Substitute for Sage – What’s Best?

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Finding a decent substitute for sage is not too difficult in fact most cooks will have the majority of the herbs below already in their kitchen.

Sage is an extremely versatile herb and arguably one of the most popular ingredients of all time as far as herbs go.

Use of sage in dishes range from Thanksgiving turkeys to German sausage and Italian osso bucco, but if you have run out or simply never had it in the first place, there are several appropriate substitutes.

Substitute for Sage

While the availability may vary, sage is available as both a fresh, dried, and ground ingredient--all of which can be substituted by the following herbs and spices.


One of the first go-to substitutes, marjoram can be used dry or fresh to replace the sage in your dish. Both sage and marjoram are members of the mint family of spices and have similar flavors, but marjoram may be slightly more piney or citrusy.

Some cooks suggest marjoram only for recipes where it can be added toward the end or as a garnish given that marjoram’s flavor is somewhat delicate and may not hold up for long periods of cooking.


Known for its aroma, rosemary is commonly used in soaps and perfumes but is more commonly used to spice up a number of meat dishes. Its pine and citrus flavors make it an excellent substitute for sage. It’s also been known to enhance one’s memory, so you can reap these benefits and enhance your dish all at the same time.


Thyme is another multipurpose ingredient that can be used either dry or fresh. It is a suitable spice for poultry dishes as well as meat and fish, making it a suitable substitute for sage as well. Most would suggest adding thyme early on in the cooking process to better release the oils and ultimately improve the dish’s flavor.


Savory specifically, summer savory is widely used in a number of poultry dishes, similar to sage. The summer variety is the most appropriate because it’s less bitter and has a history similar to that of sage.Savory also has a similar pepperiness to sage, so you should have no problem using it as a substitute.


While one of the less frequently chosen sage substitutes, basil can often be an excellent choice and even one that is more appropriate than the others.

Basil’s presence in Italian dishes makes it an excellent substitute for those that call for sage, but basil isn’t limited to these types of meals by any means. You can use basil in butter, salads, and marinades, among other things.

Poultry Seasoning

If the name wasn’t any indication, this substitute is probably friendlier for poultry dishes, and most people consider this a substitute because of sage’s ability to complement fatty foods and its traditional presence at Thanksgiving turkey dinners.

Poultry seasoning typically contains one or several of the aforementioned herbs as well. In their dry forms, you should be able to use all of these seasonings in equivalent proportions to that of sage. If you are substituting fresh for dry, proportions will likely vary.