I personally taste-tested a variety of poultry seasoning substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion. Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or want a swap that fits your diet, I’ve got the answers.
The best substitute for poultry seasoning is a blend of sage mixed with all or one of parsley, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram. Sage is the most important herb and should make up at least one-third of the mixture. You can also use Herbes de Provence or Italian seasoning with added sage.
I made a few different batches of this stuffing recipe to test out different substitutes for poultry seasoning.
Poultry seasoning is a simple blend of herbs including thyme, sage, and black pepper. It’s savory, earthy, aromatic, and delicious. It’s used in lots of different recipes including roast chicken, stuffing, chicken pot pie, and gravy. You can also use it to enhance the flavor of vegetarian recipes or to season soups.
Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme||Fresh herbs are best||10/10|
|Herbes de Provence||Mediterranean flavors||9/10|
|Homemade McCormick Blend||Includes nutmeg||10/10|
|Homemade Bell’s Blend||Includes ginger||10/10|
|Turkey Rub||Good for crispy skin||7/10|
|Your Favorite Seasoning Blend||e.g Adobo or Vegeta||6/10|
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme
The classic Simon & Garfunkel song isn’t just a catchy tune – it’s also a guide to an excellent poultry seasoning blend. Sage is the most important herb here if you’re looking for a traditional flavor, and should make up a least one-third of your mixture. But you can play around with the ratios until it suits you, or leave out one of the herbs if you don’t like them.
All these herbs are pantry staples in their dried forms, so it’s very likely that you have most of them to hand already. And while a dried mixture will work just fine, if you have time to go and grab fresh herbs, this will give your dish a much more vibrant, fresh flavor. My fresh-herb stuffing was amazing.
Pro tip: Grind the fresh herbs up in a mortar and pestle to get the most out of them. Marjoram is another herb you can add if you have it.
How to substitute: Replace 1 tsp poultry seasoning with 1 tbsp of fresh herbs or 1 tsp dried herbs.
Herbes de Provence
Herbes de Provence is a mix of herbs like thyme, basil, rosemary, tarragon, savory, marjoram, oregano, fennel, and powdered bay leaf. Some blends will also contain lavender.
It’s got most of the herbs you’d find in poultry seasoning, plus a few more. The overall flavor is very Mediterranean and tastes great with lighter proteins like poultry and fish. When there’s lavender in the mix it adds a floral note that won’t be to everyone’s liking, but thankfully it’s normally used sparingly.
Psst… There’s no sage in the Herbes de Provence mix, which is normally a major component, so feel free to add some in!
How to substitute: Replace poultry seasoning with Herbes de Provence in a 1:1 ratio.
Italian seasoning is a blend of basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and marjoram. Sometimes, other ingredients like sage, garlic powder, fennel seeds, and even red pepper flakes are added.
No single flavor dominates this seasoning blend, and it has a well-rounded flavor that can go with pretty much any dish. But I especially love the sweetness of the basil and the minty freshness of oregano with poultry. And just like with herbs de Provence, if there’s no sage in your blend, feel free to add it in.
Another major advantage of Italian seasoning? It’s a super budget-friendly and easy-to-find ingredient. I already had some in my cupboards so I didn’t need to go out anybuy any.
How to substitute: Replace poultry seasoning with Italian seasoning in a 1:1 ratio.
Homemade McCormick Blend
McCormick is well-known for their spice blends, including their poultry seasoning. To recreate a homemade version of a McCormick-style poultry seasoning, follow the recipe below.
- 2 tsp ground sage
- 1 ½ tsp ground thyme
- 1 tsp ground marjoram
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- ¾ tsp ground rosemary
- Pinch ground celery seed (optional)
- Combine all the ingredients thoroughly in a mixing bowl.
- Store the blend in an airtight container, in a cool, dry place.
The celery seed isn’t listed as an ingredient on McCormick’s website, so feel free to leave it out. I like it for the slight spicy note it adds. I also have one friend who uses this recipe and likes to add a pinch of chipotle powder, but I didn’t think this would work with my stuffing so I didn’t try it.
How to substitute: Replace poultry seasoning with your homemade McCormick mix in a 1:1 ratio.
Homemade Bell’s Blend
Another common ready-made poultry seasoning is Bell’s. This is a classic American blend that’s been around since the 19th century, and it’s really easy to make at home.
- 1 tbsp dried rosemary
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried sage
- 1 tbsp dried ginger
- 1 tbsp dried marjoram
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- Finely grind the rosemary, oregano, sage, and any other whole herbs in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to release their flavors.
- Mix all the ground spices together until you achieve a uniform blend.
- Store in an airtight container away from direct light or heat.
The key to a good homemade spice blend is balance, but obviously, you can customize this recipe as you see fit. An easy alteration is to add some cayenne pepper for heat.
How to substitute: Replace poultry seasoning with your homemade Bell’s mix in a 1:1 ratio.
When your recipe calls for poultry seasoning and you find yourself without, a turkey rub can come to the rescue.
All the spices you normally find in poultry seasoning are common in turkey rub blends. But while poultry seasoning is geared towards flavoring the meat (and accompaniments like stuffing) from the inside and out, turkey rub is more focused on creating a delicious and flavorful crust.
It’s got a coarser texture and will often include additional elements like onion and garlic powder, and brown sugar. The sugar is there to help caramelize the turkey or chicken skin.
Pro tip: Since turkey rubs are usually salt-based, you will want to reduce any additional salt in your recipe to avoid over-seasoning.
How to substitute: Replace poultry seasoning with ½ the amount of turkey rub, and adjust to taste. This ensures the bold flavors don’t overpower your dish.
Your Favorite Seasoning Blend (e.g. Adobo, Vegeta)
Poultry is a pretty blank canvas and will adapt well to most seasoning blends. There’s not much that won’t taste good with some chicken, so if you don’t mind a flavor switch, you can swap poultry seasoning with your favorite seasoning blend.
Two great options are Adobo or Vegeta. Adobo seasoning is rich in garlic, onion, and oregano, with some turmeric for warmth. Vegeta, with its blend of dehydrated vegetables, offers a more savory undertone and is what I used in my stuffing. It would also go great in soups, and stews.
How to substitute: Replace poultry seasoning with ½ the amount of your favorite seasoning blend, and adjust to taste.
Substitutes To Avoid
I saw some blogs suggesting that you swapped poultry seasoning with single herbs like thyme or rosemary. But I don’t recommend this. A single herb won’t bring the same rounded flavor as poultry seasoning and will quickly overwhelm the dish with its flavor.
Best Poultry Seasoning Substitutes + What To Avoid
- 1 portion Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme
- 1 portion Herbes de Provence
- 1 portion Italian Seasoning
- 1 portion Homemade McCormick Blend
- 1 portion Homemade Bell’s Blend
- 1 portion Turkey Rub
- 1 portion Your Favorite Seasoning Blend
- Cook your meal according to the recipe.
- Add your chosen poultry seasoning substitutes at the appropriate cooking time.
- Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.