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The Best Substitutes For Savory

Savory is a member of the mint family, which has a robust and peppery taste. It’s been used for over 2,000 years, and is native to the sunny slopes of the Mediterranean region.

The Best Substitutes For Savory

Although there are around 30 different types of savory, the most used is winter savory and summer savory.

Savory is also referred to as the “herb of love.” This is because the Ancient Romans believed that it was a natural aphrodisiac, so it was used to make love potions.

Savory’s reputation was so strong that European monasteries were forbidden from growing it for fear that the monks would fall under its spell.

Today, however, one of the more common uses for savory is to season meat, flavor beans, and give a thyme-like flavor to a meal.

Not only is it used to season meals, but it is also known for having several health benefits. It is often used to help with digestive issues, and is a remedy for sore throats, coughs, and bacterial infections.

It can also help with asthma and respiratory tract infections. Savory is also considered a natural antiseptic, and can be used to treat bites or stings.

What Is Winter Savory?

Winter savory, also known as satureja montana, is a bitter and aromatic herb which has tough, bright green leaves.

It’s known for being a hardy plant which typically grows in the rocky bedrocks of the Mediterranean – hence the name “montana” which means “mountain.”

It is most reminiscent of the winter season, as it has hints of pine and sage, which is why it’s most commonly used in slow-cook meals like stews and soups. It’s also added to stuffing, lentils, and beans, and is often mixed with breadcrumbs as a topping.

What Is Summer Savory?

In comparison, summer savory, or satureja hortensis, is a sweet and somewhat spicy smelling herb, which is much lighter in flavor. In terms of appearance, it’s delicate, with small, light green leaves.

It’s used in both traditional dishes, and holiday cooking, and is one of the most popular herbs in Acadia, which is an Atlantic Coast region in Canada.

Because of its tender leaves, summer savory is typically used as a garnish for salads, used in egg dishes, and in the making of sausages.

It is also one of the ingredients which is used in the dry spice mixture herbes de Provence, which is typically used in stews, sauces, and for grilled meats.

What Is The Difference Between Summer And Winter Savory?

Summer savory has a hot and peppery flavor, whereas winter savory has a more subdued earthy taste. However, both have notes of mint, thyme and marjoram.

Both winter and summer savory were extremely popular herbs until the spice route from Asia introduced black pepper to Europe.

Best Substitutes For Savory

Best Substitutes For Savory

Winter Savory

If your recipe needs summer savory, you can actually use winter savory as a substitute, despite it having a more bitter flavor.

However, if you cook winter savory for a long time, it will weaken its strength, but your dish will have a slightly bitter sage and pine flavor.

As it’s quite a hardy herb, winter savory pairs best with beans, meat, fish, root vegetables, cabbage, and lentils, and is great for stews and soups.


Thyme is probably the most similar herb to both kinds of savory, and can be easily substituted with a 1:1 ratio because of the similarities in flavor.

Thyme is a grassy and woody flavored herb, which is pretty similar to lavender and rosemary. It is commonly used in savory dishes such as roasted meat, fish, stews, soups, marinades, vegetables, and even baked goods.


Rosemary has a pretty unique flavor which consists of pine, citrus and peppery notes. It is most reminiscent of sage, mint, lavender, citrus, and evergreen.

Rosemary leaves are dried and fresh, but because of their tough texture, you should chop them before use.

Rosemary can be used for seasoning meat, potatoes, lentils, beans, and in soups and stews. However, it is also commonly used in bread doughs.

As rosemary has a similar flavor profile to savory, it can be substituted in a 1:1 ratio.


Like savory, marjoram is a member of the mint family. It has pine and citrus flavor, which closely resembles oregano. Another similarity to savory is that it is one of the herbs used in herbes de Provence.

It is also one of the ingredients used in other spice mixtures like Italian seasoning, za’atar, and poultry seasoning.

Marjoram is best paired with poultry, meat dishes, and vegetables. It’s also a great herb to use in stews, sauces, soups, and salad dressings.

