You must have come across many recipes which call for thyme or rosemary. Many people often use them interchangeably, thinking they are the same. But the fact is that they aren’t! Thyme and rosemary are entirely different from each other and have their own specialties.
If you are new to cooking, you just need clarification on the two. So what is the difference between the two? There is a considerable difference in taste, uses, culinary benefits, and nutritional values.
Thyme has a strong flavor. It has a strong minty taste with a hint of citrus and earthiness. It is slightly bitter and has a very strong fragrance to it. Rosemary also carries a strong flavor profile. It has a strong piney taste and hints of citrus notes and sage.
We now know that there is a considerable difference between thyme and rosemary! So in this article, we are going to explore it in detail. Let’s see the major difference between the two herbs. We will also explore the herbs’ taste, uses, origin, and much more.
Thyme Vs. Rosemary | Difference Table
|Basis of Difference||Thyme||Rosemary|
|Origin/ Native||Eurasia||The Mediterranean area is especially focused on Portugal and North Western Spain.|
|Available in||Fresh / Dried form||Fresh / Dried form|
|Taste||Fresh, minty taste with a slightly bitter undertone.||Pungent smell with citrusy and bitter undertone|
|Appearance||Have small leaves with strong stems||Have needle-like small leaves to it|
|Usage||Used in Mediterranean dishes||Used in Mediterranean dishes|
|Nutrition||Rich in magnesium, calcium, and iron.||Great source of iron, vitamin A, and calcium|
|Substitutes||Oregano, basil, and Italian seasoning||Basil, marjoram, and tarragon|
What Is Thyme?
Thyme is a herb that is mainly used in Mediterranean dishes. However, due to its flavor and aroma, it has now been used worldwide. Asia or the Mediterranean, you name it, thyme does have a major impact on all cuisines.
Thyme belongs to the Lamiaceae family and is a close relative of oregano. It was first cultivated in Mediterranean regions and later spread across the world. Other than culinary benefits, thyme also has medicinal benefits and ornamental uses.
Due to its signature flavor and aroma, thyme has been used for different purposes. Earlier, people used to burn thyme to make their homes smell fresh. Also, thyme has been kept below their pillows to ward off evil dreams.
Another peculiarity of thyme is that it is easy to grow. Thyme is tolerant to drought and only requires a little water to survive. Therefore, if you live in a hot place or where it freezes, you can grow thyme.
There are different varieties of thyme available to us. However, we don’t use all of it in our cooking. Only a few selected thymes are used in cooking, and the rest are used for other purposes; given below are some varieties of thyme.
- Common Thyme – This is the most used thyme for culinary purposes. It grows well in most climates and has a very strong flavor profile. The leaves are light green compared to other thyme varieties and have many health benefits. This variety of thyme is called English thyme or Garden thyme.
- Caraway Thyme – Just as its name suggests, caraway thyme has a hint of caraway’s taste. It is packed with mint flavor and has a mild caraway undertone. This variant of thyme is widely used for flavoring meat dishes.
- French Thyme – This thyme is also called summer thyme. This thyme variety has a flavor profile similar to the normal thyme. However, french thyme is milder and has a sweet flavor compared to normal thyme. Just like the normal thyme, it is a favorite for many chefs.
- German Thyme – German thyme is mostly available in cold areas, so it is known as winter thyme. It has smaller leaves and thin stems compared to the normal thyme varieties. It is also widely used in cooking.
- Lemon Thyme – Lemon thyme has a very pleasant citrusy fragrance to it. It has the flavor of thyme with a tangy, citrusy taste. The leaves of lemon thyme are bigger than the normal thyme, and its flavor works very well in fish and other poultry dishes.
- Orange Balsam Thyme – Orange balsam, as its name suggests, has a very tangerine fragrance to it. It grows up to 12 inches and has a greyish-green leaf to it. The flavor of this thyme is more strong when used fresh!
Thyme can be found in fresh and dried forms and have different culinary uses. Fresh thyme is used as an ingredient, whereas dry thyme works well in rubbing, marinating, and garnishing different dishes.
What Is Rosemary?
Rosemary, scientifically called Salvia Rosmarinus, is a herb that belongs to the Lamiaceae family. It has small needle-like leaves that are evergreen in nature. It is widely used in cooking and has many health benefits to it.
Rosemary got its name from the Latin word Ros Marinus which means the “dew of the mountain.” Rosemary is widely available in Asia and the Mediterranean regions. However, these plants are extremely hard to grow. But the plant can survive up to 30 years.
Mostly rosemary leaves are used for culinary purposes. There are wide varieties of rosemary available to us. In the given section, we will list some of the most common varieties of rosemary.
- Arp Rosemary – This has an upright growing pattern to it. It has small leaves with a strong fragrance and is widely used for culinary purposes.
