First things first, what is sage?
Sage is a herb from the mint family that has a distinctive aroma and flavor. Its leaves are greyish green in color.
They also appear a little bit fuzzy. Sage has a very powerful warm flavor that tends to overpower other flavors in the dish. Its scent also overpowers that of other spices. It is an amazing spice that is used to add flavor to dishes.
Its unique flavor and aroma cannot be matched. Despite this, you can still find the best substitute for sage.
The substitutes may not taste or smell exactly the same, but they come pretty close.
There is no need to panic if you come across a recipe that requires you to use sage, yet you have none in your kitchen.
Savory, thyme, rosemary, poultry seasoning, dried herbs, and marjoram are very good substitutes for sage. I am pretty sure you have one or more of these substitutes in your pantry.
The word sage means to be saved. In ancient times, people used sage to chase away evil spirits and also promote fertility in women.
Gradually, people started using it as seasoning because it prevented constipation and they also used it to make tea. Others even used it as medicine to treat wounds and sore throats.
I particularly love using sage as seasoning because it gives my dishes that amazing peppery taste that I totally love. Its aroma is also to die for.
Sage has very many uses, but every time I use it on my roast meat everyone comes for seconds until there is none left.
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Types of sage
There are two main types of sage. Fresh sage and dried sage. Dried sage and fresh sage have the same flavor, however, dried sage may taste slightly bitter compared to fresh sage.
For this reason, if you are using dried sage, use it sparingly so that the bitter taste does not overpower the taste of your dish. To cook with dried sage, simply measure out the amount required by your recipe and add it to your dish.
On the other hand, fresh sage is vibrant and not as bitter as dried sage. Its flavor is more peppery than bitter. To cook with fresh sage, wash and chop the leaves into smaller pieces then add them to your dish.
If your recipe requires that you use fresh sage but you don’t have any, you can always use dried sage instead. It will give you similar results.
Dried sage should be added at the beginning of your cooking while fresh sage works best when added towards the end of your cooking.
You can buy both fresh and dried sage at the grocery store. You can also buy them at any farmers’ market. If you want them delivered to your house, just buy them online. You can buy anything online these days.
I prefer buying fresh sage from farmers’ markets because they are of better quality and they are always fresh.
The flavor of sage
Since sage belongs to the mint family it has a peppery flavor with a hint of citrus. When added to dishes, it adds warmth to them.
Fresh sage has a more vibrant flavor compared to dried sage. Dried sage is more bitter since it is a concentrated version of sage and should be used sparingly.
What goes well with sage?
Because of its distinctive flavor and aroma, sage does not necessarily go well with every dish. Sage goes well with fish. A lot of chefs use sage as a seasoning in Italian cuisines that contain fish.
I particularly like using it when making tuna. It also goes well with poultry like duck, chicken, and turkey. Most people use sage when making stuffing for the turkey during Thanksgiving.
You can also use sage when roasting pork. It gives it an amazing flavor that is a crowd-pleaser. Additionally, sage is a great spice for tea. So if you are a tea lover and you are tired of the normal boring tea, add some sage to it to spice it up.
This might sound a little bit surprising. Sage can be used as a seasoning for vegetables as well. However, you should use it very sparingly. It gives the vegetables an amazing flavor.
Seeing how amazing sage is, you might not always have it in hand. This is where the sage substitutes come in.
They will keep you cooking when you don’t have sage and they will also give you amazing results, just the way sage does.
Savory is a herb that has a peppery taste that is very similar to that of sage. However, its flavor is a little bit mild compared to sage.
Unlike sage, savory does not belong to the mint family. Despite this, it is still a good substitute for sage.
Savory is a very common herb in Canada. Canadians use it in poultry and also in the stuffing. There are two main types of savory. The winter savory and the summer savory.
I recommend substituting sage with savory when cooking poultry or when making stuffing for turkey during Thanksgiving. It is a great replacement. Substitute sage with savory in the ratio 1:1.
Just like sage, thyme belongs to the mint family. This makes it a great substitute for sage. Thyme is a versatile herb that also does well in long cooking times. It is used as a seasoning in both meats and vegetables.
You can use both fresh and dried thyme as a substitute for sage, but I recommend using fresh thyme to get the maximum flavor.
Substitute sage with thyme in the ratio 1:1. You will still get that amazing flavor you are looking for. Use thyme as a substitute in recipes that require a long cooking time.
I always feel like rosemary is the stronger version of sage. It has a very strong citrus flavor. It also has a distinctive aroma that tends to overpower the aroma of other spices.
For this reason, when substituting sage with rosemary, use it very sparingly. Despite this, rosemary is a good substitute for sage.
I recommend using rosemary as a substitute in meats because it complements the flavor of the meat. Use rosemary as a substitute in the ratio 3:1 i.e. only use one-third of the amount of sage you would have used.
When substituting, always have it in mind that the flavor of rosemary will overpower that of other spices and seasonings.
- Poultry seasoning
Poultry seasoning is a mixture of several seasonings including sage. Some of the other seasonings used to make poultry seasoning include; savory, thyme, rosemary, parsley, marjoram, and onion powder.
Since poultry contains sage and other seasonings whose tastes are very similar to that of sage, it is a great substitute for sage. Use the same amount of poultry seasoning that you would have used if you had sage in hand.
I recommend using poultry seasoning as a substitute for sage in stuffing as well as cooking poultry. The flavor is quite similar to that of sage.
- Dried herbs
For some reason, dried herbs always make for great substitutes. Dried herbs have a more distinct flavor compared to fresh herbs because they are in their concentrated form.
You will also get a better flavor when you use dried herbs. When substituting sage with dried herbs, use the same amount that you would have used when using sage. However, if dry herbs also contain rosemary, use half the amount because the flavor of rosemary might overpower that of the other herbs.
When using dried herbs, add them while you are still cooking. They will retain their amazing flavor even if you cook them for a long time. You don’t have to add them when you are almost done cooking.
The flavor of marjoram is very similar to that of sage. This makes it one of the best substitutes for sage. Substitute sage with marjoram in the ratio 1:1.
Dried marjoram is a great substitute for sage. It particularly goes well with meat dishes. However, marjoram cannot withstand long cooking times the way sage does. For this reason, it is best used as a garnish and not as a seasoning during cooking.
If a recipe requires that you use sage as a garnish, just garnish it with marjoram when you are done cooking. It will have an amazing flavor that is very similar to that of sage.
Which of the six is the best substitute for sage?
From my personal experience, poultry seasoning is the best substitute for sage. Not only does it contain sage in it, but it also contains other seasonings whose flavor is very similar to that of sage.
Poultry seasoning is a perfect addition to recipes that require you to use sage. It gives your dish the perfect sage flavor that you want.
All in all, if you don’t have sage or poultry seasoning, you can use any of the seasonings mentioned above. You can use them in any dish depending on your preference since you know their different aromas and flavors.