The 3 Best Sage Substitutes You Could Use Today

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People have loved Sage for a very long time, whether for medical or culinary use. Sage is also known as "Salvia Officinalis". This botanical name is derived from the Latin word "salvere" which translates to "to be saved." This herb originated from the Mediterranean region and is believed to have come from the mint family of herbs. People also once believed that it is a cure-all type of herb. Sage, in terms of flavor, is described as sweet, yet savory.

Sage has a musky, warm essence, which is a perfect attribute for a fragrant dressing for turkey. It is classified as a long-living plant—'Perennial’ to be precise—small, grey-green plant with its veins deeply planted. The flavor of Sage becomes more and more strong and intense as the plant continues to age.

There are many Sage variations, which are listed down below as a guide for you in picking the right kind of Sage.

  • Russian Sage – A sage that is described as the sage with lavender-purple colored flowers.
  • Common Sage – This is the sage that is most commonly used for dishes because of its very sharp aroma.
  • Pineapple Sage – Another well-known sage that can be used for many dishes. It has a sweet fragrance with Red flowers, and it is best used for teas.
  • Golden Sage – These sages are known for their variegated leaves; they have leaves that are patched or marked with different colors.
  • Purple Sage – A sage that has a purple-colored leaf and flower.
  • Three-lobed Sage – The name suggests the three leaves that this sage has.
  • Tricolor Sage – A tricolor sage is a sage that have purple, white, and green variegated leaves.

Aside from these sage types, it also comes in 3 forms: grounded, fresh, and rubbed. First is the rubbed sage; it is a very light and fluffy sage that came off the leaf a little bit like a powder. Second is the fresh sage. Among the three, this sage is the most pungent in terms of both aroma and flavor, making it the best use for recipes.

And, lastly, the ground sage. You might want to go with this sage if the fresh forms are not available. The only drawback when going for this sage is that the strength of this sage will most likely be gone after a year. The best way to store this sage is in a dark and cool place where it is put inside a glass that is sealed by a tight-fit lid. You might also want to try pairing sage with cheese; a touch of roughly chopped sage leaves in the edges of caramelized onions, omelets, egg bakes, and tea - a perfect match for this handsome herb.

Growing and Harvesting Sage

Growing and Harvesting Sage

If you are planting Sage, it’s crucial to know the perfect time to harvest to get the best quality. Some believe that the best time to harvest sage is when their leaves are at a perfect shape and large enough for usage, and before their plant flowers. On the other side, it is suggested that you should not harvest too much sage in the first year of growing them in order to help them meet their full potential and mature. In choosing the leaves, it is recommended for you to choose the leaves with vibrant green-gray in color, spotless, and free from yellowing.

For people who are interested in planting sage, below are the simple steps in growing and harvesting sage:

  • Assure that the soil you have is well-drained and has a pH level within the range of 6.5 to 7. Make sure that it is well-exposed to the sun. The type of soil does not affect growing sage because it can tolerate different kinds of soil
  • Buy some small sage plants and place them about 2 feet apart from each other. Avoid watering them too frequently; give time for the soil dry out before watering again.
  • You could prune sage plants every year during early spring. This is essential in maintaining the quality of your plant.
  • Around the 3rd to 5th year, there will be no more growth of branches for sage plants. If it happens, it's already time for you to replace them.
  • For the 1st year of growing sage, keep in mind to only harvest little amounts of sage. In the next year, you'll be able to gather as much as you want. Also, don't forget to cut one leaf at a time.

Sage is also popular for its antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. In the field of medicine, it is widely used for treating muscle pains, aromatherapy, and rheumatism, because sage has strong healing oils. These oils also contain ketones, which are essential for mental clarity and memory enhancement. Some people use it to treat cognitive impairment and those who suffer from Alzheimer's. Fun fact: if you use sage to make tea, some people will call it "Thinker's Tea." Here are some  of the other health benefits you can get from sage:

  • Boosted cognitive abilities
  • Helps in managing the body’s blood sugar level
  • Helps in aiding diarrhea
  • Slows the appearance of early menopausal symptoms
  • Essential in maintaining a good oral health
  • Helps in weight management

Sage is a great source of vitamin K. A tablespoon serving of sage will give you a whopping 43 percent of your daily recommended value of vitamin K. It is also excellent in providing fiber, calcium, iron, vitamin A, magnesium, and manganese. It is also a great source of B-vitamins namely folate, riboflavin, thiamin, and pyridoxine as a gram serving of it will already provide you more than the daily recommended value of those mentioned. Lastly, it provides a healthy amount of copper, vitamin C, and thiamin.

With sage’s pungent flavor and aroma, it can make a perfect addition to many of your recipes. If you’re tempted to give it a go—which you should be—here are some amazing dishes that you could try out when using sage:

  • Sage Fried Chicken

Fried chicken is a classic but can get boring after a while. Mix it up by adding earthy ground sage into the mix. 

  • Roasted Butternut Squash with Sage Pierogi

Nutty and sweet butternut squash along with sage is a perfect combination for Pierogi filling.

