Tarragon is one of those herbs that many of us have had before but don’t know about. If you are about to cook a fish dish or a roasted chicken and your recipe calls for tarragon, it can be worrisome if you don’t have any around.
Instead of giving up on your cooking plans, use some spices alternatives that create equally good flavors and aromas.
What Is Tarragon?
First things first, what is tarragon, anyway?
This herb from the sunflower family is a staple of French cuisine. While there is a Russian variety, the French and German kind is used more commonly. For centuries, this herb is used daily to make broths, soups, and marinades.
Tarragon has a mild licorice flavor, but it is also highly aromatic. It is also an essential herb in Béarnaise sauce, eggs, fish, chicken, and cheese plates.
What Can I Replace Tarragon With?
If you can’t find it anywhere, or you need another option, try these tarragon substitutes for both fresh and dry options:
Best For Fish, Chicken, and Salmon
In this case, use fresh or dry dill depending on your taste. Keep in mind that fresh dill is citrus and has a mild anise flavor. On the other hand, dry dill is more bitter and has a licorice flavor, but you can use it in many dishes.
Dry dill is easy to find in any grocery store, though the fresh kind tends to be in the produce section, and may not always be in season.
For replacing tarragon when cooking fish, chicken, or salmon, use fresh dill if possible, and switch it up for the same amount. If you are using the dry kind, use one and a half teaspoon of dried dill for every one tablespoon of fresh tarragon.
Fresh rosemary tastes very lemony and has a pine aroma, but it goes very well with dishes that have poultry or fish, as well as white sauces and potatoes. The dry kind is more warm and earthy, but still a bit sweet, so you may use it in the same way.
You can find both kinds at any local grocery store, by the spices, and in the produce section.
Use fresh rosemary when cooking fish or salmon and in sauces. The dry kind goes well in roasted chicken, baked salmon, and cooked potatoes. As for the amount, you can pretty much use fresh and dry rosemary for the same amount as tarragon because it’s a spice that is similar to tarragon.
Oregano is another common herb that is often used in Italian, Mediterranean, and French foods. Fresh oregano is pungent, highly aromatic, and a bit minty. Dry oregano, however, is more floral and woody and it can change the color of your food a bit.
You can find both kinds in any local grocery store, but before you decide which one to use, remember that dry oregano is very strong.
We suggest you replace tarragon with half the amount of fresh oregano for fish and sauces and use one tablespoon of dry oregano at most for chicken, meat, and stews.
While this is a spicy and relatively bitter fresh herb, it also has a delicately sweet and fruity aroma. The dry form of marjoram has a strong scent, but it is mildly sweet and only a little bitter.
Use both kinds in preparing meat dishes, especially salmon and chicken, but for the lighter recipes, go with the fresh kind.
To find marjoram, you can try your local grocery store, but it may be easier to get it at an organic or farmer’s market. Use the same amount of fresh marjoram and one tablespoon of the dry kind for every one tablespoon of tarragon.
Best For Bearnaise, Mussels, and Chicken Salad
This fresh herb is known as French parsley, and it tastes a bit like fennel or licorice. Also, traditionally French, chervil is used instead of tarragon when making béarnaise sauce, cooking mussels, or preparing chicken salad.
You can probably find chervil at your local grocery store, but you may have better luck checking the farmer’s market.
Use about half of what the recipe calls for, so for every teaspoon of fresh tarragon, use ½ teaspoon of chervil. This herb is delicate and the flavor is not as strong, so you can always taste and add more as you cook.
Fresh parsley is an old staple in the process of cooking sauces, broths, and marinades. The flavor is lemony and mildly bitter, so it goes well in béarnaise sauce, mussels, and broths. Dry parsley can be used in a pinch, but keep in mind that the flavor is more bitter.
To substitute tarragon, use ½ teaspoon of fresh or dry parsley for every one teaspoon of tarragon. If you want to imitate that bitter and sweet flavor of tarragon, consider adding a dash of cinnamon as well.
See More: Best Parsley Substitutes
This herb is a member of the parsley family, and it is traditionally used in making licorice, liqueurs, candy, and desserts. The flavor is woody and anise-like, but it works well when making sauces like Bearnaise, and adding flavor to broths.
You can find angelica at your local organic market or the farmer’s market, as it is not that common of an herb. We suggest that you use the same amount of angelica as you would tarragon, but try it first, as some people find this herb too strong.
You can use thyme instead of tarragon when cooking certain dishes, especially poultry or fish. For a more similar flavor to tarragon, though, you can use oregano or rosemary.
French tarragon is an expensive spice because it doesn’t produce seeds very often, so growing it takes a lot of time and dedication. However, tarragon tends to be widely available, and it is worth the price.
Tarragon combines well with basil, chives, lemon thyme, mustard, thyme, fennel, and parsley. Cilantro, though, is a little too citrusy and complex, so mixing it with tarragon wouldn’t be ideal.
Tarragon isn’t a common herb for everyone, and it can be quite expensive at times, so use one of these 7 alternatives, instead. These fresh and dry herbs work well with chicken, fish, sauces, and marinades.
Don’t be scared to try them all and even combine some of them for delicious aromas and flavor.
*Photo by mikeshots/depositphotos