Thyme vs. Oregano: How Distinct Are They?

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Both thyme and oregano originated in Mediterranean areas and are significant herbs in Mediterranean dishes as well as other cuisines. Thyme and oregano are both members of the Lamiaceae plant family and complement many other herbs and spices.

Thyme and oregano have similar aromas, with notes of lemon, mint, and earthy overtones, and may be swapped for each other in certain recipes. Yet, since oregano has a considerably stronger taste than thyme, it may overshadow other flavors if used in excess.

If you’re not sure what the difference between these two popular herbs is, or how to utilize them in cooking, keep reading to discover more about thyme versus oregano.

What Is Thyme and How Is It Used in Cooking?

There are many varieties of thyme (Thymus vulgaris), all of which belong to the Lamiaceae, or mint family. Thyme has a citrusy, fresh taste with traces of mint, cloves, and earthiness, however the flavor varies depending on the variety of thyme used.

Thyme, pronounced time, is a woody, low-growing plant native to the Mediterranean. Like many herbs, it is an ancient herb utilized by both the Romans and the Ancient Egyptians.

While thyme may be used alone, it is finest when combined with other herbs, particularly oregano, sage, marjoram, tarragon, rosemary, or bay. It also goes well with garlic. In fact, thyme is a prominent ingredient in bouquet garni, a French herb combination used in many stews, soups, and broths.

Thyme is also often used in Middle Eastern cookery to flavor meats and flatbreads. Goats and sheep are fed on thyme in certain European nations for the taste it imparts to the meat.

Thyme may be used in a variety of foods, including wheat and rice meals, most vegetables, root vegetables such as carrots and potatoes, tomatoes, shellfish, and baked fish dishes. It may be used in salads and even fruit dishes, and it is vital in many Creole meals, including jambalaya.

What Is the Difference Between Different Types of Thyme?

The most prevalent is common thyme. While all three of them are Thymus vulgaris, they vary in significant ways. There are many varieties of thyme used in cooking, but French thyme, German thyme, and English thyme are the most common.

The tastes of English thyme (also known as common thyme) and German thyme are comparable, while German thyme contains more aromatic oils and English thyme has a stronger flavor.

The German thyme has smaller leaves and grows more erect, whilst the English thyme has bigger leaves and spreads more over the ground. German thyme is also more hardy and will survive the winter.

The primary element in herbs de Provence, French thyme, has a similar taste to regular thyme but with sweeter undertones. It has pointy leaves with crimson tints on the stalks. French thyme is a slow growing thyme that may be harmed by cold weather. Nevertheless, when dried, French thyme retains more of its taste than other thymes.

If a recipe does not indicate the sort of thyme to use, ordinary thyme will suffice, unless it is a French dish, in which case French thyme should be used if it is available. Those with a more refined palate may perceive a change in flavor.

How to Use Fresh or Dried Thyme

Thyme may be purchased fresh or dried and is often simple to cultivate in the yard or even in a window box. Since dried thyme has greater taste than fresh thyme, use less dried thyme in lieu of fresh thyme.

Fresh thyme may be used as complete stalks that must be removed during or after cooking, or as leaves. To remove the leaves off the stalk, grasp the end of the stalk between your finger and thumb and run your other hand’s fingers down the stalk, pulling the leaves off at the same time. Fresh thyme is often used as whole leaves, although it may also be coarsely diced with a knife.

You may create thyme ice cubes to preserve fresh thyme for later use. Remove the leaves off the stalks, wash them, and set them in an ice cube pan. Instead of using your standard tray, you may wish to invest in a specialist silicone ice cube tray for freezing herbs, since the fragrance of the herbs may contaminate your beverages later!

Fill the ice cube container with water once you’ve added the thyme. So, if you wish to use thyme, just add an ice cube or two to your recipe. Don’t forget to slightly lower the liquid amount of the recipe to compensate for the excess water in the ice cube.

You may also dry fresh thyme yourself. Hanging is the most conventional approach to dry any herb. When using fresh thyme stems before they have flowered, just wash them, pat them dry with a paper towel, thread the stalks together, and hang them someplace with a temperature of at least 50F and low humidity.

A paper bag placed carefully over the hanging stalks can help keep the dust off and any leaves that fall off. After a few weeks, you may remove the leaves and store them in a jar or other airtight container.

After washing and allowing the thyme leaves to air dry, just peel them from the stem and lay them out flat on a baking sheet for a few days before transferring to an airtight container. You may also dry the leaves by separating them from the stem using a dehydrator.

How Is Oregano Used in Cooking?

If you like pizza, you are probably acquainted with the pungent taste of oregano. Oregano may also be included in a traditional Greek salad. Oregano is more pungently fragrant and apparent than thyme, with citrus and flowery notes as well as some earthiness. In truth, oregano is a stronger form of marjoram with peppery undertones that shine through in tomato-based dishes.

Oregano, like thyme, is best when combined with garlic and herbs such as thyme, parsley, basil, bay, and marjoram, making it popular in a variety of Mediterranean cuisines, including Italian, Spanish, Greek, and more rustic French dishes. It’s also popular in Mexican cuisine, where it goes well with cumin and cilantro.

Since it is more pungent, oregano pairs well with meats like beef, lamb, or pig.

Oregano refers to a group of perennial herbs. Oregano (Origanum vulgare), which originated in the Mediterranean, is a bushy plant that grows to about 2 feet in height and has flat, big, fuzzy leaves. The leaves also have a characteristic hay fragrance with mint undertones.

