Tarragon is a delicious culinary herb that’s used to add earthiness, herbaceousness, and a slightly peppery garnish to a wide variety of dishes. It’s a very complex spice to work with or replace. French cuisine typically makes the most use of tarragon even though it goes with all kinds of dishes.
If you’re ever out of tarragon or the supermarket’s out of stock, fortunately, there are some other options you can use instead. Here’s a curated list of all the herbs that will make a good substitute for tarragon and save your recipe.
Like tarragon, thyme is used to give an earthy flavor to dishes, but it also adds a pleasant lemon-mint freshness. It’s most commonly used as a garnish in traditional French, Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.
If you’re at the supermarket and see more than 5 different types of thyme on the spice rack, don’t worry; they’re all the same. Thyme comes in different variations that add distinct aromas to a dish.
Thyme tastes quite similar to tarragon, although it won’t give you the same bitter finish. They both have a sweet anise flavor and minty aroma, except tarragon is a bit milder.
1 Tbsp. Fresh Tarragon = ½ Tbsp. Dried Thyme or 1 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme
1 Tbsp. Dried Tarragon = 2 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme or 1 Tbsp. Dried Thyme
Angelica has an earthy, sweet taste with a hint of licorice. It’s a rare herb to find at your average supermarket. It also goes by the name wild celery or garden celery because it has a celery-like taste.
If you’re purchasing Angelica to use as a herb, make sure you get the leaf or the stalk. The root is a spice, not a dried or fresh garnish for topping dishes.
Angelic will help you add some earthiness to your recipes along with a pleasant twist of licorice. It has the same intensity as tarragon that makes it a good substitute. You can substitute angelica for tarragon to sprinkle over your soup, seafood, stews, and salads. The sweetness only makes a minor difference, but the dish will taste just as good.
1 Tbsp. Fresh Tarragon = ½ Tbsp. Dried Angelica (Leaf or Stalk) or 1 Tbsp. Fresh Angelica (Leaf or Stalk)
1 Tbsp. Dried Tarragon = 2 Tbsp. Fresh Angelica (Leaf or Stalk) or 1 Tbsp. Dried Angelica (Leaf or Stalk)
Basil is a herb in the mint family used to give dishes a distinctively sweet and warm finish. It also has a tantalizing aroma that grows stronger when heated. Basil has significant importance in Italian cuisine because it pairs brilliantly with cheese. It’s a key ingredient in dishes like creamy tomato soup and pesto sauce.
You should also know, fresh basil has a different taste than dry basil. While fresh basil has an overpowering flavor with lots of sweetness and hotness, dried basil is more earthy and slightly spicy. Roasting basil helps to eliminate some of its sweetness.
1 Tbsp. Fresh Tarragon = 1 Tbsp. Dried Basil or ½ Tbsp. Fresh Basil
1 Tbsp. Dried Tarragon = ½ Tbsp. Dried Basil or ¼ Tbsp. Fresh Basil
Oregano doesn’t give you the same licorice aroma you get with tarragon, but that doesn’t make it a bad replacement. It has a warm, savory, and almost woody kind of taste that can complement most dishes that call for tarragon. If you’re swapping dried tarragon for dried oregano, you won’t even notice the difference in flavor.
Oregano has a slightly bitter aftertaste that works best when combined with dishes like soups, stews, pasta dishes, casseroles, and tomato gravies. If you find the taste of dried oregano too sharp, just substitute fresh oregano for dried tarragon instead. It’s a very versatile herb that can be utilized in many ways, and it’s widely available.
1 Tbsp. Fresh Tarragon = ½ Tbsp. Dried Oregano or 1 Tbsp. Fresh Oregano
1 Tbsp. Dried Tarragon = 2 Tbsp. Fresh Oregano or 1 Tbsp. Dried Oregano
Marjoram has a very similar taste to oregano. It’s sweet, spicy, and has a slightly woody texture. Sometimes oregano is referred to as “wild marjoram.” Marjoram gives a very pronounced flavor and warmth to dishes. It makes a good substitute for tarragon because it gives a pepper-like garnish, warmth, and some woodiness to dishes.
Marjoram goes best with dishes containing meats like beef, sausage, and chicken. It also pairs well with curry by virtue of its complex earthiness. In many ways, marjoram and tarragon are the same. The only compromise, again, is the sweet licorice aroma.
1 Tbsp. Fresh Tarragon = ½ Tbsp. Dried Marjoram or 1 Tbsp. Fresh Marjoram
1 Tbsp. Dried Tarragon = 2 Tbsp. Fresh Marjoram or 1 Tbsp. Dried Marjoram
Rosemary, like tarragon, is a fragrant evergreen herb used to add earth, warmth, and richness to a dish. It’s typically used in traditional French and Italian cuisine but goes well with just about any dish with meats and sauces. It also lends a light woody element to the flavor, almost mimicking tarragon but a bit more playfully.
Rosemary has a zesty-lemon pine flavor, so that’s one tiny but pleasant difference in taste you will experience when you substitute it for tarragon. In terms of intensity, rosemary surpasses tarragon, so you need to use it with a light hand.
1 Tbsp. Fresh Tarragon = ½ Tbsp. Fresh Rosemary or ¼ Dried Rosemary
1 Tbsp. Dried Tarragon = 1 Tbsp. Fresh Rosemary or ½ Dried Rosemary
Chervil, or “French parsley,” is a highly adaptable herb that you can pair with almost any dish. Some professional chefs argue that chervil is the better version of tarragon because of their similarities. However, chervil has a much more sophisticated flavor that consists of notes from a variety of garden herbs. It’s got a little hint of anise and chive and the delicate earthiness of parsley.
Chervil will give your recipes the same fragrance and delicate finish as tarragon, making it a top-choice substitute. It’s hard to find an herb with a flavor as identical to tarragon as chervil.
1 Tbsp. Fresh Tarragon = ½ Tbsp. Dried Chervil or 1 Tbsp. Fresh Chervil
1 Tbsp. Dried Tarragon = 2 Tbsp. Fresh Chervil or 1 Tbsp. Dried Chervil
#8. Dill Weed
If you’re not a fan of the slight licorice taste of tarragon, dill may be a better substitute for you. Apart from the fact that it lacks sweetness, it tastes exactly like tarragon in every other way and helps you achieve the same effects on your dish. Dill is citrusy with subtle notes of grass and gives dishes a unique tingling finish.
Dill is most commonly used as a dressing to top off traditional Eurasian dishes like borscht, pickles, and soup. It pairs exceptionally well with seafood.
1 Tbsp. Fresh Tarragon = ½ Tbsp. Dried Dill Weed or 1 Tbsp. Fresh Dill Weed
1 Tbsp. Dried Tarragon = 2 Tbsp. Fresh Dill Weed or 1 Tbsp. Dried Weed