9 Best Sage Substitutes

Sage is a very versatile herb that can be used in cooking or for medicinal purposes. 

It has a strong, earthy flavor and it pairs well with vegetables, poultry, seafood, pork, and cheese. It tastes wonderful when added to dishes like roasts, poultry, stuffing, or soups.

But what can you do if you cannot find any?

If you’ve ever had to substitute for sage in your recipe then you know that it can be difficult to find the right flavors to replace it with. However, there are many different herbs that will work as a swap – nine of them to be exact!

Marjoram, Thyme, Poultry seasoning, Savory, Rosemary, Basil, Oregano, Mint, and Italian Seasoning are the best sage substitutes.

Read till the end to know how you can swap these handy ingredients in place of sage and get a similar flavor profile.

What is Sage Seasoning?

Sage Substitutes

Sage is an herb that belongs to the mint family. It has a strong, pungent flavor that can enhance food in desserts, salads, and meat dishes.

Sage is common in the cuisines of countries like Italy and Greece and there are many different types available.

You can use sage in many different cooking recipes, but you must know how to use it properly.

9 Best Sage Substitutes

1. Marjoram


Marjoram is a type of herb that belongs to the same family as oregano, thyme, and basil. It also has a minty, slightly sweet flavor. It’s a powerful herb with a slight licorice taste to it.

The flavor of marjoram is sweeter than sage and it leaves a slightly bitter aftertaste. If you use marjoram, add it at the end of your cooking process so that its flavor doesn’t get lost.

2. Thyme

Thyme is another type of herb which belongs to the mint family and has a minty taste and smell to it.  Like other herbs in the mint family, thyme has a strong, pungent flavor.

Thyme is a classic herb that has a slightly lemony taste to it so can be used as a substitute for sage in many dishes including chicken or pork, as well as stuffing and casseroles.

It can enhance the taste of your food and is especially good in meat dishes. It is stronger than marjoram but not bitter like sage.

Thyme has a slightly peppery aftertaste and works well in dishes with tomato sauce or red wine. It is great for adding depth to marinades or sauces for meat and fish dishes.

3. Poultry Seasoning

Poultry seasoning is one of those herbs that is often used during Thanksgiving and Christmas because it gives a traditional taste to food. It

is spicy and savory, but not as strong as sage. It is a mixture of thyme, sage, marjoram, and other spices such as rosemary and black pepper.

It is good for use in meat dishes and includes the flavors of several different herbs which are strong enough to stand up to cooking but not overpowering.

4. Savory

Winter Savory

This strong herb has a combination of flavors which include mint, sage, bay, and thyme. It has a strong, sweet, or peppery taste to it and is often added to baked beans and meat dishes.

Savory herb can be used as a substitute for sage in recipes that use fresh herbs but not dried ones.

5. Rosemary

Rosemary is one of the strongest-tasting herbs. This is a very powerful herb that can be used fresh or dried and it has a slightly piney taste to it.

It is often used in meat dishes but also gives great flavor to fruit salads and desserts such as pies and tarts. It can be added to your dishes as an alternative for sage if you want a similar taste but with a bit more of an earthy flavor.

Rosemary is related to mint, thyme, and basil so if you are a fan of these herbs then you will love rosemary.

6. Basil

Basil is a strong, sweet herb with a spicy and peppery flavor that adds freshness to any dish.

It has a slightly minty taste to it so can be used in similar ways to mint leaves, such as in summer drinks and desserts or on top of a pizza. It is perfect for fresh tomato sauces or salads.

7. Oregano

Oregano is a slightly peppery herb and it’s strongly flavored, so only use small amounts of it in any dish.

It has notes of thyme and mint to it and is also closely related to marjoram, which can be used as an alternative if you cannot find oregano.

You can use dried or fresh oregano in your cooking and it goes well with meats, pasta sauces, and tomato dishes.

8. Mint

Mint is a very versatile herb that can be used in sweet and savory dishes. It has a strong, sweet flavor that works well with fruit salads, desserts, and summer drinks such as mojitos or Pimms.

Mint has a strong, refreshing taste that also goes well with lamb dishes and other types of meat like beef or venison.

Mint is a very fresh-tasting herb that can add a lot of flavor to your cooking so it’s definitely worth experimenting with if you like using herbs in your cooking.

9. Italian Seasoning

Italian Seasoning Substitutes

Italian seasoning has the flavors of several different herbs all mixed together and is similar to poultry seasoning in that sense.

It is a mix of oregano, thyme, basil, and rosemary which would also be a good substitute for sage. It is also easy to use in your cooking.

Italian seasoning is great for adding flavor to grilled meats or fish and also works well in pasta dishes, stews, and casseroles. You can even sprinkle some on top of the cheese before you grill it.   

What Does Sage Taste Like?

Sage has one of the most distinct tastes out of all herbs – it has a strong, earthy taste with a slightly bitter aftertaste.

It is great in savory dishes and is often used in meat dishes. It is often used in cooking meat dishes and goes well with poultry, eggs, and cheese as well as vegetables such as onions, squash, and potatoes.

Sage is related to other herbs, such as thyme, so can be used in similar ways to those herbs for cooking.

Sage tastes different depending on how you cook it and fresh sage leaves can be much stronger than dried ones so use caution when adding it to your dishes.

Can I Substitute Ground Sage for Rubbed Sage?

When substituting rubbed sage for ground, you can use twice as much of the substitute as you would with ground sage.

You should also bear in mind that rubbed sage is drier than the ground so you’ll need to sprinkle it over your dish or mix it into sauces rather than just adding it directly into whatever you are cooking.

Which Is Stronger Ground Sage or Rubbed Sage?

In general, ground sage is stronger than rubbed sage.

The main reason for this is because the leaves are smaller when they’re ground up and so there will be a higher concentration of the spice in each serving/portion.

It also depends on how you prepare your dish, as well. If you use larger quantities of rubbed sage, then it will be stronger than ground sage.

Is Ground Sage and Dried Sage the Same?

No, they are not.

Ground sage is a powder that comes from dried leaves of the same name. It is also very finely ground which means it has a stronger flavor than dried sage.

Dried sage contains the leaves that have been left out to dry in the open air. The leaves will be brown and crispy when you buy them and will be much stronger in flavor than ground sage.

How Do You Ground Fresh Sage?

The easiest way to ground fresh sage leaves is in a pestle and mortar. You can also use a small grinder or a food processor if you have one, but it’s best to avoid the latter as you will probably end up with a mushy paste rather than an evenly ground spice.

How Do You Store Sage?

If you want to use your ground sage for a long time, then it is best to keep it in a sealed container in the fridge.

It can be kept like this for up to two months and still retain its flavor and potency.

Ground sage can also be frozen but will only stay fresh for three to four months when stored in this way.

Final Words

Sage is an herb that can be used in a variety of dishes. It has many different flavors depending on how it’s prepared and what dish you add it to, so experimenting with the various ways sage can enhance your cooking will help you find out which way you like best.

There are many herbs that have a similar taste and texture as sage, but you may be surprised by some of them! Thyme, mint, Italian seasoning, and rosemary all work well in your cooking if you don’t want to use sage – or cannot find any at your grocery store.  

I hope this article has helped you understand how to replace sage with a substitute if you are unable to find, or do not have access to, the herb.

It’s important to experiment with other herbs and combinations of herbs that work well in your cooking because there are many ways that sage can be used in dishes.

Please feel free to reach out via comments if you have any questions!

I’m a passionate food blogger on a journey to become a go-to person who can help others prepare delicious foods. I share recipes, food substitutes, and other cooking tips. Read more about my journey...

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