Abstract Methyl cellulose (MC)/carvacrol (CRV)/montmorillonite (MMT) nanocomposite films were prepared to obtain active antimicrobial packaging materials. The characterization of film samples by X-ray diffraction and transmission electron microscopy showed that composite films were of nano structures. CRV addition to the MC film and MC/MMT nanocomposite films led to a decrease in the thickness and opacity values of them, whereas MMT addition to the film matrix caused an increase in these values. Thermal stability of films slightly increased with increasing MMT concentration in film matrix. CRV release from films was investigated at different temperatures for 30 days. An increase in the MMT concentration matrix caused a decrease in CRV release at 25.0 ± 0.5 °C and in 60 ± 4% relative humidity (RH). CRV release increased with temperature at a constant RH. The antimicrobial activities of films were tested against Escherichia coli ( E. coli) and Staphylococcus aureus ( S. aureus) by the microatmosphere method and these organisms were completely inhibited on the nutrient broth/bacteriological agar medium when film samples containing 11.1 ± 0.2 mg CRV were present. MC/CRV film and MC/CRV/MMT-60% nanocomposite films on sausage reduced E. coli and S. aureus counts by 0.9 and 0.7 log cfu/mL, respectively, compared to the control film. The amount of CRV release from developed antimicrobial films can be controlled by MMT concentration within the film matrix and by the storage temperature of film.