Thyme Substitutes

Thyme Substitutes

Substituting thyme may not be as easy as it sounds, because none of the other herbs match the distinct flavor of thyme. Yet, there are certain herbs that can work as thyme substitutes, which although do not mimic thyme exactly, impart a nice flavor to the dishes.
Thyme is widely used in Mediterranean, European and French cuisine. Small tender leaves of thyme are used as seasoning and flavoring agents in various recipes. There are various kinds of thyme available in the market, right from French thyme, English to lemon thyme, etc. Belonging to the mint family, thyme does a great job by balancing the flavors in a dish.

It plays a vital role in French seafood and balances the flavors well in stews, stocks, sauces, marinades, etc. Since this herb can withstand long cooking times, it's ideal for roasting and baking recipes. On one hand the unique, pungent and minty flavor of fresh thyme complements chicken and meat dishes, while on the other hand, its mild flavor accentuates the other flavors of the dish. Besides fresh thyme, dried and ground thyme is also available in supermarkets.

Thyme Substitutes

Thyme has a flavor of its own, which cannot be truly substituted, as with most herbs we use today. Nevertheless, if you are out of thyme, there are a few herbs that be added instead of thyme. Although they won't give the same flavor, they will add their own lovely flavor to the dish. While substituting for thyme in a recipe, it's important to remember that the substitution works in recipes, where only a small amount of thyme is called for. If the recipe calls for more than 1 tsp. thyme, it's better to either make another dish or get thyme from somewhere. Dishes like lemon thyme rice, etc. where thyme plays a central role, no substitution will work. If the recipe calls for thyme in small quantities, along with other herbs, you can skip thyme completely.

Sage

Quantity of Thyme Required: 1 tsp.

To be Replaced with: ½ tsp. sage

Best Suited for: Pork, meat, and chicken dishes, creamy sauces and soups.

Keep in Mind: Sage complements most meats with its slight bitter and mint flavor. However, it has a strong flavor, thus, must be added sparingly.

Marjoram + Parsley

Quantity of Thyme Required: 1 tsp.

To be Replaced with: 1 tsp. marjoram + ½ tsp. parsley

Best Suited for: Chicken dishes, soups, salad dressings, etc.

Keep in Mind: Parsley has a mild flavor, thus, can be safely added; however, it imparts a greenish-tinge to the dish, which needs to be kept into consideration.

Rosemary

Quantity of Thyme Required: 1 tsp.

To be Replaced with: ¾ tsp. rosemary

Best Suited for: Works best in pork and lamb recipes, soups, salad dressings, etc.

Keep in Mind: Rosemary has a dominating flavor, thus, must be added sparingly.

Tarragon

Quantity of Thyme Required: 1 tsp.

To be Replaced with: 1 tsp. tarragon

Best Suited for: Works best in chicken and fish dishes.

Keep in Mind: Tarragon has a bitter-sweet, fennel-like flavor to it. Although its flavor is great, it may slightly alter the flavor of your dish.

Basil

Quantity of Thyme Required: 1 tsp.

To be Replaced with: ¾ tsp. basil

Best Suited for: Tomato-based recipes like lasagna, spaghetti, sauces, shrimp salads, etc.

Keep in Mind: Basil has a slightly stronger flavor as compared to thyme, so substitute accordingly.

Oregano

Quantity of Thyme Required: 1 tsp.

To be Replaced with: ¾ tsp. oregano

Best Suited for: Tomato-based recipes like lasagna, spaghetti, sauces, shrimp salads, etc.

Keep in Mind: The flavor of oregano is stronger than thyme, which must be taken into consideration. A mixture of rosemary and oregano in equal amounts, will taste great in potato recipes.

Dill

Quantity of Thyme Required: 1 tsp.

To be Replaced with: ¾ tsp. dill

Best Suited for: Pork dishes, shrimp salads with creamy sauce, potato dishes, soups, etc.

Keep in Mind: The flavor of dill is nothing like thyme; however, its own flavor is quite interesting and will impart a lovely flavor to the dish. Taste and see if you prefer the flavor of dill.

Italian Seasoning

Italian seasoning is a blend of herbs like basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory, and marjoram.

Quantity of Thyme Required: 1 tsp.

To be Replaced with: 1 tsp. Italian seasoning

Best Suited for: Lasagna, spaghetti, meatballs, pastas, pizzas, beef/lamb/pork dishes

Keep in Mind: Italian seasoning imparts a lovely Mediterranean flavor to dishes.

Herbes de Provence

This is a combination of various herbs like rosemary, basil, thyme, marjoram, savory, bay leaf, and lavender flowers.

Quantity of Thyme Required: 1 tsp.

To be Replaced with: 1 tsp. Herbes de Provence

Best Suited for: Chicken/pork/beef/vegetable dishes

Keep in Mind: If other herbs like basil, rosemary, etc., are also listed in the recipe, you can omit them, because they are already present in Herbes de Provence.

Poultry Seasoning

This seasoning is a mixture of thyme, rosemary, black pepper, sage, oregano, marjoram, nutmeg, and savory.

Quantity of Thyme Required: 1 tsp.

To be Replaced with: 1 tsp. poultry seasoning

Best Suited for: Chicken, pork or fish dishes

Keep in Mind: Since thyme is a part of poultry seasoning, it may be used as a substitute; however, it also contains a mixture of other herbs, which may alter the flavors of your dish.

Middle East Spice Blend 'Zahtar'

This is a mixture of toasted sesame seeds, Syrian sumac, salt, and thyme.

Quantity of Thyme Required: 1 tsp.

To be Replaced with: ½ tsp. Zahtar

Best Suited for: Chicken/fish dishes, grilled vegetables, pizza, potatoes, etc.

Keep in Mind: Since it has sesame seeds in it, dish will have the flavor of sesame seeds. Moreover, the sumac content imparts a lemony flavor to the dish. Add little and check if you like the flavor. Adjust the quantity as required.

Dried Thyme

Quantity of Thyme Required: 1 tbsp.

To be Replaced with: ¾ tsp. dried thyme

Best Suited for: Chicken/fish dishes, grilled vegetables, pizza, potatoes, etc.

Keep in Mind: Dried herbs taste different from the fresh ones, nevertheless are good options. Moreover, dried thyme won't give the color that fresh thyme imparts.

Things to Remember!

Herb substitution is an art, and involves a lot of experimentation. Add small amounts of the herb at a time, and taste to check the flavor. Add till your palate permits.

While using dry herbs, make sure they are not too old. Old herbs lose their flavor.

Dried herbs have a stronger flavor, as compared to fresh herbs. This must be kept into consideration while substituting.

If using dried herbs, crush the herbs in your palm (after measuring), so as to release the oils and fragrance.

Herb substitution is all about trial and error. Understanding their individual flavors will help substitute better. The quantity of substitution mostly depends on one's taste preference, so again it's a matter of personal choice!