In this article, you will learn about the various differences between rosemary and thyme. So,it’s time to enter the ring and see who wins at Thyme vs Rosemary.

Thyme and rosemary are among the most loved herbs in the spice rack worldwide. These herbs are added as seasonings in various cuisines for their distinctive taste and flavor. Moreover, thyme and rosemary are also well-known for their medicinal uses.

This article will compare thyme’s qualities to rosemary based on the growth pattern, taste, culinary benefits, and medicinal uses.

thyme vs rosemary

About Rosemary

Rosemary or Rosmarinus officinalis belongs to the Lamiaceae (mint family) and is native to the Mediterranean region. It is an evergreen bush with needle-like leaves and blue, purple, white, or pink flowers. It is mainly known for its intense fragrance and flavor.


The literal meaning of rosemary is “dew of the sea.” This name is derived from a combination of Latin words: “ros,” meaning dew, and “marimus,” meaning the sea.

Rosemary has been used since ancient times for medicinal and culinary purposes.

About Thyme

Thyme is native to the Mediterranean region but is now grown all over the world. It has small gray-green leaves on a bunch of thin stems. There are about 400 different species of thyme. The most popular one is Thymus vulgaris.

Thyme plants can withstand harsh drought conditions and grow well in full sun. Hence, it is very easy to grow in a home garden.

Thyme upclose

Generally, you will find both fresh and dried thyme readily available in the market. Although dried thyme has the same flavor as fresh thyme, it is advisable to rehydrate it either independently or during the cooking process. It is used in several cuisines, including African, European, British, Latin, Central American, Caribbean and Mediterranean.

Thyme vs Rosemary: Growing Differences

If you plan to grow or plant both or either of these two herbs, consult a thorough growing guide. Here we’ll share some of the primary growing differences between thyme and rosemary.

Thyme and rosemary are pretty easy to grow. And as the growth requirements of both herbs are similar, you can even pair them up together in a single pot.

Growing thyme from its seeds can be challenging. Therefore, it is best to grow it from cuttings instead. I personally have found great results growing thyme hydroponically in my Aerogarden.

Thyme thrives well in the sun but can also grow well in partial shade like on the patio. Therefore, for best results, keep the plant where it receives abundant sunlight.

Thyme and rosemary

Similarly, planting rosemary from its seeds takes too long to germinate (about 3 to 6 months). Therefore, it is better to grow rosemary from stem cuttings. You can grow it either in-ground or in a pot with well-draining soil. It needs about six to seven hours of full sun daily and watering every one or two weeks. 

To grow either of them, prepare a pot about 8 to 12 inches in depth and add well-draining soil. Take three to four-inch cuttings from their stems and apply the rooting hormone. Plant it in the pot and water it frequently. After some weeks, the roots will start to appear.

Thyme vs Rosemary: Taste & Flavor

Just a pinch of thyme or rosemary is enough to add a distinctive flavor to a dish. Though both herbs belong to the mint family, each one has a unique taste.

Thyme and rosemary are often used together but can be used separately as well.

Thyme has a gentle flavor with minty and lemony undertones. It get’s it’s unique flavor from a substance called thymol

Its subtleness blends perfectly well with almost everything. I love using it in soups and stews.

Rosemary has a slightly sharp and bitter flavor, coinciding with the aroma of pine and lemon. Unfortunately, it has a somewhat overpowering taste, and if not paired with the right combination of spices, you may end up ruining the dish’s flavor.

Indeed, there is no way to pick one over the other based on flavor, as both thyme and rosemary have characteristic flavor and aroma. I encourage you to taste both herbs and see what you like more.

I lean towards thyme’s flavor over rosemary.

Thyme vs Rosemary: Culinary Uses

Thyme and rosemary have long been used for culinary purposes. And, because of their distinct flavor and aroma, one cannot be substituted for the other, unless you are just wanting to replace one herb for the other. I share this in my rosemary substitutes.

Thyme beautifully enhances the flavor of all kinds of dishes, including soups, stews, casseroles, and many others. It also blends perfectly with garlic, onion, and wine.

In addition, it gives superb flavor to meat dishes. As such, thyme is a special ingredient in meat pies, stir-fry dishes, and gumbos. But thyme doesn’t stop there, it can even be used in desserts. Since it naturally has a hint of lemon, it pairs wonderfully with lemon desserts like lemon bars, or lemon cake.

Thyme and Rosemary

Rosemary is used in various dishes as a seasoning, such as salads, stews, casseroles, and soups. Just a pinch of rosemary gives fantastic flavor and aroma to steaks, fish, pork, and chicken. It also goes well with earthy flavors of wine, garlic, and onions.

Moreover, rosemary also works perfectly well with potatoes, spinach, peas, and all kinds of grains. This is when you see wonderful recipes like rosemary sourdough bread and rosemary rice.

If you want your home to smell amazing…bake something with rosemary!

Thyme vs Rosemary: Medicinal Uses

Thyme and rosemary have a long history of use for culinary purposes. Moreover, numerous scientific studies have shown that these herbs have obvious health benefits.

Here are a few benefits of these two amazing herbs on the human body and the environment.

  • Thyme is loaded with vitamin C, which immensely contributes to the body’s immune system. It is also a good source of vitamin A, which is known for its anti-inflammatory functions. Both vitamin A and C regulate the cellular immune system.
  • The powerful aromatic properties of thyme essential oil (thymol) can be therapeutic. Using thyme oil can positively affect your neuron activity, which, in turn, relaxes your mood. Furthermore, thyme essential oil contains fungicidal properties. Use it as a disinfectant, and it will remarkably decrease the presence of mold.
  • Rosemary is rich in antioxidants which help against oxidative stress and enhance healthy blood circulation. Antioxidants also reduce aging signs in the skin by fighting free radicals.
  • The fragrance of rosemary essential oil is also calming. It relaxes your brain, improves your cognitive performance, and enhances your memory. It is even said that rosemary oil helps with the growth of hair. (source)
  • Rosemary is a natural remedy for heartburn, bloating, abdominal pain, and similar digestive issues. In addition, because of the antimicrobial properties of rosemary, rosemary extract works efficiently as a food preservative.

Final Thoughts

Can you use rosemary instead of thyme or thyme instead of rosemary?

In a nutshell, thyme vs rosemary have their differences and similarities. Therefore, while one can be used temporarily as a substitute for the other, it will not entirely replace it because each has distinct flavors, and properties. 

This comparison shows that thyme and rosemary have numerous culinary and medicinal uses. In addition, using them in your daily life may have positive effects on your overall health and make your next recipe yummy.

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