Difference Between Herbs De Provence and Italian Seasoning

The culinary world is rife with flavors, each with its unique history and significance. One such flavorful debate centers around two popular herb blends: herbs de provence and italian seasoning. While both bring a plethora of aromas and tastes to dishes, understanding their distinctions, similarities, and best uses can greatly enhance any cook’s repertoire.

What is Herbs de Provence and What is Italian Seasoning?

Herbs de Provence is a blend of dried herbs that originated in the Provence region of southeast France. It’s typically used in French cuisine, especially for grilled foods, stews, and roasts. The exact ingredients can vary, but commonly include herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, and sometimes lavender. Its aromatic blend is reminiscent of the Mediterranean countryside and adds depth to many dishes.

Italian seasoning, on the other hand, is a mix of dried herbs commonly used in Italian cooking. This blend doesn’t have a specific origin story in Italy but is a creation of American and other western supermarkets to emulate the flavors typical of Italian cuisine. Common components include basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder, sage, and coriander.

What is the Main Difference Between Herbs De Provence and Italian Seasoning?

The main difference between herbs de Provence and Italian seasoning is that Herbs de Provence is a blend of dried herbs traditionally from the Provence region of France, often containing thyme, rosemary, marjoram, basil, and occasionally lavender, giving it a unique floral note. In contrast, Italian seasoning comprises a mixture of herbs commonly found in Italian cuisine such as oregano, basil, rosemary, and thyme, but without the inclusion of lavender, resulting in a more universally savory profile. Both blends have distinct flavor profiles tailored to their respective regional cuisines.

Key Differences between Herbs de Provence and Italian Seasoning

  1. Origin: While Herbs de Provence originates from the southeastern region of France, Italian seasoning is a western creation designed to emulate the flavors of Italian cuisine.
  2. Composition: Herbs de Provence often includes lavender, which is not typically found in Italian seasoning.
  3. Use in Cuisine: Herbs de Provence is extensively used in French cuisine, especially for grilling, while Italian seasoning is utilized mainly for pasta sauces, soups, and other Italian dishes.
  4. Flavor Profile: The inclusion of lavender gives Herbs de Provence a unique and slightly floral aroma, distinguishing it from the robust and earthy tones of Italian seasoning.
  5. Availability: Herbs de Provence may not be as readily available in grocery stores outside Europe as Italian seasoning, which is a staple in many western supermarkets.
  6. Versatility: Italian seasoning can be used in a broader range of dishes, including pizzas, pasta, and salads, whereas Herbs de Provence has a more specific flavor profile suited to particular French dishes.
  7. Common Ingredients: While both mixtures have overlapping ingredients like rosemary and thyme, Italian seasoning often includes coriander and garlic powder, which aren’t typical in Herbs de Provence.
  8. Cultural Roots: Herbs de Provence is deeply rooted in the traditional foods of the Provence region, while Italian seasoning, despite its name, is more a product of western convenience cooking than traditional Italian fare.

Key Similarities between Herbs de Provence and Italian Seasoning

  1. Both are Blends: Both Herbs de Provence and Italian seasoning are blends of multiple dried herbs.
  2. Mediterranean Origins: Both mixtures draw their primary ingredients from herbs that are native to or commonly used in the Mediterranean region.
  3. Usage: Both seasoning blends are used to enhance the flavors of dishes, whether it’s meat, poultry, vegetables, or sauces.
  4. Main Components: Some of the primary ingredients, like rosemary, thyme, and oregano, are found in both blends.
  5. Shelf Life: Both herb blends, when stored properly in a cool, dark place, have a long shelf life and can retain their flavors for several months.
  6. Popularity: Both are popular in western cooking, frequently used to add depth and character to a variety of dishes.

Pros of Herbs de Provence over Italian Seasoning

  1. Unique Flavor Profile: Herbs de Provence often includes lavender, giving it a distinctive and slightly floral aroma that Italian seasoning lacks. This unique flavor can enhance dishes with a touch of the unexpected.
  2. Regional Authenticity: If you’re aiming for genuine French flavors, particularly from the Provence region, this blend is the go-to. It’s deeply rooted in traditional French cuisine.
  3. Versatility in French Cuisine: Herbs de Provence is not just limited to one type of dish but can be used across various French recipes, from roasts to stews and grills.
  4. Aromatic Complexity: The combination of herbs in Herbs de Provence, especially with the inclusion of lavender, provides a depth of aromatic complexity which can elevate the sensory experience of the dish.
  5. Distinctiveness: Given that Italian seasoning is more common in western supermarkets, using Herbs de Provence can make a dish stand out due to its lesser-known status.
  6. Subtle Sophistication: The blend is often described as having a subtle, refined character that can impart sophistication to dishes, making them feel gourmet.

