Food TipsWhat is Tarragon? Tarragon Substitute?

What is Tarragon? Tarragon Substitute?


How many times have you followed a recipe and met a mysterious herb? There are thousands of herb which can be used in cuisine to emphasize flavor, to strengthen health or other medicinal purposes. Sadly, we almost have no knowledge about these useful herbs and why we should have them in our dish. Today, I will introduce you about Tarragon, a versatile herb used in many French dishes.

Tarragon definition:

  • Tarragon, which is also called estragon, is originated from daisy family and share the same characteristics as the perennial herb.
  • It is believed to have been found in central Asia, probably Siberia.
  • It is widely used mostly because of its unique aroma.
  • Besides, this edible herb shows a large contribution in cuisine and medicine.

Some Tarragon Cooking Application

Tarragon shows a great capacity of making different dishes.

  • French cuisine also called tarragon as one of their four fines herbs in history.
    Tarragon varies from countries, however, French tarragon is the most popular. Not only because of its signature appearance, which is half gray half green, pointed leaves, but also because of its remarkable aroma, a combination of pepper, licorice, anise, and fennel. This chateristic is the key deciding the perfection of a dish.
  • Green salads are usually added tarragon to enhance the flavor as well as to make the dish look better.
  • Remember to use fresh tarragon, not the dried one to gain the best result.
  • There are also many dishes perform perfectly when added tarragon such as fish, chicken, veal, potatoes, eggs. Tarragon is a crucial factor in Bearnaise sauce as well, as a seasoning in this most wanted cream.

Nevertheless, one thing you should keep in mind is that you need to add tarragon gradually as long as you don’t want to be overwhelming by its aroma. Just go slowly one by one till you find your suitable stop.

Make Tarragon Tea

Make Tarragon TeaThere’s no better way to taste the tarragon to its fullest by making a tarragon tea. You will need a kettle, some tarragon leaves and these below instructions:

  • Boil the water in the tea kettle
  • Add in tarragon leaves, about 1 tablespoon for 8-10 oz of water.
  • Lower the heat and let the tea boiling in that state for about 5 minutes or more.

With some small gingers, lemon or honey, your tea would be even greater.

Tarragon Benefits

Tarragon is recommended in medicine because of its benefits in preventing disease and enhancing health. Tarragon also appears in different forms, which is flexible to grow in different conditions and have more functions as well.

Preventing Cancer:

  • Doctors note that Tarragon is especially rich in fight free radical, vitamins, minerals and ions.
  • Free radicals can cause cell damage and increase the risk of cancer. Antioxidants in tarragon will help us a lot in the fight with this century disease.
  • Besides this herb encourages red blood cells production and oxygen dispersion in our body, so it is considered promoting normal heart and muscle functions and bond building, too.

Providing Relief

  • Tarragon can ease your pain from the mild mouth or other sore and aches. One of the reasons is that it contains eugenol.
  • This natural oil plays a big part in protecting yourself from germs, fungi, and infections with antibacterial. Your pain will soon go away if you use some tarragon tea or chewing some tarragon leaves.

Appetite Stimulant

Tarragon has been used to enhance the digest ferment so that it is useful to those who are struggling with their eating habit. This appetite stimulant has a lot poly- phenolic compound, which balances and maintains blood sugar at a healthy level.

Preventing Insomnia

One undeniable benefit of tarragon is that you can find yourself fall asleep much easier and more relaxed. Insomnia won’t be a big problem anymore if you use this herb regularly.

Fighting Bad Breath And Body Odor

Bad breath or body odor can be prevented by some tarragon, too. This herb is a kind of natural antimicrobial, which kills microorganisms or inhibits their growth. Irritable bowel syndrome and digestion problems can also be controlled with tarragon, even the production of bile in the liver, too.

Diffusing Tarragon

Tarragon oil can do much more than you expected:

  • It contains antimicrobial and antiviral properties, which are two elements useful in fighting disease and improve body resistance.
  • It cures such issues like colitis, menstrual problems, travel sickness, respiratory illness and whooping cough.
  • Affected area can be healed with a mix of carrier oil and tarragon oil
  • Your digest ferment will work better with some ingesting tarragon oil. Doctor’s instructions are needed.

Some Important cautions

Although this useful herb can bring us many benefits, you should be careful before using it. Some people might get the allergy or even health problems if don’t research carefully. I will give you some cautions below so that you can adjust your meal.

  • Allergic Reaction​: Some people can be allergic to plant from Asteraceae family, ragweed or marigolds. Tarragon is a small branch of that plant. To have this herb in your medical plan, you should exercise extreme cautions.
  • Pregnant And While Breastfeeding Women: It is quite dangerous to pregnant women because some properties inside can lead to suppressed menstruation.

