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Best Thyme Substitute: 10 options to consider!

Are you looking for the best thyme substitute because you can’t find this spice on your spice rack? This delicious herb enhances the flavor of many recipes. It is used in soups, stews, marinades, vegetable dishes, and even sweet recipes on occasion.

This robust herb is a staple in many kitchens. It may sound like it is difficult to replace. Yet, a few other herbs can be substitutes for thyme in recipes.

dried thyme inside spice glass jar and measuring spoon filled with spice

What Is Thyme?

Thyme is part of the Lamiaceae group (mint family) related to oregano. This tasty seasoning has been used for thousands of years. It is used for both medicinal and culinary applications. Thyme originated in the Mediterranean. Today, it is grown worldwide, including in the US.

This intensely aromatic herb has small, green leaves on its stem when purchased fresh. You can also find it as a dried version in the store. Thyme has a peppery heat that it brings to dishes. It’s well-known for its inclusion in herbes de Provence blends.

This essential herb is used in Italian dishes and French meals. There are even some teas that use thyme leaves for flavoring. Potato dishes also taste better with thyme.

Adding thyme to your meals promotes healthy eating. After all, they are abundant in zinc, potassium, calcium, and iron.

Thyme Varieties

There are wide varieties of thyme. Yet, Thymus Vulgaris, aka Common Thyme, is the most widely available in the US.

Another known type is lemon thyme which offers a citrusy scent to dishes.

Orange thyme is yet another variety that boasts the smell of freshly-peeled oranges.

More types include caraway thyme and broadleaf English thyme.

Best Thyme Substitute Options

1. Fresh Thyme

Fresh thyme is the best dried thyme substitute. It provides the same minty, earthy flavor in recipes. But it has a more subtle flavor than the dried version.


You can use fresh thyme for any recipes that call for dried thyme.


If you add fresh thyme too early, it can ruin its flavor. Finding fresh thyme at the grocery store may be challenging if it’s out of season. Also, you must pull off the tiny leaves from the stems before use. That said, it requires more prep work than dried thyme.

Cooking Tip: Use one tablespoon of fresh thyme for every teaspoon of dried thyme.

2. Fresh Basil

This herb is part of the same plant family as thyme – the mint family. This connection means it will offer similar flavor notes in recipes. Because of this, it is one of the excellent thyme substitutes. You can use this thyme substitute for both cooked and raw dishes. It also goes well with a creamy sauce.


This fresh herb is generally easy to find in grocery stores. It also works for cooking dishes from Mediterranean cuisine.


If you add fresh basil to a cooked recipe too early, it will lose its flavor. Basil also offers a licorice taste. This may be a turn-off to people who are not fans of this flavor.

Cooking Tip: Use a 1:1 ratio.

3. Dried Basil

Like the fresh ones, dried basil will provide a minty flavor plus a lightly sweet taste in dishes. Use this herb for Italian- based recipes.


It is the best option for any tomato-based recipe, like marinara or pizza sauce.


Dried basil has a more robust flavor than fresh basil. You must use a smaller quantity to avoid overpowering the dish.

Cooking Tip: Use a 1:1 ratio to replace dried thyme with dried basil.

4. Dried Oregano

Dried oregano is more versatile than its fresh version. You can use this thyme replacement in Mexican, Italian, Turkish, and Greek dishes.


This variety of oregano is much easier to find at grocery stores. Plus, it is available year-round in the spice aisle.


Oregano has a more robust flavor than thyme. It is easy to overpower the other flavors in a recipe when using this.

Cooking Tip: Start with ½ the amount required and add more if necessary. When replacing dried thyme, use a 1:1 ratio.

If dried oregano is hard to come by, you can use fresh oregano in a pinch.

5. Fresh Marjoram

Fresh marjoram is one of the best substitutes for thyme. This herb is another option from the same family, offering similar recipe flavors. It is popular in Mediterranean cuisine. When using this, expect a minty, citrusy, woody, slightly bitter taste.


You may use fresh marjoram for seasoning meat and as a bouquet garnish for soups and sauces. Marjoram also works well in tomato-based dishes, poultry, and fish dishes.


The flavor is subtle, so it may need a larger amount, depending on the recipe.

Cooking Tip: Add the same amount as the amount of thyme your recipe calls for.

6. Summer Savory

Summer savory provides its own unique flavor to recipes: spicy, peppery, and piney. Because of this, it is one of the great substitutes for thyme.


Like thyme, it’s one of the ingredients in herbes de Provence. You know it will blend well with any herb found there.


This versatile herb is challenging to find in stores.

Cooking Tips: Use a 1:1 ratio if you’re replacing fresh thyme with it. Otherwise, a 2:1 ratio for fresh savory to dried thyme is acceptable. Winter savory can also work in a pinch. Remember, though, that the summer variety has a slightly sweet flavor compared to this.

