12 Best Substitutes for Thyme in Your Cooking

12 best substitutes for thyme
21 min reading time

When it comes to flavor, just a pinch of thyme can make all the difference in your favorite recipes. From roasting vegetables and sautéed shrimp to soups and stews, thyme has been used for centuries as an aromatic herb that brings out delicious flavors in many dishes. But what happens when you don’t have any fresh or dried thyme on hand? Don’t worry – there are plenty of other herbs that can serve as a substitute and bring their own unique aroma and taste combinations to the party!

In this post, we’ll be exploring some great substitutes for thyme with tips on how to use each one. So if you’re looking for ways to enhance your meals without using thyme, read on!

What is Thyme?

Thyme is an evergreen herb, scientifically known as Thymus vulgaris. It is native to the Mediterranean region and has been used for centuries in cooking, medicine, and cosmetics.

Thyme can help treat respiratory issues like coughs and sore throats due to its active ingredient thymol. This natural plant power also contains vitamins A, E, B6, and C, making it a great supplement for your daily nutrition routine. It even helps relieve symptoms of stress with its antioxidant compounds!

There are lots of herbal varieties available including lemon thyme and orange thyme for those who prefer a citrus flavor with their meals or drinks. When added to food recipes or beverages like tea infusions, thyme provides a unique aroma that can turn any dish or drink into something special!

How’s the Taste of Thyme?

Thyme has a unique, warm and calming flavor that is noticeably herbaceous, earthy, and slightly minty. In fact, it’s often referred to as “the perfect all-purpose herb.” A member of the mint family, thyme has been used for centuries in cooking to enhance both savory and sweet dishes.

Thyme works best as dry seasoning is rubbed onto meats or added during the last few minutes of cooking for soups and stews.

When fresh thyme is available year-round (either by growing your own or purchasing it at grocery stores), its delicate flavor will be significantly more pungent than dried thyme due to higher essential oil concentration from freshly cut herbs compared to those that have been previously preserved through drying.

How is Thyme Used?

Thyme is one of the most popular herbs used in cooking. It can be added during the cooking process or sprinkled on top as a finishing touch — either way, will give your dish an extra level of flavor. Because its aroma teases our taste buds, thyme is often incorporated into marinades, stews, soups, and slow-cooked meats.

If you’d like to try something new with thyme (and more inventive!), you could also add it to grilled vegetables for a burst of flavor or combine it with olive oil for roasted potatoes or baking bread; this method makes excellent use of all the essences found in this versatile plant.

In addition to being an ingredient commonly found in recipes such as stuffings, roasted poultry, and fish dishes, baked goods like pies and cakes also rely on thyme’s earthy notes to achieve the desired balance between sweet and savory flavors.

How To Choose the Best Substitute for Thyme?

When choosing a substitute for thyme, the most important factor to consider is the flavor profile. Thyme has an earthy, slightly minty flavor with a woodsy aroma that falls into the same flavor range as marjoram and oregano. When substituting one of those herbs for thyme, be sure to do so in moderation because they tend to have a stronger taste than thyme does. You may need to reduce other seasonings accordingly when using either of those two herbs as substitutes.

Another option is tarragon, which has a mild licorice-like flavor similar enough to thyme that it’s often used as an acceptable substitute without reducing any other seasonings. The downside is that tarragon can overpower some dishes if too much is added – use sparingly and taste your dish before serving it just in case!

The Best Substitutes For Thyme in Savory Cooking

1. Oregano

Oregano - One of the substitutes for thyme

Oregano is a great substitute for thyme, as it has similar flavor characteristics and can be used interchangeably in most recipes. Both herbs have similar medicinal benefits due to their high levels of antioxidants like thymol and carvacrol which are known to reduce inflammation and boost immunity.

When using oregano as a substitute for thyme in cooking, it’s important to keep in mind that because oregano has such a strong flavor profile, you will need more than what would typically be called for if using thyme instead. Start by using half the amount called for and add small amounts until you reach your desired taste preference – this is key since too much oregano can overpower any dish!

A few recipes where substitution with oregano might work well include marinades (especially those containing garlic), pasta sauces featuring tomatoes or vegetables like eggplant or peppers, grilled meats like chicken or pork chops (ideally seasoned before grilling), soups with legumes such as white beans or lentils, potato dishes like casseroles & au gratin potatoes.

