Marjoram is one of the most common garden herbs used in cooking, but if you don’t have it, what can you use instead? Here are some of the best substitutes for marjoram!
You can grow it in pots or any herb bed, and can be harvested year-round depending on how cold your winters get. It’s almost as good dried as fresh, and can be grown indoors if you have a sunny window! Keep in mind that it’s part of the mint family and will spread quite aggressively in open ground.
Marjoram is very similar to oregano and people often use the two interchangeably. I often refer to marjoram as oregano in my recipes because people are more used to seeing oregano in the shops – but I actually grow sweet marjoram in my garden. It has a milder flavour.
It’s one of my go-to winter herbs (in a sheltered place, it survived -17°C this winter). You can see it in some of my recipes like this mushroom and pumpkin shepherd’s pie. Used in a lot in Mediterranean cooking, marjoram is great in anything from soups and sauces to fresh salads.
But what can you use for a marjoram replacement when you don’t have any one hand? See below for my top six substitutes.
Substitutes for Marjoram
Oregano and marjoram are very similar in flavour, size, and texture, and it’s the easiest substitute. Use it in exactly the same way with no changes apart from perhaps adding very slightly less – oregano has a bit of a stronger flavour.
Keep in mind if using dried that oregano is actually more intense when dried, so if you’re subbing dried for fresh, use about half the amount.
Also in the mint family, and with a very similar flavour, thyme is a great option. An excellent 1:1 substitute and an almost imperceptible change.
Savoury (savory) is often called summer savoury because the annual variety more commonly grown than the winter perennial version, but both can be used interchangeably with marjoram. It has a nice peppery flavour.
A bit of a stretch, but basil will work well in some Mediterranean dishes in place of marjoram. Think tomato based soups and sauces or fresh salads, but you’ll probably want to increase the quantity a bit.
Often used in French cooking, tarragon has a strong slightly anise flavour. It can make a good substitution in small quantities, and will depend on what you’re making. Excellent with roasted potatoes, carrots, and other garden vegetables.
Herbs de Provence
A dried herb mix with marjoram often near the top of the ingredient list, this can be a good substitution again depending on the recipe. Not so great in Italian cooking but very good for more Northern European or French recipes, like this lentil potato stew.
Other dried herb blends (like pizza herbs) can be a good option, too, depending on the ingredient list. If marjoram or oregano are listed in the first three ingredients, it’s probably fine to use in place of plain marjoram.
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