Food & Drink

The 11 Best Poultry Seasoning Substitutes

Last Updated on February 23, 2024 | 0 Comments
poultry seasoning substitute

Looking for a poultry seasoning substitute? Poultry seasoning is a spice blend formulated specifically to complement and season chicken and turkey. This spice blend can be tricky to find in your local grocery store, but don't worry: There are plenty of replacements for poultry seasoning you can easily find at most stores. 

Poultry seasoning is very popular around the holiday season, being a seasoning staple for roast turkeys, roast chickens and stuffing. Poultry seasoning flies off the shelf this time of year, which can make getting your hands on a good-quality bottle tricky. If you don’t manage to find it at your grocery store, you'll be happy to hear that there are many poultry seasoning substitutes you probably already have in your cupboard. Here are the best 11 of them.


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What Is Poultry Seasoning?

Poultry seasoning is a dried spice blend usually used to season turkey and chicken. There are a number of variations of this spice, but the most common components include: 

  • sage
  • rosemary 
  • thyme 
  • nutmeg 
  • onion powder
  • marjoram
  • black pepper
cooked chicken legs
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Purpose of Poultry Seasoning in Cooking

As the name suggests, poultry seasoning serves to add a savory flavor to your basic healthy chicken breast recipes and other poultry dishes, including turkey. Its charms are not limited to poultry alone, though, as it can also add wonderful flavor to lamb and pork dishes. Poultry seasoning is also occasionally used in stuffing or dressing and some soup recipes. 

Because poultry seasoning is a blend, there are many variations. Some poultry seasonings call for the use of nutmeg and marjoram, which give the poultry a warm spiced holiday flavor. Other poultry seasonings use more pepper and smoked paprika for a spicier smoky flavor. Many cooks even prefer to make their own custom poultry seasoning to cater to their specific tastes. 

a mixture of spices in a small ramekin
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11 Poultry Seasoning Substitutes 

1. Dried Thyme 

Dried thyme makes a quick poultry seasoning substitute if you find yourself in a pinch while roasting chicken or turkey. This spice makes up the bulk of poultry seasoning, so it is an easy way to mimic that poultry seasoning flavor profile. Dried thyme can be easily found in your local grocery store in the spice area. When making a poultry seasoning substitution with thyme, use half as much thyme as you would poultry seasoning. 

dried thyme
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2. Dried Sage  

Dried sage is an easy sub for poultry seasoning as it is fairly ubiquitous in most seasoning cabinets. Sage has a pronounced herbal flavor that brings out the natural flavors of roast poultry in a delightful way. Sage has an earthy, slightly peppery taste with hints of mint, eucalyptus and lemon. Sage is a common holiday flavor used to season stuffing as well as roast vegetables. When using sage as a poultry seasoning substitute, use half as much as you normally would for poultry seasoning. 

dried sage
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3. Dried Rosemary

Dried rosemary has a distinct lovely flavor that pairs well with many dishes. Rosemary's flavor profile is woodsy with floral and citrus notes. Rosemary is a very popular seasoning used commonly in chicken dishes, and it tastes great on its own or used in combination with different spices. When using rosemary as a poultry seasoning substitute, use half as much dried rosemary as you would for poultry seasoning.

Dried rosemary makes a nice poultry seasoning substitute.
via Canva

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4. Salt and Pepper 

If you have no herbs in your kitchen cupboard and need to season a chicken or turkey immediately, a generous amount of salt and pepper suffices as a poultry seasoning substitute. This spice duo is a classic for a reason: It elevates everything it comes in contact with. When seasoning poultry with salt and pepper, make sure to adequately cover the surface and rub it into the skin of the bird. Use this sub for poultry seasoning in a 1:1 ratio.

Salt and pepper are a classic poultry seasoning substitute.
via Canva

5. Garlic 

Garlic can be used fresh or in the powdered version as a quick poultry seasoning substitute. If using fresh, heap a generous amount of crushed garlic onto the poultry to create a distinct flavorful piece of meat. You can also take this a step further and slow-roast a whole bulb of garlic, and then rub the rich paste onto the turkey or chicken to elevate the dish to another level of deliciousness.

