Skip to Content

Exploring 5 Best Substitutes for Marjoram in Cooking

Welcome to the flavorful world of herbs, where each delicate leaf and fragrant sprig can turn a simple dish into a culinary masterpiece. Today we’re taking a deep-dive into marjoram and its close pals in the kitchen — the substitutes that can save the day when your marjoram jar runs empty.

Whether you’re a newbie in the bustling kitchen realm or a seasoned cook navigating the complexities of herbs, this post is designed to enhance your cooking endeavors.

Key Takeaways:

  • Marjoram is a staple herb in many classic dishes, known for its sweet and mild flavor.
  • When you run out of marjoram, there are several substitutes that can save the day: oregano, thyme, basil, savory, and rosemary.
  • Each herb has its own unique flavor profile and culinary strengths. So keep the ratio in mind, if any, and don’t be afraid to experiment with these herbs in your dishes.

Marjoram: A Culinary Favorite

Before we jump into the world of alternatives, it’s important to appreciate marjoram for what it is. This herb, a member of the mint family, boasts a sweet, mild flavor with a hint of balsam.

It’s a staple in many classic dishes, particularly in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, and commonly found in the spice rack of any true-blue home cook.

Whether you sprinkle it over roasted vegetables, toss it into a soup as it simmers, or blend it into your meat rub, marjoram always adds a touch of warmth and depth to any dish.

The Top 5 Substitutes for Marjoram

oregano, thyme, basil, savory, and rosemary

Now, let’s get onto the juicy part — what you can use when marjoram is not readily available in your kitchen. Keep in mind that these substitutes may alter the flavor slightly, but they’re still a great option to have on hand.

1 – Oregano

The first in our lineup of marjoram’s stand-ins is its close relative oregano. They share a botanical lineage, but oregano leans towards a peppery, robust flavor with a punch of earthiness. Its texture is slightly tougher than marjoram’s feathery leaves.

When substituting oregano for marjoram, you may find that oregano can be more assertive in flavor, so a little goes a long way. In most cases, a 1:1 ratio works well, but don’t hesitate to adjust to your taste.

Oregano can truly shine in tomato-based sauces, pizza, and grilled dishes, giving them that signature Mediterranean kick. The key is to add oregano a bit earlier in the cooking process than you would marjoram to allow its stronger flavor to mellow and harmonize with the dish.

2 – Thyme

Thyme, with its warm and aromatic profile, is our next marjoram understudy. It’s another member of the mint family, making it a compatible swap texturally. Thyme’s flavor profile is quite distinct with a subtle clove note that marjoram lacks, and its small leaves add a delightful texture to a dish.

For a seamless transition in recipes, use a 1:1 ratio of thyme to marjoram, but be mindful that thyme’s flavor might be more pronounced, particularly in the case of lemon thyme.

Thyme excels in stews, soups, and roasts, offering a complex herbal backdrop that complements various meat and vegetable combinations.

3 – Basil

Anchovy toast to the herb world’s caprese superstar — basil can effortlessly fill in the gap for marjoram. With its sweet and slightly peppery flavor, basil’s large, tender leaves release a heady aroma that can brighten up the dullest of dishes.

When substituting basil for marjoram, consider using a higher ratio of basil to achieve a comparable flavor, perhaps 1.5 parts basil for every part of marjoram in your recipe.

Basil works wonders in fresh salads, pestos, and dishes where its aromatic properties can be fully unveiled.

4 – Savory

No joke here; Savory is, well, savory — and a fantastic marjoram substitute. It’s a herb that, despite not being as widely known, has a similarly mild, yet piquant flavor to marjoram.

The texture of savory’s leaves is somewhere between marjoram and thyme — not as delicate, but not as tough as oregano’s.

Utilize a 1:1 ratio when swapping savory for marjoram, though depending on the type of savory you use, you might need less. Winter savory is more potent than its summer cousin, so use just three-quarters of a teaspoon for every teaspoon of marjoram recommended.

Savory is your buddy in bean dishes, meat pies, and gravies, where it can mingle with the meal’s savory notes beautifully.

5 – Rosemary

Rosemary, the herb that’s robust and unapologetically flavorful, stands at the ready as another marjoram sidekick. With its piney essence and slightly bitter undertones, it can add a different dimension to your dish when marjoram is unavailable.

Rosemary’s tough, needle-like leaves might necessitate chopping or crushing for some recipes but used whole for others, such as roasts or stews, for easy removal before serving.

When using rosemary in place of marjoram, aim for a 1:1 ratio, unless it’s a recipe that specifically highlights the rosemary, in which case, a little more is acceptable.

Lemon-rosemary chicken, slow-cooked pork, and even rosemary shortbread — the possibilities are as vast as they are delicious.


In conclusion, it’s clear that marjoram has a wonderful set of substitutes that can stand in for its unique flavor and texture. Oregano, thyme, basil, savory, and rosemary all bring something special to the table when you need them most.

Each herb has its own personality and culinary strengths, so don’t hesitate to experiment with them in your dishes. And remember, being flexible in the kitchen can lead to new discoveries!

oregano, thyme, basil, savory, and rosemary

5 Marjoram Substitutes Recipe

This recipe provides five different substitutes for marjoram, a versatile herb commonly used in many dishes. Each substitute has its own unique flavor profile and culinary strengths, making them suitable for different types of dishes.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 4 minutes
Course Condiment, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 1 Serving


  • Oregano: 1 tsp dried or fresh
  • Thyme: 1 tsp dried or fresh
  • Basil: 1.5 tsp fresh
  • Savory: 1 tsp dried or fresh
  • Rosemary: 1 tsp dried or fresh


  • Choose the substitute herb based on your personal preference and the type of dish you are making.
  • Use a 1:1 ratio for oregano, thyme, savory, and rosemary.
  • For basil, use a 1.5:1 ratio (1.5 parts basil for every 1 part marjoram).
  • Adjust the ratio according to your taste preferences.
  • Use the substitute herb as you would normally use marjoram in your recipe.
  • Enjoy your dish with the flavorful substitute herb!
Keyword substitutes for marjoram
Did you make this recipe?Mention @CooksCrafter or tag #CooksCrafter!
5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating