I have a recipe that calls for 3/4 tsp of "Italian seasoning" plus 1/2 tsp sage. My Italian seasoning already has sage in it although I am aware that some do not. My question is do I still add the 1/2 tsp sage as it may be overpowering in sage, or do I just increase the Italian seasoning from 3/4 tsp to 1 tsp or 1 1/4 tsp? My gut tells me up the Italian seasoning to 1 tsp or 1 1/4 tsp and don't add more sage. As I am not much of a cook, I could use some experienced help. Btw, I have McCormick Brand Italian seasoning.

  • Welcome! What are you making?
    – Catija
    Feb 22, 2017 at 21:05
  • A lentil rice loaf. Very basic. Feb 22, 2017 at 22:54
  • The recipe is somewhat unhelpful (not your fault) because it doesn't even bother to clarify whether it means fresh sage or dried. :(
    – Catija
    Feb 22, 2017 at 23:07
  • I assume they mean dry ground sage based on how basic this is and other recipes of their's that mention fresh sage ( or other fresh herbs) when that was called for Feb 22, 2017 at 23:21

3 Answers 3


I guess the answer to you is that we really can't give you one perfect answer.

The recipe is sort of vague. It calls for "sage" rather than "dried sage" or "fresh sage" and it doesn't specify a brand of "Italian seasoning", so there's no way to know whether or not theirs included sage already.

So, I'd ask myself a couple of questions:

  1. How far down the ingredients list is sage in my Italian seasoning.

In a list of, say six ingredients, is it second or last? Or, are there twelve ingredients and it's tenth? Remember that ingredients lists are required to be listed from highest percentage to lowest. If it's high up the list, I'd be tempted to omit the sage. If it's really low down on a relatively long list, I'd guess that there's very little actual sage in the seasoning and go ahead and use the full amount in the recipe. If it's in the middle, use half.

  1. How much do I like sage?

Sage can be a very strong ingredient, so it's understandable if you don't like it. If that's the case, I'd be more likely to leave it out. However, if you like sage, use it.

If I had to guess, sage is going to be pretty low on your ingredients list, so my general recommendation based on the information I have is that you use somewhere between half and all of the sage as listed in the recipe's ingredients and hope they mean dried sage because if they mean fresh, it's going to be really strong (dried herbs are much stronger than fresh herbs).

If you really aren't a fan of sage, leave it out entirely! It's not going to hurt anything one bit.

  • Thank you! I do like sage and the sage is pretty far down on the list of ingredients in the Italian Seasoning. Feb 22, 2017 at 23:33
  • 1
    The relevant amounts of seasoning also matter, I think - adding a pinch or so of sage to a larger amount of Italian seasoning would make me more likely to think sage was supposed to be in an amount balanced to the other herbs, probably to compensate for a sage-less blend in the recipe and easy to omit with a sage-ed blend. In this recipe, the amount of sage is huge, 2/5 of the total herbs, and is pretty clearly a primary flavor since sage is strong. I would not expect the amount of sage in the Italian seasoning to flavor as intended unless I knew the blend in question was nearly half sage.
    – Megha
    Feb 23, 2017 at 2:36

I would add the sage as well. The recipe calls for 3/4 tsp of italian seasoning and 1/2 tsp sage, and even if sage is 1/5 of the italian seasoning that would mean you are only adding 3/20 of a teaspoon of sage to the recipe with it, which isn't very much. By having sage as an extra ingredient the recipe is stating that sage needs to be prominent.


I have to say, calls for ingredients as vague as "Italian seasoning" in a recipe are a pet peeve of mine, for basically this reason.

One thing you could probably do in this case, since I see that the recipe you linked in your comment was updated recently, is contact the author and find out which Italian seasoning they used, if you wanted to be absolutely precise.

Otherwise, if you're in a rush, I say go for it and add the sage. It doesn't seem to me like so much sage or Italian seasoning that it's going to be a make-or-break difference one way or the other.

Two other tips that may help:

  • Test for seasoning as you cook! You can definitely do that in this case. Try adding everything but the sage, tasting, and see what you think. Maybe you decide not to go with the extra sage if it tastes delicious as-is. Or add the sage and taste again! You might even decide that the 1/2 t sage isn't enough! I'm generally conservative my first time through a recipe, but I will often be more liberal about throwing in more or even different spices in a later go if I like it.
  • For recipes you decide to keep, treat it as a science and keep a record of your experiments! I make notes on recipes that may include which brands/recipes I used for seasoning blends, what size cans I used, how many onions I bought at my local market to get the amount the recipe calls for, when I make substitutions, and when I decide to go for more/less spice, etc. It won't help you the first time, but it certainly helps for down the road.
  • 2
    Yes, Italian seasoning, pumpkin spice seasoning, Cajun seasoning, and the whole list without naming a specific brand in a recipe translates to expect inconsistent results because you don't know what you are really putting in or in what ratio. Each brand will be different and even within a brand it may change. I am allergic to peppers, but had a brand of Montreal Steak seasoning I really liked. Bought a new large container and they added pepper, a lot. Need to just mix up my own.
    – dlb
    Feb 23, 2017 at 23:21

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