Thyme Substitutes

In need of an alternative to thyme? Check out these 15 flavorful substitutes that will bring a fresh twist to your dishes. Whether you’re out of thyme or simply looking to experiment, these substitutions for thyme will inspire your culinary creativity.

A collage of images of ingredients that can be used as substitutions for thyme.

Cooking with fresh and dried herbs, such as thyme, adds a delightful dimension to my recipes. And as someone who appreciates the flavors of fresh and dried thyme in my recipes, there are occasions when I find myself running low or completely out of this delightful herb.

It’s been these moments where I’ve gotten creative in order to find suitable thyme substitutes that can still impart a similar essence to my dishes.

And while nothing quite matches the unique profile of thyme, I’ve discovered there are a few good alternatives to use as a stand-in when needed. Just like these Marjoram Substitutes and my list of handy Cumin Substitutes.

And the best part is you can find most of these substitutes already in your pantry! So if you’re out of thyme or simply want to try something new, this list of substitutes for thyme checks all the boxes!

Overhead view of a metal bowl full of dried thyme with sprigs of fresh thyme beside it.

What is Thyme?

Thyme is an aromatic herb that belongs to the mint family, known for its small, fragrant leaves and delicate flowers. It is native to the Mediterranean region and has been cultivated for centuries due to its culinary and medicinal uses.

Thyme is a perennial plant that thrives in sunny and well-drained soil, and its leaves have a distinct herbal fragrance with hints of earthiness and a slightly minty flavor.

This versatile herb is a staple in various cuisines worldwide and is valued for its unique taste and aroma. The vibrant green color and delicate leaves of fresh thyme not only contribute to the visual appeal of a dish but also infuse it with a burst of freshness.

What is Thyme Used For?

Thyme is widely used as a culinary herb and imparts a delightful flavor to a wide range of dishes. Its aromatic profile complements many ingredients, making it a popular addition to savory recipes.

Thyme can be used fresh or dried, and it pairs well with meats, vegetables, soups, stews, and marinades. Its robust flavor adds depth and complexity to roasted dishes, sauces, dressings, and even bread. The amazing scent that fills the kitchen when adding a sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves into a simmering sauce or sprinkling dried thyme over roasted vegetables is truly captivating.

Thyme is also a key ingredient in herb blends like Herbes de Provence, and its essential oil is utilized in natural remedies and aromatherapy due to its potential health benefits.

Whether it’s enhancing the taste of a hearty meal or providing therapeutic properties, thyme is a versatile herb cherished by cooks and herbalists alike.

While no one likes to be out of a key recipe ingredient when making a recipe, it’s often possible to make simple substitutions. I think that you are going to love these 15 thyme substitutes and find that the difference will be subtle.

15 Thyme Substitutes

1. Rosemary

A small metal bowl full of dried rosemary with fresh rosemary sprigs behind it.

Rosemary is a versatile herb with a piney and slightly minty flavor that complements a wide range of dishes.

Because it shares some similarities with thyme, it is an excellent substitute in soups, stews, roasted meats, and vegetable dishes.

2. Oregano

A wooden bowl of dried oregano

With its robust and slightly bitter flavor, oregano can be a suitable replacement for thyme in many Mediterranean and Italian recipes.

Using oregano in place of thyme works well in pasta sauces, pizzas, roasted vegetables, and marinades.

3. Marjoram

Overhead view of bowls of marjoram with a wooden pestle sitting on a wooden tabletop

Marjoram offers a delicate and sweet flavor with hints of citrus. It’s a close relative of oregano and can be used as a substitute for thyme in lighter dishes like salads, dressings, and herb-infused oils.

4. Savory

A glass bowl full of dried savory with a sprig of fresh savory beside it.

Savory is an herb that shares a similar taste profile with thyme, featuring a peppery and slightly bitter flavor. It’s a great option for seasoning meats, poultry, beans, and stuffing recipes.

5. Sage

A small jar of dried sage with fresh sage leaves behind it.

Sage provides a robust and earthy flavor that can be a suitable replacement for thyme, particularly in savory dishes. It pairs well with poultry, pork, stuffing, and roasted vegetables.

6. Herbes de Provence

A bowl of herbs de provence with a spoon beside it.

