I love using thyme in so many dishes - from this Nigerian Jollof rice to so many different Indian curries, thyme is a staple in our house! But fear not if you've run out of thyme - I got you covered.
Fresh thyme is a member of the mint family. It has a complex set of citrusy, woody and minty notes. Thyme is so versatile that I use it in so many dishes from my Nigerian Jollof to my tomato garlic confit!
Thyme often brings a complex set of flavors to any dish. It's woody, citrusy, and slightly minty. So you'll want to think about which of those aspects you want to substitute in your dish.
- Fresh oregano. This is the closest substitute when it comes to texture, flavor, and color. However, oregano is a bit stronger than thyme, so I would pare down oregano just a tiny bit if used instead of thyme.
- Tarragon. Tarragon is a bit sweeter than thyme but also quite minty. So it does well as a substitute for thyme, especially in traditional French dishes. However, it is a bit of an acquired taste, so make sure to taste and adjust as you're cooking or read on for other options!
- Marjoram. Marjoram tastes very similar to thyme, especially in the woody notes. It is also related to oregano. I find that marjoram works in a wide variety of dishes compared to tarragon.
- Savory. Summer or winter savory is also a member of the mint family and makes for a great substitute for thyme for Mediterranean dishes.
There are a lot of great substitutes for dried thyme, the first of which is actually fresh thyme!
- Oregano. Similar to the fresh version, this is the closest substitute when it comes to texture, flavor, and color. I typically suggest scaling down a pinch (say, ¾th of a teaspoon in lieu of a spoonful of thyme).
- Herbs de Provence. This is a spice blend that has thyme, rosemary, basil, marjoram, bay leaf, savory, and lavender. You'll get herbs de Provence in most places and you can use it in a 1:1 ratio with thyme.
- Italian Seasoning. Okay I'm cheating a bit since Italian seasoning is actually a combination of dried basil, thyme, oregano and a few other spices, but that's exactly why it's a great substitute!
- Dried marjoram. You've probably realized by now but marjoram features a lot in these substitutions. So, why not just go ahead and substitute a spoonful of marjoram for a spoonful of thyme? You won't regret it, especially in Mediterranean dishes.
FAQs and Top Tips
One tablespoon of fresh herbs roughly equals one teaspoon of dried herbs. For example, if a recipe calls for one tablespoon of fresh thyme, you need only one teaspoon of dried thyme (or other herbs!) This is because the flavors are more concentrated in dried herbs.
One of the most common questions! You could use basil in place of thyme for a lot of Mediterranean dishes, but basil is a lot stronger, so I would suggest cutting it in half (i.e., half a spoon of fresh basil instead of a spoon of fresh thyme).
It won't be the end of the world, but it's not a preferred substitute in and of itself. If you can find some oregano or marjoram as well as some parsley, the flavor profiles could work well instead of thyme!
Yes, you can, especially for more hearty dishes like stews. Sage tends to be a bit more woody than thyme, so I would recommend toning it down a tad, tasting and adjusting along the way.
Yes! They're both Mediterranean herbs and work well as substitutes for each other. Rosemary is similar enough to thyme, oregano, and marjoram that they're all often used as substitutes for each other.
What are your favorite substitutes for thyme? Let us know in the comments if we've missed any!