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Thyme Substitutes – What to Substitute for Thyme in your recipe (fresh or Dried)

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If you are making a recipe that calls for thyme, but you don’t have any on hand, check out our list below to find the best thyme substitute for your dish.

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Dried herbs in a white bowl.

Choosing a Thyme Substitute

There are many herbs that can be used as a substitute for thyme. However, the flavors of all herbs are slightly different. And so when substituting herbs, it is important to keep in mind the overall flavor of the dish you are preparing when selecting a herb to use in place of thyme.

The best thyme alternative to choose will depend on the type of cuisine you are making, and the other ingredients in the recipe.

You will want to choose a herb with a similar flavor profile to thyme, which also complements the other flavors in the dish.

What does thyme taste like?

Thyme has a fresh, bright flavor with piney, citrus, and floral notes. It also has a subtle mint flavor (much more obvious with fresh thyme vs dried), which helps to add a wonderful freshness to the flavor of thyme.

Thyme is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae sp.), and several other popular herbs that are members of this same family make good substitutes for thyme.

Rosemary, oregano, marjoram, sage, winter savory, and basil all have similar flavor profiles to thyme, making them good alternatives to use in its place.

Each of these herbs has a slightly different flavor, and may work best depending on what you are cooking.

See our list of the best substitutes for thyme, below, for more details on which to use.

Substitutes for dried thyme

If your recipe calls for dried thyme but you are out, there are some other options in addition to the dried form of any of the herbs listed above.

There are several dried herb and spice mixes that could be used in place of thyme in a recipe. Check the ingredients, and if thyme is one of them, there is a good chance that it will work in your recipe.

See the list below for some of our favorites.

Best substitutes for thyme

1. Oregano

Oregano, like thyme, is a member of the mint family. It has a warm, pungent flavor similar flavor to thyme, with a slightly more minty taste. It’s often used in Mediterranean and Italian cuisine.

You can use oregano in place of thyme in most recipes, just be sure to use a little less since it is more potent than thyme.

Great for: Italian dishes, poultry, fish, pasta, and vegetables.

2. Marjoram

These two herbs are very similar in taste and smell, so they can be used interchangeably in most recipes. Both herbs have a similar flavor profile, with a slightly citrus taste and a hint of mint. However marjoram is a bit sweeter than thyme, so keep that in mind when making the switch.

Marjoram has a more delicate flavor than thyme, so you may want to add more of it to your dish.

Great for: French recipes, chicken, fish, and vegetable dishes.

3. Rosemary

When it comes to herbs, thyme and rosemary are often used interchangeably. However, these two herbs actually have quite different flavor profiles.

Rosemary has a strong, pungent flavor that can be overwhelming if used in large quantities. Thyme, on the other hand, has a more subtle flavor that can be a great addition to many dishes.

If you’re out of thyme and need a substitute, rosemary is a good option. Just be sure to use it sparingly!

Great for: beef, lamb, game meats, vegetables, potatoes, roasts, and dishes with strong flavors.

4. Basil

Basil and thyme are both members of the mint family and have a similar flavor profile. However, they can be used interchangeably in many recipes. Basil has a sweeter stronger flavor than thyme, which is more savory.

Great for: Italian dishes, chicken, fish and vegetables.

5. Sage

Although sage is usually associated with fall and winter dishes, it’s a versatile herb that can be used in many different types of recipes.

Sage has a slightly earthy, peppery taste and can be used in both savory and sweeter dishes.

When substituting sage for thyme, use a little less sage than you would thyme since sage has a more potent flavor. A little goes a long way!

Great for: chicken, pork and lamb, stuffing, dishes with rich sauces

6. Winter Savory

Winter savory is an aromatic herb with an earthy peppery flavor that’s similar to thyme. Like thyme, it has hints of mint and citrus but has less sweetness.

It’s a versatile herb that can be used in a variety of dishes, from soups and stews to roasted vegetables.

Use winter savory sparingly when substituting for thyme, as it has a strong flavor that can be overpowering if too much is used.

Great for: poultry, lamb, pork, game, vegetables, stuffing, stews and broths.

7. Tarragon

If you’re in a pinch and don’t have any thyme on hand, tarragon makes for a great substitute. While it’s not an herb that’s used as often, it shares many of the same properties as thyme. It has a similar flavor profile, with a slightly sweeter anise flavor.

It’s a versatile herb that can be used in many different dishes and so makes a great substitute. However, keep in mind that tarragon is a bit more potent, so you may need to use a little less than the recipe calls for.

Great for: French cuisine, chicken dishes, fish and vegetables.

8. Herbes de Provence

This herb mix often contains thyme, and the flavors of the other herbs complement thyme (as you would expect), so this blend can usually be used in place of dried thyme in most recipes.

Great for: French cuisine, roasted meats and vegetables.

9. Italian seasoning

Again, thyme is one of the standard ingredients in many Italian seasoning mixes (along with oregano and bail), so it can usually be used in place of dried thyme with great results.

Great for: Italian cuisine, roasted vegetables, tomato dishes.

10. Greek seasoning

This blend of herbs is commonly used in Greek dishes, and can be used in place of thyme in the right recipe.

Greek seasoning often contains a blend of oregano, marjoram, rosemary, and or thyme, with onion and garlic powder. It can offer a similar flavor profile to thyme, but you will need to bear in mind whether the additional ingredients will go with your recipe.

If they also feature in the recipe then you are good to go. However, you may need to reduce the amount of the other ingredients (like garlic powder or salt) to ensure you don’t add too much.

Great for: Greek cuisine, lamb recipes, vegetables and fish.

11. Za’atar spice mix

Za’atar is a blend of herbs, spices and seeds that is common in Middle Eastern cuisine. It is often made using thyme, oregano, sumac, sesame seeds and salt.

This spice mix can have quite a strong flavor, so it is best to add less than the amount of thyme called for in the recipe. Also check the ingredients and if the seasoning mix contains salt, reduce the salt that you add the recipe.

Great for: Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines, beef and lamb dishes, vegetables.

Substitute dried thyme for fresh

Of course, you can always substitute fresh thyme for dried and vice versa in a recipe.

Thyme retains its flavor well when dried, so you need a lot less dried than fresh.

The typical recommendation is:

  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves = ¾ teaspoon dried thyme

2 sprigs of thyme are equal to approximately one teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves, or ¼ teaspoon of dried thyme.

Final thoughts

Although there are several great substitutes for thyme, which are similar to thyme in flavor and aroma. They can be used in many of the same dishes, but the best substitute for your recipe will depend on the other flavors in the dish.

If you don’t have any of these herbs to hand, you can also substitute a herb mix that contains thyme as an ingredient. Choose a spice mix that will match the overall flavor of the dish you are preparing.

You can also use dried thyme in place of fresh thyme in most recipes, but you will need to convert the amounts in the recipe as the flavor of dried thyme is stronger than that of fresh thyme.


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