Herbes de Provence Vs. Italian Seasoning: SPICEography Showdown

Herbes de Provence and Italian seasoning are two blends of European herbs that not only include some of the same herbs, but they also come from the same general part of Europe. Both the Provence region and Italy are known for their rich culinary histories that feature classic dishes that are still popular today. Each of the herbes in these blends is well known for its own unique flavor profile that blends well with the other components in each mix. How similar is herbes de Provence to Italian seasoning? If you wanted to, could you swap them? We will consider these questions in another SPICEography Showdown.

How does herbes de Provence differ from Italian Seasoning?

These two herb blends do have a lot in common, but there are a few differences. Consider the fact that they come from two places with different cultural preferences when it comes to food. Herbes de Provence comes from Provence, as you might expect. It is a blend of the herbs that grow in that region and which also show up most frequently in its cuisine.

Note that as with many traditional herb and spice blends, the ingredients are not universal to every blend; their inclusion depends largely on individual taste and the ingredient’s availability. Another important fact to keep in mind about herbes de Provence is that it is probably best known for the inclusion of lavender flowers in some blends. Lavender is not a traditional ingredient; rather, it is viewed as an addition that appeals mostly to consumers in America and to tourists instead of to Provencal natives. Lavender is not included in Italian seasoning nor is savory, which is another herbes de Provence staple.

Italian seasoning, on the other hand,  consists of the herbs most commonly used in Italian cooking; however, it is actually an American invention. It is a convenient an affordable shortcut for adding authentic Italian ingredients to American versions of Italian food and is not actually used in Italy. Most Italian cooks prefer to add two or three herbs to their dishes, not the five or more that show up in most Italian seasoning blends. Most of the ingredients in Italian seasoning are also used in most herbes de Provence blends, with the exception of basil.

If your recipe calls for one, can you use the other?

Herbes de Provence blends can be found with or without lavender flowers. The versions without lavender flowers can usually be used as 1:1 substitutes for Italian seasoning in most applications. Similarly, Italian seasoning can be used in place of herbes de Provence in most French and French-inspired dishes. The strong floral notes present in herbes de Provence blend with lavender flowers may too sweet for it to be used in most (if not all) dishes that require Italian seasoning.

When should you use herbes de Provence and when should you use Italian seasoning?

Use herbes de Provence to season grilled and oven roasted meats. The fattier those meats are, the better. In addition, you can add it to salad dressings and sprinkle it over vegetables. It is commonly used for making ratatouille. Use Italian seasoning in tomato-based American-Italian dishes or as a part of a dry rub for meats that you intend to barbecue. Like herbes de Provence, it can be added to a salad dressing or used on vegetables.