Home Ingredients Herbs and Spices Tarragon Substitutes – 8 Recommended Options

Tarragon Substitutes – 8 Recommended Options

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Are you searching for a tarragon substitute and need answers fast? You’ll be pleased to know this page has all the answers you need. Let’s dive in and get started.

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.

Quick Introduction

If you’ve ever dabbled in French cuisine it’s likely that you’ve used tarragon. Offering a distinctive anise aroma combined with mildly bittersweet flavor, this is a versatile herb that pairs well with many dishes. Vegetables, chicken, fish, eggs and salads are all raised to a new level with the addition of tarragon. Bearnaise sauce wouldn’t be the same without it.

Fresh Vs Dried

Fresh and dry tarragon can be used to replace each other 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 so use this ratio for best results:

1 Tbsp fresh tarragon = 1 tsp dried tarragon

What’s the best substitute for tarragon?

1. Chervil

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

Chervil

Chervil has a similar flavor to tarragon and also has that distinct liquorice 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 it into softened butter and then chill in the fridge before lathering on thick slabs of your favorite bread.

2. Fennel

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

Fennel

Fennel shares some similarities in flavor with tarragon thanks to its anise flavor notes. The 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.

Basil

Although basil and tarragon have different flavor profiles, they have similar uses and can be used in a similar way. Both have lovely tender leaves that are delicious picked fresh and added to salads, sauces or even sprinkled onto 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.

4. Aniseed

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

Aniseed

Aniseed, also known as anise, has the same liquorice flavor that tarragon does. They’re ideal for Indian curries, casseroles and even sweet treats like desserts and cookies. So next time you need to make tarragon creme brulee, panna cotta or custard (yes, they’re actual desserts), 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

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 soups, 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

Thyme has a lemony, peppery flavor and is mildly bitter. Its taste doesn’t mirror tarragon so this isn’t a good option if you’re trying to create a similar tasting dish, without the use of tarragon. 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

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 good backup option for tarragon.

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.

A popular use for tarragon is bernaise sauce, a French classic that goes well with seafood, eggs or steak. There are, however, many other uses for this sauce which is creamy and full of flavor.

A common ingredient to add to bernaise sauce is tarragon. If you need a backup option then consider using the following:

  • 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 bernaise sauce as a replacement for tarragon.

An infographic showing the best tarragon substitutesConclusion

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 alternatives 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 than 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 back up option if you’re out of tarragon? Let me know on Facebook or Instagram.

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