What is a Suitable Tarragon Substitute?
I am pretty sure you have come across recipes that call for tarragon. Tarragon is a culinary herb that has narrow leaves. The leaves are very aromatic and they have a very distinct flavor.
Tarragon is usually an ingredient in many French cuisines. It has a unique flavor that tends to overwhelm that of other spices and seasoning.
Some of the substitutes for fresh tarragon include Basil leaves, Chervil, Anise seeds, a combination of chervil and fennel, a combination of anise seeds and marjoram, and many more as discussed below.
Tarragon is one of those herbs that you either love or completely hate. There is no in-between. Personally, I have no problem with it, but my kids just seem to hate it.
If I add it to a dish I am cooking, they choose to eat snacks for dinner. I started wondering what a suitable substitute for tarragon is, and that is when I started researching about it.
First things first, there are two main types of tarragon. There is fresh tarragon, and there is the dried tarragon.
Fresh tarragon tastes like licorice. Most recipes call for a tablespoon of fresh tarragon. Dried tarragon has a less intense flavor.
For this reason, substituting one for another may not be the best decision. The two have different tastes, so using one in place of another may not give you the results that you want.
If you need to use a substitute, you should note that the substitutes for fresh and dried tarragon are not the same. With each, you are trying to achieve a different flavor, thus the difference. Here are the substitutes for fresh and dried tarragon.
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Substitutes for fresh tarragon
If your family is like mine where a good number of people do not like the taste of fresh tarragon, you may have to substitute it with something else. Here are a few suitable substitutes for fresh tarragon.
- Basil leaves
Basil is a culinary herb that has its origin in the mint family. It has a fantastic aroma, and it adds flavor to dishes by giving them a peppery taste.
Basil leaves have a licorice flavor that is similar to that of tarragon. However, basil is mild when compared to tarragon.
Substitute tarragon with basil in the ratio 1:2. For example, if a recipe calls for one tablespoon of fresh tarragon, use two tablespoons of basil leaves. This way, the basil will have a flavor that is quite similar to that of tarragon.
Chervil is one of the best substitutes for tarragon. It is a culinary herb that comes from the parsley family. Its aroma is quite similar to that of tarragon.
Its taste is also a bit similar but mild when compared to tarragon. It gives dishes a hint of mint.
If you want to substitute fresh tarragon with chervil, use the ratio 1:1.5. For instance, if a recipe calls for one tablespoon of fresh tarragon, use one and a half tablespoons of chervil.
The extra amount of chervil will try to match up to the distinct taste of tarragon.
- Anise seeds
Anise seeds and tarragon are similar in very many ways. Anise seeds have a licorice flavor, but the taste is a bit more powerful compared to that of tarragon.
You can either grind anise seeds or use the seeds as they are. Anise seeds have a distinct aroma. A lot of people use anise seeds as an ingredient in baked goods.
Since anise has a more robust taste compared to tarragon, you will have to use a smaller amount than what the recipe calls for. To substitute tarragon with anise seeds, use the ratio 2:1. For instance, if a recipe calls for one tablespoon of fresh tarragon, use half a tablespoon of anise seeds.
- Combination of chervil and fennel
A combination of these two will give you a flavor that is almost the same as that of fresh tarragon. Chervil has an aroma similar to that of tarragon and also has a mild flavor.
On the other hand, fennel seeds also have a mild flavor that is similar to that of tarragon.
When you combine chervil and fennel seeds, you will use the same amount that the recipe calls for. Substitute tarragon with this combination in the ratio 1:1.
For instance, if a recipe calls for one tablespoon of tarragon, use one tablespoon of a mixture of chervil and fennel seeds. It will give you a taste and aroma that is similar to that of tarragon.
- Combination of anise seeds and marjoram
Marjoram is commonly used as a substitute for dried tarragon. However, if you combine it with anise seeds, it makes a good substitute for fresh tarragon.