The Ancient Greeks initially utilized it for food and medicine as a mountain pleasure. In general, the taste of oregano is affected by where it is cultivated, since the hotter the climate, the stronger the flavor. The oregano sold in shops is often Greek (or Mediterranean), and this kind is also known as wild marjoram. Greek oregano is more earthy, Turkish oregano is more pungent, and Italian oregano is milder. Oregano is a Greek word that signifies “joy.”

Depending on the season, you may also be able to obtain more potent Mexican oregano, which shines in chiles, salsas, and other Latin American foods.

Dried oregano may be one of these sorts or a blend of oreganos from various growing locations; check the box to be sure.

Tips for Making the Most of Fresh and Dried Oregano

Fresh oregano leaves may be used as salad greens or in the same manner as cilantro or fresh basil would. When using fresh oregano in a spaghetti sauce, the taste does not transfer to the other components as it would when using dried oregano. Fresh oregano leaves may also be briefly toasted in a skillet and used to tacos or stew.

While oregano is one of the most pungent herbs, it does dry well and retain its taste, therefore exercise caution when using dried oregano to avoid entirely overpowering other flavors in the meal. If the recipe calls for fresh oregano and you can’t locate any, substitute a third of the quantity of dried oregano.

Like thyme, fresh oregano leaves may be frozen in an ice cube tray or dried by hanging the stalks or simply plucking the leaves and drying on a baking sheet. After the oregano is totally dried, store it in an airtight container away from heat and light. It should hold its taste for at least six months.

If you want to dry oregano on its stalks, you may use part of the stalks in your smoker after they’ve dried to add flavor to your meat.

Can I Use Thyme in Place of Oregano?

The ideal thymes to use in place of oregano are common thyme and French thyme. While thyme and oregano have similar taste characteristics and mix well with comparable meals, many recipes, such as meat or tomato dishes, call for both. If the recipe just calls for one of the two, you may be able to substitute them with minimal flavor change, but English

If you run out of thyme, use a little oregano, marjoram, or even savory, or, in a pinch, a little poultry or Italian seasoning. Avoid using rosemary as a replacement for thyme or oregano because to its strong taste.

In Conclusion

In this piece, I compared thyme and oregano in depth. While both thyme and oregano are Mediterranean herbs with mint, lemon, and earthy aromas that may be used fresh or dried, oregano is more pungent.

Thyme is often used in Middle Eastern and other cuisines, but oregano is commonly used in South American meals, where it pairs nicely with cumin and cilantro. Both thyme and oregano are often featured in the same recipe and are used in a broad variety of European foods.

They may occasionally be substituted for one another depending on the recipe, although common thyme and French thyme have the most similar taste to oregano. But, since oregano is more pungent than thyme, it may easily dominate some of the other tastes in the meal.


Does oregano and thyme taste the same?

Oregano. Oregano, whether fresh or dried, has many of the same earthy, minty, savory, and somewhat bitter flavors as thyme. It also has a spicy, herbal undertone, which adds to its exquisite richness. Use fresh oregano in place of fresh thyme, and dried oregano in place of dry thyme.

Can I substitute oregano for thyme?

You may use fresh or dried oregano in place of fresh or dried thyme. Their flavors are comparable. Nonetheless, oregano has a distinct Italian flavor, whilst thyme is a bit more subtle.

Do thyme and oregano look alike?

Thyme may grow to be 6-12 inches tall and 18 inches broad. Thyme stems are tender at the top, where new shoots emerge, yet hard and woody at the bottom. Oregano flowers are white, pink, or light purple and bloom in bunches. Thyme blossoms range in color from white to purple and bloom in bunches.

What Flavour does thyme give?

Thyme has a distinct herbal taste and flowery undertones comparable to lavender or rosemary. Thyme has a minty taste that is somewhat sweet and spicy.

What food does thyme go well with?

Soil with good drainage. Beef, carrots, chicken, figs, fish, goat cheese, lamb, lentils, onions, peas, pork, potatoes, soups, tomatoes, venison. Thyme: full sun and sandy soil

Which is healthier thyme or oregano?

Oregano, on the other hand, has more calories, potassium, and calcium (in fresh forms of these 2). Oregano also has a high concentration of antioxidants. Yet, when fresh and dried oregano are compared, fresh and dried oregano are quite equal in nutrients, while dried thyme contains more nutrition than fresh thyme.

Which is stronger thyme or oregano?

Depending on the kind of oregano, the flavor might be spicy, peppery, pungent, astringent, harsh, or bitter. Thyme has a mild flavor that is lemony, somewhat minty, delicate, and “dry” depending on the variety.

What is thyme best used for?

Thyme is often found in savory recipes such as braised or roasted meat, vegetables, or seafood, as well as savory baking. It may also be used to season marinades, soups and stocks, cocktail ingredients, and teas.

What flavor does oregano add?

The taste of oregano is strong and pungent, comparable to marjoram but not as sweet. This is a strong herb that will make a big difference in any dish; a little goes a long way. When the meat is cooking, place entire sprigs of oregano inside the cavities of chicken or fish to provide delicate flavor.

How do you identify thyme?

Wild Thyme Physical Qualities. They are a member of the Mint family and have square stems with purple flower stalks that are hairy on two sides. The tiny, deep green leaves grow in pairs along the stems, are oval in form, and very fragrant.

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