Garlic powder is also a great option for a poultry seasoning substitute. The powder is quick and easy and can be generously sprinkled over the bird to instantly upgrade the flavor. The ratio for substituting garlic is 1:1. Use as much as you would poultry seasoning. 

fresh and powdered garlic
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6. Oregano 

Oregano can be a great poultry seasoning substitute if you find yourself lacking herbs with a chicken that needs seasoning. Oregano is a fresh, aromatic herb commonly used in Italian dishes and pizza. Using oregano as a poultry seasoning substitute brings a pop of green to the dish and imparts a similar hearty herbal taste. Oregano is a common find in grocery store aisles and will effortlessly upgrade your roasted poultry dish. The ratio for this substitution is 1:1. 

Oregano is a good poultry seasoning substitute.
via Canva

7. Dried Marjoram

Dried marjoram is one of the lesser-known ingredients in traditional poultry seasoning. Marjoram is a slightly obscure spice with a distinct taste. Its flavor profile is fresh, woody, citrusy and floral. Marjoram is a great poultry seasoning substitute for those who like the earthy woody flavor of fresh herbs. Dried marjoram can be sprinkled over your poultry prior to roasting. Marjoram is not an overwhelming spice and can be used in a 1:1 ratio for poultry seasoning. 

Dried marjoram is a good poultry seasoning substitute.
via Canva

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8. Herbs de Provence 

Herbs de Provence was popularized in the United States by Julia Child in the 1970s and 1980s. This is a traditional French spice blend composed of spices commonly found in the Provence region of Southern France: marjoram, thyme, basil, rosemary, oregano and bay leaf. Herbs de Provence impart a classic earthy flavor to roasted meats and make an exceptional poultry seasoning substitute because of their very similar flavor profile. Use in a 1:1 substitute ratio.

herbs de provence
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9. Italian Seasoning 

As the name suggests, Italian seasoning is commonly used in Italian fare such as pasta sauces, lasagnas and pizzas. Italian seasoning is a spice blend made up of dried oregano, marjoram, basil, rosemary and thyme. This blend is an easy, convenient poultry seasoning substitute for savory roasted chicken and turkey. The flavor profile is nearly identical to that of poultry seasoning, imparting an aromatic herby freshness to the dish. The substitute ratio is 1:1. 

Italian seasoning
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10. Zaatar  

Zaatar is a Middle Eastern spice blend that makes a unique poultry seasoning substitute. Zaatar is made of dried herbs such as oregano, thyme, marjoram, sesame, cumin, coriander and sumac. Zaatar has a slightly nutty, rich flavor that will add a Middle Eastern flair to your poultry dishes. Use in a 1:1 substitution ratio. 

Zaatar in a wooden bowl
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11. Homemade Poultry Seasoning 

If you want to go above and beyond, you can always make your own poultry seasoning from scratch. Homemade poultry seasoning is a simple replacement for poultry seasoning that you can make yourself. Mix together the following spices:

  • one teaspoon of dried marjoram
  • ¾ teaspoon of dried rosemary
  • ¾ teaspoon of ground nutmeg 
  • ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • two teaspoons of ground sage 
  • 1 ½  teaspoons of dried thyme

This is the ultimate poultry seasoning substitute to set your dishes apart as a scratch kitchen home chef. Use homemade poultry seasoning exactly as you would store-bought seasoning, in a 1:1 ratio.

Mixing your own blend is a great poultry seasoning substitute.
via Cozymeal

Poultry seasoning substitutes are easy to come by and fairly simple to sub for poultry seasoning. Any of these replacements for poultry seasoning are sure to elevate your chicken or turkey dishes and leave everyone who tastes them wanting more. For even more ways to explore your favorite foods, check out other experiences happening on Cozymeal.