11 Tarragon Substitutes for You to Try
Tarragon is a complex aromatic herb. It’s that type of herb that goes great with rich, comfort foods, such as stews, soups, sauces. And it’s especially great with meats. If you don’t have any around but would still want to enjoy the dishes that call for it, there are solutions! Check out these tarragon substitutes!
The King of Herbs in France, tarragon is not so popular outside Europe. So if you come across a recipe that needs but you don’t have any in, you may think it’s “quit it!” time. It’s not! There are many variants that replicate its flavor with the following alternatives. But first…
Tarragon uses and flavor profile
This leafy, green, highly aromatic herb is amazing in dressings, sauces, meats, soups, and hearty dishes. If it’s rich, it needs tarragon! Mostly known for its contribution to béarnaise sauce, tarragon goes great with protein (from meats to fish and eggs), roasts, anything sauce-based.
There are quite a few types of tarragon (French, Spanish, Mexican, and Russian), and while they may differ in terms of flavor, they have some common characteristics. Before we discuss the many tarragon alternatives you can find, here is the flavor profile of this aromatic plant:
- Tarragon has a sweet aroma, doubled by a bitter undertone.
- While we could say tarragon is intense, the better term would be robust.
- Tarragon combines sweet and minty, warming and cooling effects. From vanilla to mint, from pepper to eucalyptus vibes, tarragon is quite complex.
- Last but not least, tarragon is distinguished from other aromatic plants by its resemblance to licorice or anise.
While it combines all these contrasting tones, tarragon remains elegant, delicate, and although memorable and at times overwhelming, not too intense or pungent. But it is complex due to its rich bouquet. But still, we managed to find 11 alternatives for this fabulous herb!
11 tarragon substitutes that will come close to the original!
Some will come very close. Others will need some fine-tuning while others can pass for twins. One thing is for sure, these aromatic herbs and spices will add fragrance to every bite. What can you replace tarragon with? Here they are, the winners:
If you’re about to prepare your famous chicken tarragon and notice you don’t have the aromatic herb around, thyme is a good second choice. Thyme has a floral, grassy, fragrant aroma, with a hint of earthy and a certain sweetness. But it’s still quite intense and it keeps its aroma even after cooking.
Be it fresh or dried, dill is one of the best choices for replacing tarragon. They are quite similar in appearance too and they both have that licorice tint that makes them special. While dill is milder and has citrusy, sweet, and bitter tones, it can stand in for tarragon.
While most of our substitutes do not come close to tarragon’s mouthfullness, chervil is more pronounced in flavor. Other than that, both chervil’s and tarragon’s flavors are a match. Chervil is something between tarragon, parsley, and chives so make sure to start small with this herb and go from there!
Angelica is not a trendy herb, that’s for sure, but its taste will remind you of celery and a vague hint of licorice. This herb makes for one of the best tarragon substitutes you can find. It’s similar to dill and fennel and it brings a blend of sweet and earthy when it comes to the leaves and stalk, while its root has a spicy vibe that will remind you of licorice. It’s safe to use it in a 1:1 ratio.
5. Fennel Fronds or Seeds
If you’re still wondering how to substitute tarragon to come closer to its complex bouquet, look no more!
Do you have some fennel around? Because if you do, jackpot! Fennel is sweet and intense, having pronounced licorice and anise flavor. Both fronds and seeds can replace tarragon, but remember that the seeds are more intense. In fact, fennel comes as an explosion of flavors, so adjust accordingly.
Both a fresh and dried tarragon substitute, marjoram comes rather close to oregano, having that warming feeling.
Its bouquet is complex. It has notes of ginger, cardamom, mint, lavender, and a bit of ginger. And it has that cinnamony aroma that tarragon has as well. While its earthy, woodsy aroma is a good replacement for those in tarragon, it doesn’t have that licorice fragrance. So you’d have to do without. A 1:1 ratio should be fine.
Rosemary can save the day. It’s more likely you have it around or can easily shop for it. Be it dried or fresh, rosemary has an intense minty, fresh, piney, earthy, and fragrant aroma.
We would advise going for dried rosemary to replace tarragon, but the fresh branches will do as well. And they’re quite alike in terms of appearance.
There are many herbs similar to tarragon and basil is one of them. Dried or fresh, basil can take tarragon’s place in your dish. It’s quite similar but it doesn’t have that licorice flavor that tarragon provides. And the great thing about it: basil will not overwhelm the other aromas in your food. In fact, you may want to double the amount of basil to get the intensity of tarragon.
Oregano has a similar aroma to tarragon, but it doesn’t pack that anise, licorice vibe. And unlike tarragon, oregano can have a slightly bitter edge. Also, if you’re using dry oregano, its flavor can be quite sharp, which can be intense and long-lasting, but not shockingly so. Use oregano in a 1:1 ratio.
What to use instead of tarragon? Well, you may want to try anise’s aromatic power. Anise can easily replace tarragon, both fresh and dried. Best to use just a pinch of anise because it can easily overpower your dish.
11. Parsley Mixed with Cinnamon
This is a surprising combo, yes! But it works magically. It is particularly good as a substitute for tarragon in béarnaise sauce. The best way to get the mix of flavors is to simmering them in water.
Can dried tarragon be a fresh tarragon substitute?
If you want to be prepared at all times you can keep dried tarragon around. This is a good alternative to tarragon, although, in the process of dehydration, tarragon becomes slightly bitter and even more pungent. However, using half a teaspoon of dried tarragon for every teaspoon of fresh tarragon the recipe mentions should be alright.
Not too shabby, tarragon lovers and tarragon replacers out there, right? 11 tarragon substitutes for the ages! Each and every one will add a great layer of flavor to your dish. And each with its charm. Which one are you going to try?