Thyme Substitute: 9 of the Best Herb Replacements in Cooking

Herbs are important for making your recipes better and bolder in terms of flavor. They will add a unique taste to any dish, which is sure to make it well-loved. However, in some situations, you will find yourself struggling in the kitchen, looking for a herb that is nowhere to be found.

If you are looking for the best thyme substitute, we got you covered in the rest of this post. We will have a quick look at some of the alternatives you might want to consider. These replacements have the same dry and subtle aroma of thyme, allowing you to achieve similar flavor in your dish.​

The Best Replacements for Thyme

In this section, we will briefly tackle some of the best replacements that you can consider when you do not have thyme in the kitchen. They have the same flavor profile as thyme, but you have to know the exact quantity that you should add to achieve the same taste and aroma.

1. Sage

As a flavorful herb, you can consider this as one of the best replacements for thyme. If the recipe requires you to use one teaspoon of thyme, replace it with ½ teaspoon of sage. This is highly recommended for creamy sauces, as well as meat-based dishes.

With sage, the minty and bitter flavors will be apparent, making it perfect for chicken. However, because of the strength of the flavor, add only a little amount. Using more than what the recipe asks will result in an overpoweringly bitter taste.

Like thyme, the good thing about sage is that it offers plenty of health benefits. It does not only make the dish tasty, but it can also bring a number of advantages, including those that are shown in this short video clip:

2. Basil

The sweet taste of basil is one of the reasons why it is popularly used in Mediterranean cuisine, just like thyme. It is best used in salad dressings, pasta sauces, and tomato-based soups, among others.

Compared to thyme, however, basil has a stronger flavor. Adding even just a pinch will already make a noticeable difference in the aroma and flavor of the dish. Because of this, its use should be done sparingly. Add only a small amount, especially if you do not want basil to be the dominant flavor in whatever you are cooking.

3. Tarragon

For a recipe that asks you to use one teaspoon of thyme, you can use one teaspoon of tarragon as a replacement. The good thing about tarragon is that it has the same mild flavor as thyme, which will not make it too overpowering in your dish.

One of the staples in French cuisines, also known as dragonwort, tarragon has an abundance of antioxidants and phytonutrients, making it packed with health benefits. In traditional medicine, this herb is believed to be effective in stimulating the appetite and preventing the symptoms of anorexia.

4. Rosemary

If you are cooking chicken, soup, or salad dressings, among others, it is recommended that you use a ¾ teaspoon of rosemary. The dominant flavor of rosemary can lead to a robust taste, which is why you should use only a small amount.

For many years now, it enjoys a reputation as one of the most popular herbs for cooking. While it grows mostly in Europe and the United States, it is popular all around the world. This herb is a small shrub that belongs to a family related to mint. Compared to other mints, however, it has a warmer flavor.

It has a number of health benefits, such as enhancing the immune system, improving blood circulation, and improvement of digestion. These benefits can be attributed to the presence of anti-inflammatory compounds, among other beneficial chemicals.​

5. Oregano

When you think of pasta sauce or pizza toppings, oregano is one herb that comes into mind, which is why it is readily available in many kitchens. Therefore, if you do not have thyme, you can easily grab fresh oreganos and use it as a replacement.

Substituting oregano for thyme is best for dishes with tomato, potato, and beans. You can also use it for making salad dressings. Although oregano leaves are larger than thyme, the flavors are close. If it is used as a replacement, the same amount of thyme required by the recipe should be used.

6. Savory

For many centuries, this herb is known as one of the main ingredients for making love potions. It has also a long history of being used to spice up sex life. More than this, its culinary applications make it famous in the kitchen of many people.

Winter and summer savory can be used for a variety of recipes, each with a distinct taste. As a replacement for thyme, summer savory is best because it comes with a peppery flavor profile. Winter savory, on the other hand, is piney. To bring out the best taste, it is best to mix it with other herbs, including oregano, bay leaf, and rosemary.

7. Lemongrass

Lemongrass is known as an aromatic healer as it can be effective in the treatment of insomnia, fever and stomach disorders, among others. Nonetheless, it is also used for culinary applications. It can be a potent source of Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.

This is especially a good choice for a replacement when cooking Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes, which are known for their fresh and citrusy flavor. For seafood dishes that are cooked using lemon thyme, this is an excellent substitute. For best outcomes, it should be complemented with rosemary, basil, and sage.

8. Bay Leaf

When it comes to spices, bay leaf is another excellent choice for adding optimal flavor. It has a sweet and bitter flavor. It is popularly used in sauces, stews, and soups. For maximum taste, it is best to use them when they are dry. If you want a slightly milder flavor, on the other hand, you can use them fresh.

Bay leaf is best used for poultry and game dishes. As it has been mentioned above, as a thyme substitute, this is better for dishes that are cooked longer, such as stews. This will provide ample amount of time for the flavor to come out of the dried leaves.

9. Marjoram

A lot of people may be confused with marjoram and oregano, believing that the two things are the same. In reality, there are key differences between the two. Although they can be both used as a thyme substitute, they have differences in flavor profile. Marjoram tends to be more delicate and calmer. It has a floral scent. Oregano, on the other hand, is lemony and peppery.

Although the flavor of marjoram tends to be mild and sweet, it is still important to be careful when adding it to your recipe. It can be more powerful compared to thyme. With this, add only a small amount of marjoram just to give a slight flavoring for your dish.


No thyme in the kitchen? There is no need to fret. As it has been discussed above, there are tons of herb replacements that you can consider. They will result in the same flavorful dish, but you have to make sure to use only the recommended quantity. Use the right replacement and it will be effortless to come up with a flavorful dish that is sure to provide everyone with a filling treat.

Did you enjoy reading this post? Is there any other thyme substitute that you would like to add? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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