What’s A Good Chervil Substitute?

Chervil is widely used in French dishes and is one of the fines herbes of French cooking along with parsley and tarragon. Chervil provides a subtle flavor to dishes and you can use it to flavor poultry, fish and even cheese. You will need this herb if you want to make an authentically flavored ravigote sauce or you can use it to add a different and interesting touch to your salad. Chervil can be found in many grocery stores but if you cannot find it in yours, consider these substitutes.

Your best bet: Fresh tarragon

Like chervil, tarragon’s claim to fame is its ability to complement poultry and fish as well as the fact that it is a fines herbes. You can also chop and sprinkle it over finished dishes as a garnish. French and Russian tarragon are the two main types, but the Russian variant is considered harsh and not as fragrant as the French.

Tarragon’s flavor is similar to that of chervil in that both have notes of anise. While the two are similar enough to be used as substitutes for each other, it is important to note a key difference: tarragon’s flavor is strong and can easily overpower the other flavors in a dish. As a result, it is a good idea to start with half the amount that your recipe requires for chervil and increase to taste.

A decent second choice: Fennel leaves

Fennel is another popular herb, especially in French and Italian cooking. French and Italian cooks use dried or fresh fennel leaves in sausages and various pork dishes while English cooks use this herb to flavor seafood dishes. You can use fennel as an alternative in almost all dishes that require chervil, but it is especially useful in raw applications like salads. Simply chop the leaves finely and sprinkle them over your salad as you would chervil. Use fennel in exactly the same quantity that your recipe requires for chervil.

In a pinch: Parsley

Both chervil and parsley belong to the same family as the carrot and both herbs share a strong resemblance to carrot greens. That resemblance makes parsley an excellent substitute for chervil, especially if you plan to use it as a garnish. Like dried chervil, dried parsley does not have much flavor so you should use the fresh herb when making your substitution.

Also, keep in mind that parsley’s taste is even more delicate than that of chervil so you will want to add it at the end of cooking time to ensure that its flavor is preserved. Add the same amount of parsley that your recipe requires for chervil and adjust the amount to taste.

Other alternatives

Dill belongs to the same family as parsley and chervil; it has been used in pickling for centuries and is another good chervil substitute. Its effectiveness comes from the fact that like chervil and tarragon, it is aromatic and its aroma is strongly reminiscent of anise.

Cicely is another herbal relative of chervil and you can use it in much the same way. It provides some of the anise notes that you find in chervil and is similarly mild tasting. While it is often used when cooking with rhubarb as a way to reduce rhubarb’s tartness, you can use it in savory dishes as well.