Marjoram belongs to the mint family just like thyme, rosemary, and basil, but it is not as well known. It does share some of the minty and woodsy elements of the thyme and rosemary flavor, but with sweeter citrus notes. It is sweeter and more delicate than its close relative oregano. Here are some of the best marjoram uses.
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In Italian seasoning blends
Italian seasoning is supposed to be a blend of the most commonly used herbs in Italian cooking. There is no one Italian seasoning recipe, so the list of herbs selected for each blend and the proportions of those herbs differ from maker to maker. The typical blend will include marjoram along with other Mediterranean favorites like basil and thyme.
In Herbes de Provence
Marjoram is one of the popular herbs in French cuisine and the Herbes de Provence blend. Marjoram’s light minty notes and sweetness make it an excellent complement to other herbs in the Provencal blend like tarragon and lavender.
Marjoram is a key herb in many marinades, especially those from the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions, where it might be used on strong-flavored meats like lamb. It is well-suited to mild proteins and goes well with chicken and light, non-oily fish. Pair with olive oil and fresh garlic.
Marjoram is a good addition to salads, either as a salad green or in the dressing. Marjoram can play the same role that dried oregano traditionally plays in Italian salad dressing. Chop up some dried or fresh marjoram leaves and add them to a simple vinaigrette. Its savory eucalyptus notes will complement other standard vinaigrette ingredients like olive oil and mustard.
In pizza sauce
Marjoram can enhance pizza sauce and thus the pizzas you use it on. Pizza sauce is famous for its strong oregano notes. Because marjoram has a similar flavor profile, it can work alongside oregano or in its place. It is a great alternative if you find the flavor of oregano too harsh or overpowering. Marjoram will complement both the garlic and the acidity of the tomatoes.
In pasta sauce
Marjoram is one of the mint-related herbs that typically show up in a tomato-based pasta sauce. Marjoram can accompany herbs like thyme, basil, and oregano. It pairs well with garlic and contributes to the savory qualities of the sauce. As in pizza sauce, you can use it with oregano or instead of it.
In dry rubs
You can use marjoram as the herbal component in dry rubs for meats that you plan to roast or grill. It tastes a lot like oregano and thyme, which are two of the most popular dry rub herbs. You can grind dried marjoram to a fine powder in a spice grinder, or just use the chopped leaves. Marjoram pairs well with most other standard dry rub ingredients like garlic powder and cumin.
Marjoram is one of the main herbs that you will sometimes see used in za’atar, which is a Middle Eastern herb blend. Za’atar is usually made mainly with thyme, but both marjoram and oregano can be used as thyme substitutes in it. Marjoram will provide a mild flavor similar in intensity to thyme. Za’atar can be used as a rub for grilled meats, added to salad dressings, or used as a condiment at the table that you sprinkle on food.