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14 Addictive Thyme Substitutes To Try

If you need to replace thyme, these substitutes can come in handy. They can be substituted for thyme in many of your favorite recipes. Chances are, you already have some of these herbs and spices on hand if you cook often!

But what if you’re faced with an ingredient list that calls for thyme? As we said earlier – don’t worry! There are plenty of substitutes that can be substituted in their place. However, you must be careful not to substitute thyme for the wrong spice, like oregano for thyme or salt for pepper.

Nutritional Value Table

Thyme SubstitutesCalories
Basil22
Oregano3
Rosemary3.9
Sage2
Tarragon 295
Worcestershire Sauce78
Parsley36
Italian Seasoning 15
Cayenne Pepper318
Coriander3.68
Chili Powder282
Ginger80
Nutmeg525
Cumin (Ground)8

Substitutes For Thyme

Below are some of the addictive thyme substitutes and how to substitute them.

1. Basil

Basil is nearly identical to Thyme, except it has a lower concentration. It can be used up to about twice the amount for the same intensity as Thyme.

Basil retains its flavor throughout cooking, so it’s great for sautéing or Southern dishes such as gumbo or jambalaya. Basil is often used for soups, stews, and sauces.

How To Substitute

Use 1/2 tsp dried thyme or 1 to 2 tbsp fresh basil. You may want to add 1/8 tsp of ground pepper.

2. Oregano

Oregano has a higher concentration than Thyme. One teaspoon of oregano will give the same punch as two teaspoons of thyme. Substituting Oregano for Thyme will lend a sweet and pungent flavor to your dish.

Oregano is perfect for Italian dishes containing tomato sauce – it’s often used in pizza and pasta too! This herb is slightly bitter, so you may also want to add Italian Seasoning if you are using this herb in cooking tomato-based recipes.

How To Substitute

If you are missing thyme, use 1/2 tsp dried oregano or 1 tbsp fresh oregano.

3. Rosemary

Rosemary is considered the most potent herb by weight. It’s often used as a rub for meats and seafood before grilling because it will retain its flavor and intensity when cooked at high temperatures! Rosemary is distinctively pine-like in taste.

Substituting it for Thyme will create a bolder flavored dish with the same pungent punch of thyme. The herb is excellent for Italian recipes and Mediterranean dishes. It’s also used in soups, sauces, and stews.

How To Substitute

Use one teaspoon of fresh rosemary.

4. Sage

Sage is another herb that can be used in place of thyme and rosemary, but the flavor isn’t quite the same. It has better flavor options when used on its own and isn’t usually substituted like the other herbs because of its uniqueness.

For example, this herb makes an excellent rub for turkey or pork roast. It’s also great for tomato sauces, but you may want to add Italian seasoning if you are adding it to a tomato-based recipe.

How To Substitute

Use 1/4 tsp dried sage or 1 tbsp fresh sage.

5. Tarragon 

Tarragon is an excellent substitute for thyme and rosemary, but it doesn’t have quite the same earthy flavor as the others. This is one of those herbs that would be hard to substitute if you used more than you intended to.

Tarragon has a higher concentration than most other herbs, so it can be used up to twice as much. It adds a delicate flavor to fish, chicken, and beef dishes. It’s also used in a lot of salad dressings and sauces.

How To Substitute

Use 1 tbsp fresh tarragon in substitution of the same amount of thyme. 

6. Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire Sauce, also known as Worcestershire, is known for its distinctive flavor. It’s used in many dishes, from steaks to sauces and curries.

Worcestershire has a ton of flavors from vinegar and spices and has no substitute on its own. You won’t taste any change in the dish when substituting it for Thyme, Sage, or Rosemary because the original recipe will still be delicious.

How To Substitute

Use 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce instead of the same amount of thyme. 

7. Parsley

Thyme has the same pungent punch as Parsley, but Parsley has a stronger flavor. You can use it in place of garlic or any herb-based sauce because it can be overpowering. It has a milder taste than thyme and makes an excellent seasoning for pasta or veggies.

How To Substitute

Use 1 tbsp fresh parsley instead of 2 tsp dried thyme.

8. Italian Seasoning 

Italian Seasoning is a combination of herbs. Some of the most common are Oregano, Thyme, Basil, and Sage. However, each brand is made differently, so it’s hard to tell how similar they are.

Italian Seasoning can be used in place of any herb-based recipe when you’re in a pinch and need to replace thyme.

Ingredients:

  • Cumin Seeds (1 tbsp)
  • Oregano leaves (1 tbsp)
  • Thyme leaves (3/4 tsp)
  • Bay Leaf (1/2 tsp)
  • Fennel seeds, crushed (2 tsp) 
  • Sugar or salt to taste (optional)

Preparation:

1. Grind the bay leaves, fennel seeds, and cloves using a mortar and pestle or grind them in a coffee/spice grinder. Transfer them to a bowl.

2. Add the cumin seeds, oregano leaves, thyme leaves, and salt to taste and mix it well with a spoon. Store in an airtight jar; mix occasionally.

3. This mixture can be used by sprinkling it on top of any cooked item, or you could use it in the cooking process itself (e.g., sprinkling it while cooking pasta).

How To Substitute

Use 1 tbsp dried Italian seasoning instead of 2 tsp dried thyme. You may want to taste-test the finished dish and see if you need more.

9. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Pepper is a fiery hot spice that is similar to thyme in terms of heat but not flavor. Cayenne will lend a spicy flavor to any dish, but it won’t be used as an herb substitute.

This pepper is great for soups, stews, sauces, and poultry dishes. It can also be used in garlic-based recipes because of its spicy nature.

