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10 Sage Substitutes That Taste Just As Perfect 

Quick Answer: What Are The Known Substitutes For Sage?

The sage substitute comes in a variety of forms and flavors that can be used in cooking, desserts, and even cocktails. Some of the perfect sage substitutes to include in recipes are marjoram, thyme, bay leaf, rosemary, savory, and Italian seasoning. You can also opt for different flavors depending on your taste!

Cooking with herbs is always a therapeutic experience. Most likely, the one you will reach for is sage as it’s so popular, and besides, it just sounds classical and divine.

The signature herb has a distinct woodsy aroma that is perfect, especially on old winter nights, warming up the space.

With sage having all the goodness to bring out the natural taste of a dish, sometimes, it just doesn’t cut it. The dish might call for some other kind of herb to be used.

The worst is when you want to pick sage but find that it is sold out due to its high demand.

Do not fret, as there are several replacements in the market you can comfortably use and still achieve that savory sage flavor.  

Nutritional Value Table

SubstitutesCalories
Bay Leaf6
Marjoram1.63
Thyme1
Oregano8
Rosemary4
Poultry Seasoning13.5
Savory12
Tarragon5.3
Italian Seasoning15
Basil0.6

1. Bay Leaf

Bay Leaf

The bay leaf is one of the most aromatic herbs used in cooking. Bay leaves, also known as laurel, have a slightly bitter flavor but are mild overall in whatever recipe they are used.

Bay leaves are often used whole as the leaf itself is thick and tough and will not mix well with the other ingredients. When you want that added punch in stews, stocks, and soups, use bay leaves, as they are sure to infuse the dishes. 

How To Substitute

When using bay leaves, use at least 2 big dried leaves for every teaspoon of sage.

Do not soak the bay leaf in water before adding it to the recipe, as it will break down early and release a sharp, bitter taste when the dish starts simmering and making the fragrance almost pungent.

2. Marjoram

Marjoram

Another sage substitute to try is Marjoram. Marjoram is a perennial herb that is cold to the touch. Used in most middle eastern kitchens, it is known as sweet Marjoram as it has a sweet pine and citrus flavor to it.

Marjoram is similar to sage in that they are both from the mint family and have strong woodsy, citrusy, herbal aromas.

When incorporating it into your dish, you might want to stick to using the leaves as the stems give a bitter taste and are extremely hard, disrupting the texture of your dish.

However, the stems are perfect when smoking or curing meats as it imprints the floral aroma through the slow cooking process.

How To Substitute

When substituting sage with Marjoram, it is necessary to use a little bit more as Marjoram is considerably milder. Even when using it in recipes, stick to short recipes as its potency lowers over an extended period. If the dish you are preparing will take several hours, introduce it in the dish in the last hour before serving.

3. Thyme

Thyme

Thyme, just like sage and Marjoram, is from the mint family. Thyme is versatile as it can be harvested all year round as it’s evergreen and does not freeze over.

Sage and thyme can be used interchangeably as both have that strong aromatic woodsy flavor.

However, thyme is a little bit more spicy and earthy than sage and more of a beauty and maintenance herb than for cooking since it’s incorporated in many perfumes.

Still, when it comes to cooking, it’s best to use in-game meat or root vegetables to bring out the intense flavor of the dish.

How To Substitute

When substituting sage for thyme, use it in a ratio of one to one. However, note that thyme has some spiciness that will be notable if the herb is used in significant amounts. When using thyme, please note that you will need to pick out the herbs, which can be exceptionally tedious work.

4. Oregano

Oregano

Oregano is a flowering plant from the mint family Lamiaceae and is widely used along the Mediterranean, where it’s native. The woody perennial has particularly small leaves and is hard to pick up.

However, its popularity still rises as the whole plant has a distinct balsamic scent with a warm, bittersweet taste. Versatile, its original aromatic value remains even when the leaves are dried with the same potency.

How To Substitute

Oregano is a reliable sage substitute, and it offers almost the same added taste, just like sage.  Being from the mint family, it works to add earthiness and bring out the flavors of the dish. Still important to note is that oregano has a spicy or peppery feeling to those not accustomed to it.

5. Rosemary

Rosemary

One of the most surprising sage substitutes on the list is rosemary. Unlike most of the other substitutes that come from the mint family, rosemary is an evergreen shrub known as Salvia Rosmarinus that portrays itself as a needle-like leaf.

It’s also beautiful with blue, purple, pink, or white flowers.

The flavor and scent of rosemary mimic the eucalyptus, with others describing it more like a pinewood scent. Rosemary is very potent, and a little goes a long way as it adds richness and depth to any dish, making the flavors more noticeable.

