Marjoram is one of the most popular culinary herbs that is used to add flavor and fragrance in sauces, stews, salad seasoning, fish dishes, and more.
Its mouth-watering balsam-like pine and citrus flavor transform any food into a heavenly dish. That’s why many can’t do without it.
But imagine you are about to whip it up in the kitchen, then you suddenly realize you’ve just used the last marjoram.
Your next plan is to visit the grocery store for a refill. But as you arrived, little did you know other homeowners had the same goals as you. Not a single Marjoram is left behind; what will you do? Well, there are many substitutes for marjoram that you can use instead.
Tarragon, thyme, oregano, za’atar, basil, summer savory, herbes de provence, and lemon thyme are all great marjoram alternative that mimics almost the same taste and uses.
What Is Marjoram?
Marjoram is a cold-sensitive aromatic herb in the mint family that is very versatile in and out of the kitchen. It is a perennial herb widely distributed in the Mediterranean, North Africa, and Western Asia.
To some ancient civilizations, this herb is a symbol of happiness. And in Greek mythology, marjoram was grown by the goddess of love “Aphrodite.” There is a lot behind this plant. And we won’t go home today if we decide to discuss everything.
But one aspect of the marjoram we can’t afford to omit from this context is the distinctive taste and aroma. Marjoram has an earthy and woodsy flavor with traces of balsam-like pine and citrus.
It tastes warm, spice, and slightly bitter — the taste is reminiscent of oregano and thyme. And that’s why you can use them in place of marjoram for soups, braises, stews, garnish salads, and meat dishes.
Also, it pairs well with other spices. You can use it fresh. However, it is particularly potent when dried. But whatever if you don’t have it on hand, Oregano, thyme, sage, and basil are some of several substitutes for marjoram that work just fine.
Best Substitutes For Marjoram
Oregano and marjoram are close relatives. They are two herbs of the mint family. These herbs taste and look pretty much the same, to be confused for. And it won’t be the first time hearing people use the names interchangeably.
But that’s the point!
You want an alternative that doesn’t feel like an alternative — like you’re using the EXACT seem product over again. That is what Oregano does. It is reminiscent of marjoram so much that most chefs have it as their first line of defense.
Texture, flavor, aroma, and size are alike; only Oregano has a more robust flavor than marjoram. But you might not even notice the difference. Also, Oregano comes in fresh or dried form. Either of them is acceptable for replacing marjoram.
Although, the dried version tends to have a more robust flavor. And since marjoram has a milder flavor, the type of Oregano you use will affect the quantity for replacement.
It is best to use 2/3 teaspoon for every one teaspoon of marjoram for fresh Oregano.
As for dried Oregano, use 1/3 teaspoon.
They are a multi-beneficial herb that can replace marjoram as well. So if your pantry is empty of marjoram and Oregano, just grab your thyme for a quick swap.
While it might not be as bold and aromatic as the marjoram, it still leaves traces of pleasant scent that remind you of Oregano. For this reason, it will work in soups, stews, gravy, and casseroles.
The dried thyme is most suited for complementing meats and vegetables in a roasting pan or cooked on the grill. You can use the same amount as you would with marjoram for seasoning – a 1:1 ratio to substitute.
For instance, if you’re using fresh thyme, use one fresh leaf to substitute one fresh marjoram leaf. And one teaspoon of dried thyme for every one teaspoon of dried thyme.
If you don’t have any of the above, you can try the basil. Basil is also a culinary herb of the mint family that adds a sweet and savory flavor to your meal with hints of mint, pepper, and anise.
It is less spicy than the Oregano, so if you want something of marjoram with a mild flavor profile, give basil a shot. You can top the whole leaves fresh on your pizza, finish paste, blend or puree into soups.
I love to chop it up for my salads or use it to garnish avocado toast. While it may not be the best substitute, it is a common herb used widely across the globe. That said, they are always available in food stores. You can either get them fresh or dried — both will do.
But keep in mind to add the fresh leaves at nearly the end of your cooking and the dried basil at the get-go. Substitution is easy. Go ahead and do a 1-to-1 ratio swap for every fresh basil for fresh marjoram.
Tarragon is a perennial herb in the sunflower family that has served humanity culinarily and medicinally. It has many impressive health benefits, not to mention its versatility in the kitchen.
However, this herb is not a close relative of marjoram — and might not taste similar to Oregano, Sage, or thyme.
But its aromatic, licorice, and vanilla flavor with traces of sweetness and bitterness somehow will fit your marjoram needs.
They often called it the king-of-herbs in French Cuisine.
To substitute marjoram for Tarragon properly, all it will take is a 1:1 ratio.
5. Lemon Thyme
Think about it for a moment — its citrusy taste resembles marjoram.
Lemon thyme is a lemon-scented evergreen plant in the family Lamiaceae that boasts a pleasant mild citrus aroma with a sweet and sour taste.
They are one of the most flavorful culinary thyme, and probably not a bad idea to use them to replace marjoram.
Lemon thyme will accentuate its mesmerizing flavor profiles in poultry dishes. It is also excellent for seasoning soups, seafood, and vegetables.
You can use it fresh or dried or either eat them raw.
I bet Za’atar is one you’ve never thought of. This herb or mix is only prevalent in some regions, not worldwide.
Za’ atar refers to the culinary herb and a spice mixture that includes salt, toasted sesame seeds, dry sumac, and other spice like dry thyme, Oregano, marjoram.
Now you see why it will work as a substitute for marjoram.
You can use this peculiar mix to season meats and vegetables. It even works well with a classic middle Eastern dish called Pita. They are even used in drink production in Oman. And I’ve seen it served with yogurt in Dubai.
7. Summer Savory
If you live in Canada, you might have heard of summer Savory. It is a famous herb there, though its origin can be traced from the Mediterranean.
Like marjoram, it is also a member of the mint family with a bright flavor and aroma. Many say it tastes like marjoram due to its sweet, hot, peppery flavor.
It has a winter version called winter savory. And that has quite a different flavor — is earthier and more subdued with notes of thyme, marjoram, and mint.
Whenever you can’t find marjoram, try the summer savory. You can either use it dried or fresh; they are all perfect for seasoning.
Although it lacks the pine and citrus flavors, DO NOT underestimate this Britain and America most treasured herb for making excellent poultry seasoning.
It is also a close substitute to marjoram. It may not taste exactly as marjoram, but its intense herbal and earthy flavors will make amends.
If you feel the flavor is too intense, you can fry it to mellow it down for the perfect ingredient for stuffing dishes.
More importantly, substitute is like a breeze. It is just a simple 1:1 ratio. Go ahead and use an equal amount of marjoram for your sage.
9. Herbes De Provence
Last on our list is a French herb mixture that Includes Marjoram: Herbes De Provence.
The dominant flavors are usually rosemary and thyme, but it also borrows its aroma and taste from other herbs like basil, Bay leaf, marjoram, and more.
They are a rockstar in French and Mediterranean cuisine but are versatile enough to take on just about any recipe.
Herbes de Provence is traditionally used to elevate roast lamb, chicken, grilled fish, and roasted vegetables. You would also appreciate them in beef daube and for ratatouille and tapenade.
In conclusion, behind all the listed substitutes for marjoram are herbs filled with vitamins that offer various health benefits and fun facts.
Speaking of fun facts, do you know in Italy, a pot of basil is perceived as a way of showing love. Meanwhile, in Rome, people think the place only thrives in areas with cruelty and hostility.
As for the Tarragon herb, in Persian, it means little dragon. And for all the annoying mosquitoes that won’t let you sleep at night, keep a lemon thyme pot to chase them away.