The BEST Substitute for Tarragon: 10 Swap-In Ideas

Tarragon, with its unique anise and licorice notes, adds a depth of flavor to many dishes. But what if you find yourself without? Swap it! Here’s a guide to some fantastic substitutes that can stand in for tarragon in a pinch, ensuring your dishes remain delicious.

There are quite a few good substitutes for tarragon, depending on your recipe and what kind of flavor you’re going for! Here are some options:

What to Substitute for Tarragon

Thyme

This versatile herb offers a milder, slightly minty flavor that can work well in chicken dishes, soups, and stews. Use a 1:1 ratio fresh or dried.

Bundle of thyme.

Parsley & Cinnamon

This unexpected combo works surprisingly well in Béarnaise sauce. Combine 1 tablespoon parsley with ½ teaspoon cinnamon and simmer in ¼ cup water for a flavor reminiscent of tarragon.

Basil

Fresh basil brings a sweet, peppery note that complements tomato-based dishes and vinaigrettes. Use double the amount of fresh basil compared to tarragon.

Fresh basil leaves on counter.

Dill

If you enjoy the licorice aspect of tarragon, dill can be a good substitute. Use slightly less dill as its flavor is more pronounced.

Chervil

This delicate herb has a subtle anise flavor and works well in egg dishes and light sauces. Use a 1:1 ratio fresh or dried.

Fresh Chervil.

Marjoram

This herb has a mild, slightly sweet flavor that can work in poultry and vegetable dishes. Use a 1:1 ratio fresh or dried.

Fennel

Adds a distinctive licorice flavor to fish dishes and roasted vegetables. Use a 1:1 ratio for fronds and half the amount for seeds.

Fennel seeds on spoon.

Aniseed

Use sparingly, as aniseed’s licorice flavor is potent. A pinch can add depth to sauces and marinades.

Rosemary

Though quite different in flavor, rosemary can add a savory, woodsy note to roasted vegetables and meats. Use it sparingly as it’s quite potent.

Rosemary sprigs on counter.

Oregano

While bolder than tarragon, oregano can hold its own in stews and tomato-based dishes. Use half the amount of oregano as tarragon.

Tips

  • When using substitutes, consider the dish’s overall flavor profile. Opt for herbs with similar flavor notes (licorice, anise, peppery) for a more seamless replacement.
  • Remember that substitutions may not be exact, so adjust the amount based on the herb’s potency and your taste preferences.
  • Start with a smaller amount of the substitute and gradually add more to taste. Remember, you can always add more, but you can’t take it away!
  • If you’re using dried herbs, keep in mind that they are generally more potent than fresh herbs, so you may need to use less.
  • If you’re feeling adventurous, you can experiment with combining different herbs to create your own unique flavor blend.

Related Recipes

Here are some recipes using tarragon:

Collage of tarragon substitutes with text overlay.

The BEST Substitute for Tarragon

There are plenty of good substitutes for tarragon, depending on the dish you're cooking and the specific flavor profile you're looking for! Here are a couple of the best options to try.
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 Tablespoon tarragon

Ingredients

Option 1:

  • 1 Tablespoon chervil

Option 2:

  • 1 Tablespoon fennel fronds (or 1/2 Tablespoon fennel seeds, ground)

Instructions

  • If your recipe calls for tarragon, substitute with an equal amount of chervil or fennel fronds. Or, use half the amount of ground fennel seeds.
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