Substitutes for Marjoram – Most Similar Herbs to Use When Your Recipe Calls for it


Marjoram is a common herb found in many kitchens. It is a staple of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine, and you can find it in recipes for seafood, pasta, soups, stews, sauces, and others. It has a sweet taste with hints of both pine and citrus.

Marjoram generally comes in two forms: fresh and dried. If you have some that’s dried but the recipe calls for fresh, it’s pretty simple to substitute the dried version. One teaspoon of dried marjoram equals one tablespoon of fresh marjoram.

If you don’t have any marjoram on hand, there are other herbs you can use instead. The following herbs and spices can be used in place of marjoram:

1. Oregano

OreganoOregano and marjoram are related, as they both belong to the genus Oreganumas well as the mint family. For this reason, oregano is the best substitution for marjoram. Oregano does give off more of an Italian “pizza-like” flavor, so it’s best to use less in a recipe. One teaspoon of marjoram should be replaced with ⅔ teaspoon of oregano.

2. Sage

SageLike oregano, sage is part of the mint family and related to marjoram. It also carries the pine and citrus flavors that marjoram is famous for, and can be substituted one-for-one. Sage is best used in Mediterranean meat, potato, and pasta dishes.

3. Thyme

ThymeThyme is a good substitute in roasts, casseroles, and stews. You can also use it to garnish soups. When substituting for marjoram, it’s best to use the dried or ground variety.

4. Summer Savory

Summer SavorySummer savory is sometimes simply called savory, and is often compared to sage. It is best used for flavoring hearty meat recipes. The dried or ground version of summer savory should be used in substitutions.

5. Basil

BasilBasil is a very strong herb. If you are substituting it for marjoram, consider using the dried variety. Its fresh form has an almost spicy taste, which will not stand in well for the sweet taste of marjoram.

6. Lemon Thyme

Lemon ThymeLemon thyme is a variety of thyme that carries a citrusy sweetness comparable to marjoram. This makes it a good substitute. It is especially useful in recipes that call for lemon as well as marjoram.

7. Tarragon

TarragonTarragon is best used in Mediterranean and French recipes. There are several varieties of the herb, including French tarragon and Russian tarragon. The French version is the one that is used the most in cooking. In French cuisine, tarragon is suitable for chicken, fish, and egg recipes, as well as providing the bulk of the flavor in Bearnaise sauce.

8. Herbs de Provence

Herbs de Provence

Herbs de Provence is actually a spice blend, rather than a single herb. It consists of marjoram, savory, rosemary, thyme, and oregano. If you don’t have marjoram but you do have this blend on hand, you can use it as a substitute. Be careful, though – since it includes other herbs, it will lend a very different flavor to the dish, so it’s best to use it sparingly.

9. Za’atar

Za’atarZa’atar is also a spice blend, consisting of marjoram,thyme, oregano, toasted sesame seeds, salt, and sometimes roasted flour. It is mostly used in Middle Eastern dishes. Like Herbs de Provence, it is best to use za’atar sparingly, due to the strong flavor from the other components.

10. Italian seasoning

Italian seasoningItalian seasoning is a commercial spice blend used in Mediterranean cuisine, mostly Italian dishes such as pasta. It contains marjoram, savory, thyme, basil, rosemary, sage, and oregano. Many kitchens have this blend on hand, so it’s easy to substitute it for any of the herbs it contains.

Tips for Making Substitutions

If you are making a dish that you have made and tasted before, making substitutions is pretty straight-forward. Taste as you go to figure out what works.

If you are trying a new recipe that you have never had before, substitutions are a bit trickier. It might help to have someone around who has tasted the dish before, so they can tell you when you’ve hit the right flavor.

In either case, make sure you are using the proper form of the herb you are subbing in. In many cases, you want to use the same form (fresh or dried) that you are substituting for. However, there are some exceptions – thyme, savory, and basil should be used in their dried forms, due to their strong flavors that differ from the sweetness of marjoram.


Marjoram is an essential ingredient in many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes. It lends a sweet flavor to meat, pastas, soups, stews, and sauces.

However, if you don’t have marjoram on hand, there are plenty of options for herbs and spices that you can use instead. Many of them, including oregano, sage, basil, and Italian seasoning, are found in most kitchens, so there is a good chance that you have at least one of them in your home right now.

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