Is Your Pantry Empty? 7 Amazing Substitutes For Tarragon
Oh no… you’re in the middle of making dinner, only to realize that you’re out of an important ingredient, tarragon! All hope might seem lost for the flavorful meal you were hoping to create.
While you could run to the store or send someone out to get some, there’s no need. While tarragon is a unique flavor, you can replace it with another ingredient that’s in your cupboard already. There’s even more than one way to replace it!
I’ve been in this situation before and have been able to substitute for tarragon successfully. Tarragon gives a lot of flavor to a dish, but it’s not the only way to impart flavor. When your hands are tied, find the perfect replacement for your dish.
Let’s explore your options!
What Is The Tarragon Doing?
Before you choose a replacement for tarragon, you should understand why it was included in the recipe to begin with. Knowing this will help you replicate the flavor profile successfully.
Tarragon has a slightly bittersweet taste and is used to add flavor to chicken, cheese, salad, vinegar, and a number of other dishes, like this creamy chicken recipe:
The taste of tarragon is a little bit bitter, a little bit sweet, and very flavorful. It’s in the same family as plants like anise and licorice, if you can imagine what they taste like. You will want a substitute that manages to mimic this flavor profile.
Also, pay attention to if your recipe calls for fresh or dried tarragon. The flavor is very different, so you should substitute accordingly.
#1: Mix Parsley And Cinnamon Powder
A combination of the common spices parsley and cinnamon powder can be used to make a substitute for tarragon. This substitute is best for liquid-based dishes, such as sauces, salad dressings, and soups.
For everyone one tablespoon of fresh tarragon needed, gather the following:
- ½ teaspoon parsley
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
- ¼ cup of water
Simmer the water on the stove, and then add the spices to it. Once it’s simmering steadily, remove from the heat and let the flavor sink in. This substitute will replace tarragon with no problems!
#2: Ground Fennel Seed For Dried Or Fresh Tarragon
Since fennel and tarragon are similar plants, it’s possible to use dried, ground fennel seed as a substitute for tarragon.
Fennel is much stronger than tarragon, so you’ll only want to add a dash of fennel for every teaspoon of fresh or dried tarragon called for in the recipe. If you want a sweeter or stronger flavor, you can add more, but do so with a light hand!
#3: Do You Have Any Aniseed?
Another herb that is from the same family as fennel and tarragon is aniseed. Aniseed is similar in flavor to star anise, licorice, and tarragon. It’s used for culinary, medicinal, and liquor-making purposes, and can also be used as your substitute for tarragon!
You only need half the amount of aniseed compared to fresh or dried tarragon. So, if a recipe calls for one tablespoon of dried tarragon, use half a tablespoon of aniseed to have the perfect added flavor.
#4: Oregano Is Easy To Use!
Nearly every kitchen has a stock of oregano, and this is one of the spices that can be used instead of tarragon! The flavor profile will be different, but it’s an easy substitute that still adds a lot of flavor.
Replacing a recipe that calls for dried tarragon with dried oregano is very easy. Use the same amount of oregano as you would tarragon, and you’ll be good to go!
#5: Got Any Basil?
Another super easy substitute for tarragon is basil! If you don’t like the taste of tarragon or you simply don’t have any, you can use basil instead. The dish will have a basil flavor, which is a bit sweeter than tarragon, but the flavor profiles are similar, so basil will still suit your dish.
All you need to do is get an equal amount of basil as the recipe calls for in tarragon. You can use fresh basil for fresh tarragon or dried basil for dried tarragon! Be creative, and you’ll end up with a dish you love.
#6: Want Something More Complex?
Another way to replace the more complex notes of tarragon is to use a blend of spices instead of replacing it with just one. Three spices that I like to use instead of tarragon are thyme, dill, and rosemary.
The flavor of this will be different from the flavor of tarragon, but the blend of these three spices together is delicious and works well in many tarragon dishes.
Use equal parts of thyme, dill, and rosemary to create the same total volume of tarragon that your recipe calls for. If you don’t like one of these herbs very much, feel free to use less of it and more of another herb! You can mix it however you’d like, and that’s part of why it’s so great!
#7: Do You Hate The Taste Of Licorice?
Some people hate the taste of licorice, so they don’t like tarragon. I can relate. It took me a long time to learn to appreciate this flavor in my recipes!
Thankfully, you can actually replace tarragon in your recipes with other flavors to get rid of that licorice aspect.
Use an equal amount of dried dill, basil, or marjoram instead of dried tarragon to get rid of the licorice flavor without losing all flavor in the dish. It’ll make everyone happy!
Next Time, Freeze It!
While not a substitute, I’ve got one final pro-tip I have to share with you. If you are worried about needing to substitute for tarragon again in the future, save yourself the trouble by freezing some!
Frozen tarragon can be used instead of fresh tarragon. All you need to do is buy fresh tarragon, put the sprigs in airtight bags, and freeze them! They can stay there for up to 5 months. The sprig can be used frozen.
Did you find the substitute that you need for tarragon today? I hope so! If you’ve got another suggestion or found one of these to work well, please let me know in the comments. Share this advice with any other friends who might be out of tarragon at home!