To sum up, Tarragon is a useful herb both in culinary as well as medicine purpose. If you’re finding a spice originated from nature, tarragon should be ranked first.

Substitute for Tarragon

Tarragon appears in many French dishes. If you are a great fan of French cuisine, it would be a big fault if you do not have your tarragon to finish the dish. It may be because you go to the market at the last minute and every store has just run out of it. It may be because it’s not in the tarragon season and you can’t find it anywhere.

Don’t be frightened, I will give you some solutions for this situation.

With tarragon’s special flavor, we should try to replace it with some herbs sharing same characteristics. Below are 8 herbs which can help you get through your hard time.

  1. Have a Fish? Replace with Dill.

If you are preparing a fish dish, Dill is perfect as a substitute. It is a small branch of the celery family, has long, thin limbs with separated leaves. You can find it easily in supermarkets, based on its appearance.

The licorice flavor of dill may vary differently from tarragon so that you should gradually add it in to get the best result. Some over or under-powdering may happen if you do not notice this.

With a suitable amount, this herb can harmonize perfectly with fish and meats without making them too bitter. Dill helps raise the fish flavor so good that a company called Great American Spice Company even made their own rubs for fish.

You can also make special dill sauces which are suitable for different types of fish. With salmon, you can try dill sauce in the creamy texture. With flounder, you can change it to a combination of dill and lemon.

2. Have Italian Dishes? Replace with Basil.

Basil as alternative for tarragonBasil can be unexpectedly found in your garden if you pay it some notice. This herb may appear in various types, like Thai basil, dry basil, lemon basil, sweet basil, holy basil, and many others.

Basil will be the best replacement in your favorite pesto sauce when you have run out of tarragon. It can be used both in the fresh and dry state, but I recommend fresh is much better.

Your cheese, chicken or any food cooked in Italian- American style will gain better flavor if you add in some basil. All you need to do is leave some basil leaves in your oven with the dish. Along with the baking process, those leaves will dry out and give your food a unique aroma.

If you are doing a quick fry, the leaves will still give you the same aroma but will appear a bit stringier and you need to remove them before serving.

Remember to use an appropriate amount.

You can find some recipes using basil on the Internet. One piece of advice is that you should try to cook some chicken tenderloins with fresh basil leaves. You will surprise by how savory everything is.

3. Have Salad Dressing? Replace with Marjoram.

Salad Dressing with MarjoramIf I mention tarragon substitute, you must have first thought about marjoram. This is one of the most common replacements for tarragon because they share many similarities. Marjoram has smooth, ovate leaves and a signature sweet taste.

Fresh marjoram is quite rare in cold countries since it is not easy to be grown in a cold climates. Marjoram’s best height is about 30 inches and it has leaves blooming on top.

This sweet herb can be an ideal substitute in soups, sauces, dressings, and stews. Those dishes are not much different from what tarragon can be applied so you can switch between marjoram and tarragon.

In some mushroom soups, marjoram can even be a better choice over tarragon because of its richness in nutrients and proteins.

For salad dressing, you can go with a recipe of tomato, salad, and marjoram, which will become a star among all of your dishes.

4. Replace with Chervil

Chervil as substitute for tarragonYou may have found this herb in some England or French dishes. Chervil is usually used in classical bearnaise sauce, in some chicken, white fish, eggs, vegetables and so on to enrich the flavor.

Some will wonder how a French taste can replace a traditional American herb. Chervil’s scent and aroma are a bit lighter than tarragon, yet still remain the necessary licorice and anise. That’s why this herb can be the best substitute that we are looking for.

However, there are still some flaws that chervil can not be as good as its ascendant. I recommend not to use it in parsley and chivesThis herb is also not the best when used as dried state, too. The solution here is to find fresh marjoram and only add it when you are about to finish the cooking process.

A great way to enjoy marjoram is to make some herb butter. All you have to do is chop fresh chervil into small pieces, mix them with softened butter and chill. Prepare some fresh bread and you’re so ready for a wonderful breakfast.

5. Have Icecream? Replace with Fennel Seed

Fennel Seed as alternative for tarragonIt’s unbelievable that you can even flavor your ice cream with a herb. In that case, fennel seed is perfect for you.

It is a strong plant yet owns a beloved appearance. You can recognize this fennel plant based on its signature yellow flowers and leaves which look like feathers. The reason for this special exterior is that fennel is a branch of the carrot family.

There are many interesting facts about this herb. First, it is used to made absinthe. People also use it for medicinal purposes, like to produce health care products made from nature, one we know is toothpaste, and many other applications.

