What can I substitute for Thyme?
In this short article, we will discuss “what can I substitute for thyme”. Thyme is a herb that adds flavour to food but also it has medicinal and dietary uses. If you are not having thyme for use, then no need to be worried because there are various substitutes mentioned that you could use.
What can I substitute for Thyme?
As thyme is a herb so the substitutes for thyme are also related to refreshing herbs like oregano, marjoram, and rosemary.
Thyme is such a herb that adds warm flavour to the meal we cook, also, it is beneficial for health. If you are going to cook something and you need thyme but unfortunately you don’t have thyme near you, then you must be looking for substitutes for thyme.
So, here are the substitutes that you can use:
Legal regulations of the European Union do not include any microbiological standards referring to dried spices and herbs. In a study, most of the analyzed spices and herbs were characterized by good microbiological quality, which was indicated by the fact that in 60.0% of the tested samples that total count of aerobic mesophiles did not exceed 104 CFU/g, and that the unacceptable contamination level of 106 CFU/g was not exceeded in any of the samples (1).
If you are looking for a substitute that could give earthy, minty, savoury flavour just like thyme then this is the best substitute for it. You can either use fresh or dried oregano. The use of oregano gives a spicy and unique flavour to the food.
The compound linalool, A-terpineol and carvacrol and the essential oils of oregano. It also contains rosmarinic acid. Like other herbs and spices, it contains phenolic compounds such as flavonoids which may help to protect against cardiovascular disease and intestinal cancer (2,3).
Quantity to use:
- If you are replacing fresh oregano as a substitute for fresh thyme, then you should use it in equal amounts as thyme.
- If you are replacing dried oregano with dried thyme, use it in an equal ratio of 1:1.
- If you are replacing fresh oregano with dried thyme, then you should use double the amount of oregano
- If you are replacing dried oregano with fresh thyme, then you should use half the amount of dried oregano.
Marjoram is also used as a substitute for thyme. It can be used either dried or fresh. It gives a woody, minty flavour to your food just like oregano. Marjoram is used not only for flavour in our foods but also has medicinal properties, and is beneficial for health.
Marjoram contains compounds with a preserving action. Sweet marjoram is characterized by a strong spicy and pleasant odor. The flavor is fragrant, spicy, slightly sharp, bitterish and camphoraceous. The essential oil of marjoram contains monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, monoterpene alcohols, among others. For many years both marjoram and oregano were known as Origanum majorana L. Today marjoram is identified as Majorana hortensis as a member of the mint family. It has often been mistaken for oregano in botanical description (2,3).
Derivatives of marjoram show anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant features (3). But using too much marjoram could cause problems. If you are applying fresh marjoram to your skin, it could cause an eye or skin allergy. According to studies, all essential oils may contain naturally occurring contact sensitisers. In fact, some evidence suggests that they are potential skin allergens or sensitizing agents (4).
Quantity to use:
- If you are replacing fresh marjoram as a substitute for fresh thyme, then you should use it in equal amounts as thyme.
- If you are replacing dried marjoram with dried thyme, use it in equal ratio 1:1.
- If you are replacing fresh marjoram with dried thyme, then you should use double the amount of marjoram
- If you are replacing dried marjoram with fresh thyme, then you should use half the amount of dried marjoram.
Parsley herb is also used as a substitute for thyme. It is a bright green that adds a unique colour to the dish. It adds flavour to the food when mixed with marjoram. Using parsley is beneficial because it contains a lot of nutrients. Parsley is rich in antioxidants also. There are plain-leaved and curly-leaved varieties of parsley. They are both suitable to be added fresh to soups, sauces, fish dishes and potato dishes (2).
Using parsley as a substitute in your dish could cause so many health benefits, it supports bone health also. The herb is a brilliant supply of vitamin-K and folates. . Vitamin K has been found to have the potential function in bone health by means of promoting osteoblastic activity in the bones (5).
