In this article, we’ll explore some of the best sage substitute options, so you can create delicious meals even if you don’t have sage readily available.
Cooking with herbs is a fantastic way to add flavor and depth to your recipes. Sage is one herb that people commonly use, from poultry stuffing to pasta dishes and soups.
Sage, or Salvia officinalis, is an aromatic herb from the mint family.
This herb has a warm, slightly bitter, earthy, and peppery taste.
Using sage in recipes can add a layer of flavor to your dishes.
It is incredibly versatile, melding well with pork, chicken, beef, and fish. Sage also does not take a back seat when it comes to gamey meats.
On top of its flavor, sage has a pleasant aroma that fills the kitchen with an appetizing smell while you cook.
For this reason, it is a popular ingredient in stuffing a traditional Turkey for Thanksgiving.
Sage is also a potent herb that brings health benefits to your meals aside from providing flavor. People in the early times used it as a part of traditional medicine.
When you head to the store, there are various types of sage, each with different properties that can affect your final dish. You can use them interchangeably, but you need to make some adjustments.
Fresh sage can be hard to find in stores. However, if you have your own sage plant, you may often use the sage as a fresh herb.
Fresh sage has a less potent flavor than dried sage. So, while you may use them to substitute for the other, you should not use them similarly.
It is best to add fresh sage toward the end of the cooking process.
Pro Tip:Use 1 tablespoon of fresh sage to replace 1 teaspoon of dried sage.
Like other herbs, sage is also common as a dry herb. People dry it by hanging it in the open air, using a dehydrator, or baking the leaves in an oven.
After drying, sage develops a stronger taste as it retains its flavor. In this form, sage holds well in high heat, releasing its flavor as it cooks.
You would need less dried sage to substitute fresh sage in recipes.
Ground sage is a dried sage you will find in most stores. It comes in a powdered form, making it easy to use in most dishes.
You can easily sprinkle it, mix it in sauces, and use it as a rub for meats.
Rubbed sage is another type of dried sage. The whole leaves are rubbed together instead of being turned into a powder.
Doing so creates a light and fluffy texture with a less concentrated taste.
You need more rubbed sage if you’re using it to replace ground or dried sage.
Sage is a versatile herb that can add a delicious and distinct flavor to many dishes, but what if you don’t have it on hand? Fortunately, there are several great sage substitutes that you can use in your cooking.
Another herb from the mint family, marjoram, is among the best substitutes for sage. It has a milder flavor than sage but shares a close flavor profile and aroma.
Marjoram is floral and woodsy, so it pairs up with meats and pasta.
You’ll notice stronger pine and citrus flavors, but the taste would still be pleasant in most recipes.
However, unlike sage, marjoram quickly loses flavor once you cook it. For this reason, it is best to add it when you’re about to finish cooking your dish.
To begin with, use a 1:1 ratio of fresh or dried marjoram to fresh or dried sage. Add more if you think the flavor isn’t enough yet.
Thyme is another here you can use to replace sage. Like sage, this herb comes from the mint family, so there are similarities.
Thyme can add a peppery flavor to dishes like sage does, and it also has hints of earthiness.
You can use it in meat rubs, vegetable dishes, and turkey stuffing.
The good thing about thyme is that it can withstand long cooking times, making it suitable for cooked dishes.
Do note that thyme does not taste as intense as sage. It works for people who find sage too strong for their liking.
Use a 1:1 substitution ratio when replacing sage with thyme. You may use fresh or dried thyme to replace sage. However, fresh thyme mimics sage’s properties better.
If you have rosemary on your spice rack, you can use it as a sage substitute. If not, you can easily find rosemary in most grocery stores.
Rosemary can add another layer of flavor to your dishes like sage does. This herb has a similar woodsy taste and is intensely aromatic.
Rosemary is far stronger than sage when it comes to flavor. If you don’t watch the amount, you might overpower your dish.
Use a fresher, greener sprig of rosemary for a milder flavor and a better substitution experience.
You may want to remove the rosemary leaves after you’re satisfied with its taste. Doing so will prevent it from releasing more flavor and overpowering your dish.
Because of rosemary’s intense taste, use ⅓ tablespoon of fresh or dried rosemary to replace each tablespoon of fresh or dried sage.
Oregano is known for its pungent and peppery flavor. Still, it makes a great sage substitute because it has an earthiness that can add depth to your recipes.
