Home Ingredients Herbs and Spices Tarragon Substitutes – 8 Recommended Options

Tarragon Substitutes – 8 Recommended Options

Tarragon substitute

If you enjoy cooking French cuisine then you’re probably familiar with the taste of tarragon. This is a perennial herb that offers a distinctive anise aroma and a mildly bittersweet flavor. Its flavor profile makes it a versatile herb that combines well with vegetables, chicken, fish, eggs, and salads. Bearnaise sauce wouldn’t be the same without the addition of tarragon.

Are you searching for a tarragon substitute so that you can finish a recipe? Maybe you don’t enjoy the taste and would prefer something a little different? You’ll be pleased to know this page has eight excellent tarragon substitutes so let’s dive in and get started.

The top 8 substitutes for tarragon

1. Chervil

Best use: replacing fresh tarragon
Quantity: replace 1 tsp of tarragon with ½ tsp of chervil.


Chervil has a similar flavor to tarragon and also has a distinct licorice aroma. The leaves can be used in dishes with chicken, fish (especially salmon), salads, soups, and sauces. It is also perfect for herb butter – simply whisk chervil into softened butter and then chill in the fridge before slathering on thick slabs of your favorite bread.

2. Fennel

Best use: replacing dried or fresh tarragon
Quantity: Replace 1 tsp of tarragon with ½ tsp of fennel.


Fennel shares some similarities with tarragon thanks to its anise flavor notes. In many dishes, you can use dried fennel seeds as a good dried tarragon substitute.

Fresh fennel fronds are an impressive looking garnish for meat, sauces, and salads. The bulb of the fennel plant can be diced and used in casseroles, sauces, and soups to help mimic the flavor of tarragon.

3. Basil

Best use: replacing fresh tarragon
Quantity: Replace 1 tsp of tarragon with ½ tsp of basil.


Although basil and tarragon have different flavor profiles, they have similar uses in the kitchen. Both have tender leaves that are delicious picked fresh and added to pasta or sprinkled onto a pizza.

Reduce the amount of basil used in a dish when the recipe calls for tarragon. Basil has an overpowering flavor that is unpleasant if overdone.

Related reading:
Check out our delicious recipe for basil pesto.

4. Aniseed

Best use: replacing dried tarragon
Quantity: Replace 1 tsp of tarragon with ½ tsp of aniseed.


Aniseed, also known as anise, has the same licorice flavor that tarragon does. They’re ideal for Indian curries, casseroles, and even sweet treats like desserts and cookies. Next time you need to make tarragon creme brulee, panna cotta, or custard, aniseed can be used in place of the tarragon.

5. Marjoram

Best use: replacing dried tarragon
Quantity: Replace 1 tsp of tarragon with 1 tsp of marjoram.


Marjoram has a mildly spicy, warm flavor but it also has a bittersweet undertone similar to tarragon. You won’t get an exact match of flavor, but marjoram is still a viable replacement. Use marjoram is casseroles, dressings, and for seasoning chicken.

6. Thyme

Best use: replacing fresh tarragon
Quantity: Replace 1 tsp of tarragon with ½ tsp of thyme.


Thyme has a lemony, peppery flavor, and is mildly bitter. Its taste doesn’t mimic tarragon so this isn’t a good option if you’re trying to create a similar tasting dish. But it is a versatile herb that would be well suited to many recipes that call for tarragon.

Thyme is commonly used for poultry stuffing, lamb, veal, soup, and even some sweet dishes. The fresh, young leaves are also suitable for a rustic salad.

7. Dill

Best use: replacing fresh tarragon
Quantity: Replace 1 tsp of tarragon with 1 tsp of dill.


Dill has warm, slightly bitter undertones and could best be compared to a mix of celery and fennel. It also has a distinctive anise flavor which is very mild making it a useful tarragon substitute.

Dill can be used as a lovely looking garnish on the plate and is perfect for salmon or other seafood.

8. Parsley and Cinnamon

Best use: replacing fresh tarragon
Quantity: Replace 1 tsp of tarragon with the below recipe.

Parsley and cinnamonA popular use for tarragon is Béarnaise sauce, a French classic that goes well with seafood, eggs, or steak. There are many other uses for this creamy, flavorsome sauce. Usually, you’ll add tarragon to the Béarnaise sauce, so if you need a backup option then consider using the following recipe.


  • ½ tsp parsley
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • ¼ cup water


  1. Heat the water, parsley, and cinnamon in a small saucepan until simmering.
  2. Allow the water to simmer for a few minutes, do not boil.
  3. Remove from heat and use in your next Béarnaise sauce as a replacement for tarragon.

Note: This article looks at substitutes for French tarragon, the common type found in supermarkets. There is also Russian tarragon which doesn’t have the anise fragrance and tastes of sweet grass.

Related reading:
Got too much leftover herbs in the house? Check out our ultimate guide to preserving herbs.
What are the best lovage substitutes?
If you’re unsure, check out what the difference is between parsley and cilantro.

Fresh Vs Dried

Fresh and dry tarragon can be used interchangeably although there is a difference in flavor and also intensity. If you decide to use one in place of the other, keep in mind the golden rule: dried tarragon has a more intense flavor than the fresh version. We recommend using the following ratio for best results: 1 Tbsp fresh tarragon = 1 tsp dried tarragon


Tarragon is a commonly used herb that’s mildly bittersweet with a distinct anise aroma. It’s a versatile herb used for chicken, sauces, soups, salads, eggs, and fish. If you don’t have any tarragon in the cupboard, or you simply don’t like its taste, there are a range of tarragon substitutes that you can use to complete that recipe.

Creativity in the kitchen is fun. Substituting ingredients and adding your own flair to the dish is what cooking is all about. Just remember that some herbs can easily overpower a dish so if you’re experimenting with a new herb for the first time, use conservative quantities. Record how much you used so that next time you can dial it up a little if the flavor is a little bland.

Do you have a backup option if you’re out of tarragon? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to check out our infographic below.

An infographic showing the best tarragon substitutes