What Is Savory: All About The Herb and 4 Tasty Recipes - Recipes.net (2024)

Whenever the word “savory” is mentioned, most would probably think of the delicious flavor first. Little do they know that there’s actually a famous plant called the savory herb! This herb gives various dishes (especially meat recipes) a distinct, peppery taste.

In this article, we’ll share with you everything there is to know about savory. What it is, where it came from, where it was used, and what its two main kinds are. We’ll also tell you its many health benefits, how to use it in cooking, and which dishes its flavor best suit.

Also, we’ve listed 4 amazing recipes that use the versatile herb in its ingredients. This is in case you want to personally experience how well it adds to a meal’s flavor. So, put your cooking hats on ‘cause we’re about to let you in on the amazing world of savory!

What Is Savory, The Herb?

What Is Savory: All About The Herb and 4 Tasty Recipes - Recipes.net (1)

Savory is a herb that belongs to the mint family. Herbs, like savory, are the leafy parts of plants that are used to add flavor to all kinds of food. This plant is small, with green leaves and blooming flowers.

While it’s native to the Mediterranean region, this herb has also been naturalized in other places, like Great Britain. As such, it has been used to add flavor to countless cultures’ cuisines.

Origins of Savory

For thousands of years, people have used this herb to enhance the flavor of their dishes. Ancient Romans and Greeks used the plant as far back as 2000 years ago, cultivating and using them in their cuisine.

In fact, it was a very popular herb in Europe, acting as a sort of precursor for pepper due to its similar taste. Even Ancient Romans used it before the spice route from Asia could introduce the now universal black pepper. Aside from seasoning, this herb also had other notable uses. The Ancient Romans dubbed it the “herb of love”, using it to make love potions and as aphrodisiacs, too.

In more recent history, Germans also used savory as a pepper replacement when a shortage occurred in World War 2. They picked it for its notable “peppery” taste. Until now, some Germans continue this practice, using the herb instead of pepper for their traditional dishes. Needless to say, it’s an essential plant used in both the past and up until the present time.

The Two Main Kinds: Summer Savory vs. Winter Savory

The savory plant has up to 30 different types! However, only two main varieties are used as spices for cooking: the summer savory and the winter savory. While the two share similarities, there are also notable differences.

Summer Savory (Satureja hortensis)

What Is Savory: All About The Herb and 4 Tasty Recipes - Recipes.net (2)

The summer savory, scientific name Satureja hortensis, is the most popular and commonly used type of savory plant.

It’s an annual plant, which means that it completes its whole life cycle in just one growing season. After growing, all its parts (from leaf to root) die every year. Hence, the term “annual”.

The summer variety has bronze and green-colored leaves and, like its winter counterpart, flowers. Its lilac tubular flowers bloom from the months of July to September.

The summer type is used in all kinds of dishes and even mixed in with other dried herbs, like in herbes de Provence. It’s used in many traditional dishes in Bulgarian and Romanian cuisine, and is a popular herb in Atlantic Canada.

Many prefer the summer savory because of its sweeter taste and smell. While the two main types taste similar, the summer variety has a lighter, sweet, and spicy flavor and aroma. More specifically, it has that warm, peppery taste the herb is most known for. Because of the summer variety’s popularity, it’s more commonly cultivated, and can be bought all year-round in stores.

Winter Savory (Satureja montana)

What Is Savory: All About The Herb and 4 Tasty Recipes - Recipes.net (3)

The winter savory, also known as the mountain savory, is the other major kind of savory. It’s a perennial plant, meaning it grows and lives for many growing seasons.

The winter variety’s leaves have a darker shade of green compared to its summer counterpart. It also has summer flowers whose colors range from light lavender to pink or even white.

The winter kind has a stronger, more bitter flavor compared to the summer savory. It’s generally thought of as having a more earthy and somber taste. Its smell is also reminiscent of scents associated with the winter season, with hints of sage and pine.

This winter type grows on rocks on the sides of hills and mountain slopes in the Mediterranean region. It’s also been found growing on cracks along old walls and dry banks as well. This may be why it garnered the alternate name mountain savory, and Satureja montana (“montana” meaning mountains).

It’s very easy to grow in temperate regions, and is native to not just the Mediterranean region, but to Southern Europe and Africa, too.

Health Benefits of The Savory Herb

This herb is not only good for adding flavor to dishes. It also comes with all kinds of health benefits!

