What can I substitute for marjoram?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “What can I substitute for marjoram?” with an in-depth analysis of the marjoram, its benefits along with uses of marjoram and all possible substitutes of marjoram with its recommended quantity.

What can I substitute for marjoram?

We can have several substitutes for marjoram such as oregano, sweet basil, summer savoury, thyme, sage, and herbes de Provence.

Over the last few decades, the global herb and spice market has grown considerably, and was worth $12 billion in 2012, and is expected to increase at an annual growth rate of 4.8% to reach an estimated value of US $16.6 billion by 2019. The European Union market is the second largest trade for herbs and spices, amounting to 520,000 tonnes in 2013 with a value of €1.8 billion (1).

What is marjoram?

Marjoram, also termed sweet marjoram is considered as one of the herbs which belong to the family of mint, also an aromatic herb. This herb has been grown in North Africa, western Asia, and the Mediterranean for thousands of years.

It has a mild flavour just like the oregano and it is mostly used in garnish form on soups, salads, and meat dishes.

Its dried form has more influence than the fresh one, but it can be used in both conditions either in dried or fresh.

Marjoram has many good qualities such as it is enriched with antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. And, it also plays a vital role against a variety of syndromes such as infections, painful menstruation, and digestive problems. Sweet marjoram is a good general tonic, helping to relieve anxiety, headaches and insomnia. marjoram oil relaxes and alleviates tension, both mental and physical, and is used in natural healing for many complaints accompanying or caused by tension and has menstrual-regulating or hormone-like effects (2).

Marjoram is available in both fresh and dried forms that can be used to make tea. These are available online or in any healthy food store. It consists of a certain quantity of oil which is essential for our face against fungal actions.

Possible substitutes of marjoram

Some of the possible substitutes of marjoram are as follows,

Oregano

Oregano is one of the major substitutes for marjoram. It is termed as one of the closest alternatives to marjoram. Oregano as a good alternative to marjoram can be used in different recipes such as stews, salads, and soups. Vegan Split pea is a recipe of soup in which we can easily exchange marjoram and oregano. This herb has a very rich history of usage in traditional medicine for curing skin disorders, stomach problems, diabetes, heart related issues and infections caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungus (3).

Basil

Basil leaves are mostly recommended to use either in-ground or dried form. Basil leaves have almost a slight touch of pepper in their taste which is not a perfect match for marjoram because it consists of the taste of citrus notes and sweet pine. 

Basil leaves are mostly recommended to use in stews such as vegan caponata Alla siciliana or maybe in pasta sauces. Basil leaves also make a good combination with sausage soup.

The major components identified in basil essential oil were estragole (40.9%), 1,8-cineole (24.3%), and linalool acetate (19.8%), first of them belonging to phenylpropanoids and the others to oxygenated monoterpenes. Besides, basil contains many phenolic compounds, which give the herb a high antioxidant activity (4).

Summer savoury

Summer savoury is another substitute for marjoram which is more known in Canada and is often kept in contrast with sage. In some of the recipes such as hearty roast recipes where summer savoury can be used to flavour and as a tastemaker. Hearty roast recipes include Pork medallions and roast venison. 

But, it is always recommended to use ground or dried summer savoury as a substitute for marjoram. One of the best uses of summer savoury as a replacement for marjoram is in seasoning sausages where summer savoury plays a vital role in making flavours and taste.

The main biomolecules found in extracts and essential oils of S. hortensis are the volatile oils, phenolic compounds, flavonoids, tannins, steroids, acids, gums, mucilage and pyrocatechols, leading to different potential applications in treating some very serious disorders, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, Alzheimer’s, alongside the antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties (5).

Thyme

Thyme is quite similar to thyme. Thyme is used in the same way as summer savoury. Thyme acts as a 0ne-to-one replacement in stews, casseroles, and roasts. Thyme is also given an amazing taste as a top garnishing agent in swede soup. 

It is also used in those recipes, especially those which consist of a chunk of meat. In these recipes, we can consider bacon-wrapped sausages to have a complete taste and flavour with marjoram and thyme. 