2. Marjoram

green marjoram used as an alternative to thyme

Marjoram and thyme are both members of the mint family. Both herbs offer flavors that are slightly sweet, earthy, and herbal; however, marjoram’s flavor tends to be warm and slightly more delicate than thyme’s bolder flavor. That being said, if you’re looking for a milder version of thyme then marjoram is an excellent choice as it still offers the same herbal notes with a smoother texture.

Marjoram contains multiple essential oils including thymol—the same active ingredient found in Thyme oil—which has antimicrobial properties used to ward off infections and parasites within the body.

If you want to try replacing one with the other, remember that two teaspoons of marjoram replace nearly three teaspoons of dried thyme; however, if substituting fresh herbs then four teaspoons of marjoram equal about one teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves.

3. Fresh Parsley

Parsley - one of the most popular substitutes for thyme

Parsley can often provide the same level of complexity as thyme while still retaining its own unique flavor profile. It works especially well to season lighter foods like fish, eggs, salads, dressings, and vegetable side dishes because it isn’t overpowering nor does it need a long cooking time as thyme does; fresh parsley is typically added to these types of dishes at the last minute in order to retain its bright green color and grassy taste.

Parsley’s nutritional value makes it especially attractive as a substitution when cooking. Parsley is rich in vitamins A, C, K, folate, magnesium, calcium, and iron—all key nutrients for optimal health. In particular, the high vitamin C content helps to boost immunity and the iron content is essential for transporting oxygen throughout the body via red blood cells.

The delicate flavor combines well with fish such as cod, salmon, or trout; poultry such as chicken; beef; pork; vegetables including tomatoes & mushrooms; legumes like beans & lentils; grains including couscous & quinoa – all adding depth of flavor when substituting thyme for parsley so you don’t have to compromise on taste either!

4. Rosemary

Rosemary used as an alternative to thyme

Rosemary has an intense, woody aroma with resinous tones that add complexity to dishes. It pairs well with poultry and pork and is especially delicious when combined with olives or other Mediterranean ingredients like balsamic vinegar and garlic. Its flavor can also stand up to beef, lamb, root vegetables, potatoes, and tomatoes.

In addition to its culinary uses, Rosemary possesses anti-inflammatory properties which make it beneficial for treating headaches and muscle aches due to its high levels of rosmarinic acid which helps reduce inflammation caused by arthritis or other chronic health conditions like fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis

It’s important to keep in mind that one teaspoon of dried rosemary is approximately equal to three times more than what would normally be called for if using fresh thyme leaves instead (i.e., 1/2 teaspoon vs 3 teaspoons). As such, when substituting one herb for another you may want to reduce your measurements slightly so as not to drown out other ingredients with too much forceful flavoring from either side!

5. Sage

Sage used as an alternative to thyme

Sage is an aromatic herb with wiry gray-green leaves but it has a more distinctively pungent flavor than thyme – some even describe the taste as slightly bitter – so it’s best for recipes that require more assertive flavoring.

The herb thyme has been used for ages as a medicinal ingredient due to its amazing health benefits. However, the flavor of thyme can be strong for some people and it can often overpower other flavors in a dish. This is why many cooks prefer to use sage as an alternative.

Sage’s aroma is more earthy and sweet which makes it much easier to incorporate into dishes compared to thyme’s potent aroma. Sage also contains several important nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and magnesium which are essential for overall health and well-being.

6. Basil

Basil leaves used as one of the substitutes for thyme

Both Basil and Thyme have a lot of the same flavor notes, and if you’re out of one, the other will work just fine.

Basil has a slightly sweeter taste than thyme, making it more suitable for dishes that require gentle touches of sweetness. It also offers higher levels of Vitamin K and magnesium than thyme does, which can be beneficial for those looking to add health benefits to their dishes.

Furthermore, basil’s bigger leaves allow chefs more flexibility when adding it to recipes since they are easier to chop into smaller pieces or thinly slice without losing pieces in the process.

