Tarragon Substitute

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Tarragon Substitutes to Make your Food Shine!


When it comes to cooking, it’s often the smaller ingredients that pack the most of the punch. The subtle yet distinct aromas of these ingredients can add an unparalleled complexity. This is why, in most cuisines around the world, different herbs are the most important in flavoring.

Adding some cumin seeds or coriander can give a distinctly south Asian flavor, and basil, thyme, and other herbs can add an Italian touch.

When cooking French cuisine, tarragon is one of the most used herbs out there. The small, thin leaves of fresh tarragon have a flavor that can be deep yet delicate at the same time. However, fresh tarragon can be difficult to find sometimes.

While some recipes, such as bearnaise sauce, just can’t be made with substitutes, you can swap out tarragon for more common ingredients for most dishes. If, for whatever reason, you don’t like tarragon, or don’t have it on hand, keep reading below!

We’ve compiled a list of the best substitutes for tarragon to use in any dish

What does tarragon taste like?

Fresh tarragon has small, thin leaves that are prized in French cuisine for the immense aroma and flavor they hold.

This small herb is so loved in French cuisine that it’s added to almost everything. From sauces to meats to eggs, tarragon is a herb that’s sprinkled on in abundance.

This herb’s taste is like anise or licorice, and many consider it to be the best way to elevate any meat or poultry dish. However, for many, the flavor isn’t all that great.

Tarragon is an acquired taste, and if you want to substitute it, that’s perfectly fine. However, when looking for substitutes for tarragon, pay close attention to your recipe.

Some recipes call for fresh tarragon, while others require dried. Both varieties have very different flavors, with fresh tarragon having a more robust licorice flavor.

If you want to keep away from tarragon, here are the best substitutes you can use.

Substitutes for fresh tarragon


An east European herb, chervil has a taste pretty similar to tarragon, but milder. If you don’t have tarragon on hand or want a less distinct flavor without losing out on tarragon’s flavor, chervil is the best option.

Chervil is perfect to use in salads or soups and has the same notes of licorice and anise found in tarragon, making it an excellent tarragon substitute.

chervil tarragon substitute

Basil leaf

Basil is traditionally used more in Italian cuisine as compared to French food, but the flavor profile makes it a good tarragon substitute. Known as the king of herbs, basil is fragrant and super flavorful.

The light herbal bouquet of basil makes it the perfect addition to all sorts of meats, cheeses, and sauces.

If you’re looking for a tarragon substitute that packs a punch, basil is a great option.

basil tarragon substitute

Fennel seeds

The taste of tarragon is pretty similar to that of fennel. The only difference is that fennel is much stronger than tarragon.

Fennel seeds can be an incredibly useful addition to meat dishes, giving them great intensity and depth.

When substituting fennel for tarragon, make sure to use a very little quantity. Use half the quantity of fennel seeds compared to the quantity of tarragon.

fennel seeds

Substitutes for dried tarragon


Dried tarragon has a taste much different from fresh tarragon, and it can be easier to substitute. The taste of dried tarragon is much milder than the fresh. Dill can be an excellent substitute for many reasons.

For starters, dill is a flavor that our palettes are more used to as compared to other tarragon substitutes such as fennel seeds.

Dill can be lemony, bitter, and sweet at the same time. Additionally, the aroma is similar to anise. Dill can be an excellent tarragon substitute in creamy dishes.



Marjoram, or oregano’s forgotten relative, is a flavorful herb that has a complex and warm flavor profile. In particular, marjoram has a sweetness that can make it a lovely tarragon substitute.

It lacks the spiciness of tarragon, however. Therefore, when using marjoram instead of tarragon, do so in fish or chicken dishes that have lighter flavors.

You can use the same amount of marjoram as the amount of dried tarragon that the recipe needs.



Aniseed is the perfect addition to sweeter dishes. Tarragon isn’t just used in savory, but sweet dishes as well. In particular, tarragon is popularly added to biscuits. However, aniseed is a tarragon substitute that can make your final product taste better than the original.

Aniseed is sweeter than tarragon, making it perfect for sweet dishes. However, it is also much more potent, so you’ll be fine using just a pinch.


Create your tarragon cocktail

The taste of fresh tarragon is pretty distinct, and you won’t be able to find it in dried tarragon alone, even though it might seem like the most straightforward option. However, you can mix dried tarragon with other flavorful herbs to craft your own tarragon substitute.

Add some marjoram, basil, and just a tad of fennel seeds to dried tarragon to elevate any dish to the next level.

Cooking is about working with the ingredients you have on hand and making the most of them, after all.

Additionally, creating your tarragon cocktail is a great way to get a more customized flavor profile in your dishes. Based on what you’re making, you can adjust the quantities of the herbs used.

The bottom line

There are myriad reasons why you’re looking for a tarragon substitute.

It can be because you just missed out on grabbing it while shopping, or it can be because you don’t like the taste. In either case, you can use any of the tarragon substitutes listed above to give your dishes the depth they need. Without these special herbs, your dish can taste incomplete and dull.

A few pinches of these magical herbs can take your food to the next level. In addition to this, you can add these to season your meat, to your sauces, vinaigrettes, dressings, and salads.

Andy Canter


Ever since I started cooking I’ve been fascinated by how different people’s techniques are and how they best utilise the ingredients around them. Even the person living next door will have their own unique way of frying an egg or cooking a salmon fillet.

This fascination led me on a journey across the globe to discover the countless practices and traditions the world of cooking has to offer. I thought you’d enjoy and find value in sharing that journey with me so I created Cooked Best!