Cons of Herbs de Provence compared to Italian Seasoning

  1. Limited Availability: Herbs de Provence might not be as readily available in all grocery stores, especially outside of Europe, compared to the ubiquitous Italian seasoning.
  2. Potentially Overpowering: The inclusion of lavender, while unique, can be overpowering if not used judiciously, leading to an undesired soapy taste.
  3. Less Versatile Globally: While it’s versatile within French cuisine, its unique flavor profile might not be as adaptable to other global cuisines as the more neutral Italian seasoning.
  4. Familiarity: For many, Italian seasoning might be a more familiar taste, making Herbs de Provence a riskier choice for some dishes, especially if serving to guests who are less adventurous in their tastes.
  5. Price: Depending on the region, Herbs de Provence can sometimes be pricier than Italian seasoning due to its specific blend and the inclusion of herbs like lavender.
  6. Potentially Less Adaptable: Italian seasoning can be used in a broader range of dishes, from pizzas and pastas to salads and even some bread. Herbs de Provence, due to its specific flavor notes, might not be as adaptable to such a wide range of dishes.

Pros of Italian Seasoning over Herbs de Provence

  1. Ubiquity: Italian seasoning is widely available in most supermarkets globally, making it a go-to choice for many when they need a versatile herb blend.
  2. Adaptability: With its mix of widely-loved herbs like basil, oregano, and thyme, Italian seasoning can be added to a plethora of dishes, from pizzas and pastas to breads and salads.
  3. Familiar Flavor: For many people, especially in Western countries, the taste profile of Italian seasoning is more familiar and universally liked, given the popularity of Italian cuisine.
  4. Cost-Effectiveness: Generally, Italian seasoning can be less expensive and offers good value for money, especially if you’re looking for an all-purpose herb blend.
  5. Neutral Base: It’s neutral enough to be mixed with other seasonings and spices, allowing chefs and home cooks to experiment and customize flavors.
  6. Widely Accepted: Italian dishes, flavored with this seasoning, are usually a safe bet for gatherings or family meals, ensuring that most guests will find the flavors agreeable.
  7. Consistency in Flavor: Unlike Herbs de Provence, where the inclusion of certain herbs (like lavender) can vary, Italian seasoning usually has a more standardized mix, leading to a consistent flavor profile.

Cons of Italian Seasoning compared to Herbs de Provence

  1. Lack of Distinctiveness: Since Italian seasoning is common and widely used, dishes made with it might lack a distinctive or unique flavor, especially when compared to the aromatic complexity of Herbs de Provence.
  2. Overuse: Given its ubiquity, there’s a risk of overusing Italian seasoning, making dishes taste monotonous or generic.
  3. Cultural Authenticity: While it’s named “Italian” seasoning, it’s more of a Western supermarket creation rather than a traditional blend used in classic Italian dishes.
  4. Flavor Depth: Herbs de Provence, with its combination of herbs and sometimes the inclusion of lavender, offers a depth that Italian seasoning might lack.
  5. Less Regional Character: Using Italian seasoning doesn’t provide the same regional specificity that comes from using a blend like Herbs de Provence, which is tied closely to the flavors of the Provence region in France.
  6. Overwhelming Robustness: In some blends, the robustness of certain herbs can overpower more delicate dishes, especially if not used judiciously.

Situations when Herbs de Provence is better than Italian Seasoning

  1. French Cuisine: When preparing classic French dishes, especially from the Provence region, like bouillabaisse or ratatouille, the use of Herbs de Provence will provide the authentic flavor profile these dishes demand.
  2. Grilled Foods: The combination of herbs in Herbs de Provence complements grilled meats and vegetables, enhancing their charred and smoky flavor with aromatic notes.
  3. Lavender Accent: If a dish requires a hint of floral aroma, such as certain baked goods or roasts, the lavender in Herbs de Provence offers this unique flavor accent.
  4. Roasted Chicken: Sprinkling Herbs de Provence on chicken before roasting gives it an aromatic and flavorful crust, typical of French-style roast chicken.
  5. Mediterranean Fish Dishes: The blend of herbs works exceptionally well with fish dishes inspired by the Mediterranean, especially when combined with olive oil and lemon.
  6. Slow-cooked Stews: The rich and diverse herb profile of Herbs de Provence makes it a great choice for slow-cooked dishes, allowing the flavors to meld and enhance the dish over time.
  7. Sophisticated Sauces: If you’re preparing a sauce that requires depth and a touch of sophistication, Herbs de Provence can elevate it to gourmet levels.

