Good Substitutes For Tarragon During Meal Preparation

If one of your favorite meals is Béarnaise, a fantastic French cuisine, or you just love spicing up your delicious meals with tarragon, then you are in for a treat while reading this. One of the primary ingredients you will need for cooking some of these delicious cuisines is tarragon. Tarragon is a popular and versatile herb which many people favor in cooking. It is a unique mix of mild vanilla and sweet aniseed. It also looks distinctive with its narrow green leaves that are slightly floppy. One of its advantages is that your meal will be amazing whether you choose to use it fresh or dried.


When you want to prepare a meal with tarragon, make sure you buy it at your local store on time. It sells quickly in stores and stocking up again might be a problem because its availability is based on the seasons. If you’re like us and you love tarragon, not getting tarragon could hinder how great you want your meal to be.

Fret not, however. You can still prepare a great meal using a substitute for tarragon. Yes, you better believe that. And the best part is there is little or no difference in how your food will taste or look to the visible eye.

Your guests will be amazed at your creativity and versatility. We know you are excited to know these substitutes. And without further ado, here is a list of herbs you can try instead of using tarragon:

1. Dill Leaves

This herb is a perfect substitute for tarragon. It belongs to the family of celery. The leaves are thin and divided with long slender limbs. You can get dill leaves in stores anytime you need them, unlike tarragon. Dill tastes slightly bitter, so it is perfect for dishes that involve fish and meat. However, when cooking, you need to make sure you use the right amount as a substitute. Dill leaves don’t have the same licorice flavor that tarragon leaves have. So, using too little of the dill leaves might not get you the desired results. And using too much will give an overpowering flavor. Are you wondering how you can make sure you’re substituting the right amount? GourmetSleuth is here to rescue you by making the conversion as easy as possible. Dill should be your number one choice when you want to make the perfect meat and fish dishes.

2. Basil

Bunch of fresh basil, bowl of walnuts, pepper and garlic served on white wooden table.

Basil is a very popular herb. Some people reading this right now might even be growing it in their garden. Many delicious dishes make use of basil for flavor and aroma. But, did you know there are many different types of basil you can experiment with? Yes, we said it. You don’t have to restrict yourself at all. You can choose the Thai basil, sweet basil, lemon basil and much more. Just like tarragon, basil can be used either fresh or dried. However, it is better you use it when dry because it gives out a stronger and more refreshing scent and flavor. You should consider using the basil herb if you love Italian food. For instance, basil herbs are great for pesto sauce.  You can even use the herbs as a tarragon substitute in chicken dishes, sauces and any cuisine that involves cheese. Do you know what makes the basil herb so unique? You can add it to dishes that need to be baked and even those that can be sautéed. The possibilities are endless with basil herbs.

3. Marjoram

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If you’re looking for a great substitute that rivals tarragon regarding taste, then you should go for the marjoram leaves. As a smooth and ovate-leaved herb with a sweet citrus taste, marjoram herb is great in salad dressing. The only similar challenge it shares with tarragon leaves is the fact that it is seasonal as well. You will not find Marjoram in colder regions or during winter. So when you want to use the leaves, make sure it is in season. Marjoram grows in short stalks which can be about 30 inches high. It also produces flowering leaves. Because of the sweetness of Marjoram, it is best you use the herb to season soups, sauces, salad dressings, and stews. Truthfully, Marjoram herbs are just as versatile as tarragon leaves and can also be used for basically anything, including meat.

4. Chervil

You will hardly find this herb in America because it is a well-kept European secret. Despite this, if you can lay your hands on some chervil, you will conclude that it acts as a fabulous substitute for tarragon. It has a scent and aroma that closely resembles that of tarragon and fennel. But some people think the smell is not as strong as tarragon and fennel. When you smell chervil, you might remember licorice and anise. When you want to use the leaves, try to use it when it is fresh rather than when it is dry. It gives a crispier, better taste. If you have ever had béarnaise sauce, you might have been opportune to taste chervil. Not only is it good for sauces, it also complements many different meals. You can use the chervil herb to enhance the flavors of certain foods like chicken, eggs, vegetables, white fish, salads, soups, sauces, and much more.  

5. Fennel

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Fennel belongs to the carrot family. It is a flowering plant that grows with yellow flowers and feather-like leaves. What makes this plant interesting is that it is one of the main ingredients in absinthe. If you are under the weather, consider making a meal with fennel seeds because it has medicinal purposes. Asides this, many natural health care companies use it in their products. If you have a sweet tooth, you are not left out. Fennel seeds are great in sweet dishes like desserts and soups. Fennel leaves can also be used to garnish flavor salads, soups, puddings and fish sauces. Just like tarragon, the versatility of fennel seed is endless. You can use it in virtually any meal for great aroma, flavor and taste.

6. Aniseed

This seed is a mixture of tarragon and fennel. Just like these two herbs, it has a similar licorice flavor. If you have not seen the Aniseed plant before, permit us to describe it to you briefly. It can grow about 3 feet tall and it has beautiful white flowers. The plant also bears fruits whose seed we eat. Aniseed is favored by many cultures but especially the Western culture. It is used for flavoring entrees, drinks and candies. Dessert lovers love Aniseed because it tastes so good. However, its use is not limited to dessert-like foods. For example, it can be used in liquor and tea. It can also be used as an antiseptic or digestive in herbal medicines. As you can see, it has medicinal value like tarragon. You might find it interesting that its use in medical field is one of its main functions, asides its use in the food industry. As a warning, you should not use too much aniseed in your meal preparation. If you do, it can make your dish become bitter. And it is always safer to use a lesser amount than you think you need because you can still add more later.

7. Angelica

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Angelica is very unique because it is mostly found in pastures. The easiest way to recognize this herb is the bi-pinnate leaves which grow white or greenish white flowers. Not all of this plant is edible. The edible parts are mainly found in the roots. You can use the roots and seeds in liquors like gin and chartreuse. For all the liquor lovers out there, this herb should be one of your favorites above all others because of the interesting flavor qualities. However, food lovers are not excluded from the use of this herb. Angelica herb has a licorice flavor just like tarragon and can be used to sweeten and spice dishes. Angelica is perfect for flavoring candies. For instance, you can try making rhubarb and angelica jam.

8. Thyme

Bunch of fresh thyme on violet wooden table

Just like basil, thyme is a very popular herb. Many people attach it to the Western culture but its popularity and origin dates far back to Egypt. Egyptians use thyme for embalming the dead. The Romans also used the herb to purify their rooms and to give aromatic flavor to cheese and liquor. You may find it amazing to know that the herb was used in the Middle Ages to keep nightmares at bay, to make warriors courageous, and much more. Can you see that we didn’t just start using thyme a hundred years ago? Just like many of the substitutes we have mentioned earlier, thyme can be used both fresh and dried. However, it is best to use it when it is fresh. If you are a bread lover and you use tarragon in the preparation, consider using thyme leaves as a substitute next time. Thyme makes an excellent tarragon substitute. You can make thyme cornbread using thyme leaves. In meal preparations, thyme is great in vegetables, meats and chicken. The beauty of thyme is that it retains its savory flavor no matter the method of cooking you choose.

In a Nut Shell

Tarragon is one of the most important herbs you should have in your kitchen. It makes meals more delicious and gives off a sweet aroma. However, when you do run out of tarragon, rather than stop cooking, you can make use of other herbs and spices. We hope you find them helpful.

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Good Substitutes For Tarragon During Meal Preparation
Tarragon is a popular and versatile herb which many people favor in cooking. It is a unique mix of mild vanilla and sweet aniseed. It also looks distinctive with its narrow green leaves that are slightly floppy.
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