The 5 Best Substitutes for Thyme

No "thyme" on your hands? These substitutes will work in a pinch.

Thyme is used in dishes like roasted chicken, grilled steak, savory sides eggs, pasta, and sauces; it even works well as a delicate addition to desserts. But what if you're fresh out of this treasured seasoning? We've compiled the best substitutes for thyme right here.

What Is Thyme?

Thyme, or Thymus vulgaris, is an earthy herb from the Mediterranean region that's in the same family as oregano, basil and mint. The tiny green leaves grow in clusters on woody stems. "Common thyme" is most commonly known to home cooks and has a minty, slightly lemon taste. There are more than one hundred other varieties like lemon thyme, orange thyme, caraway thyme, and za'atar thyme.

The tiny leaves and flowers of thyme plants appear in the spring and summer months in gardens. The cuttings can be used as a whole or stripped for the delicate leaves. This perennial herb is adaptable and fairly easy to grow making it a good option for beginner gardeners. It should be a plant in a kitchen garden.

Related: How to Maximize the Flavor of Dried Herbs

What Does It Taste like?

Thyme has an earthy flavor with a hint of mint. The tiny leaves offer a variety of tastes from different types of thyme plants.

Thyme is used in recipes as a fresh herb or as a dried version for meat, stews, pasta, and soups. It lends a bright note of herb flavor to bean dishes, eggs, mushrooms, vegetables, and seafood. Thyme can bring depth to marinades, soups, simmering stocks, cocktail recipes, and tea blends.

Fresh Thyme vs. Dried

Fresh thyme can be used in a recipe as a whole stem or the leaves can be removed and sprinkled into a dish. When a whole sprig of fresh thyme is used in a recipe, the leaves are left intact.

Fresh cuttings of thyme have a soft stem. A fresh sprig of thyme can be chopped using the entire herb since the leaves are not easily removed. It can simply be chopped and used whole.

Dried thyme retains much of the flavor of fresh thyme and is a suitable substitution. However, the dried leaves have can offer a more concentrated herb taste. When substituting dried thyme for fresh, use a smaller amount and build the flavor according to your taste preference. Dried herbs should always be added toward the beginning of the recipe.

Related: Sorry, But There Is Probably Lead In Your Dried Spices

Get the recipe: Cheddar-Thyme Flaky Biscuits

Best Thyme Substitutes


Oregano works as a substitute for thyme as a fresh or dried herb. They are similar in taste since they are both members of the mint family.

Use fresh oregano in an equal amount to replace fresh thyme and dried oregano for dried thyme.The dried version of oregano can be strong and can take over other ingredients in your recipe, so be sure to start with small amounts and adjust the seasoning.


Marjoram is very similar to oregano and makes a good substitute for thyme. It also has a woody element to it as an herb, but it's a bit more delicate. Swap out even amounts of the fresh or dried version called for in an ingredient list.

Related: How Much Is a 'Bunch' of Herbs Supposed to Be?


Rosemary can almost always be used as a substitute for thyme in savory and sweet recipes. Fresh thyme is a milder presence. In cooked dishes, you can simply replace your fresh or dried rosemary for equal parts of fresh or dried thyme.


Savory is another herb in the mint family with lively, peppery notes. Swap in an even amount of fresh savory for fresh thyme, and the same for dried savory when dried thyme is called for in a recipe.


Basil and thyme can make the switch for an ingredient swap but basil is a bit brighter in a lineup of ingredients. Half of the amount of chopped basil leaves will work as a substitute for thyme. Dried basil is a more muted and subtle presence, so a 1:1 swap for fresh thyme, or a 2:1 swap for dried thyme will be the closest version of a replacement of ingredients.