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What Is a Good Substitute for Thyme?

By Christina Edwards
Updated May 16, 2024
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Several recipes call for the dried herb thyme, and if a cook does not have this available, she will usually look for a substitute. Tarragon, parsley, marjoram, and rosemary are all good substitutes for thyme, since they have a mild flavor. Basil and oregano can also be used, but these typically have a bold flavor. Italian seasoning is a blend of common herbs and spices, and it can also be used in place of thyme.

Tarragon is often considered to be a good substitute for thyme. Like thyme, it has a mild flavor, that is just barely noticeable. Many culinary experts recommend using this in fish and chicken dishes.

Parsley is another good substitute. This herb also has a very mild flavor, and some experts believe it is nearly tasteless. When mixed with marjoram, however, it can be quite flavorful. It can also add an interesting hint of color, since parsley flakes are usually bright green.

Some culinary experts also believe that rosemary can be used in place of thyme. This is also quite mild. Many believe, however, that it is best when used in dishes that call for pork or lamb.

If an individual is looking for a different, bold flavor, both basil and oregano can be good substitutes for thyme. These herbs typically have a strong, distinctive flavor. They are often used in dishes that have tomatoes or tomato sauces. Marinara sauce, meatloaf, and meatballs are all good examples of dishes that can benefit from basil or oregano.

Italian seasoning can also give a dish a bold flavor. This mix of herbs and spices actually contains thyme, so it could be considered to be a good substitute for thyme. Other herbs in Italian seasoning include rosemary, marjoram, sage, basil, and oregano.

Like basil and thyme, Italian seasoning typically has a strong, distinctive flavor. As the name suggests, it is often used in Italian cooking. Dishes like lasagna and spaghetti and meatballs often call for most of the herbs in this seasoning.

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Discussion Comments

By Oceana — On Jan 03, 2013

@feasting – I have to disagree with you about the rosemary. I used it once as a substitute for thyme in a recipe, and it made the vegetables taste entirely different than they normally do.

Rosemary is all right on roasted potatoes, but I prefer parsley if I don't have any thyme. I guess everyone is different in this respect, but I can tell a big difference between all of the dried herbs.

By feasting — On Jan 03, 2013

I've been using thyme as a substitute for dried basil, so it makes sense that basil would work in place of thyme. To me, basil, rosemary, and thyme are basically interchangeable.

By giddion — On Jan 02, 2013

Dried parsley is a great substitute for dried thyme. Like the article says, it is nearly flavorless, but thyme offers no kick in the taste buds, either.

Parsley does add some appeal to food. Potato slices baked with it are better than those baked with only salt, in my opinion.

By lighth0se33 — On Jan 01, 2013

I would not recommend using Italian seasoning as a thyme substitute. This is because it contains sage, which is really powerful.

Anything with sage in it reminds me of breakfast sausage. So, if I put sage on chicken, it just doesn't taste right, because it makes me think of sausage.

I would go with basil as a substitute. It adds flavor without taking over the entire taste.

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