When you don’t have thyme on hand then you can use rosemary as a substitute. It is more like a woody herb because when it gets mature it turns into some sort of wood.
Its flavour is quite strong so if you are thinking of using it as a substitute for thyme then use it in less quantity.
Chemical analysis of different kinds of rosemary extracts composition reveals that the most potent active components are triterpenes, phenolic diterpenes and phenolic acids including rosmarinic acid, carnosic acid, rosmanol, carnosol, ursolic acid and betulinic acid. According to the documents, rosmarinic acid and carnosic acid possess the most medicinal effects among the mentioned phenolic compounds i.e. anti-inflammatory and antioxidants (6).
Rosemary contains ingredients that help improve the immune system of our body. It is not only rich in nutrients and beneficial for health but also it helps in boosting our mind and improves mental health. As rosemary also has properties that relieve pain, you could use it to massage your body or the part where you are having pain.
Basil belongs to the same family from which thyme belongs. So, basil can also be used as a substitute for thyme. It adds flavour and spice to the food. Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a plant from the family of Lamiaceae, from which most leaves are used in fresh and dried forms. The flavor coumpounds of basil are methylchavicol, linalool and methyl eugenol (2,3).
Basil is helpful for health because it helps indigestion. It helps in fighting depression. It protects our body from various infections (8).
Quantity to use:
- Replace half amount of fresh basil with fresh thyme
- Replace the same amount of fresh basil with dried thyme
- Replace the same amount of dried basil with fresh thyme
- Replace twice the amount of dried basil with dried thyme
Savoury can be used as a substitute for thyme because it gives a unique flavour i-e pepper flavour to your dish. It is a herb that belongs to the mint family. Summer savoury is also used in treating cough, sore throat, and intestinal disorders. It is recognized that phytochemicals mainly as the essential oils, rosmarinic acid and apigenin derived from aerial parts of the plant, have been used as folk medicinal treatments for various ailments including cold, cramps, muscle pain, stomachache, intestinal disorders, diarrhea, cholera, and other infectious diseases (7).
Quantity to use:
- Replace fresh savoury in equal amounts with fresh thyme (1:1)
- Replace dried savoury in equal amounts with dried thyme (1:1)
- Replace the double amount of fresh savoury with dried thyme (2:1)
- Replace half the amount of dried savoury with fresh thyme.
Other FAQs about Herbs that you may be interested in.
What can I substitute for herbes de Provence?
In this article, various substitutes for thyme are mentioned along with the required quantity to replace them with thyme.
- Garbowska, M., A. Berthold-Pluta, and L. Stasiak-Różańska. Microbiological quality of selected spices and herbs including the presence of Cronobacter spp. Food Microbiol, 2015, 49, 1-5.
- Catsberg, C. M. E., and G. J. M. Dommelen. Herbs and spices. Food Handbook. Springer, Dordrecht, 1990. 290-301.
- Peter, Kuruppacharil V., ed. Handbook of herbs and spices: volume 3. Woodhead publishing, 2006.
- Whiley, Harriet, et al. Antifungal properties of essential oils for improvement of indoor air quality: A review. Rev environ health, 2018, 33, 63-76.
- Ajmera, Puneeta, Sumati Kalani, and Luxita Sharma. Parsley-benefits & side effects on health. Int. J. Physiol. Nutr. Phys. Educ, 2019, 4, 1236-1242.
- Rahbardar, Mahboobeh Ghasemzadeh, and Hossein Hosseinzadeh. Therapeutic effects of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) and its active constituents on nervous system disorders. Iran J Basic Med Sci, 2020, 23, 1100.
- Zou, Qingya. Characterization of anti-inflammatory, anti-Streptococcus pyogenes and anti-biofilm activities of summer savory phytochemicals. Diss. 2015.
- Maheshwari, Raaz, et al. Usage of holy basil for various aspects. Bull. Environ. Pharmacol. Life Sci., 2012, 1, 67-69.