Fennel seeds have tender taste, some people will say it is the same as denise but has quite an indescribable taste. You can use it in sweet dishes like desserts and soups, or many other dishes such as salads, puddings, and fish sauces. Based on its variety, you can replace tarragon with fennel in many cases without worrying.

You can easily flavor your pork chops with a combination of fennel seed, garlic, and a white wine sauce.

If you want to change your ice cream into a much more interesting dish, you can try to ground fennel seed, then mix it with some more ingredient and spread on top of your ice cream. Your diners will be surprised with your creation.

6. Have Fresh Bread? Replace with Aniseed

Aniseed alternative for tarragonAnnise’s flavor can be described as a combination of tarragon and fennel. It also has licorice flavor of tarragon. Anise can reach to 3 feet tall, has fruit and beautiful white flowers.

In Western culture, anise is quite popular in some entrees, drinks, and candies. It can be used in liquor or to flavor tea because, in herbal medicines, anise is considered an effective antiseptic or digestive.

One significant benefit, that every researcher advises, is that anise can help you a lot in strengthening health. It is more popular to use anise for medicinal purposes than for cooking purely. Anise can cure women’s menstrual cramps, colic in children, and pain from bloating.

Tarragon can be replaced by anise in cookies, tilapia, and fish taco dish.

Remember not to use a large amount of anise in any dish since this can turn your sweet meal into a bitter one and you won’t want that to happen. You should add it gradually until it reaches the taste you want.

7. Have Candies and Jams? Replace with Angelina.

Angelina as substitute for tarragonSimilar to the above herbs, Angelina has the edible parts in the roots of the plant. As beautiful as its name, this herb has white or greenish-white flowers and can grow up to 3 or 4 feet.

You can easily find Angelina in pastures in Asia, more specifically, Japan or China. In these Asian countries, Angelina is believed to treat ailments and encourage the healing to process more quickly.

Culinarily, Angelina can help flavoring liquors like gin and chartreuse. You can make a drink much more interesting with the distinguishing taste of Angelina.

This herb is also used to sweeten dishes like tarragon, based on its licorice taste. The first thing you should do with this sweet Angelina is making candy. With only a pound of the herb, your candies will be flavored perfectly.

Although Angelina is versatile in many situations, including making sweets or flavoring drinks, it is quite rare to find. This can be a good challenge for you, try growing an Angelina for many exotic dishes ahead. Why not?

8. Best choice: Replace with Thyme

Thyme as alternative for tarragonIf you have read some Egypt books, you must have heard about this herbs. This Thyme was used in embalming. Besides, it is a versatile herb that can replace tarragon in almost every situation.

This herb is unexpectedly widespread. You can see it in Roman when people use it to flavor cheese or liquors. You can see it in Middle Ages where people use it to give courage to warriors, protect people from nightmares and look after people on the way to the afterlife.

Thyme originates from mint or oregano families. It owns an interesting appearance and texture.

I recommend using thyme in the fresh state. However, it is also good in dried state,

In grocery stores, you may find it in sprigs in the herbal area. Thyme has paired leaves with white flowers growing from woody stems, which helps you easier to detect this herb.

You can use thyme to make corn bread with only 25 minutes baking. It can also be cooked well with vegetable and meats because its flavor can still be kept throughout the cooking process.


If you frequently use tarragon in cooking, it must be a struggling when you don’t have your favorite herb at the right time. With these above substitutes, I hope to have brought you some choices to finish your dish perfectly just in time. Besides using these herbs as a replacement, you can also create many more dishes with them, so keep creating in your kitchen.

Jennifer Wise
This is Jennifer Wise. I have been working as a professional chef for the last twelve years. Initially, I started my journey as a home cook and started my graduation. I have completed my nutrition degree from a reputed college. Now, I am doing it professionally. Not only this, I joined a restaurant to gain practical knowledge about cooking. While working in restaurants, I experienced and learned many things in those years. Right now, I am running a small business, and we provide homemade food to our clients. Thus, I need to use lots of cookware sets, frying pans, pots, Omlet pans, and lids for my kitchen, and from my experience, I know which frying pan is suitable and which is terrible. Experimenting with fresh foods and creating a new kind of recipe is always fun. I have made lots of new recipes, which I will share here gradually. It is not hard for me to select quality kitchen products for the kitchen that fulfills your kitchen requirements and last longer than others. So, if you need any frying pan, pots, or Cookware-related information, you can ask me questions using the comment option or search the topic via our website search option. If you have any questions or want to know any information, then you can contact me here.


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