Ever heard of tarragon? This aromatic herb, famous for its distinctive licorice flavor, comes Europe and Asia and, as such, is often used in recipes with fish and poultry.
Despite its ability to grow in basically any climate, there’s a chance you won’t be able to find it next time you’re cooking something that calls for it. Or, considering just what a strong and distinctive flavor this herb has, there’s also a good chance you just don’t like it.
Regardless of the reasons for wanting a tarragon substitute, you’ll be happy to know you have plenty of options at your disposal. Particularly when it comes to French-inspired recipes.
Word of advice, before we launch into a list of tarragon substitutes: Tarragon is an essential ingredient in Barnaise sauce so, when it comes to that particular dish, accept no substitutes.
Growing Your Own Tarragon
If you’re looking for a tarragon substitute because you ran out of it, you’re in luck. Tarragon is very easy to grow and it looks good in any herb garden.
It can also be grown in a sunny window and buying sprouts or seeds is very easy so you should consider growing your own tarragon to ensure you never run out of it again.
Fresh Tarragon vs Dry Tarragon
As with most aromatic herbs, tarragon’s flavor changes depending on whether or not you’re using it fresh: Fresh tarragon has a much stronger flavor than the dried version which can, and will, affect the taste whatever you’re cooking greatly.
- Read more: Best herb grinder
Because of this, you should always know what kind of tarragon your recipe calls for you so can choose the correct substitute.
If you’re thinking about swapping fresh tarragon for dry tarragon that’s alright, just keep in mind that 1 tbsp. of fresh tarragon equals 1 tsp. of dried tarragon so adjust accordingly.
With all that in mind, it’s time to explore the best substitutes for this aromatic herb. You’ll find that most of the herbs listed here can be used both for dry and fresh tarragon but read carefully to make sure you’re choosing the right tarragon substitute for your dish.
7 Best Tarragon Substitutes
Chervil is a great substitute for fresh tarragon both because it’s often used in French cuisine and it has hints of licorice flavor as well. In fact, these two herbs often go together so you won’t be sacrificing any flavor.
That said, chervil does tend to lose its flavor quickly so you want to use it the moment you chop it to preserve as much freshness as you can.
This herb works remarkably well as a tarragon substitute in dishes that include chicken, fish or vegetables as well as French and Mediterranean inspired dishes.
2. Fennel Fronds and Seeds
This is a great substitute for Tarragon for a variety of reasons:
1) Fennel is a widely available herb, both in organic stores and supermarkets. Pretty much every part of this herb is edible so you’ll find plenty of variety when it comes to shopping for this herb.
2) Thanks to its anise flavor, which is stronger than tarragon, it works as a great substitute that keeps the flavor of the original recipe mostly intact.
3) Fennel fronds can be used as replacement for fresh tarragon, whereas fennel seeds can be used as replacement for dry tarragon, making fennel one of the most convenient substitutes out there.
Here’s another tarragon substitute that works both fresh and dry. Of course, it goes without saying that fresh basil should substitute fresh tarragon and dry basil should substitute dry tarragon.
Basil is a great substitute for those who just can’t stand licorice flavor, as it will give whatever you’re cooking a hint of freshness without infusing the dish with any extra taste. Just keep in mind that this herb has a rather powerful flavor so start with small quantities and work your way up from there.
4. Anise Seed
You probably can guess right away that anise seed is a substitute for dry tarragon and that it works as such thanks to its peculiar taste.
You’d be right in making such assumption so we’ll leave it at that. Just keep in mind that, when it comes to replacing tarragon with anise seeds a less-is-more approach is recommended. After all anise seeds have a much stronger flavor than dried tarragon and you don’t want to overwhelm your palate by accidentally using too much.
This is another good option if you’re not crazy about tarragon’s licorice flavor and it works as a great substitute for fresh tarragon.
This herb has a bitter taste so use small amount of it. This substitute works great if you’re cooking fish and meat dishes.
This herb is a great tarragon substitute for those who don’t care about the licorice taste. Marjoram has a rather noticeable citrusy taste that makes it a very popular replacement.
This is a very versatile herb that can be used to replace tarragon in soups, salad dressings, creams, stews and even meat dressings. Just keep in mind that marjoram is rather hard to find in the colder climates so it might not be available for all.
This is one of the most popular aromatic herbs out there and with very good reason.
Thanks to its versatility, and its minty flavor, it can be used to replace both fresh and dry tarragon while changing the flavor enough to please licorice haters but give a hint of the original flavor dishes with tarragon should have.
As with anise seed, take a less-is-more approach and start small to make sure you don’t change the flavor of your dish too drastically.
Check out our related article: Substitute for Thyme.
So there you have it. Next time you’re all out of tarragon you can use any of these substitutes to continue cooking delicious French inspired dishes and more!
Did you found this article useful? Do you use something else as a substitute for tarragon? Do you have any questions? Let us know in the comments!
Thanks for reading. You may also enjoy: Substitute for Rosemary.
#4 Anise photograph is that of star anise. They are different plants!
Yes, you are right! Anise seed and star anise are different spices. Even though they are unrelated plants, they actually do have similar flavor profiles so you can substitute star anise for anise seed, but star anise has an even stronger flavor so you have to be very careful substituting it for tarragon. Regardless, I changed the picture to the anise seed flower so thank you so much for your comment! Please let me know if you ever see anything else that doesn’t match up!