How To Substitute

Substituting sage for rosemary can be done all year round as the shrub is evergreen, and you can always count on getting some from your local store. When using rosemary, use three-quarters of the portion expected from sage. A 1:1 substitution will overpower a dish.

6. Poultry Seasoning

Poultry Seasoning

Sometimes it’s not enough to have just one type of herbal sage substitute, and a blend of some of the best may work better.

Poultry seasoning is precisely that – it has it all, from thyme, sage, marjoram, white pepper, and paprika, among other blends.

The blends are of different ratios, and the result is beautifully fragrant and aromatic as it is piney, woodsy, sour, sweet, and spicy. 

How To Substitute

Substituting with poultry seasoning is limited to cooking with chicken, turkey, and beef. However, the amount used is almost half what is added in an original sage recipe.

7. Savory

Savory

Two types of savory can be used as sage substitutes: winter savory and Summer savory. Summer savory, just as the name depicts, is a sweet flavor as opposed to its bitter counterpart.

Savory can be described as spicy, flavorful, and aromatic, with a slightly sweet aroma.

Its scent often presents itself as fragrant or aromatic. Savory, unlike other sage substitutes in the list, is not as well-known and not many people use it in their dishes. However, you can never go wrong with it. 

How To Substitute

Savory is peppery, just like thyme and still has a strong sweet, flavorsome taste. When substituting, distinguishing the two types of savory is essential, as savory winter needs less than a quarter to work as a substitute.

8. Tarragon

Tarragon

Tarragon is another perennial here from the Asteraceae family that is a great sage substitute. The herb is often used in North America and is used for both its culinary use and as a herbal remedy.

To tell if you have picked the right tarragon herb, it smells like sweet grass with no lingering smell when crushed. The taste is slightly different as it has a strong anise or fruity citrus taste

How To Substitute

Tarragon is similar to sage in that it has a woodsy, herbal taste to it. When cooking, use one to one ratio to ensure the dish does not get overly aromatic and drown the main dish flavors.

9. Italian Seasoning

Italian Seasoning

Italian seasoning, like poultry seasoning, is a blend of some of the best herb blends on the market. From basil, oregano, thyme, sage, and oregano, among many others.

The mixture is peppery and earthy as it has a considerable amount of garlic cloves and red pepper flakes. Overall the taste is sweet and savory, with some peppery goodness to top it off.

How To Substitute

Italian seasoning has multiple blends in one. With Italian seasoning far more potent than sage, use an only three-quarters portion for the full-sized sage portion.

10. Basil

Basil

Basil does not go with the name great basil for nothing. The culinary plant dorm of the Lamiaceae family is minty and used worldwide.

Native to southeast Asia and central Africa, it has a distinct scent to it that can be traced to its Basil flowers that produce eugenol.

First contact with it smells Monty, peppery, and has a mildly sweet aroma, just like sage.

How To Substitute

Basil is a perfect sage substitute for most dishes as it is substituted in one to one ratio. There is a slight difference in taste depending on the variety you choose. Some are more lemony, while others have a sweet, almost cinnamon scent.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Sage Seasoning?

Sage is a stinging aromatic herb that is used to infuse warmness in dishes. It has a mild earthy taste and combines excellently with citrusy scents and flavors. The fresher the sage, the milder it tastes. 

What Dishes Is Sage Used In?

Sage is a member of the mint family, which is used heavily in an array of dishes. Sage can be used in sausage stuffing, squash, pasta dishes, and curing meats.

Since it can be used in many recipes, it can also be substituted with many other types of spices and herbs that are used for specific dishes at a time. 

Why Should You Use Sage In Cooking? 

Sage has an earthy sweet, and savory taste and, when added to dishes, works to ensure that the dishes bring out their flavors. By adding flavor to a dish, the dish becomes hearty and can be enjoyed at a higher level than when cooked plain.

10 Best Sage Substitutes That Taste Just As Perfect 

5 from 5 votes
Prep Time

15

minutes
Cooking Time

15

minutes
Total Time

30

minutes

Check out our list of herbs that make a great substitution for sage in your recipes. Try them once in a while to see what works best for your recipe.

Ingredients

  • Bay Leaf

  • Marjoram

  • Thyme

  • Oregano

  • Rosemary

  • Poultry Seasoning

  • Savory

  • Tarragon

  • Italian Seasoning

  • Basil

Directions

  • Choose your favorite substitute from the list given above
  • Follow the directions given in the recipe after having substituted the ingredient in the correct ratio

Recipe Video

Jess Smith