  • Good for the Digestive System – Eating the plant can help promote a healthy digestive system. It prevents indigestion and gas from forming in your stomach. It makes it easier for your stomach to expel gas as well.
  • Remedy for Digestive Problems – It has also been shown to help relieve symptoms of many digestive problems. These include diarrhea, gastro-enteritis, and even colic.
  • A Natural Antiseptic – It has an essential oil called thymol which contains antiseptic and antifungal properties. These properties can help treat bee stings and other kinds of insect bites.
  • Relieves Symptoms of Coughs and Colds – Many use this plant to help treat symptoms of cough and cold, such as sore throat, thanks to its antibacterial properties. It also has Vitamin C which helps the body naturally protect itself against viruses and other free radicals.
  • Eases Joint Pain Experienced from Arthritis – Select ointments can externally relieve joint pain caused by arthritis. Some of these contain the savory plant.
  • Natural Aphrodisiac – Like the Ancient Romans, many people still use the savory plant as a natural aphrodisiac.
  • Prevents Diseases and Promotes Overall Health – This plant has antioxidants which can help prevent diseases from even forming in the first place. One example is its ability to lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol levels in the body. This helps promote heart health and stop heart diseases from developing. Curious to know more about cholesterol and how it affects one’s health? Check out our article, 10 Healthy Recipes For A Low Cholesterol Diet.

A Word Of Caution: Like other herbs, pregnant women aren’t encouraged to use the savory herb. Consult your doctor first before adding it to one’s dishes.

Where and How to Use Savory in Cooking

What Is Savory: All About The Herb and 4 Tasty Recipes - Recipes.net (4)

There are many ways to use the aromatic herb in cooking your meals. But first, here is a list of food that go well seasoned with the savory herb.

What Food Goes Well With Savory?

Both the summer and winter varieties are used to season many similar types of food and dishes. These include poultry meats like chicken, turkey, goose, and duck. They’re also added on pork, lamb, and fish meat dishes, from sausages, pies, stews, and grilled barbeque meat. Savory is also popularly used on beans.

However, summer savory is usually paired with lighter dishes like eggs and summer vegetables. Meanwhile, winter savory is normally used to add flavor to heartier foods, from fatty fish to stuffings, and even winter root vegetables.

4 Ways to Use The Savory Herb in Cooking

And here are some of the ways you can use the herb in your everyday cooking:

  • Substitute for Pepper and/or Salt – use the plant like the Germans did! There may not be a pepper shortage now, but you can still use savory to season your meat or bean dishes. The Romans also once used the herb as a replacement for salt, so this useful herb is ideal for you if you’re on a low-sodium diet.
  • Use it like Herbes de Provence – savory is the main ingredient of the dried herb mixture, herbes de Provence. This mixture is usually sprinkled on meat before roasting and grilling. It’s also added to oil for a truly flavorful meal. You can easily do the same with savory.
  • Use in Meat Rubs – rubbing the savory herb on pork and chicken before cooking can help give the meat a unique, flavorful taste. If you want to give your food a peppery taste, then try using the savory plant.
  • Table Condiment – In Bulgaria, the herb is mixed with a bowl of salt and ground paprika. This makes a table condiment called sharena sol, which translates to “colorful salt”. Sharena sol is used to add flavor to many Bulgarian dishes. It’s also often added to bread, potatoes and other vegetables, as well as cheese.

Keep in Mind: The winter variety loses much of its flavor if cooked for too long. So, it’s better to use the summer variety for meals that require a long cooking time.

4 Flavorful Recipes that Use Savory

Now you know which food savory best goes with, as well as the ways it can be used. Let’s then look into 4 amazing recipes that use this flavorful herb in its ingredients!

What Is Savory: All About The Herb and 4 Tasty Recipes - Recipes.net (5)

Meatloaf is every mom’s favorite go-to dish for a reason. This Savory Turkey Meatloaf is a lighter, low-fat version that replaces the usual ground beef with ground turkey.

But just because it’s healthier doesn’t mean it lacks flavor, as this recipe uses plenty of spices and seasonings to enhance the dish’s taste. And what better way to do that than by using some delicious savory herb? Aside from said herb, the meatloaf is also seasoned with sage, soy sauce, sesame oil, and paprika.