Situations when Italian Seasoning is better than Herbs de Provence

  1. Italian Dishes: Clearly, for dishes like spaghetti, lasagna, or any other pasta with marinara sauce, Italian seasoning provides the familiar flavors one would expect.
  2. Pizza: Sprinkling Italian seasoning on pizza, whether it’s homemade or store-bought, can instantly enhance its flavor profile.
  3. Garlic Bread: Mixed with butter and garlic, Italian seasoning can be spread on bread and baked to create delicious garlic bread.
  4. Salads: For dressings or to sprinkle directly onto salads, especially those with tomatoes, mozzarella, and olives, Italian seasoning offers a fitting herbaceous touch.
  5. Soups: Italian soups such as minestrone benefit greatly from the robust blend of Italian seasoning, enriching the soup’s flavors.
  6. Versatile Meat Seasoning: Whether it’s for meatballs, sausage fillings, or simple grilled meats, Italian seasoning offers a well-rounded flavor enhancement.
  7. Quick Sauces: For quick tomato-based sauces, or even creamy sauces, a sprinkle of Italian seasoning can save time and provide an immediate boost of flavor.


What are the main components of Herbs de Provence?
Typically, Herbs de Provence includes a blend of dried herbs such as thyme, rosemary, marjoram, basil, and sometimes lavender. However, the exact combination can vary based on brands or regional preferences.

Is Italian seasoning the same as oregano?
No, Italian seasoning is a blend of multiple herbs, including oregano, but also basil, thyme, rosemary, and other herbs. Oregano is just one component of this versatile seasoning.

Can one seasoning be substituted for the other in recipes?
While both seasonings have some overlapping ingredients, their flavor profiles are distinct. You can substitute one for the other, but it may alter the taste of the dish. It’s recommended to adjust the quantity based on personal preferences.

Why is lavender sometimes included in Herbs de Provence but not in Italian seasoning?
Lavender is a signature herb of the Provence region in France and gives the blend a unique floral note. Italian seasoning focuses more on the savory herbs common in Italian cuisine, thus excluding the floral touch of lavender.

Are there any allergens commonly associated with these herb blends?
Generally, both herb blends are considered safe for most individuals. However, if they contain added ingredients or fillers, it’s essential to check the label, especially for those with specific food allergies or sensitivities.

How should these seasonings be stored for maximum shelf life?
Both Herbs de Provence and Italian seasoning should be stored in a cool, dry place, preferably in airtight containers. This preserves their aroma and flavor for longer durations.

Herbs de Provence vs Italian Seasoning Summary

In the vast universe of culinary herbs and seasonings, both herbs de provence and italian seasoning stand out for their rich combination of flavors. Each blend has its own strengths, best applications, and cultural roots. By understanding the nuances of herbs de provence vs italian seasoning, chefs and home cooks alike can make more informed decisions, elevating their dishes to new aromatic heights.

Comparison AspectHerbs de ProvenceItalian Seasoning
Differences– Contains lavender– Does not contain lavender
– Rooted in French cuisine– Rooted in a westernized version of
Italian cuisine
– Less readily available– Widely available
– Distinctive, floral aroma– More neutral, robust flavor
Similarities– Both are blends of dried herbs– Both are blends of dried herbs
– Used for seasoning variety of dishes– Used for seasoning variety of dishes
Pros– Unique flavor with lavender– Ubiquitous and adaptable
– Authentic French flavors– Familiar and widely accepted flavor
– Aromatic complexity– Cost-effective
Cons– Potentially overpowering lavender– Lacks distinctiveness
– Less versatile globally– Overuse leads to monotonous flavor
Situations Best Used– French dishes, like ratatouille– Italian dishes, like spaghetti
– Roasted chicken– Pizza
– Mediterranean fish dishes– Garlic bread
Herbs de Provence vs Italian Seasoning Summary

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