Thyme Vs Rosemary ( Best Comparison and Differences)

Thyme Vs Rosemary are two common herbs frequently used in stews and meat dishes but for different reasons. They belong to the Lamiaceae family but are two different genera (Salvia for Rosemary and Thymus for thyme).

Both thyme and Rosemary are culinary staples in cuisines worldwide, and chances are you have some of each sitting on your spice rack right now. However, if you want to use them to their fullest potential in your cooking, it helps to know how they’re alike and different.

Come along while we end your curiosity on Thyme Vs Rosemary.

What is Thyme

Thyme is a herb with small leaves which grows on clusters of thin stems. thyme is used in various cuisines, including European, Mediterranean, Latin, African, Caribbean, and Central American; we can use thyme alone, as a blend or a bouquet garni. Moreover, thyme is available in both dried and fresh form.

There are also other thyme varieties like wild thyme, woolly thyme, creeping thyme, and elfin thyme, but these are not much used in cooking. Thyme has a floral note, strong herbal flavor with sharp grass, and woody taste. Lemon thyme, as its name suggests, has a distinctive citrus fragrance.

When cooking, we can use thyme in its complete form or pick individual leaves from the stem. The leaves can be added as whole leaves or chopped parts. Stems won’t break down during the cooking process as they are fibrous. If you add stems during cooking, you must pick them out before serving. 

Also, you can add thyme to a dish at any cooking stage; however, the longer it is cooked, the more flavor it will provide.

What is Rosemary

Rosemary is a small evergreen from mint family with medicinal and culinary uses. Rosemary grows in bushes with wood-like stems and pine-like needles. In cuisine, we commonly use it to season meats, especially chicken, pork, chicken, and lamb. You can also add chopped Rosemary to bread dough.

Rosemary is a powerful herb, slightly bitter and aromatic. Therefore, it should be used sparingly. Like thyme, Rosemary is also available in fresh and dried forms.

Rosemary is available in fresh and dried forms just li thyme. Both forms must be chopped or crushed before use since they have a tough texture, similar to pine needles. If you add rosemary sprigs without removing the stems, removing them before serving is better.

Thyme Vs Rosemary: What’s The Difference?



The origin of Thyme Vs Rosemary defers because Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is an aromatic, perennial evergreen shrub in the mint family (Labiatae) native to the dry, rocky the along the Mediterranean, Portugal, and northwestern Spain, where it grows to a 4 to 6 feet tall shrub.

These plant was also brought to Britain with the Roman armies. The name Rosmarinus is from the Latin Ros Maris or ‘dew of the sea,’ from the dew-like appearance sea spray creates on plants growing close to the water.

It was later called Rose of Mary.


Common thyme is a dwarf, woody, and evergreen perennial in the Lamiaceae (mint) family,  originating form southern Europe and northern Africa. It grows well in the Mediterranean with a rocky, dry soils.

Thyme has been used for ages as a herbal medicine or culinary herb. The origin of “thyme” is from the Greek word thymos, which means “courage.” During Medieval times, thyme was considered a seal of fortitude.

The word thyme was also be derived from the Greek word thymos, meaning “perfume.” It is very fragrant and aromatic. The species name, Vulgaris, is Latin and means “common” or “widespread.” 



Rosmarinus officinalis if grows well in containers or pots. Ensure the plant has winter protection if it is left outside. Rosemary is specially susceptible to root rot if it is overwatered. Use light, well-drained soil with some added sand or gravel, and wait to water until the soil is slightly dry.

Also, prune to encourage branching and eliminate any dead stems and leaves. Although growing Rosemary indoors can be difficult, the effort is worthwhile. A sunny window in a room is beneficial for indoor plants. vast room, well-draining soil, and regular misting.

For optimal results, grow your plants in full light. Rosemary won’t handle being persistently moist, thus the planting location should have well-draining soil. The ideal soil should be loamy in texture, slightly acidic in pH (6.0 to 7.0), and relatively fertile (add compost before planting to improve nitrogen levels).