What Is Savory: All About The Herb and 4 Tasty Recipes - Recipes.net (6)

Who says you can’t add this herb to pasta? In this recipe, the use of savory adds a wonderful dimension to an already spicy sauce inspired by Ruby Tuesday. And it works, because there’re also deliciously cooked chicken breast and beans in this pasta. Give this scrumptious copycat chicken pasta recipe a try once you’ve bought the summer variety.

What Is Savory: All About The Herb and 4 Tasty Recipes - Recipes.net (7)

Shawn Brandow | Flickr.com

Here’s another delicious, well-seasoned chicken pasta dish for you to try. In this recipe, it’s triple the pepper-goodness with the use of Bird’s eye chili, white pepper, and summer savory. These spices give the linguini pasta, bacon, and chicken an incredible boost of peppery flavor that you’ll surely love.

What Is Savory: All About The Herb and 4 Tasty Recipes - Recipes.net (8)

We can’t end this list without a perfectly-seasoned tender lamb. And in this recipe, roasted lamb leg meets the best herb combination: thyme, savory, and rosemary. This intense herb flavor really suits the roasted lamb, potatoes, and onions.

Substitute Herbs for Savory

If you want to try making the recipes mentioned but don’t have any savory, then don’t worry. There are a number of popular herbs you can use as a substitute.

  • Thyme – Thyme is one of the most popular spices in the world. Its taste is also the closest to that of savory, with the same minty flavor. To add, you can even substitute it in a 1:1 ratio. You can use either dried or fresh thyme for your cooking.
  • Sage – Like the mint plant, sage has the same winter scents as pine. It also grows in the Mediterranean, and it has a similar taste. But if you want something that tastes just like savory, then it’s best to use fresh sage leaves.
  • Marjoram – Marjoram can be your last option in case thyme and sage isn’t available. However, its taste is closer to that of thyme and oregano. Like the winter variety, marjoram is a fragile herb. So, home chefs should avoid cooking it for long periods.

But! If you wish to really replicate the true taste of savory, then use 2 parts fresh thyme to 1 part fresh sage.

To Sum It Up

Savory is a versatile herb. Many cuisines use it as a seasoning on many of their dishes. It has a wonderful, sweet, and spicy, peppery taste, and contains various health benefits.

The delicious herb goes well with a lot of food, but it tastes best added to meats, beans, poultry, and stuffing or breadcrumbs. Try some of our suggested recipes to experience just how well savory enhances the taste of one’s dishes.

Want to learn more about savory and share your favorite recipes using this versatile herb? Join the discussion in the Ingredients Spotlight forum and let us know your thoughts on “What Is Savory: All About the Savory Herb and 4 Related Recipes”!

What Is Savory: All About The Herb and 4 Tasty Recipes - Recipes.net (2024)


What is savory the herb? ›

Satureja hortensis

L. Synonyms. Ground Savory. This herb has lilac tubular flowers which bloom in the northern hemisphere from July to September. It grows to around 30 to 60 cm (1 to 2 ft) in height and has very slender, bronze-green leaves.

What is savory known for? ›

Savory has a peppery taste similar to a minty thyme. It is most known for its pairing with green vegetables and beans, so much so that the German word for savory, Bohenkraut, translates directly to “bean herb.” It is considered an ideal herb for people trying to add herbs as a salt substitute.

What makes a savory dish? ›

Savory foods are characterized by a rich, full-bodied taste that is often described as “meaty” or “earthy.” This flavor profile is achieved through the use of ingredients such as herbs, spices, and meats.

Why is it called savory? ›

Etymology 1. From the Middle English savory, savourie, from Old French savouré, from Old French savourer, from Late Latin sapōrāre, present active infinitive of sapōrō, from Latin sapor (“taste, flavour”), from sapiō, sapere (“taste of, have a flavour of”).

Is savory herb the same as rosemary? ›

Both of these herbs have small, needle-like, dark-green, evergreen leaves; but winter savory only grows about 1 foot high, its leaves are softer than the leaves on rosemary and they lack the waxy feel. The taste of winter savory is comparable to the taste of fresh peppercorns.

Does the herb savory have another name? ›

Other Name(s): Ajedrea de Jardín, Bean Herb, Bohnenkraut, Calamintha hortensis, Herbe de Saint Julien, Poivrette, Sarriette Commune, Sarriette d'Été, Sarriette des Jardins, Satureja hortensis, Savory.

