6 Amazing Substitutes For Thyme

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

There will be times in the kitchen when you need substitutes for thyme, so it’s wise to know what your best options are.

What is Thyme?

Thyme is an evergreen herb with a strong aroma and a number of uses throughout culinary, medicinal, and cultural history. Both the fresh and dried forms are widely used, but since the fresh form has a relatively short shelf life, it is often necessary to find an alternative to thyme in a recipe. In terms of flavor, thyme is a unique combination of lemon, mint, and earthy notes, making it a very popular ingredient in poultry dishes, mashed potatoes, sauces, custards, soups, and stews. [1]

Substitutes for Thyme

The best substitutes for thyme include the following:

Thyme herbs in a mortar, ready to be crushed by a pestle

Thyme has a pungent and bitter taste. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Oregano and Parsley

When you combine these two herbs, the flavor profiles blend to create an excellent thyme substitute that is both earthy and slightly tangy. You can also simply add parsley as a final garnish to mimic the flavor and aroma of thyme. [2]


Marjoram is a member of the mint family, just like thyme, and can deliver a similar flavor profile to your meal. However, marjoram is not as hardy as thyme, meaning that cooking it for extended periods will cause the flavor to diminish. Marjoram can replace thyme as a final sprinkle of flavor. [3]

Dried Thyme

If you don’t have fresh thyme, the best option is obviously dried thyme. You won’t need quite as much dried thyme, as the flavor is notoriously potent, but it will be difficult to tell the fresh vs. dried versions apart in the final dish. [4]


For poultry dishes, tarragon can often work as a quick substitute for thyme, as their flavors are quite similar. [5]


With a 1:1 ratio of replacement, basil may be one of the most popular and simplest alternatives to using thyme in your cooking.


Although not the most common spice, savory is related to both thyme and rosemary and is known to mimic the flavor of that herb in many soups and stews. [6]

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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