And like sage, this herb also does well in cooked dishes, retaining most of its taste.
As with dried rosemary, dried oregano can be overpowering when you use it in large amounts.
For a better flavor match to sage, opt for fresh oregano to replace fresh sage. Use dried oregano to replace dried sage. Opt for a 1:1 substitution ratio each time.
Basil is earthy, sweet, and savory, with notes of pepper, anise, and mint. At the same time, it does not exactly taste like sage; its similar earthy and peppery flavors make it a decent substitute.
The taste of basil pairs exceptionally well with tomatoes, so it is the best sage substitute for dishes that also call for tomatoes.
You can use both dried and fresh basil to replace sage. Remember, fresh basil can lose its flavor if you cook it for a long time.
Use the same amount of fresh basil as the amount of fresh sage your recipe needs. If the recipe calls for dried sage, go for dried basil as well.
If you can find savory leaves, you may also use them to substitute for sage.
There are two kinds of this herb: summer savory and winter savory.
In general, savory tastes like a combination of thyme and sage, with a noticeable peppery flavor.
Summer savory has a more subtle flavor than winter savory.
Use the same amount of summer savory as the sage your recipe calls for. If you’re using winter savory, cut the amount by half.
If you cannot find sage in your pantry, reach out for your bottle of poultry seasoning. This seasoning mix has several herbs and spices, including sage. That said, it is among the best substitutes for sage.
However, it is important to note that poultry seasoning only works well for savory recipes, plus you won’t get the exact flavor match.
After all, poultry seasoning has rosemary, marjoram, black pepper, and nutmeg. In most recipes, though, including these ingredients makes the taste more complex.
Use 1 teaspoon of poultry seasoning to replace each tablespoon of dried or fresh sage in your recipe.
Tarragon has a unique anise-like flavor that can add a delightful twist to your dishes.
Tarragon works well in recipes featuring chicken, fish, eggs, and certain vegetables. Add it towards the end of the cooking process to preserve its delicate flavors.
Remember that tarragon will impart a distinct taste to the dish, so taste as you go and adjust accordingly for the desired flavor profile.
Start by using a smaller amount of tarragon compared to the suggested quantity of sage, as tarragon has a stronger taste. Gradually increase the amount if desired.
Italian seasoning typically includes a blend of herbs such as basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary.
Since sage is part of the Italian seasoning mix, it can work well as a substitute while still providing a similar Mediterranean flavor profile.
Keep in mind that Italian seasoning may have a slightly different flavor due to the additional herbs, but it can complement a variety of dishes, including pasta sauces, roasted vegetables, and grilled meats.
Use Italian seasoning in the same quantity as sage called for in the recipe, adjusting to taste if necessary.
Fresh sage has a more vibrant and pronounced flavor compared to dried sage. It has a robust, earthy, and slightly minty taste.
Dried sage, on the other hand, has a more concentrated and milder flavor.
Fresh sage is commonly used in recipes where its distinct flavor and aroma can shine. It works well in dishes like roasted meats, poultry, stews, and sauces and as a garnish.
Dried sage is often used in dry rubs, spice blends, stuffing, and other recipes that require a more concentrated flavor.
Typically, a general rule of thumb is to use one-third to half the amount of dried sage when substituting for fresh sage in a recipe.
The spice with the closest flavor to sage is marjoram. Both herbs come from the mint family and share similar flavor profiles and aromas. Marjoram is milder than sage, but these herbs can be substitutes for each other.
Yes, you can cook without sage, but you must use an alternative. Sage offers a woodsy flavor and pleasant aroma to dishes, and without a substitute, your recipe will taste quite different. For best results, use marjoram, thyme, or rosemary to compensate for the absence of sage.
Yes, sage smells good. It has a pleasant, musty, earthy, and minty aroma. In fact, aside from using sage in the kitchen, people also use it in aromatherapy.
Sage is a popular herb with a unique and distinct flavor. People use it in many dishes, especially in stuffing for Thanksgiving turkey.
Marjoram, thyme, and rosemary are some of the best substitutes for sage. While they share some similarities with sage, each herb has its unique flavor profile. You may need to make adjustments when using them in recipes. Try experimenting with each sage substitute to add new flavors and depth to your recipes and enhance your culinary experiences.