Chervil is an exotic herb that is an excellent addition to various dishes. Unfortunately, it is not always readily available in the United States.
So what happens when you run out or can’t find any in supermarkets near you? Chervil’s flavor is not too difficult to replicate. Therefore, you can easily substitute it with another ingredient to get similar results.
The substitutes you can use to replace chervil are parsley, chives, tarragon, fennel, dill, cicely, and dried chervil.
This article discusses chervil substitutes in detail, but first, let us look at what chervil is, its appearance, flavor, and uses.
What is chervil
Also called Anthriscus Cerefolium, Chervil is a popular green spring herb commonly used in European and French cuisine. The French call chervil French parsley because it closely resembles parsley.
Chervil is primarily grown in the European countryside. Therefore, it is not commonly used in worldwide cuisine.
Chervil appearance and flavor
Chervil has delicate, light green curly leaves that resemble carrot greens. It also resembles flat-leaf parsley, but it is pale with ruffled leaves,
I would describe the flavor of chervil as mild with subtle hints of anise. Most people compare it to parsley, fennel, or tarragon, but its flavor is easier on the taste buds in comparison.
Chervil has several uses. You can add it to egg dishes, chicken, soup, fish, and salads. You can also use it to flavor butter and add it to salad dressings.
Most people also use chervil as garnish. Since it is delicate with a mild flavor, you should add it to your dish after cooking.
Another common chervil use it as a rub. You can use it to flavor potatoes, poultry, and other spring produce. You can also add it to mild cheeses and light sauces.
As discussed above, chervil is not hard to substitute. Below are a few suitable substitutes and instructions on using them in your recipes.
Parsley is arguably the best chervil substitute. The two have a similar appearance, and they come from the same family. Therefore, you can easily substitute one for the other.
In comparison, parsley has a milder flavor than chervil. Additionally, it does not have the anise undertones that chervil has. Despite these differences, you can still use parsley in recipes that call for chervil. If you are keen on the anise flavor, you can add more spices to your recipe to mimic the taste.
Note that parsley loses its flavor quickly when subjected to heat. Therefore, it would be best to add it to your dish after cooking. Doing so will also ensure that your dish remains vibrant.
You can substitute chervil with parsley in equal amounts. If a recipe calls for a tablespoon of chervil, use one tablespoon of parsley.
Chives are an ideal replacement for chervil in recipes. They are readily available. Therefore, you can find them in grocery stores and supermarkets near you.
Chives and chervil have a similar flavor, so you’ll get the same taste in your dish. The only primary concern is that the two significantly differ in appearance.
To mimic chervil’s appearance, you may have to mix the chives with thyme and hyssop. Mix the three ingredients in equal amounts for the best results.
I love using this substitute because of its herby aroma and delicious flavor it adds to dishes.
You can use tarragon in recipes that call for dried chervil. The two are pretty similar because they both have anise undertones.
Like chervil, tarragon has a mild flavor. The only notable difference is that tarragon is bittersweet.
I highly recommend using tarragon in delicate dishes like poultry, fish, and soups. It won’t overpower the general flavor of the dish.
You should substitute chervil with tarragon in equal amounts. If a recipe calls for a tablespoon of chervil, use one tablespoon of tarragon. Tarragon can easily overpower your dish when used in excess.
You can also mix tarragon with parsley since the two mixed together have a similar flavor to chervil. Mix the two ingredients in equal amounts for the best results.
Fennel, dried or fresh, is a popular ingredient in French cuisine. Most people use it to season seafood and pork because it is more vibrant. Fennel and chervil are similar because they both have anise undertones.
I highly recommend using this substitute in dry dishes and salads that call for chervil. All you need to do is finely chop the fennel and sprinkle them on your dish.
It would be best to substitute chervil with fennel in equal amounts.
Dill makes for an ideal chervil alternative since it belongs to the same family as chervil and parsley.
Like chervil, dill has anise undertones, and its flavor also closely resembles chervil. Dill also has a distinct, pleasant aroma, making it a go-to substitute for most people.
Be careful when using this substitute because its aroma can easily overpower your dish. It would be best to start with half the amount the recipe requires and adjust until you reach your desired flavor.
I highly recommend using dill to replace chervil in shrimp and fish recipes.
Another ideal substitute you can use is cicely. Cicely is a herb with a sweet flavor and anise undertones.
Therefore, you can use it to substitute chervil in savory dishes. You can also add cicely to drinks. It is known to treat flu and soothe sore throats.
The only downside with this substitute is that it is difficult to find in the United States, but if you are lucky to find it, you can use it in most recipes that call for cicely.
If your recipe calls for fresh chervil, you can use dried chervil instead. The two have a similar flavor.
However, dried chervil is not as impactful as fresh chervil. It is best suited for dishes that need to be slow-cooked.
You should also add dried chervil early in the cooking process for the flavor to infuse into the dish.
Where to buy chervil
As mentioned above, chervil is difficult to find outside Europe. However, this does not mean it is impossible to find.
You can get chervil at farmer’s markets and specialty stores. Choose bunches with a clean, fresh scent and bright color when shopping.
Don’t buy the chervil if the leaves have turned brown or are wilted. It would be best to avoid bunches with blossoms since they are usually bitter.
If you can’t find fresh chervil, you can buy the dried version in the spice aisle of any grocery store near you. You can use it during the cooking process, but not as garnish.
How to store chervil
Chervil has very fragile leaves. Therefore, you should always handle them with care. To store this exotic herb, wrap them in damp paper towels and place them upright in a clear container with ½ inch water.
Generally, chervil has a short shelf life. Therefore, you should use them as soon as possible. If you want chervil to last longer, freeze it.
The best way to go about it is to chop the leaves, place them in ice cube trays, add water, and then put them in your freezer. They will last for long.
If you want to substitute chervil, the top substitutes you should consider are parsley, tarragon, and fennel. If you don’t have any fresh herbs, use dried chervil.
Note that dried chervil only works well in soups, casseroles, and other dishes that cook for some time because the flavors need to infuse.
Chervil is also relatively easy to grow. Plant the seeds in late fall or spring f0or a fresh chervil supply. The best part is that you don’t have to plant chervil in the garden. They grow well in pots as long as you place them on your windowsill.
Let me know which substitute you prefer in the comments below.