Thyme is a Mediterranean herb that has a lot to offer a dish in terms of gentle warmth and an herbaceous aroma. Both dried thyme and fresh can really make the difference between a bit of a boring dish or one with real depth of flavor.
The best ways to replace fresh thyme are to use dried thyme or oregano, marjoram, savory, basil, rosemary and herb blends like Herbes De Provence, Italian Seasoning and even Za’atar. You should use less dried than fresh as the drying process intensifies the flavor as well.
Let’s look at each replacement for thyme in more detail now.
How To Replace Dried Thyme In Recipes
If a recipe calls for dried thyme and you have run out then there are a few helpful tricks to know about. You are looking to recreate the warming, herbaceous and slightly woody gentle flavor of thyme.
Using fresh thyme to replace dried can work and changing quantities will help to maintain that depth of flavor. Other dried herb mixes can work in a one to one ration and often you find that
1. Fresh Thyme To Dried Thyme Ratio
Don’t get me wrong it is not always ideal to replace a dried herb for a fresh one or vice versa, but with thyme it works very well.
Thyme will hold it’s flavor when dried and actually intensify. So if you are looking at a recipe that calls for dried thyme, but only have fresh you need to increase the ratio. Use 1 teaspoon dried thyme = 1 tablespoon fresh thyme. Make sure to harvest and use in the same day as wilted leaves are unpleasant.
When harvesting the tiny thyme leaves it is ideal to cut a stem and then hold at the top with one hand. Then with the thumb and forefinger of the other hand run it down against the leaves, top to bottom. Your leaves will fly off so have a muslin cloth underneath to catch them all.
If you are struggling to find dried thyme in your local supermarket you can
check availability here.
Replacing Fresh Thyme For Dried Thyme
If, on the other hand you want to replace fresh thyme with dried this can work in reverse, so 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme = 1 teaspoon of dried thyme. To dry thyme, keep the tiny leaves on the stem. Then you can detach once dry. For full drying guides click here.
2. Oregano Vs Dried Thyme
Oregano is a herb that is used in many of the same dishes as thyme. You can see from where you may find them growing in the wild that this works well. Oregano shares the earthy, mint like flavors of thyme alongside a slightly anise astringent flavor.
Caution must be taken if a recipe already calls for oregano as simply replacing it like for like for thyme could overpower the dish. Look to the rest of the dish and see how it could compliment it further. If there is no other oregano go for a like for like replacement.
1 teaspoon dried oregano = 1 teaspoon dried thyme. 1 teaspoon fresh oregano = 1 teaspoon fresh thyme. IF converting fresh to dried use the 3:1 ratio again. 1 teaspoon dried oregano = 1 tablespoon fresh thyme.
3. Dried Rosemary Vs Dried Thyme
Rosemary is just that little bit more pungent than thyme. It shares the warming notes but adds a pine like flavor that can be a little overpowering if you are using in place of thyme. So just go a little bit carefully with it.
I would suggest adding rosemary to a dish a little at a time, this way you can control that depth of pungency. The flavor will develop further the longer it is cooked and if you are looking to replace thyme in a dish with rosemary, then add closer to the end to take away that astringency.
Perfect replacements for thyme don’t exist so looking at ways to give a dish a herby, earthiness from other herbs works well as long as they don’t overpower. Therefore with rosemary I don’t recommend a like for like replacement. If a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of dried thyme go for 3/4 teaspoon of dried rosemary.
4. Marjoram Vs Dried Thyme
Marjoram and oregano share a lot of the same characteristics as one another, but both work well to replace thyme. Use in a like for like ratio and just be mindful if the dish already contains either of these two herbs. Dried marjoram is easy enough to come across in the stores.
5. Savory Vs Thyme
Savory has some of the similar flavors to thyme and will lend a dish a peppery and indeed savory flavor. I would suggest mixing this with other herbs if you are looking to replace thyme though. Just because it is not the perfect replacement.
Try 1 tablespoon dried thyme = 2 teaspoons dried savory + 1 teaspoon rosemary for a similar overall flavor.
6. Dried Basil Vs Dried Thyme
Basil has a lot more pepper and mint like notes than thyme, but when dried it looses some of those qualities and intensifies others. This makes it a good replacement for dried thyme. Use in a one to one ratio of 1 teaspoon dried thyme = 1 teaspoon dried basil.
7. Using Herbes De Provence To Replace Dried Thyme
Although there is some variation of the recipe herbes de Provence includes rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram and savory. Some recipes include lavender and a few other optional herbs, but this basic recipe makes it an ideal replacement for thyme.
My word of caution here is to check the whole recipe. If it asks for some of those other herbs to be added, remove them as individual ingredients and increase the amount of herbes de Provence that you add overall.
8. Replacing Dried Thyme With Italian Seasoning
Italian seasoning has a basic recipe that includes rosemary, thyme, oregano and basil. This makes it a good alternative to thyme if you have run out. Look out for the other ingredients in the recipe and remove them but increase the overall amount of Italian Seasoning you add.
9. Za’atar As A Replacement For Thyme
Za’atar contains dried thyme, oregano and marjoram. There is sometimes Sumac added and there is salt in here as well. If you are using za’atar to replace dried thyme make sure to reduce any citrus elements and salt that you are using in the rest of the dish.
10. Sachet D’Epices
A sachet d’epices contains dried herbs, often dried thyme and oregano. Therefore it makes a good replacement for fresh or dried thyme in a recipe. Use it to taste as it is pretty much a large tea bag for a recipe rather than a cuppa.
In Conclusion & What Next
It’s not easy to replace the delicate flavors of one herb for another and when it comes to thyme, using dried works very well. Growing your own fresh thyme is our best advice as you can then go for more nuanced flavors with lemon thyme and grow a years worth of fresh and dried. Have a look at our guide for growing thyme and see just how easy it is!
Have a look at some of our other articles and get to know your herbs a bit better.