your recipe indicates for Herbes de Provence.
In a pinch: Italian seasoning + lavender flowers (optional)
Italian seasoning is an American invention that includes common herbs used in Italian cooking; many of the same herbs are used in Provence as well and show up in Herbes de Provence. Most importantly, both blends typically contain thyme and oregano. Those two herbs are among the constants in Herbes de Provence. Other herbs that commonly show up in Italian seasoning blends include sage and basil, both of which should work well in dishes that require Herbes de Provence. As in the DIY Herbes de Provence blend above, the lavender is not essential but can add an interesting touch to many dishes.
The French fines herbes blend can also make an effective substitute for Herbes de Provence. Note that unlike most herb and spice blends, the fines herbes must be carefully chosen and balanced. Among the herbs most often used for fines herbes blends are components of Herbes de Provence like thyme and marjoram. Ideally, the herbs you use will be fresh but dried herbs may be preferable in dishes with long cooking times.
Italian sausage seasoning blends typically contain both Italian seasoning as well as fennel seeds; both allow it to provide a similar flavor profile that of Herbes de Provence. Note that some blends may include crushed red peppers which may not be ideal for all dishes that require Herbes de Provence. Aside from the possible inclusion of crushed red pepper, your Italian sausage mix blend may also contain garlic. A blend that contains garlic means that you may have to adjust any other garlic in the dish to keep that spice from overwhelming all the other flavors.