  • Grilled Fontina, Mushroom and Sage Sandwich

An amazing grilled cheese made better by featuring sage-accented sauté mushrooms.

  • Pumpkin Soup with Sage and Ham

Add apple and ham chunks to a perfect combo of sage and pumpkin, and you now have terrific autumn soup.

  • Squash Fritters and Fried Sage

Battered whole sage leaves and then fried until crisp is amazingly delicious.

  • Fast Pumpkin-Sage Lasagna

An ultimate lasagna recipe that you should not miss.

  • Chickpea Fries with Parmesan and Sage

Prepare these crispily fried squares with butternut squash soup or cocktail for an even better dish.

  • Sea Bass with Prosciutto and Sage

Prepare a buttery and fragrant classic saltimbocca in just twenty minutes.

  • Pasta with Pancetta, Shallots, and Sage

A woodsy Sangiovese blends from a perfect pairing of sage and pasta.

  • Turkey Breasts with Mustard-Sage Crumbs

The mouthwatering brown crust on a turkey breast seasoned using mustard and sage will taste as delicious as it looks.

Sage Substitutes

Sage has already proven its popularity through years of use and enjoyment. It has been used to preserve meat by the ancient Romans and Greeks and has been used for cosmetics, oils, cooking, and even as insect repellents. Sage has also played an essential role in cooking, especially in meat dishes.

So, why not mix it up and try out one of our sage substitutes listed below? Whether you're looking for a change or are simply out of your sage supply, these substitutes will give you that sage-like flavor you love with a tantalizing twist to keep your tastebuds on their toes. 

Summer Savory

Summer Savory

Savory is a herb that has two types: Summer and winter. If you are looking for a summery sage substitute, you might want to go with summer savory. It is easier to make it as a substitute compared to winter because it is less bitter in taste and tenderer in texture. Both savory variations are regularly used in European cuisine for quite a long time now.

It is usually paired with beans as it goes well with almost every type of beans. So if you love bean-based meals as much as us, this will make the perfect sage substitute for you. Other than that, it is also great for meat, eggs, and sausage. There are dishes such as soup wherein you need to have the extra boost of flavoring, and savory can even get the job done in these cases.

Tip: It is recommended for you to use savory to your dish before the cooking is done. If you prolong the cooking, it will increase the sharp aroma and might make the flavor of the dish a little bit undesirable.

In terms of storing savory, you could place a bundle of it in storage filled with water before refrigerating it. Another option is wrapping it in paper towels before putting it in a refrigerator.

Savory is also rich in essential nutrients and minerals. Below are the list of vitamins and minerals that savory richly contains:

  • Vitamin A
  • B-Complex Vitamins
  • Iron
  • Niacin
  • Manganese
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin C
  • Fiber
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium

And there are plenty more health benefits where that came from! Just take a look at this list of all the amazing health benefits that savory has to offer.

  • Aids inflammation, rheumatism, gout, nausea, and even headaches.
  • It is rich in fiber. Fiber helps in maintaining smooth digestion, reducing bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol, and fiber is also is an essential probiotic to nurture gut flora.
  • It has antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. Savory leaves contain important volatile oils namely carvacrol and thymol. Carvacrol serves as an antibacterial agent that fights bacterial strains such as E coli and Bacillus Cereus. On the other hand, Thymol serves as an anti-fungal and antiseptic agent. It fights and helps in the prevention of the spreading of fungal infections.
  • You can use savory for making tea to treat headaches, ill stomachs, and sore throats. It also helps the improvement of liver and kidney functions.
  • Its vitamins and minerals help to maintain a healthy body such as regulated blood pressure and healthy heart due to potassium. Other than that, it also helps in the development of blood cells with the help of an iron. Lastly, it boosts the body's immune system because of its zinc and vitamin C contents.

Recipes with Savory

  • Mardi Gras Gator Meatballs
  • Summer Savory Bruschetta Topping
  • Crab Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Vegetarian Cassoulet
  • Lemon Caper Butter Sauce



Basil is a herb that is well-known for its ability to promote healthy cells and growing strong bones. The most common dishes to feature this herb are pasta, salads, butter, and spaghetti. It also makes a great addition to drinks and pickles as well as being used as a dressing and marinade. Having basil combined with garlic and tomatoes in different recipes is also a famous technique that many people use. This tasty combination can be the flavor boost your dish needs to make it a cut above the rest. 

Tip: Basil is a perfect use for both Asian and Italian dishes. It is famous for helping aid stomach ailments, colds, and coughs, bites, and infection, and even helps in relieving stress. This is why most people use basil for tea. Another fun fact, Basil is highly important to Hindus in India for religious reasons.

Basil is also commonly found in Thai, Indonesian, and Vietnamese dishes. In the field of medicine, it is used for Ayurvedic and traditional Tamil medicines—which are forms of some known traditional Indian medicine. There are two types of basil; first is the sweet basil. It is the most commonly found basil in stores, and is commonly used in Italian dishes because of its strong clove scent. Second is the lime and lemon basil. It has a strong citrus scent because of its highly concentrated limonene content.

