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Don’t have marjoram or realized you’re all out of this herb or spice while you’re cooking? Here are the best marjoram substitute options for any recipe!
What is marjoram?
Marjoram is an aromatic herb from the mint family that is native to the Mediterranean region. Marjoram also goes by the names sweet marjoram, pot marjoram, and knotted marjoram and is basically a milder version of oregano.
In cooking, marjoram is used both as fresh marjoram leaves and as a dried marjoram spice although it is popularly used in its dried form.
What does marjoram taste like?
Marjoram has a flavor that is delicate, sweet, citrusy, woody, and floral with slightly bitter undertones. It thus works well in many dishes like meats and also pairs well with other herbs like parsley, dill, basil, and thyme.
What is marjoram used for?
Marjoram is versatile and can be used to both flavor and garnish many dishes including:
- salads and roasted vegetables
- sauces, marinades, soups, stews, and dressings
- meats like lamb, beef, and chicken
- added to herb blends like za’atar and Herbs de Provence
- Used for herbal teas and more.
So, what are the best marjoram substitutes?
The best ways to substitute for marjoram include oregano, sage, basil, thyme, summer savory, za’atar, Herbs de Provence, and Italian seasoning.
Let’s discuss each in more detail below where I share why they work as great substitutes for marjoram and the conversion ratios for each.
Incredible substitutes for marjoram
Oregano is the best substitute for marjoram.
Oregano works well in dishes that call for marjoram because it has a very similar flavor and appearance although oregano is way more assertive while marjoram is more delicate and sweet.
Use 1 teaspoon of oregano to replace 2 teaspoons of marjoram in a dish or a 1:2 conversion ratio of oregano to marjoram.
Sage, also a part of the mint family, is more earthy, herbal, and peppery, with hints of mint, eucalyptus, and lemon. But, it can be used as a spice substitute for marjoram as well.
Sage can work as a replacement for marjoram in meat marinades, sauces, infused in butter or oil and it is great for adding to dishes with bolder flavors.
Use 1 teaspoon of sage to replace 1 teaspoon of marjoram or a 1:1 substitute ratio.
Another easy substitute for marjoram is basil. As a marjoram alternative, basil will impart a fresh, green scent with notes of black pepper, anise, and mint. It is an easy herb to find and can work in dishes like soups, salads, and even pizzas as a marjoram substitute.
Note that people with sensitive palates will be able to taste the difference in those two flavors as basil is not the best sub for marjoram. It is simply an ingredient that is easier to come by than most and is only an okay marjoram spice substitute.
Use 1 teaspoon of basil to replace 1 teaspoon of marjoram or a 1:1 conversion ratio.
Thyme or thyme herb comes from the same family as marjoram and thus has some of the same flavor compounds as marjoram i.e. thyme is woody, earthy, and citrusy.
Use dried thyme as a spice substitute for marjoram in savory recipes like braised meats, marinades, soups, vegetables, and even teas.
Summer savory is often compared to marjoram and thyme as it has notes of marjoram, mint, and thyme and it is light and peppery. Use summer savory to season meats, casseroles, and stews for instance, as an alternative to marjoram.
Za’atar also known as zatar, zahtar or zahatar is a middle eastern spice and herb blend that has a nutty, lemony, tangy flavor and can be used in dishes like salads, chicken, pizza, vegetables, bread, dips, and more.
Because za’atar contains cumin, coriander, and roasted sesame seeds it is not the first dried marjoram alternative I’d grab. However, it will work wonders in meat marinades and roasted vegetables since the additional flavors complement these so well.
Herbs de Provence as a marjoram substitute
Herbs de Provence is another ideal marjoram alternative to try out. This seasoning blend is made with a mixture of herbs including basil, parsley, lavender flowers, marjoram, rosemary, sage, savory, and thyme.
And, while, thyme and rosemary are the more dominant flavors you’re likely to pick up, Herbs de Provence works great in dishes like roasted chicken and vegetables, roasted lamb, and fish as a good marjoram replacement.
Italian seasoning is another mix that can be used as a replacement for marjoram in a pinch. This mixture usually contains basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and marjoram, and sometimes garlic powder, onion powder, and crushed red pepper.
Use Italian seasoning in dishes like pizza, marinades, sauces, pasta, and more if you need a quick and easy substitution for marjoram that is easily available. Not only will it work well in recipes that call for marjoram, but, it’s also a great marjoram substitution since most people tend to have Italian seasoning in their kitchen.
Fresh marjoram as a marjoram spice substitute
Dried marjoram is stronger than fresh marjoram as the flavors of this herb seem to become very concentrated once the moisture is removed from it.
Therefore, use 1 teaspoon of dried marjoram to replace 3 teaspoons or 1 tablespoon of fresh marjoram in a recipe.
Substituting dried marjoram with other fresh herbs
I’ve shared all the best ways to substitute dried herbs or dried spices for dried marjoram above. So, if you’re looking for ways to replace dried marjoram with fresh marjoram in a recipe, this section is for you.
You can use some of the dried marjoram spice substitutes listed above to replace fresh marjoram at a 1:3 conversion ratio. That is if you want to use fresh herbs in a recipe that calls for dried, you will need to multiply by 3.
So, 1 teaspoon of dried marjoram becomes 3 teaspoons of fresh thyme, 3 teaspoons of fresh sage, or 3 teaspoons of fresh summer savory as shown in the table below to start. Except for oregano, which I would personally multiply by 2.
Note: It is best to start with 3 times the amount of fresh herbs to replace dried ones, then keep adding a little at a time until you’ve achieved the desired flavor.
Substitutes for fresh marjoram
Fresh herbs are best replaced with other fresh herbs. Therefore, in their fresh form, most of the substitutes listed above will be great fresh marjoram substitutes.
That is, if you want to replace fresh marjoram in a recipe, use equal parts fresh oregano, fresh thyme, fresh summer savory, fresh sage, or fresh basil as worthy substitutes.
FAQs about marjoram substitution ideas
Is marjoram the same as oregano?
No, marjoram and oregano are not the same. They do however look similar, come from the same family, and are often used in many of the same recipes. However, marjoram has a milder, more delicate flavor when compared to oregano.
What spice is similar to marjoram?
Many spices are similar to marjoram including oregano, sage, thyme, and summer savory.
There you have it! 9 great marjoram replacements that you can use in a pinch. I’m sure you have a couple of these in your kitchen so you can continue on with your dish without too much of a hassle.