What is savory supposed to taste like? ›

/ˈseɪvəri/ Something savory is full of flavor, delicious and tasty — usually something that someone has cooked. In the world of cuisine, savory is also often used to mean the opposite of sweet, or salty. The easiest way to remember savory is that it rhymes with flavory — which is not a real word, but should be.

What do you use the herb savory for? ›

From casseroles to meats, bean dishes to stews, savory can add a twist of rich, smokey flavor to so many different meals. While summer savory is often paired with lighter foods like beans, and winter savory is cooked with heavier fare, like meats and stuffings, both can be deepen and enrich flavors of many dishes.

What flavor is savory taste? ›

Umami (/uːˈmɑːmi/ from Japanese: 旨味 Japanese pronunciation: [ɯmami]), or savoriness, is one of the five basic tastes. It has been described as savory and is characteristic of broths and cooked meats.

What ingredient is the core of a savory dish? ›

Glutamate is an amino acid that is found in virtually every food. It's a big part of protein-rich foods like meat, eggs and cheese, but is also found in fruits and vegetables. And, it is what's responsible for giving foods the umami (savory) flavor that makes them taste delicious.

What are some examples of savory food? ›

Savory Foods
  • Wild Garlic and Feta Scones. two sugar bugs ~ sweet treats and healthier breakfast bakes. ...
  • Baked Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Breast Recipe | Wicked Spatula. ...
  • Gruyere and Thyme Stacked Potatoes. ...
  • Air Fryer Halloumi Fries. ...
  • Mild Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe. ...
  • Italian Chicken Pasta Salad.

What is a good savory food? ›

what are some good savory foods that are somewhat healthy?
  • hummus.
  • roasted potatoes (cut up in chunks, stir with a little oil and spices, bake in oven until tender)
  • peanut butter/almond butter.
  • jerky.
  • nuts.
  • mac and cheese (add tuna and frozen veggies)
  • bagels w/cream cheese.
May 12, 2023

Is umami and savory the same thing? ›

Umami is the savory flavor you find in foods such as meat, cheese, mushrooms, and soy sauce. The five basic tastes serve an important purpose for food safety and quality.

What's the difference between thyme and savory? ›

Fresh thyme has a definite herbal flavor with sharp grass, wood, and floral notes. This makes quite difficult to tell the difference between them as winter savory also has a piney, woodsy taste. Summer savory is a little different as it's a bit peppery.

Why is savory so good? ›

Savory foods, characterized by rich and complex flavors often achieved through the use of herbs, spices and umami-rich ingredients like meat, mushrooms and soy sauce, have flavors that are deeply satisfying and lend a sense of comfort to those who eat them.

Is sage and savory the same thing? ›

Savory. Though not as popular or widely used as the rest of the herbs and spices on this list, savory is best for substituting sage for savory dishes—as the name may hint! This mint variety, primarily grown in Northern and Southern Europe, adds peppery notes similar to thyme.

Is savory the same as oregano? ›

The name savory is a good descriptor of the flavor of this herb. It has a bit of hot spicy flavor on the tongue. Savory tastes like a combination of oregano and thyme. The essential oils of savory and thyme are very similar in their chemical make-up so their similar flavor that can be used interchangeably in recipes.

Is savory the same as thyme? ›

Fresh thyme has a definite herbal flavor with sharp grass, wood, and floral notes. This makes quite difficult to tell the difference between them as winter savory also has a piney, woodsy taste. Summer savory is a little different as it's a bit peppery.

What can I use in place of savory spice? ›

4 Substitutes for Savory
  • Thyme is the herb most closely related in taste to savory, with a slightly minty and pungent flavor. ...
  • Sage has hints of pine, like savory. ...
  • Marjoram is a good third-choice alternative with flavors of thyme and oregano.
Sep 9, 2021

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Sen. Ignacio Ratke

Last Updated:

Views: 5386

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (56 voted)

Reviews: 87% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Sen. Ignacio Ratke

Birthday: 1999-05-27

Address: Apt. 171 8116 Bailey Via, Roberthaven, GA 58289

Phone: +2585395768220

Job: Lead Liaison

Hobby: Lockpicking, LARPing, Lego building, Lapidary, Macrame, Book restoration, Bodybuilding

Introduction: My name is Sen. Ignacio Ratke, I am a adventurous, zealous, outstanding, agreeable, precious, excited, gifted person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.