Sage Substitute – 5 Resembling Alternatives You Can Try

Sage Substitute

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

What is sage anyway?

Sage is an herb 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?

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 cuisines. Cooks use it to heighten the flavor and aroma of sauces, meat marinades, compound butter, bread, and pastries.

Forms Of Sage Used In Cooking

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

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

Fresh sage has mild flavor than others. The ground sage is more pungent and peppery than the other two.

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

What’s a good substitute for sage?

In case you don’t have garden sage in any form, there are a few other spice blends or herbs you can use instead.

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

1. Poultry Seasoning – The First and Best Substitute

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

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

If your recipe calls for dried sage, use an equal amount to 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 at the end of the cooking time.

Similar to sage, it tastes 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 1 teaspoon of dried marjoram.

3. Thyme

Thyme adds layers for the flavor to your dishes but never overwhelming. 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 verities have woodsy flavor.

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

Just like the sage, use either fresh or dry 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 a variety of dishes, such as salads, stews, soups, and casseroles.  Just like the sage, use rosemary in poultry, game, pork, steaks, lamb, and fish. If you wish, simply use it in mushrooms, peas, potatoes, onion, spinach, and grains.

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

Most recipes call for rosemary leaves fresh or dry. When using it in place of sage, use it 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 to sage in terms of its pungency.

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

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

The Bottom Line

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 for it includes sage and other herbs with a similar flavor.

Read next: