What Is Poultry Seasoning?

Uses, Benefits, and Recipes

what is poultry seasoning

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Poultry seasoning is a must for any home kitchen. It's a combination of herbs and spices like nutmeg, sage, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, and black pepper, and is much more than a seasoning for chicken, turkey, or duck. Poultry seasoning adds flavor and depth to a wide range of dishes, from grilled fish to roasted veggies to batter for fried chicken. Many brands make a version of this spice blend using a variety of ingredients.

What is Poultry Seasoning?

Sage and thyme are two essential ingredients in this spice blend, which lends Thanksgiving flavors to the dish it's added to. Most types of this seasoning exclude salt, which makes it a great rub or addition to food that's already been cooked and/or salted. An evolving mix and more of a concept than a specific ratio of herbs and spices, anyone can make their own poultry seasoning depending on which ingredients they like best.

One of the oldest makers of poultry seasoning is Bell's, whose blend has included rosemary, oregano, sage, ginger, marjoram, thyme, and pepper for more than 150 years.

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Poultry seasoning. Enrique Díaz/Getty Images 
poultry seasoning
 Getty Images / Manny Rodriguez
Poultry seasoning
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poultry seasoning
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Varieties of Poultry Seasoning

Most poultry seasonings include sage and thyme, two flavors commonly associated with chicken and turkey.

Other ingredients that can be added to poultry spices are nutmeg, sage, onion, garlic, rosemary, black pepper, ginger, Mediterranean thyme, parsley, marjoram, red bell peppers, ground coriander, allspice, Greek oregano, and savory.

What Does It Taste Like?

The combination of herbs and spices in poultry seasoning adds earthiness and astringency, and when combined with marjoram, rosemary, and black pepper, the result is a complex profile ideal for roasting poultry. It's what makes poultry seasoning a shoe-in for Thanksgiving dinner. Mixtures with nutmeg tend to have a sweet and savory aspect, while still projecting a holiday feast undertone. Onion powder gives the blend more of a savory note, and rosemary can make it taste more herbal.

Cooking With Poultry Seasoning

Sprinkle this mix over the surface of the bird you're roasting, or mix it with butter and push under the skin. You can also add a teaspoon of poultry seasoning to a pan with olive oil for roasting vegetables, or use it on fish, beef, pork, or tofu for extra flavor.

Recipes

Use poultry seasoning in a variety of savory recipes. Try making your own too, it's easy to do, and you can tailor the blend to your preferences.

Substitutions

Dried herb blends like herbes fines or herbes de Provence make good substitutes for poultry seasoning. Supplement with your preferred ground spices, onion and garlic powder, and finely chopped fresh herbs.

Where to Buy Poultry Seasoning

All poultry seasoning comes dried and in a shakable form for easy distribution right out of the bottle, and most grocery stores will carry at least one brand. Visit a specialty grocer for regional or international varieties, or purchase blends from specialty spice shops online for a wide selection.

Storage

Keep all spices in an airtight jar, tin, or bag to help preserve freshness. The longer a blend like poultry seasoning sits in the pantry, the more the flavors will fade and granules will clump. When making your own seasoning, make sure the herbs fully dried before blending and storing. If making a mixture with fresh herbs, keep in a tightly sealed glass container in the refrigerator for up to a week.