Who hasn’t had thyme before? Whether fresh or dry, this herb is a common ingredient in many cuisines. If a recipe calls for thyme, it is very important, so you need to know what other substitutes can be used instead.
If you like Mediterranean cuisines, such as Italian, Greek, or Spanish, then you know thyme is used in many dishes, including sauces, soups, and stews.
However, fresh thyme is not always easy to come by, and dried thyme can be too strong for some people, so it’s best to have some other ingredient handy just in case.
What Is Thyme?
Let’s talk about herbs, so what is thyme?
Thyme is an evergreen herb part of the Thymus family. This plant is related to oregano and has been used for medicinal purposes before, as well as an aromatic spice. The leaves taste a bit like mint and have a delicate citrus aroma to them.
There are various types of thyme, but the varieties most often used, are common thyme and lemon thyme.
Some less known kinds are woolly thyme, creeping thyme, wild thyme, and elfin thyme, which don’t taste very good and are usually kept in the garden.
What Can I Replace Thyme With?
Now, it’s time to figure out what are the best thyme substitutes to cook with.
#1. Italian Seasoning
This spice original from the Mediterranean is made of thyme, oregano, basil, rosemary, sage, and marjoram. Since it contains thyme, the flavor profile is somewhat similar.
Though it does have a stronger aroma and taste, so it’s best reserved for Italian dishes, like meatballs, lasagna, pizza, and meat dishes, including beef, lamb, or chicken.
To better substitute thyme, use one teaspoon of Italian seasoning to replace one teaspoon of thyme. While it may seem like you need to buy all the spices separately, you will find Italian seasoning in every spice section of any grocery store.
Whether dried or fresh, oregano has an earthy, minty, and sweet flavor, but it can also bring some bitterness in the aftertaste.
Oregano is another Italian staple, but it can also be found in Middle Eastern dishes and sometimes even Indian. You can use fresh oregano for the same amount of fresh thyme, but you may want to double it for a stronger taste.
If you are instead going the dry route, a 1:1 ratio works perfectly. Fresh oregano is sometimes only available when in season, but dried oregano is sold year-round in the grocery store. Keep in mind that oregano is more bitter, so you may need to adjust the rest of the ingredients for sweetness.
Another slightly sweet and bitter herb, tarragon is used in fish and chicken dishes, especially French and Italian ones. It compliments meat better, which is why this choice isn’t particularly right if used in a just a vegetable dish, as it may overpower them.
Dried tarragon is not common at all, so you will need to rely on the fresh kind, which is usually found in the produce section of the grocery store.
Replace thyme for the same amount of tarragon, but taste first, as some people consider tarragon to have too much of a fennel-like flavor that can be unpleasant for some. Also, consider using less if this is the case, or mix it with another more sweet option, such as basil.
#4. Herbs de Provence
Original from the Provence region of France, Herbs de Provence is a blend of many spices, like rosemary, thyme, marjoram, basil, savory, bay leaf, and lavender.
Sometimes, it also contains fennel seeds, which makes it more bitter and aromatic than sweet. You can use the same amount of Herbs de Provence as you would use thyme.
We recommend you use this blend for meats, such as beef, pork, lamb, or chicken, and in thick sauces that accompany these meats. Herbs de Provence is found in the spice rack of grocery stores, though they are not as popular as other spices in this list.
This herb is probably the most acidic of the list, and it has a unique taste to it that is not close to dill, but if used correctly it can add its kick to your dish.
Dill is usually reserved for fish dishes, such as salmon or trout, and in shrimp cocktails as well. You can use about ¾ of the desired amount, as you don’t want to change the flavor profile too much.
Fresh dill can be found in the produce section of grocery stores, and some of them even sell dried dill, but we recommend you stick to the fresh type. Dill is also used in sauces, whether creamy or citrusy.
Another mint family member, savory has a peppery and strong flavor to it. Savory is common in Mediterranean dishes and can be found in the summer or winter kind, but the summer kind has a closer taste and aroma to thyme.
You can use fresh or dry savory without a problem, but double the amount if used fresh, as the flavor is less potent.
Savory is better suited for fish, stews, and some meats, but can be used in sauces as well. You can find savory in grocery stores, but it may hard to find at times, so you could try a farmer’s market or an organic store, instead.
No, these two herbs are different, even if related. Thyme is sweet and peppery, but also lemony and minty, while oregano is more pungent and earthy.
Yes, but the flavor is a bit more citrus and earthy, while regular thyme is mintier and sort of spicy. If used in sauces and with fish, lemon thyme can be the best choice, but it can also be used in other recipes, you may just need to adjust for sweetness and spice.
Yes. Thyme tea is considered to be very beneficial for your body. Thyme has anti-inflammatory properties, as well as antioxidant properties, and can help fight off infections. Infuse boiling water with thyme, and let it sit for about 20 minutes before drinking.
Thyme is a common spice and herb in many recipes, but if you are not sure what to do when none is to be found, consider using some of these alternatives.
Each brings a unique flavor to your dish, so make sure you try it first and make sure it goes well with the main protein. Also, mix these choices if you want.
*Photo by yakovlevadaria/depositphotos