Fragrant, fresh, flavorful — herbs are indispensable in many dishes. A good example is dried savory. If you’ve spent any length of time poring through cookbooks and gourmet websites in search of inspiration, you’ve probably come across this herb.
Savory is a herb native to the Mediterranean and part of the mint family. There are around 30 varieties of savory out there, but summer and winter savory are among the most widely used.
However, this spice is not always available in grocery shops or markets. If you can’t find dried savory, we’ve prepared a list of alternatives for you that can work just as well in your recipes.
What Is Dried Savory?
Dried savory is a small, green herb in the mint family. There are two types of savory: summer savory and winter savory.
Summer savory is characterized by sweet, spicy, and lighter notes. It has delicate small green leaves. It’s popular in Acadia, a region of Canada’s Atlantic province.
Winter savory invokes the colder months with sage and pine overtones. It’s a robust plant that flourishes amid the rocky outcrops of the Mediterranean.
Winter savory can withstand long periods of cooking, making it an ideal complement to meat. The plant’s leaves are also a great match for stuffed dishes like stuffed potatoes, bell peppers, and mushrooms. Alternatively, you might add winter or summer savory to a straightforward lentil dish.
Savory is truly a versatile herb that can even be bottled up in vinegar.
Substitute for Dried Savory
Mint is one of the most well-known culinary herbs. It’s fresh, lemony, and occasionally spicy, but it always leaves a cool aftertaste.
There are different mint variants, but most of them feature robust stems and bright green, round, somewhat dented leaves.
Mint goes great with Mediterranean dishes, like a Greek salad, or something from Middle Eastern cuisine, like Tabouleh.
Mint also goes perfectly with lamb, couscous, zucchini, garden peas, yogurt, or feta cheese and its substitutes, like Halloumi.
Keep in mind that mint is very powerful, so use it sparingly.
Coriander is a very fragrant herb, but it’s also a good dried savory substitute. What’s peculiar about it is that it has citrusy accents akin to lemongrass.
Coriander spice is made from the plant’s seeds, and it’s used in Garam masala, a popular Indian spice combination.
This plant is frequently used in South Asian and Latin American cuisines. We recommend using coriander as a dried savory alternative with chicken, curries, avocados, corn, onions, and even chilies.
Basil is one of those herbs that anyone can recognize immediately by its look and smell. It’s delicate, fragrant, and makes you feel like a professional chef every time you use it.
There are more than 60 different types of basil, each with a distinct flavor. The most common and popular kind of basil is sweet basil.
Sweet basil is an iconic flavor of Italy and has a sweet flavor with a pinch of spiciness. There’s also another variety known as “Thai Basil.” This type has a savory and spicy aftertaste.
Basil is the major ingredient in the famous pesto sauce. Many chiefs also use it in tomato pasta sauces. You can easily substitute it for dried savory in dishes with tomatoes, shrimp, and mozzarella, as well as in pasta and beef stew.
Parsley is a widely available herb. It’s fresh and grassy and doesn’t leave an overpowering taste like mint or basil.
In the market, you’d often find the curly parsley variety, with distinctive ruffled leaves. There is also flat-leaf parsley, which has longer and pointier leaves that resemble coriander.
Parsley is super versatile, and it’s popular around the globe, including in the Mediterranean, American, Brazilian, and Middle Eastern cuisines. It works particularly well when paired with garlic, lemon, mussels, blue cheese, lentils, and ham.
Chive is one of those herbs with a rich taste but a hidden attitude. When you taste it, you’re hit with notes very similar to garlic, only subdued, although the herb doesn’t look anything like it. This herb is the smallest species of the onion genus, and that’s why its flavor has some kick to it.
Chives are plain-looking, but very easy to identify in the market. They’re green, with long and smooth pointy stems. The stalks actually look a lot like grass, only longer, and they’re usually a deeper green.
Chive is a very common herb in Northern Europe, and it’s part of Swedish cuisine. If you don’t have dried savory, chive goes very well with eggs, cheese, butter, salmon, and mashed potatoes.
Dill is such a delicate herb, yet it leaves a powerful taste and aroma, making it ideal for garnishing.
Dill has a grassy flavor that’s almost overwhelming, so a little goes a long way. However, dill loses taste as it cooks, so it should only be added just before serving or used raw.
Dill is famous in Northern Europe and Eastern Europe. It’s a perfect dried savory substitute for sea bass, green soups, cucumber, cream cheese, beetroot, and pickles.
Thyme is a staple in any kitchen. Regular and lemon thyme are the two most commonly used kinds in cooking. Their fluffy green leaves are used as a culinary herb, whereas their fruit is used for making spice.
Lemon thyme has a distinct lemon aroma and flavor, whereas regular thyme has a herbal flavor with notes of grass, wood, lavender, and rosemary.
The rich, grassy, and lemony flavors of thyme go especially well with eggplants, barbeque meats, roasted bell peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, or goat cheese and its substitutes.
Thyme can be added at any stage of cooking. The longer it cooks, the more flavor it developes, and its sturdy stems don’t loosen up when cooked.
Oregano provides a delightful, earthy taste to a variety of foods, including chicken, shellfish, hamburgers, pizza, and pasta sauce.
Dried oregano may be used earlier in the cooking process for sauces and stews than certain other herbs since its taste is able to withstand a longer cooking time.
The flavor of oregano is characterized as bitter, earthy, and green, with notes of hay and mint. However, it can be slightly bitter, so it should be used sparingly.
Oregano is mostly to be found in the Mediterranean and Mexican cuisines. Fresh oregano is a common ingredient, but dried oregano even more so, as the flavor of this herb remains powerful even after drying.
Rosemary is an excellent alternative for dried savory. It has a fruity yet spicy flavor with citrus, lavender, and mint undertones.
It’s commonly used to season meats or flavor bread dough. It also goes nicely with beans, potatoes, and lentils. Rosemary can be fairly pungent though, and has a really strong flavor in any case, so it’s usually used very sparingly so as not to overpower the dish.
If you’re not quite sure how fresh rosemary looks, it has distinctive woody stems with needle leaves.
Because both fresh and dried rosemary has a piney feel similar to needles, it’s best to cut or crush it before using it in recipes. Sprigs and stems can be added to soups and stews but should be removed before serving, as they remain tough even after being cooked for a long time.
Sage is highly valued for its distinct herbal scent and earthy flavor. It’s quite common in Balkan and Italian cuisine and recognized for its “hairy” and pale green leaves.
It’s a plant that keeps a lot of its taste after drying. Drying intensifies the flavor and might provide a somewhat bitter taste to the plant, so it’s much better to use it fresh or frozen.
Sage is most commonly used in the making of holiday stuffings, and it goes well with chicken. The herb is also frequently used in buttery sauces for pasta. It goes particularly well with bacon, sausages, and gnocchi.
Summer savory is a herb that has slowly gained popularity in the culinary world. It can enhance a variety of dishes, from soups and stews to sauces and marinades.
Now you know which other herbs share similar qualities with dried savory and can be used in its place if you can’t get your hands on it.
In our opinion, thyme is the best alternative for dried savory out of all the herbs we listed. The flavor profiles of the two are very similar — pungent and minty.
If you want an even stronger flavor, combine oregano and basil. Alternatively, you can also try a combination of chives and dill.