I'm not so good with spices, wanted to know what would be good substitutes for thyme and oregano. I'm not even sure I can pick up the taste that it adds to the chili, but one of my friends was able to taste the difference right away and tell me when I used or not used thyme and oregano. My Russian taste is more used to bay leaf, mustard, dill, parsley and etc.


2 pounds ground beef
½ pound of ground chicken
½ pound of ground pork
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups beef broth
½ cup of 2% milk
1 15 oz can red pinto beans (drain)
1 15 oz can black beans (drain)
3 fresh tomatoes (cut to small chunks)
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 large onions, diced finely
1 large green bell pepper, diced finely
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoons cumin, ground
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper, ground
4 Habanero peppers, seeded diced finely
4 chipotle peppers, seeded diced finely
  • Can you tell us a bit more details? Like what spices you usually put in and why you don't add thyme or oregano and why you want substitutes.
    – Mien
    Nov 22, 2013 at 13:21
  • just trying to find alternatives to cumin, thyme and oregano, want to create different flavor. Nov 22, 2013 at 13:26
  • The only absolute in chili is chili. After that, it is a matter of personal preference, but most people would consider cumin indispensable.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Nov 22, 2013 at 13:27
  • 1
    That milk is a really, really odd ingredient for any chili. I would definitely leave it out.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Nov 22, 2013 at 13:31
  • 1
    Sorry, I have to close this. We don't do questions of the type "what flavors go with X", because the answer always boils down to "whatever tastes good to you".
    – rumtscho
    Nov 22, 2013 at 15:01

1 Answer 1


There is tremendous variation in how chilis are flavored; if you have three chili cooks in the room, you probably will have six different opinions.

The most traditional flavor base is built on chili and cumin, plus (depending on region and variant), tomatoes, onions and/or garlic.

After that, you get into preference. Some cooks don't add any herbs at all. Others add complex blends of spices (even chocolate) rivaling some of the mole sauces of Mexico.

I think the most compatible herbs for chili include include Mexican oregano (which is a different herb than oregano), so if you can get it, it is the best choice, oregano (as you have already mentioned), and thyme. I do like to put a bay leaf or three in my chili although that may not be traditional.

Still, if you don't have them available or cannot use them for some reason, leaving them out is a fine option.

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