What You Can Substitute for Thyme in a Recipe?

Bowl of freshly harvested common thyme
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Out of thyme and wondering if there's something else in your spice rack that you can use in its place? Several common herbs can take its place. Try one of these substitutes.

Majoram or Oregano

If you're out of thyme, substitute an equal amount of savory, marjoram or oregano. This will come closest to the intended flavor. If you don't have any of these herbs on hand, poultry seasoning, Herbes de Provence or Italian seasoning will also work, since these spice blends all contain thyme. While rosemary is a relative of thyme, it doesn't make a very good substitute. Rosemary is much more pungent and will overshadow the other flavors in your recipe.

If you don't have any of these suggested substitutes on hand, omit the thyme called for and continue with your recipe. Since thyme is usually used in conjunction with other herbs, there are probably still plenty of other ingredients in your recipe to lend flavor to the finished dish.

Substituting Dried Thyme for Fresh

Don't sweat it, if your recipe calls for fresh thyme and all you have is dried. Using dried thyme in place of fresh is easy. And it's just as easy to substitute fresh thyme for dried.

If you grow thyme in your garden, be sure to freeze some while it's in season, so you can enjoy cooking with fresh thyme year round. To freeze it, just lay your thyme clippings out on a cookie sheet, and flash freeze it. Then, transfer it to a freezer bag once it is fully frozen. There's no need to remove the thyme leaves from their woody stems before you freeze it. Wait to do that until you're ready to use it in a recipe.

What Thyme Tastes Like

Thyme has an earthy, woodsy taste, with notes of citrus and mint. Its flavor is subtle and blends nicely with other herbs, which is why it appears in so many herb blends. It is commonly used to flavor meat, fish, soups, stocks, sauces, bread, and vegetable dishes, making it a very versatile herb, indeed. While thyme is native to the Mediterranean, and therefore prominently used in Mediterranean dishes, thyme also appears frequently in French, Italian, Middle Eastern and American cuisine. Unlike most herbs, it can take the heat. This makes it especially well suited to use with roasted meats, soups, and broths.