What is the Difference Between Oregano and Marjoram

The main difference between oregano and marjoram is that oregano has a stronger flavor than marjoram.

Both oregano and marjoram are two herbs of the Mint family used in Greek and Mediterranean cuisine. They are available as both fresh leaves and dried herbs. Moreover, they look very similar and have similar flavors. Therefore, many people have trouble identifying them apart. However, there is a distinct difference between oregano and marjoram based on their taste.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Oregano
     – Definition, Properties, Use
2. What is Marjoram
     – Definition, Properties, Use
3. Similarities Between Oregano and Marjoram
     – Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Oregano and Marjoram
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Herbs, Oregano, MarjoramDifference Between Oregano and Marjoram - Comparison Summary

What is Oregano

Oregano is a herb from a flowering plant in the mint family. These plants have small leaves, which can add a strong aroma and flavor to many savory dishes. Oregano has a pungent taste, with an earthy and some mint and hay flavor; it can also be slightly bitter. Moreover, the aroma has a camphor note. Oregano is mainly used in Mediterranean cuisine, especially in recipes like pizza, pasta sauce and Greek salad.

Difference Between Oregano and Marjoram

Oregano is available as fresh leaves or dried leaves. Fresh oregano has a strong flavor and aroma. It is often used in bouquet garni for making stocks and soups. However, dried oregano is the most commonly used form since it has a subtler flavor and aroma and don’t overpower dishes as fresh leaves sometimes do.

You can easily grow oregano in your garden. There are several varieties of oregano. The most common oregano, i.e., the one you often find in the grocery store is Greek oregano (Origanum vulgare). Although Mexican oregano (Lippia graveolens), which has a pepper-like flavor, is like oregano, it is not technically oregano. What we call Italian’ oregano (Origanum x majoricum) is a hybrid of oregano and marjoram.

What is Marjoram

Marjoram (Origanum majorana) is an aromatic herb in the mint family. It has fuzzy, green, oval-shaped leaves that grow opposite from each other, forming distinctive clusters. Marjoram is warm, slightly sharp and a little bitter. It has a taste similar to thyme but is sweeter and has a stronger scent. When compared to oregano, marjoram has a milder flavor.Main Difference - Oregano vs Marjoram

Marjoram is available in both fresh and dry form. Dried marjoram is stronger than fresh leaves. You can use dried marjoram in herb blends, and in any way you’d use other dried herbs. However, you have to add fresh leaves towards the end of cooking so that the flavor remains strong. Moreover, you can use both fresh and dried forms to flavor sauces, salads, soups, and meat dishes. 

Similarities Between Oregano and Marjoram

  • Oregano and marjoram are members of the mint family and have a similar appearance.
  • They can be used in fresh form, dried form, or as essential oils.
  • They are mostly used in tomato-based dishes like pizza and pasta sauce.
  • You can use marjoram as a substitute for oregano and vice versa, but the quantities may vary.

Difference Between Oregano and Marjoram

Definition

Oregano is a herb taken from Origanum vulgare, a flowering plant in the mint family, while Marjoram is a herb taken from Origanum majorana, an aromatic herb in the mint family.

Flavor

Oregano has a pungent and spicy flavor, while marjoram is more floral and woodsy. Overall, marjoram has a subtler flavor than oregano.

Appearance

While oregano leaves have an olive green color, marjoram leaves are slightly hairy and more gray-green in color. In addition to that, oregano leaves tend to dot the entire stalk of the plant while marjoram leaves tend to cluster at the tips of the branches.

Cooking

You can add oregano early in cooking, but you have to add marjoram at the end of cooking.

Conclusion

Oregano is a herb from Origanum vulgare, a flowering plant in the mint family, while Marjoram is a herb from Origanum majorana, an aromatic herb in the mint family. The main difference between oregano and marjoram is that oregano has a stronger flavor than marjoram. You can use marjoram as a substitute for oregano and vice versa, but their quantities may vary.

Reference:

1. Peggy Trowbridge. “Oregano: A Commonly Used Herb.” The Spruce Eats, www.thespruceeats.com/is-oregano-the-same-as-marjoram-1807040.
2. Jeanroy, Amy. “Learn How to Grow and Use Oregano in Your Favorite Food.” The Spruce, www.thespruce.com/herb-profile-oregano-1761786.

Image Courtesy:

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About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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