When substituting basil for thyme in cooking recipes like soups and sauces, reduce the amount slightly at first as basil tends to be stronger than thyme in terms of flavor intensity. Additionally, it’s best when added near the end of the cooking process so that its flavors don’t get lost during long cook times or overpowered by other ingredients.

7. Savory

Summer Savory used as an alternative to thyme

Savory is also a type of herb but has slightly stronger flavors than thyme in most cases. The two herbs have fairly similar flavor profiles so you won’t typically notice too much of a difference when substituting one for the other.

Savory is best utilized in dishes that pair well with its intensity such as roasted vegetables or casseroles like shepherd’s pie which contain both meat and vegetables layered into their respective layers of the dish.

When using this substitution make sure not to overdo it as even just 1/2 teaspoon can create drastic changes in flavor if not managed properly- this goes especially true for savory since it’s much more powerful than thyme!

Savory works particularly well when cooked with garlic or onions as these ingredients bring out more intense flavors within it – making your meal even more delicious! You can also use savory along with oregano and basil as part of Italian cuisine; just remember to use sparingly because this herb packs quite an intense punch!

8. Tarragon

Tarragon herbal used as an alternative to thyme

Tarragon is an aromatic herb often used as a substitute for thyme in various recipes. This substitution makes sense because both herbs have a similar flavor profile, with tarragon having a slightly more pronounced anise flavor than thyme. Tarragon also has the added advantage of being available year-round, unlike fresh thyme which is only seasonally available.

In terms of nutritional value, tarragon, and thyme have comparable levels of vitamins and minerals: Both are high in dietary fiber and contain vitamins A, C, E, and K; iron; calcium; potassium; magnesium; copper; manganese; zinc; phosphorus and selenium.

Tarragon pairs perfectly with various sauces such as Bearnaise sauce (which traditionally calls for chervil) and goes excellently alongside chicken, beef, pork chops, or any type of poultry dish.

Aside from being able to substitute one herb for another in recipes successfully – both offer unique benefits health-wise! Thyme is known to be packed full of antioxidants and antibacterial properties that help fight off colds/flu better while eating foods enhanced by the taste buds enjoyed through tarragons’ flavorful essence offers consumers additional anti-inflammatory benefits that help regulate digestion while boosting moods simultaneously – so eat up everyone!

Dried Seasoning Substitutes

9. Italian Seasoning

Italian Seasoning as an alternative to thyme

Italian Seasoning is a blend of herbs, including oregano, basil, marjoram, rosemary, and sage. In general terms, it can provide the flavor of thyme with some added complexity.

In terms of using an Italian seasoning as a direct replacement for thyme in your recipe, you’ll want to use about 1 teaspoon of the seasoning per 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme leaves or 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme.

If possible try to avoid pre-mixed Italian seasonings containing garlic as they can be quite overpowering when combined with other flavors. Stick to blends that only contain herbs like oregano, basil, etc. This will help keep the flavor balance much closer to what it would be had you used plain old Thyme instead!

10. Poultry Seasoning

Poultry seasoning as one of the alternatives to thyme

Poultry seasoning is a blend of several spices, including sage, marjoram, rosemary, and thyme. It also often includes other herbs like basil, nutmeg, or oregano. When used in place of dried thyme it will provide some of the same flavors while bringing added flavor complexity to your dish.

If you find that the result after adding poultry seasoning is too intense for your dish then try cutting back on the amount or using just one herb from within the mix (such as rosemary).

When substituting with poultry seasoning alternative equal amounts should work: e.g. replace 1 teaspoon dried thyme with 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning – but do a taste test afterward to make sure and adjust according as needed!


Za'atar used as an alternative to thyme

ZA’ATAR is a Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dry herb and spice blend that has become increasingly popular worldwide. It is often used to season dishes much like one would use thyme, particularly in lamb dishes.

ZA’ATAR is typically made with ground-dried oregano, sumac, sesame seeds, and salt; it can also contain other spices like cumin or coriander. The flavor of ZA’ATAR is herbal but not overpowering with a slight tartness from the sumac being the most dominant flavor. Along with being used as a flavoring for foods, this seasoning can also be used as an accompaniment to bread or sprinkled over hummus.

