Marjoram, also known as sweet marjoram, is an aromatic herb in the mint family. This medicinal and gourmet herb is widely grown in the Mediterranean, Western Asia, and North Africa for thousands of years.
It’s a commonly used ingredient in several cuisines across the world but more popular in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cookery. Undoubtedly, it is a flavorful addition to vegetables, stuffings, sausages, forcemeats, legumes, pulses, and poultry.
Marjoram is highly versatile and goes well with most other herbs. This herb has a mixture of sweet pine and citrus flavors.
What’s A Good Marjoram Substitute?
In cooking, marjoram is used in three forms such as dried or ground, fresh leaves, or oil. Using fresh leaves of this herb adds the best flavor and aroma to your dishes.
The finest option for substitution is fresh marjoram for dried and vice versa. Use 1 teaspoon dried marjoram for each tablespoon of fresh marjoram in a recipe.
If this ingredient is completely out of stock for you, then Italian seasoning and oregano are the best substitutes that work well in place of marjoram.
While choosing a substitute for marjoram, take into consideration the availability of the ingredient and flavor profile of the recipe.
Here are a few good alternatives that you can comfortably swap for marjoram.
Italian seasoning is a blended mixture of common Italian herbs including marjoram, basil, thyme, oregano, and rosemary.
If you notice, it contains marjoram as an ingredient and other constituent herbs similar to it. In reality, it is the best spice blend that you can use as a marjoram substitute for sure.
The key ingredient in spaghetti sauce is none other than Italian seasoning. You’ll also find it in Italian dishes such as lasagna or eggplant Parmesan. Or add to bread stuffing, stews, soups, and fish savory.
Since it is a blend of spices, you just need to use about 1/3 portion of marjoram that your recipe calls for.
Marjoram and oregano can serve as excellent substitutes for each other. In fact, they both belong to the mint family and have the closest flavor profile.
The difference lies in the fact that marjoram is sweeter and less earthy. However, the flavors of both are actually very similar as long as you are willing to ignore the difference in pungency.
Fresh and dried oregano has a stronger flavor than marjoram. If you notice, marjoram is a milder version of oregano.
While using oregano as a marjoram substitute, use it in just half the quantity of marjoram that your recipe calls for. In the case of dried oregano, use only one-third measure.
Thyme has a subtle, dry aroma and a slightly minty flavor. Great for adding layers of flavor to your dish without being overwhelming.
Just like marjoram, thyme also belongs to the mint family and extensively used in Mediterranean cooking; suitable for both meat and vegetable recipes.
You can find several verities of thyme but the French and English thyme have the closest resemblance to marjoram in flavor and texture.
Both fresh and dry thyme are worthy of using in place of marjoram. Use them interchangeably in the same amount as required by your recipe.
Sage is another wonderful replacement for Marjoram.
Sage goes well with beef, duck, pork, and chicken recipes, and fatty meats in particular.
The peppery flavor of sage with a hint of mint and lemon is an excellent addition to your recipes. Overall, it matches the pine and citrus notes that marjoram induces.
When using sage as a substitute for marjoram, use it in a 1:1 ratio.
Basil is a herb in the mint family that is commonly used in Italian cooking.
Sweet basil has a fresh aroma with a subtle peppery flavor and a hint of mint. Other types of basil taste citrus and pungent.
Dried or ground form of sweet basil is a better replacement for marjoram. While substituting, you need to use only a smaller quantity of basil in place of marjoram.
Sweet basil is a fine ingredient in pasta, sauces, soups, pizza, fish dishes, and frozen desserts.
Summer savory has flavors of marjoram, thyme, and mint that make a great addition of flavor to a variety of dishes, both warm and cold. A pinch of summer savory elevates the taste and aroma of roasted dishes.
Dried or ground summer savory is best for replacing marjoram. Strong flavors of summer savory are dominating, therefore use it less quantity than marjoram required by your recipe.
Za’atar refers to a herb as well as a spice mixture commonly used in Middle Eastern cookery.
Za’atar spice mixture is a good alternative to marjoram as they both have somewhat similar herbal flavor. This spice mixture includes za’atar herb, toasted sesame seeds, dried sumac, thyme, savory, and salt.
Use a teaspoon of Za’atar for every 1 tablespoon of dry or ground marjoram.
The Bottom Line
When you have neither fresh nor dried marjoram, the best substitutes are Italian seasoning and oregano.
Other herbal ingredients worth using as substitutes for marjoram are thyme, basil, sage, summer savory, and Za’atar in order of relevance.
While choosing a substitute, be sure of its flavor profile. Choose the replacement ingredient that complements well with other ingredients of your recipe.
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