Summer savory is popular in the Mediterranean region for seasoning meat and bean dishes. Its piney, peppery flavor makes it perfect for pairing with milder flavored foods without overwhelming them. The flavor of summer savory is not as potent as the winter variety, which is stronger and bitterer. Do your best to find this herb if you want to cook lentils, make a stuffing or make a summer savory vinegar. If you are unable to find it or need it in a hurry, consider one of the summer savory alternatives below. You are likely to have at least one of them in your spice cabinet.
Your best bet: Thyme
Thyme is another herb from the Mediterranean and is similar to savory in that it too can stand up to long cooking times. This is why the French fines herbes mix often contains both herbs. Another benefit is that you may have an easier time finding fresh or dried thyme than summer savory.
Like summer savory, thyme has a pungent and minty characteristic. The two herbs also look like each other to the extent that if both are finely chopped, it is hard to tell the difference between them. When using thyme as a summer savory substitute, you can use it in exactly the same amount and in the same ways that you would use summer savory.
A decent second choice: Sage
Sage is yet another herb from the Mediterranean region. While it does not look much like savory, it’s quite similar in flavor. The leaves of the sage plant are much larger and wider than those of thyme and savory, but they provide the same pungent pine notes. Note that while thyme can be used fresh or dried, it is suggested that you only use fresh sage when seeking a summer savory replacement. Use it in the same amount that your recipe requires for summer savory. Slice the leaves finely if you need them to look more like savory.
In a pinch: Marjoram
Marjoram is a relative of oregano and has been described as having a flavor reminiscent of thyme and basil combined. It’s sweet and herbaceous with some of the same pine notes that you find in summer savory. Marjoram is considerably more delicate than savory, however. It cannot stand up to long cooking times; therefore, it is best to add toward the end. Use the same amount of marjoram that your recipe requires for summer savory.
One effective way to find a good summer savory substitute is to experiment with herb combinations. Consider combining thyme and sage or thyme and mint to more accurately replicate the flavor of summer savory. You should also keep in mind the family to which summer savory belongs. It is a member of the labiatae family, which includes all of the substitutes above. It also contains a number of other good alternatives like oregano and basil. Both of those herbs should work well in dishes that require summer savory as can other labitae members like savory and hyssop.