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Substitutes For Marjoram – What Can I Use Instead

Marjoram is an aromatic herb with a range of culinary uses. It gives the dishes freshness and warmth with its unique flavor profile. But not having marjoram at hand while cooking is not a big problem. There are a number of substitutes for marjoram.

So what can you use instead of marjoram? The best substitute for marjoram is oregano as the flavor profile of these two herbs is very similar. Other substitutes include thyme, sage, sweet basil, summer savory, as well as seasoning blends Herbs de Provence and za’atar.

Continue reading to learn more about marjoram substitutes and how to use them to make them work.

About Marjoram

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Marjoram may not be your day to day herb but it is certainly worth recognition. It is popularly used in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and North American cuisines.

The names sweet marjoram and knotted marjoram are also used for marjoram.

Flavor Profile

Marjoram comes from the mint family of herbs. Thus, it tastes very fresh and slightly sharp. The flavor of marjoram is milder compared to other herbs, making it suitable for people who are afraid to overpower dishes with strongly aromatic herbs.

There are also citrusy, floral and pine notes in marjoram. It is warm and faintly bitter. Due to its milder flavor, marjoram works well with other herbs.


If you have never cooked with marjoram and don’t know what you can do with it, just pick it up next time you go to the market. There are so many things you can cook with marjoram.

Marjoram can be used for:

  • Vegetable dishes
  • Meat and poultry dishes
  • Sausages
  • Sauces, etc

When using fresh marjoram, discard the stems and use only the leaves. Add the leaves toward the end of the cooking process.

Oregano – The Best Marjoram Substitute

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If you are looking for the closest marjoram substitute, oregano it is. These two herbs are often confused as they taste similar and look alike.

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Oregano also belongs to the mint family. It is a very aromatic herb with minty and earthy notes. The flavor profile of oregano is often described as the intense version of marjoram. Oregano, compared to marjoram, is more pungent and bitter.

Being one of the most versatile herbs, oregano is a great substitute for marjoram. You can use oregano to cook vegetables and sauces. Just like marjoram, oregano works perfectly in tomato-based dishes.

Oregano is a common ingredient in pizza and pasta dishes. It is also widely used in vinaigrettes and meat marinades. If you have trouble choosing the right herbs for every kind of meat, just go with oregano. It pairs well with chicken, beef, lamb, pork, and seafood.

How to Replace Marjoram with Oregano?

The flavor of oregano is more intense and pungent than the flavor of marjoram. Thus, if you do a 1:1 substitution, you are risking overpowering the dish with the oregano flavor.

To successfully substitute oregano for marjoram, use 2/3 tablespoon of fresh oregano for 1 tablespoon of fresh marjoram. You can also use this substitution ratio if you are using dried oregano instead of dried marjoram.

In certain dishes, such as sauces or marinades, you can substitute dried oregano for fresh marjoram. But make sure to use only a small amount of dried oregano as its flavor is very concentrated. Use 1/3 of dried oregano for 1 part of fresh marjoram.

Can You Substitute Fresh Marjoram with Dried Marjoram?

You can substitute fresh marjoram with dried marjoram. However, the substitution ratio is important.

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As the flavor of dried marjoram is more concentrated and intense you should use less of it than the recipe calls for fresh marjoram.

Use a teaspoon of dried marjoram as a substitute for a tablespoon of chopped marjoram.

Dried marjoram is popularly used in salad dressings. You can also use it in meat preparation.

Other Substitutes for Marjoram

While oregano is the closest substitute for marjoram, there are other herbs you can use in dishes that call for it.

If you want your substitution to work, it is best to substitute fresh marjoram with fresh herbs, dried marjoram with dried herbs.

1. Thyme

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Thyme is also from the mint family. It has dry, peppery, and warm undertones. The earthiness and minty notes are also typical of thyme.

You can use thyme by itself or pair it with other herbs. It goes well with such herbs as rosemary and sage and is widely used in European and Mediterranean cuisines. Thyme paired with marjoram is also a beautiful combination.

Thyme is used in chicken dishes, as well as soups and sauces. It also works great with meat and vegetables.

When using thyme you should either discard the stems and use the leaves, or use the entire sprig and take it out of the dish before serving.

2. Sage

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Sage is the third-best substitute for marjoram with its pine notes and bittersweet aroma. It also has citrus notes typical of the herbs of the mint family. The delicate leaves of sage add a touch of warmth and freshness to any dish.

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As the flavor of sage is not as intense as that of other herbs, such as oregano, you can substitute it with marjoram measure for measure.

Sage is generally used in dishes that involve heat cooking. The leaves of this herb are fuzzy and it is best not to eat them raw.

Sage is a versatile herb used in a variety of dishes of European cuisine. It is especially popular in Italian and British cuisines.

You can use sage in stuffing for meat and poultry. It can also be used in sauces, marinades, soups, and stocks. One of the most popular uses of sage is in pasta dishes.

3. Sweet Basil

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Sweet basil is one of the many varieties of basil. As the flavor profile of basil is very mild, it works in many of the dishes where the recipe calls for marjoram.


Basil pairs well with many foods and can be used both fresh and cooked.

As basil and tomato are a match made in heaven, substituting it for marjoram in tomato-based dishes is a great idea.

Basil can also be used in soups and pasta dishes. Unlike oregano, thyme, and sage, you can use fresh sweet basil on dishes as a garnish for added freshness.

4. Summer Savory

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Summer savory is very comparable to sage. This herb has peppery notes and a spicy aroma. But it is not intense and overpowering. Thus, summer savory can be a great substitute for marjoram for those who are looking for milder flavors.

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It is recommended to use dried summer savory instead of marjoram. You can substitute it for marjoram in sausage recipes and various vegetable, pork, and poultry dishes.

Summer savory can also be used in stews and sauces.

5. Herbs de Provence

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Herbs de Provence is a flavorful mixture of dried herbs one of which is marjoram. This is a very versatile seasoning to have in your pantry at all times. As the herbs are dried, it will keep for a long time too.

Substitute marjoram with Herbs de Provence in dishes where dried marjoram is needed. This aromatic herb mixture is widely used in French cuisine. It also works well for Mediterranean-style cooking.

Herbs de Provence is an ideal seasoning mix for vegetable, chicken, meat, and fish dishes.

6. Za’atar

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Another spice blend that includes marjoram and is a great option for cooking chicken and beef. You can also use this blend for vegetable dishes and seafood.

This spice blend has a unique flavor with tangy and nutty notes. It is very aromatic as it is a combination of such herbs as marjoram, oregano, and thyme.

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