Background: There is an increased consumer demand for products derived from natural sources or containing natural compounds used to preserve or improve food quality and/or human health. Carvacrol and thymol, two phenolic, monoterpene isomers, extracted from natural sources such as oregano and thyme, showed antioxidant, antimicrobial, antihypertensive, immunomodulatory and anticancer properties. They have also had applications in functional food formulations, influenced food quality and positively affected human health. Scope and approach: This review aims to cover the most recent findings related to bioactivities of carvacrol and thymol along with their mode of impact on human health and food systems. It also covers the recent applications of carvacrol and thymol with food products, and as nutraceuticals. Their possible use against SARS-CoV-2 virus and on human health are also reviewed. Key findings and conclusions: Recently, carvacrol and thymol have been successfully used in products, showing the potential to extend the shelf-life of various foods. Moreover, both compounds showed a positive impact on human health and are considered safe for consumption. Carvacrol has also been reported to have antiviral properties, while in silico analyses suggested they can be used as supportive drugs for combating the SARS-CoV-2 virus.