7. Fresh Herbs

You may have extra herbs in your fridge or garden that need to be used up. If this is the case, using other herbs as a substitute for thyme is an excellent option.


This is an affordable option as you already have the replacements.


Knowing which fresh herbs are suitable for your recipe requires some kitchen experimentation.

Cooking Tip: Start with ½ the amount required and adjust as needed.

8. Poultry Seasoning

Poultry seasoning is another thyme alternative. This seasoning mix contains thyme, black pepper, marjoram, nutmeg, rosemary, and sage.


It is an affordable option that’s easy to find on grocery shelves. You can combine this with some of the spices mentioned above for a complex flavor. It will work if you don’t have enough thyme left for your recipe.

This herb blend is more versatile than its name alludes to. It is best to use it in grilled meat and chicken dishes. Yet, it’s also an excellent choice for bread, dressing, sauces, and meatloaf.


Poultry blends from different brands can have other ingredients. They may provide an unexpected flavor to recipes.

Cooking Tip: Start with a 1:1 ratio to replace thyme with poultry seasoning.

9. Herbes de Provence

As mentioned, thyme is part of the herbes de Provence blend. Because of this, it is safe to say that this is a great alternative to thyme in French recipes. You’ll still find thyme’s earthy, peppery taste in this blend of herbs. This mix of herbs popular in French cuisine is best for savory food.

Herbes de Provence includes bay leaf, rosemary, basil, and marjoram. It also has tarragon, fennel, parsley, and lavender flowers.


This is one of the spice blends that is accessible and won’t break the bank.


It would be best to account for the other flavors in herbes de Provence. You must adjust the other ingredients of your recipe to get the most delicious flavor.

Cooking Tip: Start with ½ the amount required by the recipe and increase as needed.

10. Italian Seasoning

Italian seasoning also typically contains thyme, making it a great substitute. Other ingredients include rosemary, oregano, marjoram, and basil. These give unique flavors to savory dishes.


Italian seasoning works well with Italian-inspired recipes and other Mediterranean dishes. For instance, it is best with pizza, marinara, seafood, roast chicken, and meatballs. This option is always available and cheap.


Some of the herbs in Italian seasoning may not blend well with your recipe.

Cooking Tip: Start with ½ the required quantity and add more slowly as needed.

11. Za-atar

Za-atar is a seasoning blend popular in Middle Eastern cuisine for its strong flavor. It uses marjoram, thyme, oregano, sumac, and toasted sesame seeds.

Za-atar brings a unique flavor to dishes. Use it in seasoning vegetables, eggs, and salads.


They’re best for Mediterranean-inspired dishes.


This spice blend is one of the thyme alternatives where the ingredients vary. What comes with it depends on the brand. Also, sesame seeds are known allergens. Since za’atar has them, ensure that no one is allergic to them in your household.

Cooking Tip: Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing dried thyme with za’atar.

12 Dried Herbs

Dried herbs are one of the best thyme substitutes, as you’ll already have these options on hand.


Using these ingredient substitutes is a cheap option. Depending on the available herbs, you can create more recipes. You can even customize the flavor of your dish.


Most dried herbs have a more robust flavor. Be careful not to use as much in recipes as they can overpower the flavor. You’ll need to experiment to find the correct quantity in dishes. Doing so will add time and steps to your cooking process.

Cooking Tip: Start with ½ the required amount and add more if needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does Thyme Tastes Like?

Thyme tastes citrusy and minty; it also has an earthy flavor. The available varieties do have different flavor notes present. Yet, common thyme presents the above taste in recipes.

What Can I Substitute for Thyme?

The top thyme substitutes are fresh or dried oregano. They provide most of the flavor notes present in thyme. Plus, they’re easy to find at local grocery stores.

Can I Substitute Basil for Thyme?

Yes, basil is one of the best thyme substitutes. This herb is in the same plant family as thyme, providing similar flavor notes. But basil has a more robust flavor, so it’s best to use this replacement in smaller quantities.

What Can I Substitute for One Sprig of Fresh Thyme?

You can substitute dried thyme for 1 sprig of fresh thyme. This option is the most straightforward swap as you’ll need to use ½ the amount for the dried version. Plus, it provides the same flavors as fresh thyme.

Can I Substitute Sage for Thyme?

No, sage is not the best substitute for thyme. But, you can use it in some instances. Any recipe that calls for Italian seasoning or a similar blend should work well with sage. Expect a noticeable flavor difference in recipes, though.


All these thyme substitutes will enable you to cook your recipe even when you don’t have the thyme.

If fresh thyme is available, this will be the best option as a substitute for dried thyme.

Otherwise, herbs in the same mint family will provide a similar flavor in recipes. For example, oregano, basil, or marjoram can work great as a thyme substitute. Try dried or fresh herbs in a pinch if the listed herbs are unavailable.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
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