An aromatic herb with a citrusy, almost floral flavor profile, marjoram is a versatile spice that can be used in a variety of dishes to enhance the overall flavor without overpowering the dish. Commonly used in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, both fresh and dried marjoram can uplift a dish wonderfully.
However, if you don’t have any marjoram on hand, there are a number of herbs and spices you can use instead. Here’s a curated list of 8 of the best marjoram substitutes to help you cook your perfect meal!
Belonging to the same mint family as marjoram, oregano’s flavor, size, and texture are quite similar to that of marjoram. Their botanical similarities also make oregano the best substitute for marjoram. In fact, many chefs are known to use the two herbs interchangeably. You can use it in stews, soups, salads — basically, anything.
However, oregano has a slightly stronger and bolder flavor that can alter the overall flavor of a recipe when used to substitute for marjoram in a 1:1 measure. It’s always best to start with a little amount and gradually increase it to suit your tastes.
1 teaspoon of marjoram = 2/3 teaspoon of fresh oregano.
And as dried oregano tends to be much more potent than fresh oregano,
1 teaspoon of marjoram = 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano.
Another member of the mint family, thyme has a very similar flavor profile to that of marjoram. Thyme can add a touch of earthy, savory aroma to soups, salad dressings, casseroles, grilled dishes, and more. And while there are over a hundred kinds of thyme, the French and English varieties best mimic the flavor of marjoram.
Keep in mind that fresh thyme has smaller, darker leaves as compared to marjoram so it may change your recipe’s appearance. Thyme also has a much milder flavor than marjoram, so you may easily use it in a 1:1 ratio without impacting the overall flavor of the recipe. You can even add a little extra if needed.
1 marjoram leaf = 1 fresh thyme leaf.
1 teaspoon of marjoram = 1 teaspoon of dried thyme.
Sporting robust earthy, herbal flavors that are very similar to marjoram’s, sage is a decent stand-in for poultry seasoning. In fact, it is used as one of the main ingredients in stuffing for Thanksgiving and Christmas dishes. It is also a common ingredient in Mediterranean cooking and works well in potato and pasta dishes.
As sage has a similar earthy flavor to marjoram, you can substitute sage for marjoram in the same amount in different recipes without impacting its overall taste. If you want the dish to have a somewhat spicy flavor, make sure to add some black peppercorns to the mix.
1 teaspoon of marjoram = 1 teaspoon of sage.
Basil is not very similar to marjoram, but it has a uniquely peppery yet sweet flavor that makes it a great stand-in for marjoram. It goes nicely in tomato-based soups, sauces, pasta, and fresh salads, as well as in several Mediterranean recipes.
While basil does not have a citrusy flavor similar to marjoram, it can act as a substitute for marjoram in dishes that require a sweeter, milder herb flavor to shine. Also, dried basil can effortlessly mimic marjoram in appearance, but fresh basil, with its wide, deep green leaves, will stand out in stark contrast to marjoram’s smaller, lighter-colored leaves.
1 teaspoon of marjoram = 1 teaspoon of basil (Adjust as required to achieve a more distinct flavor).
Tarragon, also known as Estragon, has a strong, somewhat anise flavor with peppery undertones. It’s frequently used in the Mediterranean as well as French dishes as an alternative to marjoram.
When substituting for marjoram, use the French variety of tarragon as it has a wonderful flavor and aroma that can work excellently in a variety of dishes. Make sure you start with a small amount and adjust to taste. While it won’t act as the perfect flavor substitute for marjoram, its earthy, aromatic flavor will work wonderfully in roasted potatoes, carrots, and other veggie dishes.
1 teaspoon of marjoram = 1 teaspoon of tarragon.
#6. Lemon Thyme
Also known as citrus thyme, lemon thyme has a gentle herbal flavor that is similar to thyme. This versatile perennial herb can be used to marinate chicken and fish, add herbal flavors to tea, as a garnish, and to flavor fresh salads — the possibilities are endless.
Compared to marjoram, lemon thyme has a more citrusy flavor and is not as bitter while retaining a floral, minty, woody aroma. In recipes that call for some tanginess or a more herbal flavor profile, you can easily replace marjoram with lemon thyme.
1 teaspoon of marjoram = 1/2 or 3/4 teaspoon of lemon thyme.
#7. Summer Savory
The aromatic herb, summer savory, is also a member of the mint family. Surprisingly enough, despite its Mediterranean origins, this well-known plant is more extensively used in Canada. Summer savory also has a winter version that goes by the name winter savory. While both varieties have a nice peppery flavor, winter savory is less popular because it’s a little more bitter than its summer version.
Summer savory, also known as the “love herb,” has a sweet, peppery flavor that can stand in for marjoram perfectly well. You can use both fresh and dried versions of summer savory in a 1:1 ratio to flavor roast recipes.
1 teaspoon of marjoram = 1 teaspoon of summer savory.
#8. Herbs de Provence
Don’t think single-herb substitutions work well to replicate marjoram’s flavor profile? Use Herbs de Provence instead! This dried herb blend typically contains a blend of savory, marjoram, oregano, and thyme, working beautifully as a good substitute for marjoram.
Please note that using Herbs de Provence is highly dependent on the recipe and the amount used. While you can use a 1:1 substitute ratio, it is recommended that you start with a small amount and adjust to taste. Too much of this herb mix can overpower the other flavors of the recipe.
1 teaspoon of fresh marjoram = 1 teaspoon of dried Herbs de Provence.