- Barbeque Rosemary – These varieties are extremely flavorful and aromatic and are widely used for culinary purposes. Barbeque Rosemary has soft stems and needle-like leaves. While in most types of rosemary, we use the leaves for cooking. However, in this variety, the culinary ingredient is its stem.
- Common Rosemary – This is the commonly available rosemary that is widely used for cooking. These have needle-like leaves and an extremely aromatic flavor profile.
- Spice Island Rosemary – Spice Island is one of the most aromatic rosemary varieties. It has a strong taste, and a pungent fragrance is used in cooking. But if you are a newbie in cooking, you should use this sparingly as it has a very strong flavor profile.
Rosemary, just like thyme, is available to us in fresh and dried form. It has many culinary uses to it. But more than that, it also has many medicinal uses.
Since rosemary plants are beautiful to look at, some varieties of them are favorites to many gardeners. They require little care and survive all year, adding beauty to your garden!
Thyme Vs. Rosemary | Similarities Between The Two
Now that we have read about each plant, we know there is some difference. But before talking about their differences, let’s quickly go through some of their similarities, making it hard for people to differentiate between them.
1. Both Belong To The Same Family
As we have seen, rosemary and thyme belong to the Lamiaceae family, the mint family. Thus, regardless of other differences, I would have a minty taste.
2. Both Are Used To Flavor Dishes
Both rosemary and thyme work excellently as flavoring ingredients. Both bring not just taste to your food but also enrich your food with a mouth-watering fragrance. If you need some aroma and taste, you need to include these herbs in your cooking.
3. Have A Similar Appearance
One of the major similarities between the two is their appearance. It will be hard to differentiate between the two if you see the dried and crushed versions of rosemary and thyme. But if you just smell, you’ll know the difference.
4. Type Of Usage
Both thyme and rosemary have a similar flavor profile, if not the same. Therefore its culinary uses are almost similar.
5. Both Can Be Used As Each Other Substitute
As we have said earlier, rosemary and thyme have a similar flavor profile. Therefore you can easily use it as each other’s substitute in almost all dishes. Both bring in a lot of flavor and aroma to your recipe. Therefore, next time you are out of thyme, use rosemary and vice versa.
Thyme Vs. Rosemary | What Are The Major Differences?
Thyme and rosemary aren’t the same herb and have considerable differences. From their appearance to their fragrance, you can tell the difference. In this section, we will talk about the major difference between thyme and rosemary.
Thyme has its origin in Eurasia. But nowadays, it is cultivated throughout the world. It is widely used as a rub for non-vegetarian and vegetarian dishes. This herb enhances the flavor as well as the taste of the dish.
Rosemary originates in the hills along the Mediterranean, especially in Portugal and North Western Spain.
2. Taste And Aroma
Thyme has a strong flavor profile. It has a sharp minty taste with a hint of citrus. Along with being a flavoring ingredient, thyme also adds up to the fragrance of the dish. It imparts an earthy, fresh aroma to the food.
Rosemary, just like thyme, has a strong taste to it. Rosemary’s flavor profile is slightly complicated. It has notes of pine and sage with a strong hint of mint and lemon. If used in excess, rosemary would be bitter. It imparts a piney flavor to the dishes.
You can easily identify thyme and rosemary in fresh form based on their appearance. Thyme’s leaves are small and round in shape. When you touch it, you can feel the softness of the leaves. They are green in color and can grow up to 12 inches in length.
Thymes are easy to grow. It can grow in most places. It requires very little water. Not just that, thyme is extremely pretty to look at, and other than being a culinary ingredient, thyme plants are used as ornamental plants.
Rosemary leaves, on the other hand, are extremely hard to touch. They are small and have a needle-like structure. They won’t hurt you but could still poke at your hands. The plant can grow up to 6 ft. The size of rosemary is much smaller than that of thyme.
Rosemary plants are hard to grow. But once you can grow the plant, the plant has high resistance to the climate and would stay almost up to thirty years. They are perennial and can be used all throughout the year.
4. Culinary Usage
Thyme is an extremely versatile ingredient. It imparts a minty earthy fragrance and taste to the food. It is widely used in Mediterranean, Italian, and French cuisines. Both fresh and dried thyme can work well in cooking.
Thyme is a multi-purpose ingredient. You can use it as a flavoring ingredient as well as a seasoning. We can add it to pizzas, pasta, soups, and roasted vegetables. Moreover, if you love its taste, sprinkle it over all your favorite dishes.
Rosemary is commonly used in Mediterranean dishes. However, due to its flavor profile, people have started to use it worldwide. Rosemary can be used for seasoning and flavoring purposes.
Rosemary can be added to season poultry and meat dishes. While adding the flavor, rosemary also controls the odor of the food. Rosemary also blends very well with fish which have higher oil content.
