Sage is an exciting spice that provides optimal flavors across different dishes. It is also versatile enough to fill other functionalities, making it an encompassing spice option.
People looking to experiment with their cooking might want to swap out sage for several reasons. If you do, then you will need to get a substitute.
So, what is the best substitute for sage? Thyme is the perfect substitute for sage, with the two providing similar flavors and versatile use. You can also use thyme in equal quantities as sage, so the substitution is as seamless and convenient as possible.
An Overview of Sage
Sage is a plant that originates from the Mediterranean region. The plant grows about two feet high, and it produces flavor-rich leaves. These leaves are eventually collected, dried, and used in different applications. For cooking, sage is one of the most popular spices.
Sage is especially popular due to its warm flavor and intense aroma. It comes with a mildly bitter taste, although its aroma can easily dominate every aspect of your meal. Many chefs see sage as an essential part of cooking, with the spice being primarily used as a seasoning component. The herb also blends well with different types of food and dishes, allowing you to benefit from its rich taste.
Why Replace Sage?
- Taste differences: Some people might not like the bitter taste of sage. If you’re such a person, you can get a substitute.
- Non-availability: If you can’t find any sage around you, then a substitute will have to work for you.
Options for Sage Substitutes
Best Overall Substitute for Sage: Thyme
Many see thyme as sage’s more aromatic counterpart. They have similar flavors, and they work for pretty much the same dishes. So, you will hardly have any problems with substituting sage for thyme. They come from the same family of herbs, so they are pretty interchangeable.
One of thyme’s primary benefits is its ubiquity. It’s almost impossible for you to get any kitchen that doesn’t have thyme in it. So, when it comes to the availability or if you need a substitute that works in a flash, thyme works just as well. Thyme also works for different dishes, including sauces, poultry, salads, and more.
Thyme comes with a relatively wooden flavor. However, you can have mint or citrus notes as well. The spice is so multipurpose, it is even used in perfumes and can work as a form of medicine in some cases. You can find its oils in disinfectants, mouthwashes, and other sanitary products. If there were ever a multipurpose herb, this would be it.
Beyond its use in regular dishes, thyme blends well with foods like eggplants and pasta. You can also use it to marinate your fish and meat before roasting or barbecuing. So, it is evident to see how well the spice works as a substitute for sage.
If you are using thyme as a substitute for sage, apply it in equal quantities. It is a one-for-one substitute, so you don’t need to worry about proportions. Note that you will need to add it to your dish in advance so that its oils can properly mix and lend a proper scent to the dish. While thyme is usually applied dried and fresh, it is recommended that you apply it fresh when using it as a sage substitute.
Best Substitute for Meat: Marjoram
Marjoram is another viable substitute that works impressively instead of sage. It is renowned for its scent, so it primarily works to add some freshness to salads. Marjoram is also used in different stews, so you get enough versatility with the spice.
Although it is a versatile option, marjoram especially shines when it comes to working with meat. It has some citrus undertones to it, so it adds another fresh flavor that you will love to your meat dish.
Marjoram has a taste that is eerily similar to that of oregano. However, note that it is a little stronger, so you will want to use it carefully or risk it overpowering your meal. Its use became widespread in Egypt and Rome, but it has since spread and is now used worldwide as it has become more of an essential ingredient.
You can use marjoram in its dry form, or you could grind it freshly for different dishes while you cook it. However, as pointed out earlier, marination is where the spice really shines. Note that you will also need to add it ahead before you’re done with your cooking. This way, it can mingle properly with your dish, and you can enjoy it better.
Like thyme, marjoram is an ideal one-for-one substitute for sage. Unlike thyme, you can use marjoram in its dry form. Note that it isn’t so suitable for long cooking. So, it is usually better to use marjoram in recipes that require the use of sage as a garnish.
Best Health-Related Substitute: Rosemary
Rosemary is another herb that serves as an ideal substitute for sage. While it is more popular as a component for medicines and things like soaps and perfumes, it is also an impressive culinary option.
You can use rosemary in soups, dips, sandwiches, juices, and much more. Like marjoram, rosemary also has a strong wooden flavor with citrus undertones. It is also readily available, making it an excellent option if you need to make some dishes and you don’t have so much time on your hands.
It is also possible to make oil from rosemary leaves. All you have to do is crush a handful of it and mix it into some oil. You can also add rosemary to boiling water and add some tea bags to improve its overall taste.
Many who use rosemary tend to use it for its medicinal properties. It helps to enhance memory, and it also provides a healthy dose of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
Note that rosemary isn’t much of a one-for-one substitute for sage. There is no ideal measurement, but you want to use less of it because of its strong flavor. You don’t want that to overshadow your entire recipe. With just a hint of rosemary, you will be able to improve the flavor of your dish and optimize its taste.