How To Substitute

Use 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper instead of 1 tsp fresh Thyme, or mix half cayenne with half thyme for a balanced spice level.

10. Coriander

Coriander is the same as fresh basil and thyme in terms of flavor, but it’s stronger in taste. It can be used for the same purposes as both thyme (i.e. Sauces) and basil (i.e. Italian dishes).

However, it’s usually used more as an herb than basil due to its strong flavor and powerful aroma.

How To Substitute

Use 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander instead of 2 tsp dried thyme or 1 tsp fresh basil.

11. Chili Powder

Chili powder is another fiery spice, but it’s not as hot as cayenne. It’s a good alternative if you are looking to add some heat to your dish while replacing the thyme. Chili powder is usually mixed with other spices, so it should be used in place of the other spices found in your recipe.

It’s commonly used in chili, but it can also be added to soups, stews, and sauces!

How To Substitute

Use 1/4 tsp of chili powder instead of 1 tsp of fresh thyme, or mix half chili with half thyme for a balanced spice level.

12. Ginger

Ginger is a flavorful spice that can be used in place of thyme when looking to add some heat or a different flavor. It’s popularly known for its pungent taste in dishes such as soups, stews, and sauces.

This spice is also great with poultry, seafood, and gingerbread recipes. Ginger also works well with other herbs, such as cilantro, parsley, and coriander.

How To Substitute

1/4 tsp of ginger instead of 1 tsp of fresh thyme Ginger

13. Nutmeg

Nutmeg is the same spice as ground Cloves. They are both used in foods like soups and pie crusts, but they have different flavors when used on their own. Nutmeg has a stronger flavor with a little bit more heat than thyme.

It works best with other flavors like parsley and coriander for a flavor-changing effect on your dish. You can also use it for savory dishes instead of thyme because it’s strong enough to stand alone.

How To Substitute

Use 1/4 tsp of ground nutmeg instead of 1 tsp of fresh thyme.

14. Cumin (Ground)

Ground cumin is the same spice as ground nutmeg. They are both used in foods like soups and pie crusts, but they have different flavors when used on their own. Ground cumin has a stronger flavor than nutmeg and slightly more heat than thyme.

It works best with other flavors like parsley and coriander for a flavor-changing effect on your dish. You can also use it for savory dishes instead of thyme because it’s strong enough to stand alone.

How To Substitute

Use 1/2 tsp of ground cumin instead of 1 tsp of fresh thyme, or mix ground cumin with half thyme for a balanced spice level.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Thyme Substitutes Can I Use?

Rosemary, sage, oregano, lavender, and Bay leaves all have a similar flavor to thyme, which is why they are great substitutes for it.

Rosemary is the best of these as it has a stronger flavor, making it ideal for roasts, stews, and lamb. Sage is great with chicken and pork, especially if you are using bacon in the recipe.

How Much Thyme Should I Use?

A good rule of thumb when cooking is to use 1 tablespoon of dried thyme or 2 tablespoons of fresh. Although it may not always work depending on the dish you are making, this should give you a good measure to start from.

What Are Some Other Uses For Thyme?

In addition to flavoring many types of dishes, thyme also has medicinal properties. It’s traditionally been used to treat coughs, bronchitis, eating disorders (such as anorexia), and cancer. It’s also been shown to improve memory function in some studies.

What Does Thyme Have In Common With Other Dried Herbs Like Anise, Fennel, And Licorice Root?

Most herbs are considered to be sweet or spicy. Thyme is said to be slightly bitter, like anise or licorice root, which most people will find to be a great contrast from some now commonly used substitutes such as celery seed.

Is It True That You Can Use Fresh Instead Of Dried?

Yes, fresh herbs are fantastic substitutes for dried thyme. The only difference is that you will need to add about twice as much as what’s recommended for dry herbs. Add in an extra teaspoon or two at a time until you get the desired flavor and consistency.

What Is Thyme?

Thyme is a perennial herb that belongs to the mint family. It’s typically used in cooking, making it a great herb to include in your garden.

There are over 100 varieties of thyme, and they all usually grow between six and eighteen inches in height, with most varieties reaching up to twenty-four inches in height.

Thyme was first found growing wild on the island of Crete. The history of how it came to be cultivated began when people started growing plants by seed rather than transplanting them from nature so that they would produce more consistently throughout the year as other plants do.

Where Did Thyme Come From?

The herb thyme is one of the oldest herbs growing in Europe. It’s speculated that it was first brought to Europe by Phoenicians and Egyptians.

Archeological evidence has shown that Native Americans cultivated a plant very similar to thyme in the United States. Today, it’s grown all over the world, including in other countries in Asia and Africa.

What Is The Difference Between Regular Basil And Thyme?

Thyme comes in different varieties, including lavender, lemon thyme, and lemongrass which are often used as spices, while basil leaves tend to be used more as herbs. Thyme has a woody, aromatic and bitter taste, while basil is sweeter and spicier.

14 Addictive Thyme Substitutes To Try

5 from 5 votes
Prep Time

2

minutes
Cooking Time

0

minutes
Total Time

2

minutes

Thyme substitutes gives a fresh, earthy flavor that mostly lends itself to savory food.

Ingredients

  •  Basil

  • Oregano

  • Rosemary

  • Sage

  • Tarragon 

  • Worcestershire Sauce

  • Parsley

  • Italian Seasoning 

  • Cayenne Pepper

  • Coriander

  • Chili Powder

Directions

  • Choose your favorite substitute from the list given above
  • Follow the directions given in the recipe after having substituted the ingredient in the correct ratio

Recipe Video

Jess Smith