Make sure your plants have enough space to grow. Once established, Rosemary can grow to about 4 feet tall and spread about 4 feet horizontally.


Thyme is a small, low-growing shrub commonly cultivated annually, though it can persist as an evergreen perennial in warm climates. Thyme is grown primarily as an aromatic culinary herb; it forms a mound about 6 to 12 inches in height and 6 to 16 inches wide. 

There are many cultivars of this species, and it has low growth and performs best in dry, sandy, or rocky soils. It prefers full sun and requires good drainage. The plant is frost and drought-tolerant.



In terms of harvesting of Thyme Vs Rosemary, Rosemary has pine-like needles for leaves and can be harvested all year round, although there is a natural dormant period from Winter until early Spring. At this point, dried Rosemary is preferable simply for allowing the plant to thrive.


Thyme has much smaller leaves and can be harvested in Summer by taking pinches from the tips of growing stems, encouraging new growth. In Winter, a natural dormancy occurs, and younger plants need overwintering.

You can harvest stems in the mid-Autumn / Fall  to allow for drying.



When it comes to appearance of Thyme Vs Rosemary, Rosemary flowers are small and frequently having five white, purple, blue, or deep purple petals, rosemary blossoms are tiny. The small bunches of rosemary flowers that form at the end of the stalk are known as “lipped flowers” because of their resemblance to lips. They bloom throughout the spring and summer.

Indoor rosemary plants may bloom outside the usual flowering season, with some plants producing flowers even in December with the appropriate temperature and light.

If you’re trying to tell the difference between Thyme Vs Rosemary, simply looking at the leaves is the easiest way. While they grow on woody stalks, Rosemary’s needle-like leaves are a darker green, firmer, and pointier, much like evergreen needles.

Rosemary leaves are also longer than thyme, growing to nearly 2 inches long as compared to thyme’s much smaller ones.


When growing, thyme appears almost like miniature vines with tiny leaves, each about the size of a grain of rice. The leaves are a lighter, warmer shade of green than many other herbs. They have a rounded shape and are soft between the fingers.

The stems are woody and bear simple leaves that are oval to linear and arranged oppositely. The tiny tubular flowers are typically purple or white, borne in whorls along the stems. Bees are drawn to the flowers, and the thyme honey of Sicily has a long history of being renowned.



If you are comparing the flavor of Thyme Vs Rosemary, know that there is no flavor quite like Rosemary. This woodsy aromatic herb has evergreen, citrus, lavender, pine, sage, pepper, mint, and sage notes. It has a strength of flavor to be paired with alliums like garlic and still thrive.

The strong taste and woodsy, piney aroma can easily overpower the flavors of a dish.

Unlike more fragile herbs, this sturdy ingredient holds up exceptionally well to heat and prolonged cooking times and can be added to braises and stews at the beginning of cooking. The longer Rosemary is cooked in liquid, the stronger the flavor becomes. 


Thyme’s subtle, savory flavor helps bring out the dish’s flavors. Depending on the variety, you could additionally detect mint and lemon notes that Rosemary does not have.

Thyme is a little more complicated as there are wide varieties that we commonly use. The general thyme flavor is herbal with an intense pine-like grass note. Lemon thyme has a lively citrus flavor but is not as sharp and astringent as Rosemary.

Lemon thyme is similar to the more common variety but has a bright, citrusy flavor and grassy notes.



Comparing the uses of Thyme Vs Rosemary, know that Rosemary is an intensely flavored herb and should be used sparingly for cooking. Their intense flavor enhances poultry, fish, lamb, and beef.

In addition, try it with tomatoes, cheese, eggs, potatoes, squash, soups, mushrooms, vinegar, herbal butter, and salad dressings. Rosemary’s flowers and leaves can be used in cooking and for garnishes.

