Best Sage Substitutes – 5 Flavorful Options

You are eagerly trying out a new recipe that has sage as an ingredient. Unfortunately, you don’t have garden sage or can’t get it immediately. No worry! There are other spices or seasonings that you can use as a sage substitute.

Read this article to find a few good options for substitution.

What is sage?

Sage is an herb, a member of the mint family, with dusty gray-green leaves and an earthy flavor. It is a greenish Mediterranean herb that grows two feet high.

This spice is well-known as a seasoning for stuffing. The dried leaves of this herb are commonly used for seasoning in Mediterranean cooking.

What does sage taste like?

Fresh or dried sage has a dominant herbal flavor that is earthy and subtly bitter. In addition, it has a slightly peppery flavor with hints of lemon, eucalyptus, and mint.

It is suitable for dishes with multiple ingredients that easily subdue the bold flavor of sage. Frying a strong herb like sage mellows its flavor.

Many chefs consider it an unavoidable ingredient in seasoning.

Sage is a popular ingredient in Italian fish cuisine. Cooks use it to heighten the flavor and aroma of sauces, meat marinades, compound butter, bread, and pastries.

Uses of sage in cooking

Garden or common sage (Salvia officinalis) is the most popular sage leaf used for cooking. Also, you’ll find other varieties, like Russian and Afghan sage, used for culinary purposes. They have quite a different flavor from garden sage.

Sage is available in fresh, dried, and ground forms. Suppose you don’t have fresh sage. You can easily swap it with dry or ground sage.

Fresh sage has a milder flavor than other herbs. The ground sage is more pungent and peppery than the other two.

While substituting, for 1 tablespoon of fresh sage, use ½ teaspoon of ground sage or 1 teaspoon of dried sage.

What’s a good substitute for sage?

If you don’t have sage on hand, you can use a few other spice blends or herbs instead.

Honestly, it’s hard to find an herb that matches sage’s earthy, peppery flavor. The alternatives that we have found are almost akin to garden sage.

1. Poultry seasoning 

Sage is the most prominent ingredient in poultry seasoning. As the name suggests, this is used to season chicken and turkey. This also works well in the stuffing.

You’ll also find that most of the other ingredients in poultry seasoning are a close match for sage. They include parsley, savory, thyme, marjoram, onion powder, and rosemary.

If your recipe calls for dried sage, use an equal amount of poultry seasoning instead. But for each tablespoon of fresh sage, use 1 teaspoon of poultry seasoning.

2. Marjoram

Marjoram is popular in Mediterranean cooking. This herb works well in vegetables, stuffing, sausages, tomato dishes, forcemeats, poultry, and pulses.

Chop the leaves but not the stems; add them at the end of the cooking time.

Similar to sage, it tastes like pine and citrus.

For every teaspoon of dried sage, use dry marjoram in an equal amount. But only one teaspoon of marjoram is enough to replace one tablespoon of fresh sage.

Use either fresh or dried marjoram leaves. Use a double quantity of fresh leaves to match the flavor of 1 teaspoon of dried marjoram. Add marjoram toward the end of the cooking process.

3. Thyme

Thyme adds layers of flavor to your dishes but is never overwhelming. It is used to season soups, braises, and sauces. Also, it’s a fantastic addition to rice recipes, potatoes, vegetables, and even fresh bread.

Thyme has a subtle, dry aroma and a slightly minty or citrus flavor. Some varieties have a woodsy flavor.

Thyme is a worthy substitute for sage, for they belong to the same family of herbs. Both complement each other in flavor and texture.

Just like sage, use either fresh or dried thyme in your recipes. While replacing sage with thyme, use it in the same amount.

4. Rosemary

In cooking, rosemary is used as a seasoning in various dishes, such as salads, stews, soups, and casseroles. Like sage, use rosemary in poultry, game, pork, steaks, lamb, and fish. Use it in mushrooms, peas, potatoes, onions, spinach, and grains if you wish.

Rosemary has a mixture of citrus and pine flavors, similar to sage. A mild and lingering aroma is part and parcel of rosemary.

Most recipes call for fresh or dried rosemary leaves. When using it in place of sage, use it in the same quantity.

5. Savory

Savory is an herb in the mint family. Savory comes in two forms: summer savory and winter savory. Both are well-used in seasonal delicacies and cuisines.

Adding a pinch of savory to recipes enhances its clean, piney fragrance and peppery flavor.

Savory resembles both sage and thyme in its flavor profile. This herbal spice shares a close affinity with sage regarding its pungency.

Use savory as a substitute for sage to season poultry and stuffing.

Replace it one-for-one, and you’ll never regret using it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use rubbed sage in place of sage leaves?

Yes. Rubbed sage refers to dried sage leaves that have been crumbled or ground into a powder. It has a more concentrated flavor than whole leaves. When substituting rubbed sage for whole leaves, use about 1/3 to 1/2 as much rubbed sage as you would use whole leaves.

What does sage taste similar to?

Sage has a strong, earthy flavor that is slightly spicy with hints of mint and eucalyptus. Some people describe it as slightly bitter, while others find it savory and aromatic. Its flavor is unique and not easily comparable to other herbs or spices.

Does sage taste like lemon?

No, sage does not taste like lemon. However, sage and lemon can complement each other in certain dishes, such as roasted chicken or fish. Their flavors can work together to create a delicious and complex taste.

Final Thought

These are the best substitutes for sage I have found. Use the substitutes depending on their availability and the specific flavor profile of your recipe.

I would recommend poultry seasoning as the best replacement for garden sage. The reason is simple: it includes sage and other herbs with a similar flavor.

Of all the herbs and spices, the best substitute is marjoram or thyme. Other herbs you can use in place of sage are sweet basil, rosemary, oregano, mint, and winter or summer savory.

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