Chewing on thyme might not be a pleasant experience. Hence if you want to make your salads taste like rosemary, make rosemary-infused oils. These oils are easy to make and could bring the rosemary flavor to your dish.
Moreover, many people use whole rosemary to garnish their dishes. It imparts a good flavor, and it is extremely presentable. However, removing it before serving it to the guests is advisable.
Thyme and rosemary have high nutritional values in it.
Thyme is rich in antioxidants and has antimicrobial properties. It is a rich magnesium, iron, and calcium source and has a caloric value of 0.80. A spoonful of thyme could provide you with a good amount of iron and magnesium.
Similarly, rosemary also has a high amount of antioxidants in it. The caloric value of rosemary is 8. It is also a great source of iron, vitamin A, and calcium.
Some herbs could easily serve as thyme substitutes if you are out of thyme. Oregano, basil, and Italian seasoning are some of the best thyme substitutes. These ingredients could bring in a similar flavor profile as that of thyme.
While using any of these substitutes, you can follow the 1:1 ratio. When you need 1 teaspoon of thyme, replace it with 1 teaspoon of any of these substitutes.
Just like thyme, there is an effective substitute for rosemary as well. Since rosemary is hard to come by, it’s better to know and have some of its substitutes at home. Basil, marjoram, and tarragon are some of the best rosemary substitutes you can try for cooking.
While using any of these as a rosemary substitute, follow the 1:1 ratio.
7. Growth Requirements
Thyme is an aromatic herbal plant and is cultivated in well-drained soils. They are easy to cultivate as they require very little water. It can be easily propagated either by using their seeds or stems.
Rosemary is hard to go. They grow in hilly Mediterranean areas. It requires very little water. The plant has a lifespan of up to 3 years. Since they are hard to grow, rosemary is considered an invasive species.
8. Life Span
There are a lot of thyme varieties. Thyme is perennial in nature. An average thyme plant has a lifespan of 6 years. They could grow up to 20 cm in height and beat all odds like drought and cold.
Rosemary is very different from thyme. Rosemary is hard to grow but can last up to a period of three years. Rosemary is hard to grow and is often cultivated in hilly areas.
9. Health Benefits
Regardless of being a culinary ingredient, thyme and rosemary are extremely beneficial for our health. It has a lot of nutrition, making it a perfect addition to most of our meals.
Thyme has many health benefits. If you are tired of your face acne, thyme can greatly help! Thyme has high antibacterial properties. Thus if you use thyme-infused water instead of regular water, you can fight your face acne up to a point.
More than that, thyme also helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Thyme is also great for compacting respiratory issues like cough and infection. Since thyme is enriched with thyme oil, inhaling the thyme-infused water vapor could help relieve a congested nose.
Thyme is also great for gut health. Thyme has antibacterial properties. It helps to kill the germs in one’s food. Moreover, thyme increases once appetite and food absorption. It also helps to produce more mucus in the intestine, thus creating a healthy gut.
Rosemary has a high amount of antioxidant content in it. It helps to build our immune system and thereby makes our body healthy. Rosemary also helps to improve our blood circulation. Not just that, rosemary is also good for our brain health.
Rosemary also helps with anxiety! Rosemary is an extremely fragrant herb. Studies have shown that smelling rosemary can instantly improve one’s mood and also could relieve anxiety attacks. Thus having some rosemary can be of help in many ways.
Not just in internal health, rosemary also helps us to resolve many skin and hair issues. Rosemary can help you improve your skin texture. Using rosemary-infused oil will also help you to fight balding.
Can Thyme And Rosemary Be Used Together?
Thyme alone is great, but some dishes use both thyme and rosemary. Thyme and rosemary bring in a lot of flavors and aromas to the recipe. If you want a yummy dish that smells delish, then you need both in the recipe.
If you are wondering what dishes to cook with both of these, we are here to help. Below are some recipes that use both thyme and rosemary in their cooking. If you are wondering what to cook, give the section a quick read!
- Super Moist Turkey – Turkey isn’t just for Thanksgiving; if you are a fan of making turkey, you need both rosemary and thyme. After marination, fill the turkey with other herbs, thyme and rosemary. Bake it and eat it!
- Roasted Garlic – Any savory dish without garlic is just incomplete. If you are baking some garlic, try to add both rosemary and thyme to it. It makes the roasted garlic more flavorful and aromatic. If you make this, just mix it with butter and spread it on the bread.
- Goat Cheese Mousse – if you plan to make some goat cheese mousse, make sure to add rosemary and thyme. It makes the mousse more flavorful!
Top Dishes To Make Thyme
If you only have thyme at hand and want to try some dishes, here are some of the easiest and tastiest dishes to make with thyme.
1. Roasted Potatoes
Roasted potatoes are just incredible. You can’t just resist these potatoes at any point in time. Add garlic powder and salt to the potatoes and bake them until they are crispy. Grace them with crushed thyme and eat it when you feel like it.
