What’s A Good Winter Savory Substitute?

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Winter savory is a valuable herb for bean dishes and you can use it to season a variety of different meats, poultry in particular. Its main downside is that unless you plan to grow it yourself, you will probably have a hard time finding it. If you want some good winter savory substitutes, here are your best options:

Your best bet: Summer savory

Winter savory and summer savory are the best substitutes for each other, but that doesn’t mean that they have quite the same properties. Winter savory offers a much more intense version of the savory flavor. It is noticeably more bitter than summer savory.

The more intense flavor profile combined with the bitter notes makes winter savory less popular for applications like sausage-making than its milder, sweeter summer relative so using summer savory instead may improve your dish. The differences between the two herbs are minor in most cooked dishes, you will just need to compensate for its lack of intensity by adding more of it. Start by using 1.5 times the amount that your recipe requires for winter savory and increasing the amount to taste if necessary.

A decent second choice: Thyme

Winter savory and thyme belong to the same Lamiaceae family, which is the mint family. They have a similar enough flavor that some culinary resources recommend treating them the same. Keep in mind that the compound thymol is a major component in the aromas and flavor profiles of both herbs.

When it comes to their appearance, winter savory has larger leaves than thyme but they look similar when they are finely chopped. Thyme has the benefit of being relatively common — you can find fresh thyme in the produce section of virtually any well-stocked grocery store and dried thyme in the spice aisle.

Note that thyme is stronger than winter savory; not only can you add thyme early in the recipe, you must use less of it to avoid overpowering other flavors in your dish. Start with half the amount that your recipe requires for winter savory and add more to taste.

In a pinch: Sage

Sage comes from the Mediterranean region just like winter savory and has a piney flavor like that of winter savory. The leaves are larger than those of thyme, which might be a benefit if you want to use it in salads and other raw applications. Sage is especially effective as a winter savory substitute in stuffings and poultry recipes. Many people consider sage to be better as a raw herb when compared to savory so it may work better in salads.

Like winter savory, sage can act as a carminative to relieve flatulence. The carminative action makes it a great winter savory alternative in bean dishes. Because sage and savory are similarly pungent, you can use the same amount of sage that your recipe specifies for winter savory.

Other alternatives

Marjoram has a more delicate flavor than winter savory but will provide many of the same notes. It will not do well with long cooking times so it is best to add it at the last minute.

Some cooks believe epazote to be a good winter savory substitute, especially if your main reason for using it is for its carminative properties. Epazote is the preferred carminative in Latin cuisine.