12. Herbes De Provence

Herbes de provence used as a substitute for thyme

Herbes de Provence, a traditional mixture of dried herbs originating in the south of France, is an excellent choice as a substitute for thyme. This blend typically includes savory, fennel, basil, marjoram or oregano, rosemary, and lavender.

Herbes de Provence is ideal as a seasoning substitute for thyme because it has a rich herbal flavor that is similar to the distinct aromas associated with thyme. The mixture allows you to combine several flavors into one convenient package without having to buy each herb individually. Because the herbs found in this spice blend are also common ingredients in Mediterranean cuisine, it adds depth of flavor as well.

When substituting with Herbes de Provence for thyme you should start by using less than what the recipe calls for if you are not familiar with it. The other herbs in this mixture can overwhelm the delicate taste of thyme and dominate whatever dish you might be preparing if too much is added. Start out by adding half as much Herbes de Provence as what the recipe calls for with regard to thyme even if you think it needs more after tasting it later on. You can always add more but cannot take away what was already added!

Difference Between Fresh Thyme and Dried Thyme

The main difference between fresh thyme and dried thyme is the flavor intensity. Fresh thyme has a much more intense flavor, while dried has a more subtle, woodsy flavor.

They also have different uses in cooking. Fresh thyme has the strongest flavor of all types of thyme and it works best when added to dishes at the end of cooking or sprinkled on top as a garnish. It can be used to enhance savory dishes such as meat recipes, soups, stews, sauces, and marinades as well roasted vegetables due to its high concentration of aromatic oil thymol. Dry versions work best with long-cooking methods like roasting meats or Adding dry leaves directly into any dish tend to be very successful since their flavors don’t dissipate over time as they do with fresh herbs.

It’s important to remember that if you are substituting fresh for dried in recipes then use about three times less because it is so much stronger in flavoring power than the dry version.

How to Grow Your Own Thyme at Home

Growing your own thyme at home is a great way to have fresh herbs on hand all year round. With just a few supplies and some basic knowledge, you can have an abundant supply of flavorful thyme to add flavor to your favorite dishes. Here’s how:

1) Purchase starter plants from your local nursery or garden center. Be sure to select varieties that are known for their hardiness in your climate; if you live somewhere cold, you’ll want something like Woolly Thyme as it can handle temperatures down into the 20s Fahrenheit (-6 Celsius).

2) Plant the thyme in damp but well-drained soil in full sun (at least 6 hours per day). If possible, sow seeds directly into the ground instead of using starters; this will get you larger yields and more productive plants over time. The optimal soil pH should be between 6-7 (neutral).

3) Water regularly but don’t let the soil become soggy as too much water will cause root rot. If planting outdoors, establish a weekly watering routine so that the ground is kept consistently moist without becoming oversaturated. For those growing indoors—use containers with drainage holes and aim for twice weekly watering intervals when necessary during dry spells or in hot weather periods.

4) Prune back old growth before flowering starts each spring and then again once flowers appear — this helps promote growth and more frequent harvestings throughout the season. Deadheading spent blooms after flowering also helps keep new buds coming out for many weeks ahead!

5) Harvesting thyme leaves should take place after the blooming period ends – usually around July/August time depending on what type of variety was planted earlier on in springtime and where it was located geographically speaking! Use sharp scissors or shears to snip off sprigs close near the base stem node point – these sprigs then can either be hung out upside down until dry enough so they crumble easily into individual leaves (or used immediately!)

Interesting Facts About Thyme

Thyme is a common herb that has been used for centuries as an essential flavoring in cooking and medicine.

Here are some interesting facts about this fragrant herb:

  1. Thyme has been around since ancient times—Egyptians used it as incense and embalming agents during burials. Romans added it to their bathwater to promote good health and hygiene. In the Middle Ages, people also used thyme for treating snakebites!
  2. Its name comes from the Greek thymos “perfume” due to its strong aroma—it’s often compared to lemon or pine scent. The leaves can be dried or fresh; either way, they will give off an intense flavor when added to cooked food dishes like stews and roast recipes.
  3. Nutritionally speaking, thyme is relatively low in calories but packed with vitamins A C & E along with minerals such as iron & magnesium plus medicinal compounds like terpenoids carvacrol & thymol (which gives thyme its distinct smell). These naturally occurring components are thought to have antibacterial properties that make them beneficial for our health when consumed regularly — they can help fight viruses inflammation digestive issues etc). Thus why you’ll find many natural cold remedy products containing this powerful little herb!
  4. Thyme isn’t just great for cooking; it can be made into herbal tea too! Not only does it taste great on its own but adding a sprig of thyme will enhance the flavors of most teas plus give you some additional benefits like improved digestion memory function boost immunity etc.

