Top 4 Poultry Seasoning Substitutes

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Being familiar with poultry seasoning substitutes can help to avoid any embarrassing holiday debacles in the kitchen!

Poultry Seasoning Substitutes

Poultry seasoning substitutes must be able to mimic this traditional blend of spices that complements and enhances poultry dishes. While blends can differ between manufacturers, most people agree that traditional poultry seasoning contains six spices: thyme, rosemary, marjoram, sage, nutmeg, and black pepper. Some blends will also add parsley and celery seed. This spice blend is usually used for roasting, or in stuffing mixes, but can occasionally be called for in soups as well.

If you find yourself without poultry seasoning, the good news is that you can easily make your own with the spices in your pantry. Here are some simple spice blends will work as a good substitute in most recipes.

Seasoning powder in a wooden spoon on a kitchen table

Seasoning is the process of adding salts, herbs, or spices to food to enhance the flavour. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Sage, Thyme, Marjoram

When it comes to poultry seasoning, sage, thyme, and marjoram are three herbs that are actually the most important flavor notes. In other words, don’t worry if you don’t have nutmeg or rosemary. If you are also lacking marjoram, sage and thyme alone can deliver the main flavor profile, though it will not be as nuanced.

Depending on the dish, you can also try adding ginger, cayenne, garlic, or sweet paprika for a spicy kick. However, the most important spice that should not be replaced is sage. Without sage, your poultry recipe will be missing its strong herbal pungency.

Turkey Rub

Turkey seasoning has many of the same ingredients as a standard poultry rub but adds ginger, roasted red pepper, and coriander for a warmer flavor that stands up well against the denser, darker meat. These flavors also work especially well on any bird that has a lot of dark meat or gaminess, such as duck or goose.

An assortment of different herbs on a table

Aromatic, medicinal, and flavorful! Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Citrus Blend

If you have rosemary, but not much else, you can make a good poultry rub out of rosemary, any kind of citrus peel like lemon or orange, black pepper, and a good flaky sea salt. Add parsley or garlic for more savoriness. This rub works well on chicken and lighter meat birds, particularly when you are roasting or grilling the poultry.

Herbs de Provence

Herbs de Provence is a traditional French herb blend that is used for fish and chicken dishes. It contains many of the same ingredients as standard poultry seasoning, like marjoram, rosemary, and thyme. It also includes oregano and savory, a North African spice. This is a great roasting spice blend for poultry, but if you’re buying it at a store, be aware that some blends also contain lavender, whose strong floral flavor might change your recipe.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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