Savory is one of the widely used herbs in the Mediterranean region. It has been the main seasoning herb for beans, meat, fish and many other foods for over 2000 years. This aromatic herb comes from the mint family and offers 30 various types. However there are some savory substitutes to have at your kitchen cabinet if you want to strengthen the flavor of your dish just like fresh savory does.
This plant has bright green leaves and tastes slightly piney and a bit peppery. It’s recommended to avoid over-flavoring your dish with this herb if you want to maintain its tenderness. The same refers to its substitutes.
Perhaps the most popular types of savory are winter savory and summer savory. Below you’ll find other popular herbs and seasoning mixtures as alternatives to savory. Use them when roasting meat, cooking beans, poultry meals and the like.
Let’s Take a Look at the Best Savory Substitutes
1. Summer savory
Summer savory is the best substitute for winter savory. It has a lighter flavor and mild sweetness compared to the common savory. You can find it in the main ingredients of the Italian dried spice mixture herbes de Provence.
It makes an ideal match with foods from the legume family such as beans, peas, lentils as well as meats, fish and soups. It is also used as garnish for egg dishes, sausages and salads.
Like many other herbs, summer savory can be dehydrated and used as dried seasoning. However, the taste in this case is much less flavorful.
2. Winter Savory
As for winter savory, it has a bitter taste in dishes. Just cook it a bit longer and the taste will become weaker. As a result, your dish’s flavor will be reminiscent of sage and pine aroma. Sometimes winter savory is used in the making of liquors as it tastes bitter.
You can pair it with meat, fish, and different types of beans, root vegetables and cabbage. Winter savory provides a pleasant aroma to long-cooking meat dishes such as lamb or pork and oil-rich fish such as mackerel.
It has dark green leaves and summer flowers with pale lavender color; just in case you want to distinguish it from other versions of savory.
Thyme is the closest for savory both in its look and flavor. Its leaves are thinner and subtler and it tastes minty.
This herb is rich in delicate and pleasant flavors which allow you to add it in a variety of dishes. Thus, some sweetness combined with light hints of lavender and rosemary creates an awesome savory for roasted meat, fish, vegetables and bakery. You can also add it to soups and marinades that require a minty aroma.
Tarragon is a widely used herb that comes from southern Russia and western Asia. Its fresh glossy green leaves are thin and subtle and they offer a pleasant aroma similar to many herbs from the mint family.
Tarragon tastes bitter and sweet at the same time. It has touches of vanilla, mint, pepper, and eucalyptus, which make it distinguishable from other herbs. Sometimes it can work as an alternative for savory but you should combine it with matching spices to achieve the desired flavor.
The next widely used substitute is marjoram which is similar to oregano and savory. Many spicy mixtures like herbes de Provence, contain this ingredient.
Different stews requesting savory go well with marjoram. So, you can use this herb instead of savory in poultry, meat, fish and soups. It is also used as dressing for salads and vegetables. Mix the subtle leaves with spicy sauces and serve with roasted food or crispy chicken.
Make sure you add it at the end of the cooking process or at least midway, not to end up with burnt leaves.
As for sage, it has wider leaves and slightly peppery taste combined with mint, eucalyptus and lemon. This herb belongs to the Mediterranean region, which means that it can replace savory in many dishes.
Sage is a perfect choice if you want to boost the flavor of your dish with a minty-citrusy aroma mixed with a peppery taste. To achieve a taste close to savory, use it by 1:1 ratio. This herb is often used with beans, potatoes, and meat; especially with lamb and poultry. You can mix it with sauces, marinades, pastries, and bread dough.
The tiny fresh leaves of oregano produce a kind of pungent aroma. This herb offers a peppery taste and bitter mint flavor. It is often used instead of summer savory in pizzas, pasta sauces and stews.
Oregano will provide a pleasant taste to your seafood dishes, fish, chicken, and beans. Various sauces are enriched with an amazing aroma thanks to oregano. It is used both fresh and dehydrated.
Rosemary is a great alternative for savory. It combines the aromatic flavor of pine, citrus and pepper. Your dish will have a unique taste with it. However, it differs from savory in its tough texture. So, make sure you chop the leaves before using.
Rosemary usually goes well with potatoes, lentils, beans, bread dough and soups. It’s ideal for seasoning meat; no matter how you are going to cook it. You can substitute it in a 1:1 ratio.
9. Herbes de Provence
One of the most popular Italian seasonings, also called Herbes de Provence is our final choice in this list. It’s a wonderful mixture of spices including rosemary, thyme, savory, oregano, marjoram. This is a gem if you have none of the above mentioned substitutes for savory.
This bunch of flavors is used in roasted and grilled meat especially fish, poultry as well as stews and soups. Since Herbes de Provence is a combination of dried herbs, you may hardly use it as dressing. Consider using a 1:1 ratio to substitute savory.
FAQs on Savory
Winter Savory vs. Summer Savory; what’s the difference?
Depending on where and when they are grown the types of savory can vary in tastes. The same is for winter savory and summer savory. Although they both have the same aroma, they still have distinct tastes. Summer savory is way milder in its flavor and taste than winter savory. Another difference is that summer savory leaves are oblong, linear and acute whereas winter savory leaves are oval-shaped.
Is savory good for health?
Like many other herbs, savory belongs to the group of plants that are good for our health. People have used its leaves to make medicines. You can heal coughs, sore throat, and similar health issues with the help of summer savory. It is also good for those who have a loss of appetite. Summer savory is rich in vitamin C, and vitamin A.
What does savory smell like?
You can distinguish savory from other herbs by its spicy peppery aroma and pungent flavor accompanied by mint-citrusy flavor.
How would you describe the taste of savory?
Sweet, sour, salty and bitter; this is how savory tastes. It also has a meaty flavor, which comes from the presence of protein that it contains. The aroma of savory also contains peppery notes. It’s a rich combination of flavors, that’s why it’s so requested in culinary art.
How to Use Savory in Culinary?
Before you may add savory to your meals, make sure to separate the leaves from the branches. They are tough enough and won’t taste subtle in dishes. On the other hand, the most amount of aroma is held in leaves. Just rinse them and chop them into small pieces. You can use savory with low-cooked dishes such as soups and stews, beans as well as roasted and grilled meats, fish and poultry.
What is the most popular substitute for savory?
From all of the substitutes mentioned above, the closest to savory is thyme. It has the most similar flavors and tastes savory because it belongs to the main group of herbs in Mediterranean cuisine. Both offer pungent and minty flavor and when you cut them you will hardly distinguish one from another. That’s why thyme is the most popular substitute for savory.
These herbs and seasonings are all perfect substitutes for savory. So, if you look for an alternative to savory then here is a list to consider. Keep in mind that over-seasoning your dish with one of these herbs will result in an unpleasant taste. So, use them in small amounts. In case, you want to achieve a stronger aroma, you can mix some of the most popular herbs close to savory such as thyme, sage and oregano.