Recipes Using Thyme

Thyme is a versatile and aromatic herb that adds a delightful flavor to various dishes. Its earthy, slightly minty taste pairs well with a wide range of ingredients, making it a staple in many cuisines. Here are five delicious recipes that showcase the power of thyme and elevate your culinary creations.

1. Lemon Thyme Roast Chicken – Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Season the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity with lemon halves and thyme sprigs. Mix minced garlic with olive oil and rub it all over the chicken. Place the chicken on a roasting rack and roast for about 1 hour or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C). Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving.

2. Thyme-Infused Mashed PotatoesBoil the potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain and return them to the pot. In a small saucepan, heat the milk, butter, and thyme until the butter has melted. Pour the mixture over the potatoes and mash until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

3. Tomato Thyme Soup – In a large pot, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion until soft. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in the vegetable broth, crushed tomatoes, and thyme leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and serve with crusty bread.

4. Thyme-Scented Mushroom Risotto – In a large pan, heat the olive oil and butter. Sauté the onion until soft, then add the mushrooms and cook until tender. Stir in the Arborio rice and cook for 2 minutes. Gradually add the warm vegetable broth, one cup at a time, stirring constantly until the liquid is absorbed. Once all the broth has been added and the rice is cooked, stir in the thyme leaves and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

5. Honey-Thyme Glazed Carrots – Steam or boil the carrots until tender. In a large skillet, melt the butter and honey together. Add the cooked carrots and thyme leaves, tossing to coat. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the carrots are glazed. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Thyme is a delightful herb that can enhance a variety of dishes. These five recipes are just a glimpse into the countless possibilities when cooking with thyme.

How to Store Thyme?

If you want to enjoy the flavor and aroma of thyme for an extended period, storing it right is important. One of the easiest and most effective ways to store fresh thyme is by refrigerating it.

First, rinse the herb in cool water and dry it thoroughly using a paper towel. Next, remove the leaves from the stems and place them in an airtight container. You can also wrap the leaves in damp paper towels before storing them. Keep the container or the wrapped herbs in the fridge and use them within a week.

Storing thyme this way ensures that it stays fresh and fragrant, and makes it easy to add its distinct flavor to your soups, stews, marinades, and more.

Bottom Line

According to the experts, there is no one-size-fits-all substitute for thyme, as the flavor and intensity of the other herbs used can drastically change the end result. However, by considering the distinct flavors of each herb – along with its general uses in various cuisines – you can find a suitable replacement that is sure to bring delicious results. Whether you decide to use herb blends or individual components, building your own unique herby combo will add depth and complexity to your cooking and help make any dish stand out. No matter which way you go, these 12 best substitutes for thyme are sure to be a great addition to your kitchen pantry!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a Good Thyme Substitute for Chicken Recipes?

Marjoram, rosemary, oregano, and sage are all excellent substitutes for thyme and can provide a similar savory flavor to your chicken dishes.

What is a Good Thyme Substitute for Beef Recipes?

One of the best options is rosemary, which has a similarly earthy flavor profile and pairs perfectly with beef. Alternatively, savory is a lesser-known herb that can add a slightly spicy and tangy flavor to your dish. Another option is marjoram, which has a milder taste than thyme but still brings a lovely herbaceousness to the dish.

Where can I find thyme?

Thyme is widely available in many grocery stores and supermarkets. You can find fresh thyme in the produce section, usually sold in small bundles. Dried thyme can be found in the spice aisle, often sold in jars or packets.

What are the side effects of thyme?

Despite its many benefits, like any herb thyme can have side effects. Some studies suggest that overconsumption of thyme can cause skin irritation such as rashes or allergic reactions. It can also cause upset stomachs or even lead to dizziness in some patients. While the side effects are generally mild, it is important to speak with a medical professional before making any drastic changes to your diet.

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