2. Sauteed Carrots
Carrots and thyme go hand in hand. If you make dishes with carrots as one of their main ingredients, add some thyme to them. The flavor of carrots gets enhanced while adding some crushed thyme. If you are too lazy, this sauteed carrot recipe is perfect for you.
3. Thyme Tea
In the above section, we have seen the uses and benefits of thyme. If you want to experience the taste of thyme, the best way to enjoy it is through thyme tea. Thyme tea is extremely easy to make. All you need is some thyme and water. Just boil water with thyme, and your tea is ready to use.
4. Lemon Thyme Sauce
The sauce is the best way to turn an otherwise normal recipe into an amazing one. This lemon thyme recipe is something everyone should try if you like a tangy twist to your recipe. Mix well with some fresh butter, roasted garlic, lemon juice, and thyme. Serve it along with roasted vegetables or fried salmon!
5. Baked Eggs
We all love baked eggs. But if you are tired of eating your regular baked eggs, try adding some thyme to them while baking. Thyme will impart a delicious smell to the recipe making it even more delicious!
Top Dishes To Make With Rosemary
Here are some of the top dishes which you can make with rosemary.
1. Garlic Rosemary White Bean Dip
If you have some bread at home, garlic rosemary white bean dip is a must-try! It is creamy, extremely flavorful, and perfect for all bread recipes. Add some baked white beans and crush it. Into it, add some flavors along with rosemary leaves and give it a quick mix. Your white bean dip is ready!
2. Rosemary Tea
Rosemary has so many benefits to it. It is just refreshing and also very healthy. If you want to make your evening healthy and aromatic try this rosemary herbal tea. Just like thyme, just boil rosemary in water and sip it slowly!
3. Rosemary Simple Syrup
Simple syrup is just great on its own. But the best way to make it a little better is by adding some rosemary to it while making it. The aroma and minty flavor of rosemary are just perfect for the sweetness of the simple syrup. The simple rosemary syrup adds a sweet taste and a citrusy smell to the recipe.
4. Roasted Tomatoes
We all love a plate of freshly roasted tomatoes. Roasted tomatoes are often made with fresh tomatoes. But if you only have canned tomatoes and feel like eating some roasted tomatoes, add some rosemary and roast it. It is extremely flavorful and just fills all your cravings.
5. Infused Rosemary Citrus Water
We all have heard about infused water. Infused water has become a thing of the present. If you are on a diet and tired of drinking your regular cucumber-infused water, add some rosemary and lemon and your rosemary citrus water is ready! Rosemary and lemon bring in so much flavor and nutrition to your drink.
Thyme Vs. Rosemary | Which Is Healthier?
Without any doubt, thyme has more nutritional content than that rosemary. Thyme has fewer calories and is a great source of iron and magnesium. Rosemary also has many vital nutrients present in it. In that way, rosemary is also a healthy version.
Thyme Vs. Rosemary| Which Is Tastier?
Thyme has a very neutral flavor when compared to that rosemary. Thyme has a peppery mint taste with a hint of earthiness! If you are new to cooking and want to choose between the two, go for thyme!
Rosemary is also a great version. However, when used in excess, rosemary might be a little bitter. Therefore, we could conclude that thyme is tastier than that rosemary.
Thyme Vs. Rosemary| Which Is More Versatile?
In the above section, we have seen various varieties of each herb. Both herbs have wide varieties. However, when comparing the two, thyme has more culinary varieties than rosemary. Therefore we could say that thyme is more versatile than rosemary.
Thyme Vs. Rosemary | Which Is Better?
Finding the best of thyme and rosemary is a little hard! Both have many benefits and are widely used in culinary. But if we have to choose between the two, go for thyme. Thyme has a strong flavor profile. However, it isn’t overpowering like that of rosemary.
Now that we have reached the end of this article, I have resolved your doubt regarding whether to choose thyme or rosemary when given an option. Both thyme and rosemary are great ingredients to add to our dishes.
Thyme brings a citrusy and piney fragrance to the recipe. Rosemary brings in a citrusy note. Both of these are great for infusing a herbaceous fragrance into your food. However, if you need to choose one, go for thyme.
There are different varieties of thyme available to us. You can use it as an ingredient as well as for garnishing. Above all that, they are easy to get and grow! Thus, I’m concluding this article. Hope to see you with a much more interesting one next time!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I substitute rosemary for thyme?
Yes. Rosemary can be used as a thyme substitute and vice versa.
What’s better thyme or rosemary?
When compared between the two, thyme has a better flavor profile than that of rosemary.
Which is better on steak thyme or rosemary?
Both works well with steak. However, if you need a stronger flavor, go for rosemary.
What spice is closest to thyme?
Oregano, basil, and Italian seasoning are the spices which have a closer flavor profile to that of thyme.