Since anise seeds have a potent taste that may overpower the dish, combining it with marjoram in a way neutralizes the taste. This makes the food more pleasing and desirable.
To substitute tarragon with a mixture of anise seeds and marjoram, use the ratio 1:1. For instance, if a recipe calls for two tablespoons of tarragon, use two tablespoons of the mixture of anise seeds and marjoram. The dish will taste amazing.
Substitutes for dried tarragon
Dried tarragon has a mild taste compared to fresh tarragon. Here are a few ingredients that you can easily use to substitute dried tarragon.
- Fennel seeds
Fennel seeds are an excellent substitute for dried tarragon. They have a mild taste that is very similar to that of dried tarragon. They give your dish a fantastic flavor.
To substitute dried tarragon with fennel seeds, use the ratio 1:0.5. For instance, if a recipe calls for one tablespoon of dried tarragon, use half a tablespoon of fennel seeds to achieve the same flavor as that of dried tarragon.
Just like tarragon, marjoram has a mild flavor and aroma. Marjoram cannot overpower your dish, which makes it a great substitute.
To substitute dried tarragon with marjoram, use one tablespoon of marjoram for every tablespoon of dried tarragon you would have used.
Dill always gives dishes a fantastic flavor. Unlike the substitutes for fresh tarragon, dill does not give your meal that bitter licorice taste.
To substitute dried tarragon with dill, use a similar amount of what the recipe calls for.
Oregano has a mild taste that does not overpower that of your dish. This makes it a good substitute for tarragon.
If you are substituting dried tarragon with oregano, just use the same amount that the recipe calls for.
- Fennel seeds and anise seeds
Most people use fennel seeds and anise seeds as substitutes for fresh tarragon because of their intense flavor. However, you can still use them as substitutes for dried tarragon.
If a recipe requires you to use one teaspoon of dried tarragon, use an eighth of a teaspoon of fennel seeds or anise seeds. This way, they will not overpower your dish.
Other suitable substitutes for dried tarragon are rosemary and basil.
Can I use tarragon substitute in béarnaise sauce?
Unfortunately, you cannot use a substitute for tarragon in béarnaise sauce.
Tarragon is a crucial ingredient for the sauce. Without it, the béarnaise sauce will not have the flavor that it should have.
If you are making béarnaise sauce, I recommend that you do not substitute tarragon with anything else because the other ingredients will not give you the same results as tarragon.
What is a good substitute for tarragon vinegar?
Tarragon vinegar is sold in most grocery stores. However, you may not always have it in hand when a recipe calls for it. For this reason, you may have to substitute it with something else.
First things first, you need to know the main ingredients of tarragon vinegar. The two main components are white wine vinegar and tarragon. So basically, tarragon vinegar is just white wine vinegar that has been mixed with tarragon.
If you don’t have tarragon vinegar, you can substitute it with a mixture of white wine vinegar and fresh tarragon. Simply soak tarragon leaves inside the white wine vinegar and let it rest for a few days. It will work the same way that the tarragon vinegar works.
Alternatively, you can just replace it with dry white wine, lemon juice, vinegar, and chervil or oregano.
What can I make with marjoram and tarragon?
Marjoram and tarragon have always been a great combination. You can use these two ingredients to come up with some fantastic dishes that your family will enjoy. Here are a few things you can make with marjoram and tarragon.
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- Grilled herb potatoes.
Marjoram and tarragon can be used to spice up delicious grilled herb potatoes.
Simply place the potatoes in a Ziploc bag, add the potatoes and a little bit of cooking oil then add the spices, including marjoram and tarragon. Mix them and then place them on your grill.
- Salad dressing
You can use marjoram and tarragon to make salad dressing.
Simply mix the two with salt pepper, olive oil, and red wine vinegar and shake the ingredients well for them to mix thoroughly. You will have your salad dressing ready in no time.
- Spice rub for poultry
A mixture of marjoram, tarragon, garlic powder, pepper, salt, paprika, and thyme makes for an excellent poultry spice rub.