In a study, thyme essential oil showed the highest level of total phenolics, the highest antioxidant capacity, and exhibited the stronger antibacterial activity then other herbs studied. P-cymene was the major component in thyme, which possesses antimicrobial properties (4).

Lemon thyme

Lemon thyme is a substitute for thyme but it can be used in place of marjoram indirectly. Marjoram can be replaced with lemon thyme in some of the recipes such as the Lebanese lentil soup recipe.  These types of soups require further addition of lemon that makes a perfect pair with a citrus taste.

The essential oil of lemon thyme, geraniol, possesses very good effectiveness and the most broad-spectrum of antimicrobial activity. Geraniol, this commercially important terpene alcohol with sweet rose aroma, is one of the most important molecules in the flavour and fragrance industries and a common ingredient in consumer products produced by these industries. Geraniol is used as flavouring for beverages, ice cream, candy, baked goods, chewing gum and toppings (6). 

Tarragon

Tarragon also acts as a good replacement for marjoram especially in French recipes or Mediterranean recipes. But if the tarragon is not available easily in place of marjoram, then further substitutes of tarragon can be used in place of marjoram.

Studies revealed that tarragon strongly inhibited platelet aggregation, which is a factor in conditions such as thrombosis. The main flavor components of tarragon are methyl chavicol and anethole (2).

Sage

Sage also works as a hand-to-hand replacement of marjoram. Sage further can be replaced with its substitutes, if sage is not available. The substitutes of sage could be rosemary, oregano.

Rosmarinic acid was reported by studies to be the second most frequently occurring caffeic acid ester, following chlorogenic acid, and to have antioxidant activity equivalent to that of caffeic acid. The authors detected rosmarinic acid in rosemary, balm, sage, thyme, oregano, marjoram and savory. Since rosemary and sage belong to the Labiatae family, it is not surprising to find the same antioxidants in both plants: carnosol, carnosic acid, rosmanol, rosmadial, rosmarinic acid. Various methyl and ethyl esters of carnosol, rosmanol, and carnosic acid can be found in sage (2).

Herbes De Provence

As it is described, marjoram is one of the constituents of the Herbes de Provence mixture. Herbes de Provence is composed mainly of thyme, rosemary and other spices / leafy herbs. This blend beyond the ability of food aromatizing and preserving has antioxidant properties (7). This mixture of Herbes de Provence can be used as a seasoning agent in some of the recipes but you have to be very careful while using it, as it consists of many overwhelming herbs and a great fragrance. 

In some of the recipes, such as the roast vegetable recipe, we can easily use herbes de Provence as an alternative to marjoram.

Other FAQs about Herbs that you may be interested in.

What can I substitute for rosemary?

What can I substitute for Thyme?

What can I substitute for herbes de Provence?

Conclusion

In this brief article, we have answered the question, “What can I substitute for marjoram?” with an in-depth analysis of the marjoram, its benefits along with uses of marjoram and all possible substitutes of marjoram with its recommended quantity.

References

  1. Drabova, Lucie, et al. Food fraud in oregano: Pesticide residues as adulteration markers. Food chem, 2019, 276, 726-734.
  2. Peter, Kuruppacharil V., ed. Handbook of herbs and spices: volume 3. Woodhead publishing, 2006. 
  3. Dhiman, Neha, and Aparajita Bhasin. Marjoram (Origanum majorana): An essential oil with potential pharmacological properties and health benefits. The Pharma Innovation Journal 2022, 11, 4454-4460.
  4. Semeniuc, Cristina Anamaria, et al. Chemometric comparison and classification of some essential oils extracted from plants belonging to Apiaceae and Lamiaceae families based on their chemical composition and biological activities. Molecules, 2018, 23, 2261.  
  5. Fierascu, Irina, et al. Phytochemical profile and biological activities of Satureja hortensis L.: A review of the last decade. Molecules, 2018, 23, 2458.
  6. Jurevičiūtė, Rūta, et al. Composition of essential oil of lemon thyme (Thymus× citriodorus) at different hydrodistillation times. Nat prod res, 2019, 33, 80-88.
  7. Newerli-Guz, Joanna. Antioxidant properties of spice blends-example Herbes de provence. Towaroznawcze Problemy Jakości, 2013, 4, 112-116.