Thyme is an herb with mild, earthy, and slightly citric, with perhaps a tiny hint of mint. It is also one herb whose flavor does not disappear with heat, that’s why it is often added to soups, stews, and roasted meats as well as in rice, sauces, and even baked goodies.
But what if you’re in the midst of a recipe that calls for thyme, and you open your spice cabinet only to find out you run out of thyme?
You could run to the nearest grocery store, but you’re not guaranteed if you could find thyme. At this rate, you’d like to know what are the best substitutes for thyme.
Because of its grounding, not-too-intense flavor, thyme can add complexity and warmth to a variety of dishes. And to use fresh thymes in recipes, just pull gently the leaves off the stems, then chop finely and use liberally. When dried, it remains super flavorful, so you can buy dried thyme and keep it in your spice rack.
If you don’t have the herb on hand, yet it needs in the recipe, do not fear as we’ve got a number of suggestions for you.
12 Substitutes For Thyme Sprigs
Any number of fresh herbs and their dried counterparts work as a substitute for thyme in either sweet and savory recipes. The ratios that you’ll see below slightly differs for each type of herb.
Note that for recipes where thyme sprigs are tied together in the bouquet garni (this is a bunch of tied up herbs used in seasoning stews, soups, or big cuts of meat), it will be best if you substitute it with sprigs of oregano, marjoram, savory, and basil.
Fresh and dried, oregano has a distinct taste of earthy, minty, savory, and slightly bitter notes just like thyme. It also gets spicy with an herbal undertone, giving you a lovely complexity.
If you replace thyme with oregano, use fresh oregano in a 1:1 swap for fresh thyme, and dried oregano in a 1:1 swap for dried thyme. If you’re swapping dried oregano in a 1:1 swap for dried thyme. If you’re swapping fresh oregano for dried thyme, double the amount of oregano.
On the other hand, if you’re swapping dried oregano for fresh thyme, you’ll want to use half the amount of dried oregano for the amount of fresh thyme it needs, as the dried herb can be potent, throwing your recipe off balance.
You can also use fresh or dried marjoram in place of thyme. It has a woody, minty profile just like oregano, but with a milder and sweeter flavor. The same rules apply here as they do oregano.
Use a 1:1 swap of fresh marjoram for fresh thyme, a 1:1 swap of dried marjoram for dried thyme, then half the amount of dried marjoram as a substitute for fresh thyme, then twice the amount of fresh marjoram for dried thyme.
Rosemary is a woody herb just like thyme (considered woody, but only when it matures). For both, use only the leaves, unless it is being used in vegetable broth or steeping only. Rosemary is slightly stronger in flavor, so you want to use a bit less of it.
Like oregano and marjoram, rosemary belongs to the same family (Lamiaceae) as thyme, so you’ll notice that they have the same flavor notes. It is commonly used in broth-based soups like potato soup but does not go well with tomato dishes.
Since it came from the same family as thyme, you can use basil freely to replace thyme in various recipes. Fresh basil has a very licorice and bright flavor, so use half of the amount of fresh basil as you would if you use fresh thyme.
For that case, use a 1:1 ratio for dried thyme. Dried basil has a lesser intensity than the fresh ones, so a 1:1 swap for fresh thyme or a 2:1 swap dried thyme will be recommended.
Savory is another herb in the mint family that has a peppery, robust, and yes savory flavor. If you substitute it with thyme, swap out fresh savory 1:1 for fresh thyme and dried savory 1:1 for dried thyme. Use a 2:1 fresh savory for dried thyme, and half of the amount of dried savory in substitute for fresh thyme.
For a chicken or fish dish that requires the use of thyme, you could utilize tarragon instead. It is a little sweeter than thyme and has somewhat hints of bitterness.
However, the slight anise flavor and the mint-like taste is the thing that loans this spice so exceptionally well as a substitution of thyme. You can utilize it like for like. By this we mean, one teaspoon of thyme relates to something very similar to tarragon.
However, you might need to add it step by step, tasting in the middle if possible. In case you are struggling to put the flavor of tarragon having never attempted it, recall a period where you have eaten Bearnaise sauce.
Tarragon is the primary flavor component in this sauce. The flavor is best suited to French cooking, and may not be just about as flexible as some different substitutes on this list as a result of its extremely distinctive taste so bear this in mind first.
Any of the following herbs listed below can be used in a 1:1 swap with dried thyme. Use half as much as in replace of fresh thyme. Just a reminder because a few of these have powdered aromatics or dried seeds, and you don’t want to include these in sweet recipes that require thyme.
This spice blend contains dried basil, thyme, marjoram, and rosemary. It is an ultra-fragrant spice blend, which makes a great choice for a thyme substitute.
Descending from the Levant region, za’atar generally has dried thyme, marjoram, oregano, sometimes lemony sumac, and toasted sesame seeds and salt. You may want to lessen the amount of salt in the recipe if you opt to use za’atar as a replacement for thyme.
This spice blend is a mixture of marjoram, dried basil, thyme, oregano, and rosemary. This super fragrant spice is an excellent choice for a thyme substitute.
This mixture of dried herbs came from the Provence region of France, which often comprise dried basil, parsley, marjoram, tarragon, thyme, and fennel seeds. It has a powerful distinctive flavor, so you might want to start adding it a bit in your recipe that calls for thyme.
