Since they hit supermarket shelves, Marmite and Vegemite have divided the world. Their manufacturers even use this divide in their marketing campaigns, with some people loving Marmite and/or Vegemite and others detesting both products with a passion.
Unless you are looking for them, you will probably not come across many recipes that call for either. However, those who love them can go through Marmite or Vegemite quickly.
So, if you find yourself out of your favourite spreadable, could you use Marmite instead of Vegemite and vice versa?
Though very similar in appearance and taste, it is the underlying taste that separates Marmite from Vegemite. Marmite predominately uses yeast extract for its flavour, giving a sweeter finish, while Vegemite uses vegetable extract and certain spices, giving a more bitter taste.
What is Marmite?
Though a distinctly British product, Marmite was invented by a German scientist working in Britain in the 19th century. Justus von Liebig found that yeast leftover from brewing beer could be turned into a concentrate and eaten as a savoury spread.
Marmite has made a name for itself because of its extremely strong, yeasty taste. It is about as savoury as a spread can get with a distinctly salty flavour, though there is a slight undercutting sweetness.
What separates the Marmite lovers from the Marmite haters is the yeastiness of the spread more than anything.
The spread is super smooth but cannot be described as buttery simply because of its density. With its dark brown colour and thickness, Marmite is not the most visually appealing spread. Though for those who love its taste, the appearance doesn’t matter.
How I Use Marmite
When I’m looking to amp up the savoury factor in my stews or pie fillings, Marmite is my go-to secret ingredient. Its rich, yeasty flavour infuses the dish with a depth and complexity that is just fantastic. The beauty of Marmite is that it’s loaded with umami, that elusive fifth taste.
What is Vegemite?
On the back of Marmite’s invention, Fred Walker & Co. in Australia also wanted to find a way to utilise discarded brewery yeast, leading to the invention of Vegemite in 1919.
However, brewery yeast may act as the base for Vegemite, but it is not the only critical component of the spread.
The ‘vege‘ aspect of the Vegemite name comes from various vegetable extracts such as celery extract, giving the spread a noticeable bitterness that some describe as similar to the umami of soy sauce.
Vegemite is as thick as peanut butter, though it is not as easy to spread. That being said, Vegemite is used as any other common spread for sandwiches or on toast. Its umami-like taste also makes it a helpful flavour component in hearty, savoury pies or soups.
How I Use Vegemite
Here’s a trick I love to do: I add a thin layer of Vegemite to my cheese toasties. The umami punch from Vegemite enhances the melty cheese and creates a unique flavour combo that’s addictive and delicious.
Similarities Between Marmite and Vegemite
To someone who cannot stand Marmite or Vegemite, it is easy to see how the two spreads would be mistaken for each other. Especially when being sold as jarred products on the supermarket shelf.
The main reasons are just how many key similarities the spreads share, such as:
Perhaps the most defining thing about Marmite and Vegemite as brands is how they have everyone’s opinions divided.
Some people absolutely love the spreads, using them wherever possible. Others cannot stand even the smell. They are certainly only products enjoyed by those with an acquired taste.
Both Marmite and Vegemite were invented as a way to make use of yeast extract discarded by breweries during the beer-making process. To this day, spare yeast extract remains the main ingredient in Marmite and Vegemite, giving the spreads their unique flavour.
Because Marmite and Vegemite both rely on a base of yeast extract, they are regarded as one of the most savoury spreads on the supermarket shelf.
This extreme savoury taste has everyone split on whether the spreads taste that great or not. The savoury flavour of Marmite and Vegemite is underpinned by plenty of salt that only makes the spreads’ taste even more unique.
A key characteristic of Marmite and Vegemite is their extreme smoothness. You should not find any unpleasant lumps or chunks in either spread, allowing you to enjoy the taste instead of being put off by the texture.
Differences Between Marmite and Vegemite
True Marmite fans will tell you that Vegemite could never compete with Marmite regardless of all of their similarities. This is because there are enough differences to make the spreads stand out from each other:
Place Of Origin
Vegemite might have been invented directly because of the success of Marmite in Britain, but it is still a distinctly Australian product.
That is why it is far more commonly enjoyed in Australia compared to Britain, even though it is now also available to buy in British supermarkets.
Marmite and Vegemite are thick enough to be difficult to spread on untoasted bread.
However, it is Vegemite that is the thickest spread of the two. Its density better resembles that of a very thick peanut butter, whereas Marmite has a more syrupy quality to it.
The main flavour of both Vegemite and Marmite is an unmistakable savouriness thanks to the yeast extract that both spreads rely on.
But it is the more complex, underlying flavours that make Marmite and Vegemite distinguishable from each other.
Marmite is made using predominantly yeast extract and little else, making it a salty spread with a slight hint of sweetness that makes it taste a little more like a treat to those who actually enjoy the taste.
As its name suggests, Vegemite mixes vegetable extract with yeast extract, producing a bitter taste that better resembles umami.
Yes, you can substitute Marmite for Vegemite as they are both yeast extract spreads with similar savory, umami-rich flavors. However, Marmite has a slightly sweeter and less concentrated flavour than Vegemite, so you may need to adjust quantities to taste.
Marmite vs Vegemite: Which Wins?
If you could only pick one or the other, which would you vote for when we put Marmite vs Vegemite in front of you… Or, perhaps you hate them both!?
Do You Prefer Marmite or Vegemite?
Choosing Marmite and Vegemite often comes down to personal preference and what you grew up with. Marmite has a slightly sweeter, less intense flavour than Vegemite, which is more robust and salty. Both have their merits and can be enjoyed.
Acacia may be a freelance writer by day, but they are a food fanatic by night. They are always trying out new recipes or finding different ways to elevate classical dishes. But their biggest culinary aim is to educate others on the basics of the kitchen so that they too can enjoy delicious food.