In addition to its visual appeal, rosemary has many cosmetic, decorative, therapeutic, and culinary uses, both fresh and dried. The aromatic oil is added to toilet water, soaps, creams, lotions, and perfumes. The leaves can also be used to make potpourris, sachets, herbal baths, hair rinses, and colors.

The astringent and cleansing properties of rosemary are employed in bath and cosmetic products. The water is frequently referred to as Hungary water since one of the queens of Hungary is rumored to have taken daily baths in rosemary water because she was so stunning even as she aged.


Comparing the flavor of Thyme Vs Rosemary , Thyme is a multipurpose herb with an earthy flavor is thyme. It can be seen in numerous popular international cuisines, including Italian, French, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean.

Thyme can be used fresh or dried and works well in soups, roasted vegetables, pasta, sauces, pizzas, and more! We love garnishing a recipe with a few thyme sprigs: it looks lovely and adds a fresh herbaceous flavor.

When cooking with fresh thyme, the leaves are usually removed from the stem and added during cooking. They can be added at any stage, although the longer they are left to simmer, the stronger the flavor they will have. The whole thyme can be used, along with the stem, though it has to be taken out before serving.

Thyme is commonly used in dishes worldwide, including cuisines from Europe, the Mediterranean, Latin America, the Caribbean Islands, and Africa. For example, in French cooking, it is an essential part of the bouquet garni, which is a spice blend used to flavor various dishes.



When talking about the storage of Thyme Vs Rosemary, remember that drying Rosemary helps retain its green color and essential oils. Longer stems can hang upside down in a dark area with good air circulation. Smaller stems can be placed on screens. Rosemary can be frozen, although some loss of color may occur.

To freeze, place the sprigs on a cookie sheet covered with waxed paper or in a Ziploc bag to freeze. Strip off the leaves when frozen and store them in an airtight container. Leaves can also be placed in ice cube trays with olive oil and stored in Ziploc bags after frozen.


Thyme is available year-round. Thyme herbs are more aromatic when eaten raw but are often less accessible and do not last as long. It will last a week or two in the refrigerator if purchased fresh. Dried thyme should be kept in a cold, dark spot and used within six months of purchase.  

To freeze, wash the herbs (still on their branches) and put them in labeled plastic zipper-type freezer bags. Remove all of the air, then seal and freeze.

To dry, tie several stems into little bundles with a string and hang them upside-down in a room with low humidity. It will dry within a week or two.  You’ll know when they’re dry when the leaves feel crunchy. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Substitute Rosemary for Thyme?

Rosemary is the other most common complex herb that is a decent substitute. Rosemary is also unique in flavor, but it can almost always be used instead of thyme for savory and sweet recipes.

What Spice Is Closest to Thyme?

The Best Thyme Substitutes

1. Oregano. Oregano shares many of the same earthy, minty, savory, and somewhat bitter flavors as thyme, whether it is fresh or dried.

2. Marjoram. Thyme can also be substituted with fresh or dried marjoram.

3. Basil, Savory, Italian, Za’atar, and Herbs de Provence seasonings for poultry.

Do You Use Thyme or Rosemary for Steak?

While thyme has a subtle woodsy flavor, Rosemary is more intense, with hints of licorice. If you’re adding a fresh Herbs to a marinade or seasoning rub, Rosemary is preferable.

Do Rosemary and Thyme Go Good Together?

Rosemary, with its pine scent, and common thyme, with its camphor notes, extend their magical qualities into the kitchen. Both herbs enhance numerous dishes—singly or in combination.

The two marry well and are used together in blends like Herbs de Provence, which also employs marjoram, oregano, and savory.


Rosemary and thyme are two of the most-used herbs in any cook’s kitchen. As you can see, they have plenty of similarities; ultimately, the subtle differences between these two herbs make them unique and valuable in their specific ways.

The more practiced you use herbs and spices in your kitchen, the more refined your palette will become, and you’ll find yourself gaining a genuine appreciation for just what each of these particular herbs has to offer.

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