You can also use Marjoram as a substitute for savory in a 1:1 ratio.


Like winter savory, sage has a strong earthy and bitter flavor, which has hints of pine. Sage also has some citrus notes, which helps boost the flavors in a lot of dishes.

Some of its most common uses are for seasoning lamb, poultry, beans and potatoes. It is also used in sauces, pastries, marinades, and bread.

Fresh sage can be used in a 1:1 ratio to substitute savory. However, it’s worth noting that dried sage has a much stronger flavor which can overpower the rest of the flavors in a dish. If you do use dried sage, use it sparingly.


Oregano has an earthy and slightly bitter mint flavor. It’s often confused with marjoram, due to their similarities in taste, however, oregano has a slightly stronger flavor.

Oregano is a common ingredient in stews, pasta sauces, pizzas, and other sauces. It is also used to season seafood, fish, chicken, and beans.

Due to its similar flavor profile, oregano is a great substitute for savory, and can be used in a 1:1 ratio.


Basil is another member of the mint family which has a fresh and sweet aroma that is contrasted by a slightly peppery-mint flavor. Fresh or dried basil is a common ingredient in soups, salads, sauces, or as a pizza topping.

If you’re using fresh basil, it should not be added until the end of the cooking process, otherwise it will lose its flavor if it is cooked for too long.

Basil can also be used in a 1:1 ratio as a substitute for savory.

Herbes de Provence

Herbes de Provence is a pretty popular spice mixture which consists of rosemary, thyme, savory, oregano, marjoram, and more. It is most commonly used to season grilled meats and fish, and is also added to soups and stews.

Although there are many flavors, each herb and spice combines to make one aromatic mixture that will lift the flavor of many different meals. As savory is one of the ingredients, you can use herbes de Provence in a 1:1 ratio to substitute savory.

Final Thoughts

These are the best substitutes that you can use to replace savory in a recipe, as they all have pretty similar flavor. Most of the herbs mentioned on the list are also members of the mint family, just like savory.

You can use most of these herbs in the same quantities as savory for a dish, however, you can add more if you like the flavor that they provide.

Also, if you want to add more flavors to a dish, you can mix two herbs together. Basil and oregano work well together, as do sage and thyme. You can also use herbes de Provence, which contains several different herbs and spices, including savory itself.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Spice Is Called Savory?

Savory is a herb which belongs to the mint family and is native to the Mediterranean area. It has been used since the Middle Ages, and has an aromatic, almost thyme-like flavor, but with a peppery bite.

It is also pretty similar in flavor to marjoram, and is one of the main ingredients used in herbes de Provence.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Savory?

Throughout history, savory has been used as a natural remedy to help relieve various different health problems. The most common benefits include relieving dry and sore throats, bee stings, sciatica, and intestinal disorders.

It can also be used to lower bad cholesterol, and as it is rich in antioxidants, it is thought to prevent cancer (not known if that is 100% accurate).

It is a great source of potassium, which is key in controlling heart rate. Summer savory, in particular, is extremely rich in iron, which is essential for red blood cell formation.

It also contains high levels of vitamin C, which helps your body build resistance against diseases, and vitamin A, which is good for your skin and eyesight.

What is the best substitute for savory?

Out of all the herbs we have mentioned, the best substitute would have to be thyme. The two are very similar in flavor profile, as they are both pungent and minty.

They are also very similar in appearance and texture, and thyme can be used in a 1:1 ratio to substitute savory.

The Best Substitutes For Savory

5 from 1 vote

Can’t get hold of savory, but a recipe insists that you use it? Here are the 8 best and most similar herb substitutes that you can use instead.


  • Winter Savory

  • Thyme

  • Rosemary

  • Marjoram

  • Sage

  • Oregano

  • Basil

  • Herbes de Provence


  • Decided on what substitute you need
  • Pick a substitute from the list above
  • Read what you need to substitute with
  • Create the recipe and enjoy

Recipe Video

Jess Smith