Below is a quick table, where you can see the list of herbs that can be used to replace thyme as well as the recommended amount to be used.
|Substitutes||Thyme Amount||Herb Amount||Best used for||Notes|
|Rosemary||1 tsp||¾ tsp||Works best in pork and lamb recipes, salad dressings, and soups||Rosemary has dominating flavors, thus must be incorporated sparingly.|
|Tarragon||1 tsp||1 tsp||Works best in chicken and fish dishes.||Tarragon has a bitter-sweet, fennel-like flavor to it. Even though its flavor is great, it may slightly change the flavor of the recipe.|
|Basil||1 tsp||¾ tsp||Tomato-based recipes like lasagna, spaghetti, sauces, shrimp salads, and many more||Basil has a slightly potent flavor as compared to thyme, so use it properly and in the right amount.|
|Oregano||1 tsp||¾ tsp||Tomato-based recipes like lasagna, spaghetti, sauces, shrimp salads, and many more||The flavor of oregano is more powerful than thyme, which must be taken into consideration. A mixture of rosemary and oregano in equal parts will taste great in potato recipes.|
|Dill||1 tsp||¾ tsp||Pork dishes, shrimp salads with creamy sauce, potato dishes, soups, etc.||The flavor of dill tastes like thyme; however, its own flavor is interesting and will produce a lovely flavor to the dish. To taste is to believe if you prefer the flavor of dill.|
|Italian Seasoning||1 tsp||1 tsp||Lasagna, spaghetti, meatballs, pastas, pizzas, beef/lamb/pork dishes||Italian seasoning imparts a touch of Mediterranean flavor to dishes.|
|Herbes de provence||1 tsp||1 tsp||Chicken/pork/beef/vegetable dishes||If other herbs like basil, rosemary, etc., are listed in the recipe you’re following, you can omit them, because they are already present in Herbes de Provence.|
|Poultry seasoning||1 tsp||1 tsp||Chicken, pork, or fish dishes||Thyme is a part of poultry seasoning; therefore, it may be used as a substitute; however, it also contains a mixture of other herbs, which may alter the flavors of your dish.|
|Middle East Spice Blend Zahtar||1 tsp||½ tsp||Chicken/fish dishes, grilled vegetables, pizza, potatoes, etc.||Since it has sesame seeds in it, your dish will acquire the flavor of sesame seeds. Moreover, the sumac content produces a lemony flavor to the dish. Add a little and see if you like the flavor. Adjust the quantity as needed.|
|Dried Thyme||1 tsp||¾ tsp||Chicken/fish dishes, grilled vegetables, pizza, potatoes, etc.||Dried herbs taste different from fresh ones; however, they are good options. Moreover, dried thyme doesn’t have the color that fresh thyme imparts.|
|Sage||1 tsp||½ tsp||Pork, meat, and chicken dishes, creamy sauces, and soups.||Sage complements most meats because of its slightly bitter and mint flavor. However, it has a strong flavor, thus, must be added accordingly.|
|Marjoram + Parsley||1 tsp||1 tsp marjoram + ½ tsp parsley||Chicken dishes, soups, salad dressings, etc.||Parsley has a mild flavor, which can be safely added. One potential problem is that it imparts a greenish-tinge to the dish.|
Can You Use Parsley Instead Of Thyme?
If you don’t have any thyme in the kitchen, you might worry when you need to add some into a recipe, what should you do? You can utilize numerous things as a substitute for thyme, yet remember that you won’t ever get a definite match because every herb has its own particular flavors and fragrances.
But, in some cases, you can use parsley as a substitute for thyme. If you do this though, you should combine it with marjoram. Marjoram is likewise a member of the herb and mint family.
It is sensitive and sweet and is an extremely fundamental spice with regards to Mediterranean food. You should utilize a teaspoon of marjoram and a half teaspoon of parsley as a swap for one teaspoon of thyme. Together these two spices will make a pleasant trade for thyme.
Thyme and Oregano are far from being the same. While they are the two spices utilized in cooking they are not the equivalent. The two of them can be placed into similar dishes once in a while yet their flavors and aromas are exceptionally unmistakable and unique. Thyme is more complex as a blend of sweet and peppery with traces of mint and lemony tangs. Oregano is a bolder spice with a sharp and earthy flavor.
You cannot substitute oregano for thyme as these flavors are different in the flavors they produce. You could put them both into the same dishes to get various flavors, however, they should never be used to replace each other as this would not work, and you might end up frustrated by the outcomes if you attempted to.
When taken from the stem two twigs of thyme will yield around a tablespoon of leaves, but this relies upon the real size of the stem and the branches. If you utilize a typical proportion of ⅓ of dried thyme to substitute a singular unit of fresh herbs then you will need around a teaspoon of dried thyme to equal the amount that you need.
Keep in mind that any spice doesn’t actually add anything to the chemistry of the recipe. Generally speaking, it simply contributes special flavors, so you can generally change the amount as you cook. This is the reason it is smarter to start a little and do trials as you cook until you arrive at the ideal flavors.
This is the most ideal approach to judge in case you are subbing fresh spices for dried spices. Check as you cook, add more if you need to. This will frequently bring about a more extraordinary dish than if you aimlessly follow the recipe.
You could replace thyme with dill if you wanted to. If you were to do this you would need to utilize 3/4 of a teaspoon of dill for each teaspoon of thyme you would add to this dish. This swap would turn out best for dishes that incorporate pork, potato dishes, soups, or even a shrimp salad with a smooth sauce.
Do recall that the flavor of dill is literally nothing like thyme by any means. That being said it has its own exceptional flavor that is quite individual and intriguing, it will absolutely add enticing flavors to the dish.
Taste it and check whether you favor the flavor of dill in your dishes, you may dismiss thyme always in certain dishes once you taste the magic that dill can bring to come dishes.
As you can see, there are a number of superb thyme substitutes. Whether you don’t prefer the flavor of thyme, you are bored of it, or you simply don’t have any in your store pantry, there is a substitute to suit each need.
Keep in mind that you should identify what precisely thyme will bring to your recipes. Be it earthiness, citrus notes, or minty undertones – and picking a substitute will be simple!