In This Post
- What is Thyme?
- What Does Thyme Taste Like?
- How to Cook With Thyme
- The 4 Best Thyme Substitutes
- Grow Your Own Thyme at Home
- How to Store Fresh Thyme
- Try These Recipes That Use Thyme
What is Thyme?
Thyme is a fragrant herb originally from the Mediterranean region that’s in the same family as oregano, basil, mint, and shiso. Thyme has small leaves that grow on clusters of thin stems. It’s been used for centuries for both culinary and medicinal purposes. The word thyme originates from the Greek word thumos, which means “courage.” During Medieval times, thyme was thought to be an emblem of bravery.
As the saying goes, you are what you eat. So perhaps eating thyme will give you courage. It certainly couldn’t hurt to be a little courageous in the kitchen and try new recipes. Hey, you never know!
Interesting Facts About Thyme
Here are some cool facts about thyme you need to know. And you can definitely use these at your next dinner party (wink).
- Thyme has antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal properties and many people use it as a key ingredient in DIY home cleaners.
- It’s also used for DIY insecticide.
- In ancient Greece, thyme was used in temples and added to bathwater.
- It contains many beneficial antioxidants and nutrients that help improve heart health and blood circulation.
- The aroma can also help encourage sleep!
What Does Thyme Taste Like?
Thyme has a strong, fresh aroma so you don’t want to skip this key ingredient in your savory dishes because its absence will certainly be noticed. It has an earthy flavor profile — with strong notes of wood, grass, and floral — while maintaining notes of mint and lemon-like its relatives’ basil and mint. It pairs well with lavender, nutmeg, and other sweet spices as well as summer savory spices (like sage) and winter savory dishes.
There are more than 100 varieties of thyme (wow!) and names usually match their flavor profile; such as orange thyme and caraway thyme. These other varieties aren’t typically found in stores, but you can easily find seeds online to grow your own at home.
How to Cook With Thyme
Thyme is a versatile herb in cooking, adding flavor to a variety of dishes including poultry, steak, fish, mushrooms and other vegetables, soups, stews, dips, salads, pasta sauces, and stuffing mixes. It also pairs well with many types of cuisine. To use fresh thyme in recipes, remove the leaves from the stems and chop the leaves. This helps release the oils which flavor your food. Then, sprinkle liberally over your food to season the dish.
Thyme also pairs well with parsley, bay leaf, dried or fresh oregano, garlic powder, sesame seeds, black pepper, and salt. It also tastes delicious as a pork, lamb, or poultry seasoning. Thyme works well with so many main dishes (like lasagna or spaghetti, adding a unique flavor) and side dishes.
How Many Teaspoons are 2 Sprigs of Thyme?
The quick answer: 2 sprigs of thyme equal about 1 Tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves and 1 teaspoon of dried thyme.
The 4 Best Thyme Substitutes
Here’s where the courageous part comes in! What do you do when you’re set on making a particular recipe but don’t have thyme in your spice cabinet? Don’t just leave it out! This herb is much too flavorful to be neglected, and its absence will be noticed. Besides, your other ingredients are already prepared so there’s no going back now. Channel the inner bravery that thyme supposedly provides, and check your pantry for any of the following herbs that would make a perfectly suitable substitute for thyme.
Since fresh and dried thyme can be used interchangeably if necessary, you can apply that same concept to certain other herbs if you don’t have any thyme on hand. So use a replacement herb in a 1:1 ratio, using a fresh herb to replace fresh thyme and a dried herb to replace dried thyme.
So what can be substituted for thyme in a recipe? Here are the best herbs to use as a thyme substitute when you find yourself in a pinch.
Dried oregano has many of the same earthy, minty, and lemony notes as thyme, which makes it a great alternative.
Marjoram has a similar earthy, minty profile to oregano (and thyme) but holds a slightly sweeter flavor.
Basil is in the same family as thyme, but that doesn’t mean the flavor profiles match. It’s a suitable replacement for thyme, but keep in mind that basil has a licorice flavor, that could be important for your recipe.
4. Italian Seasoning
How about mixing them all for a balanced flavor profile? Can’t go wrong there! A mixture of dried basil, marjoram, thyme, oregano, and rosemary is an ultra-fragrant spice blend perfectly suitable for a thyme substitute.
Grow Your Own Thyme at Home
You can learn to grow your own thyme at home and never have to worry about running out again. Plus, thyme is such a fragrant herb that your kitchen (or the entire house, if you decide to grow a lot of it) will smell fresh and lovely. And don’t we all enjoy that feeling? I know I do!
Here’s what you need to know to grow your own thyme at home.
- Thyme needs well-drained soil in full sun. So an outdoor patio thyme garden would work well. Or a sunny windowsill somewhere in your house.
- If you grow thyme in pots, you can move them inside during cooler months.
- Since it’s a drought-loving plant, thyme needs protection from cold winds and wet winters. So if growing in pots, use soil-based compost with plenty of grit and good drainage to keep it happy and thriving.
All of the other herbs mentioned above are easy to grow at home, too. So you could easily grow a lush herb garden and have all kinds of ingredients easily accessible whenever you need them!
How to Store Fresh Thyme
Pick your fresh thyme from your garden and rinse it well. Let it air dry or pat gently with a tea towel. Store it loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel inside of a sealed container like a plastic bag, airtight container or reusable silicone bag. It will keep for up to two weeks!
Dried thyme should be stored in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark place. Just like the rest of your herbs.
Try These Recipes That Use Thyme
- Blueberry Thyme Mimosas (Alcohol-Free)
- Instant Pot Shredded Chicken
- Quinoa & Mushroom Stuffed Acorn Squash
- Lemon Thyme Poppy Seed Donuts
- Easy Mexican Barbacoa Tacos
The Best Substitute for Thyme in Recipes
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme
Recommended Substitutes for Thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1 Tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- If substituting 1 teaspoon of dried thyme, use 1 teaspoon of another dried herb.
- If substituting 1 Tablespoon of fresh thyme, use 1 Tablespoon of another fresh herb (chopped).
- Use any of these substitutions or get creative and try other herbs and flavors to substitute for thyme!