The use of marjoram is nothing new, especially to Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. Not only the dishes made with marjoram are aromatic and delicious, but they also have the essence of sophistication and can fill more than just one’s tummy.
This herb of the mint family marries well into any item from fish to meat, to salads or stews. But what if you don’t have it at hand? Does that put all those delicious recipes out of your potential meal list? Of course not!
With the substitutes for marjoram mentioned in our list, you can get away with an easy camouflage while staying true to the dish’s original taste. Trust us, no one’s going to notice.
Substitute for Marjoram
Closest Bet: Oregano
Coming from the same genus (Origanum), this herb is the perfect alternative for marjoram. This is especially true if you’re trying to switch out for dried marjoram. Oregano has a similar but stronger flavor profile compared to its milder counterpart.
Therefore, it’s recommended to use lesser oregano in the recipe compared to when using marjoram. For example, in the case of half teaspoon marjoram, you’ll need only 1/3 teaspoon of oregano. Again, if the recipe calls for just one teaspoon, use only 2/3 teaspoon of oregano.
Both of these herbs are often used in Italian dishes and your taste buds might recognize the flavors in different types of pizza. So whether you’re making a soup or a salad that calls for any minty kick, oregano is the way to go.
The Holiday Herb: Sage
While sage is mostly famous for being a key ingredient for stuffing the family meal of the whole turkey on a Thanksgiving dinner, it’s also a great way to alter out marjoram in any dish. Much like oregano, sage is from the mint family and is highly similar to its other family members.
For the fans of citrus and pine notes in their candles, this will surely be a treat. Sage has the same extent and depth of flavor as marjoram. That means you’ll need to use exactly the same amount. Hence, there’s no need to count and recount the teaspoons and get your head all messed up.
Moreover, sage pairs exceptionally well with poultry and its taste just get enhanced when you add in more herbs and spices like rosemary or thyme. Thus, be it a bowl of pasta or a simple omelet, this holiday herb is sure to give a cozy twist to your meals.
Power-Packed One: Tarragon
Considered one of the four “fines herbes” of French cooking, tarragon has a lot to offer and is a suitable substitute in case you need a lot of flavors. This shrubby herb is native to western Asia and southern Russia, but it has currently taken French cooking by storm.
The taste of tarragon can be compared to anise or fennel. It is slightly bittersweet and has a very strong and unique flavor. So, be careful if you’re putting this into your dish as it can easily overpower all the other ingredients. If you’ve ever had some Béarnaise sauce, you’ll know what we’re talking about.
Likewise, Tarragon goes well with chicken, fish and many Persian-style pickles. You can even use it in stews and rolled nut cakes. Although this may be a more daring choice out of the bunch, the herb can do wonders if you’re smart with it.
The Ancient Classic: Thyme
This is probably the most commonly used replacement for marjoram. After all, both of them are a part of the famous “Herbes de Provence” blend. Thyme is basically the long-lost brother or sister of marjoram and hail from the same family. It has been an essential staple to many dishes since ancient times.
Many medicinal properties of thyme combined with its minty earthy flavor make it a timeless classic addition to any dish. While marjoram is mild and sweet as an herb, thyme has some peppery undertones along with a minty kick to it.
You can switch out marjoram for thyme easily because this herb has the amazing quality of harmonizing flavors together rather than overpowering them. If you’ve got some in your spice cabinet, now’s the time to take them out. Who knows, you might find thyme to be your new favorite!
King of Herbs: Basil
In contrast to the citrusy and sweet notes the marjoram has, fresh basil might not be the perfect replacement. However, ground or dried basil can work in its place. Basil, often referred to as the “king of herbs”, has a fragrant flavor profile with a minty kick almost like pepper.
You’ll notice the basil pairs exceptionally well with a wide variety of foods starting from veggies to meat and even cheese or eggs. As a result, you can use it to substitute for other herbs because of this amazing quality of complementing a wide range of flavors without overpowering them. Not only can basil enhance almost any dish, but it can also add extra nutrients to make your meals healthier.
Besides, this herb contains Vitamin K, A, C, and omega-3 fatty acids. It’s said to help clear skin blemishes and detoxify the liver. While using basil, the possibilities are endless. Its mildness in flavor makes it perfect to add the extra aroma and minty freshness into any soup, stew or curry.
Brain Food: Za’atar
You can call this one a kitchen life-hack. Because while Za’atar isn’t exclusively a single herb, its blend contains almost everything needed in cooking an aromatic dish in no time. And yes, it does include marjoram. A timeless spice blend native to the Middle East, Za’atar is considered to date as far back as the Biblical times.
One Jewish philosopher from the 12th century, Maimonides, had called this “brain food” for its amazing properties. At the same time, its phenol content helps alleviate dementia symptoms.
Za’atar does pack a bigger punch in terms of flavors given how many different herbs and spices it’s made of. It has some clear notes of nuts and sesame seeds along with a strong fragrance.
Regardless of that, the blend varies according to which region of the world it comes from. Hence, you should check the list of ingredients when buying it.
So what’re you waiting for? Go get that recipe book out and cook up something delicious with any substitute for marjoram you might have in your pantry. There’s absolutely no need to hold back because fresh herbs and mints really belong anywhere you put them.