Storing basil is far from a chore. You can use basil in making ice cubes for your drinks. You can also powder basil after drying it, then put it in a jar. And finally, you can just store it in a plastic bag or jar before refrigerating it.

Research has shown that basil contains several useful and important oils, is a great source of phenolic compounds, and contains many other natural minerals such as polyphenols. As a result, there are plenty of health benefits that basil can provide you.

  • It is a rich source of antioxidants. Its antioxidant activity is higher than other standard antioxidants.
  • With the help of basil’s phytochemical contents, it helps in the prevention of liver, lung, oral, and skin cancers.
  • Basil contains beta-caryophyllene which has a high anti-arthritic activity which helps aid arthritis and other inflammation or swellings.
  • Basil has essential volatile oils to restrict the growth of different kinds of bacteria like E coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Listeria monocytogenes, Yersinia enterocolitica, and Staphylococcus aureus.
  • Like Ginseng, basil could also help the body to adapt to stress. It regulates the body's blood sugar level and increases its antioxidant activity. Thus, the effects of oxidative stress will reduce.

Recipes with Basil

  • Easy Pesto
  • Cucumber Basil Salad
  • Orzo with Basil, Tomatoes, and Gorgonzola
  • Marinated Grill Shrimp
  • Creamy Cherry Tomato Salad with Fresh Basil, Corn, and Onions



Rosemary is a herb that is popular for enhancing memory, which is one of the many reasons why it's loved by so many people. It can also be used for producing medicines, perfumes, and soap. When it comes to cooking, it is commonly used for dips, soups, sandwiches, juices, and so on. Rosemary works well as an addition to dough because of the distinct flavor it provides.           

Rosemary is not just a perfect combination with chicken and lamb, but also a rich source of calcium, iron, and vitamin B-6. The most common preparation of rosemary is a whole dried herb or dried powder extract. When being used for tea or liquid extract, it is commonly prepared from fresh or dried leaves.

Rosemary is also a perennial plant like sage, and the leaves are the part that is most commonly used for cooking. It is also commonly used to ease muscle pains, boost the immune system, stimulate hair growth, improve the circulatory system, and boost memory. It is also important to know that an extremely high dosage of this herb can cause coma, pulmonary edema, and vomiting, so just make sure you don't tip a whole cup into your meal!

Tip: It is very easy to make rosemary oils out of rosemary leaves. You can make it by crushing a handful amount of rosemary leaves, mix it with some oil, and store it. Another way is to add it to boiling water for a great twist in making your tea.

It is also very easy to store rosemary. Just like any other herbs, after you wash it, you just dry it, and then you store it inside a refrigerator. 

Not only does rosemary taste great, but it has great health benefits too. Take a look at some of our favorites below:

  • Enhances concentration and boosts memory

Research suggests that the aroma of rosemary can improve the concentration, speed, performance, accuracy, and possibly the mood of a person.

  • Prevents the brain from aging fast

There are already a few studies that talk about how rosemary can prevent Alzheimer's and help the brain to prevent from aging. However, the studies need more proof and concrete research.

  • Protects the macula from degenerating

Macular degeneration is an irreversible vision loss for people with the age of over 60 years. However, it’s already been revealed that rosemary contains carnosic acid, which helps in promoting eye health.

  • Contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds

Rosemary is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory materials that help to improve the body's blood circulation and boost the immune system of your body.

  • Gives neurological protection

Carnosic acid has also been found to help the brain in fighting off free radicals. There are also buzzes that rosemary might be beneficial for people who have experienced a stroke. It protects the brain from being damaged and boosts its recovery.

  • Improves digestion

Rosemary is a common remedy for indigestion in Europe. In addition, Germany’s Commission E already allowed rosemary as a treat for such cases. On the other side, there are still no researches or studies that were made to support these claims.

  • Helps in reducing cancer risks

A recent study concluded that crude ethanolic rosemary extract, also known as RO, slowed the spreading of breast carcinoma cells and human leukemia cells. Other studies also showed that rosemary is also a good anti-tumor agent. Lastly, another report showed how rosemary extract can reduce the possibility of cancer-causing agents to form when added to ground beef.

Recipes with Rosemary

  • Grilled Peach with Rosemary, Smoked Country Ham, and Toasted Pistachios
  • Rosemary-Jerk Lamp Chops
  • Olive Oil-Braised Vegetables
  • Salmon Glazed with Rosemary and Lemon-Infused Honey
  • Marinated Flank Steak


The main thing you need to keep in mind when finding a good substitute for herbs is that every single herb has their own certain taste and smell, which can make a huge difference when replacing one for another. 

However, it's a great experience trying out new herbs in classic dishes. Just keep in mind that each herb has a distinct flavor and while sage substitutes taste great, they will never be exactly the same as sage. Having said that, we love being original and creative with recipes, so if you're looking for something new, be sure to give them a try - you won't be disappointed!

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Madison Taylor

Based in upstate New York, Madison is a devoted foodie and spends some of her time developing new re...

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