Herbes de Provence is a traditional French herb blend that typically includes thyme, rosemary, oregano, marjoram, and other aromatic herbs.

Using this blend as a substitute for thyme adds complexity to recipes, such as roasted meats, vegetables, and sauces.

7. Tarragon

A small wooden bowl of dried tarragon with a sprig of fresh tarragon behind it.

Tarragon offers a distinct anise-like flavor that can be an interesting alternative to thyme.

Swapping tarragon for thyme works well in seafood dishes, dressings, and sauces, providing a unique twist to your recipes.

8. Basil

A wooden spoon full of dried basil with fresh basil leaves beside it.

Basil, known for its sweet and slightly peppery taste, can be used as a substitute for thyme in certain recipes. It pairs excellently with tomatoes, pasta dishes, pesto, and salads.

9. Dried Herbs

Overhead view of a stone pestle full of dried herbs with a mortar in it.

If you’re in a pinch and don’t have fresh thyme or any of the above substitutes, dried herbs such as dried thyme or an herb blend can be used as a last resort.

Remember to use it in moderation, as dried herbs are more concentrated in flavor than their fresh counterparts.

10. Lemon Zest

A pile of lemon zest on a countertop with a grater and a whole lemon behind it.

For recipes that require thyme’s citrusy notes, using lemon zest can help achieve a similar effect.

The zest adds a bright and refreshing flavor to dishes like seafood, salads, and dressings.

11. Summer Savory

A wooden spoon full of dried summer savory

Summer savory, also known as the “bean herb,” has a peppery and slightly minty flavor. It can be used as a substitute for thyme in bean soups, stews, and casseroles.

12. Chives

a bunch of chopped chives on a cutting board

Chives offer a mild onion-like flavor and can be a suitable replacement for thyme in certain recipes, particularly when a milder herb is desired.

Replacing thyme with chives works best in dips, creamy sauces, and as a garnish.

13. Celery Leaves

Close up of the leaves on top of two stalks of celery

The leaves of celery provide a subtle herbal flavor that can be used as a substitute for thyme in certain dishes. They work well in soups, stews, and marinades.

14. Italian Seasoning 

Overhead view of a bowl of italian seasoning with a spoon in it.

A blend of dried herbs like oregano, basil, marjoram, and thyme, Italian seasoning can serve as a convenient substitute for thyme in many recipes.

Since blends such as Italian Seasoning often contain thyme, they have a similar flavor that is enhanced by other herbs. 

15. Poultry Seasoning

Overhead view of a bowl of poultry seasoning with a wooden spoon in it

Poultry seasoning is a blend of herbs commonly used to season poultry dishes. It often includes thyme, along with other herbs like sage, rosemary, and marjoram.

It can be used as a substitute for thyme in recipes that call for a herbaceous and savory flavor.

FAQs

How Long Does Dried Thyme Last?

Dried thyme can be stored for up to two years if kept in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. However, for the best flavor, it is recommended to use it within the first year.

Should I Use Fresh or Dried Thyme?

Fresh thyme and dried thyme can be used interchangeably in most recipes. Keep in mind that dried thyme is more concentrated in flavor, so you will need to use less of it compared to fresh thyme. Typically, one teaspoon of dried thyme is equivalent to one tablespoon of fresh thyme. 

Can I Freeze Fresh Thyme?

Yes, fresh thyme can be frozen to extend its shelf life. Wash and pat dry the thyme sprigs, then place them in an airtight freezer bag or container. Thyme can be frozen for several months and used directly from the freezer in recipes.

More Ingredient Substitutions

More Ingredient Substitutions

Be sure to check out these other helpful ingredient substitutes;

Thank you for reading my substitutes for thyme post. And please come visit again as I continue to slice, dice, and dream up affordable Air Fryer recipes, Instant Pot Recipes, Southern Recipes, and more. Thanks for supporting Recipes from a Pantry, food blog.

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11 Comments

  1. Just stumbled upon your thyme substitutes list and it’s exactly what I needed! I’m always looking for ways to tweak my recipes, especially when I realize too late that I’m out of an herb. Your suggestions are not just handy but also open up new flavor avenues to explore. Marjoram and savory are now on my radar for my next kitchen experiment. Thanks for sharing such a versatile guide – it’s bookmarked for my future culinary adventures.

    Regards,
    James from Y9 Games

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