The use of dill dates all the way back to biblical times and there are recipes that use it alongside cucumber that date back to the mid 17th century. This herb’s flavor is reminiscent of caraway or anise and it has a frilly look that makes it great for use as a garnish. It is popular enough that many cooks keep some dried dill on hand. You can also find fresh dill at most grocery stores.
While dill does have a unique flavor profile, its flavor can be replicated with other herbs if you use them correctly. These herbs are all easy to find; in fact, you may have some of them in your spice cabinet right now.
Your best bet: Fresh tarragon
If you want a dill substitute that can be used on its own an in a one-to-one ratio, tarragon is it. There was a time when this herb’s use was almost entirely limited to French cooking, but it has since become popular all over the world. Like dill, tarragon has a flavor and aroma that is similar to that of anise. Tarragon can stand up to heat unlike dill, which is why it is used in stews, sauces and soups. This also means that you should add it earlier in the cooking process than you would dill. In addition, you can use tarragon like dill when making vinegars and homemade mustards.
A decent second option: Fennel
Dills appearance makes it an excellent garnish for many dishes. Chefs often snip off the feathery fronds and use them to finish salads, fish dishes and soups. If you are in need of an herb to use as garnish and that has a similar appearance to dill, fennel is an excellent choice. Like dill, it has the feathery fronds, though the stems are much thicker. You can snip fennel fronds off and use them in much the same way that you would use dill fronds. Also, its flavor is mild and sweet and has licorice notes so it should complement any dish that requires dill. Fennel is widely used and you should be able to find it in the produce section of most grocery stores. In addition, you can use the stems and bulbs in soups or stews once you are done with the fronds.
In a pinch: Thyme
While thyme actually belongs to the mint family, it can handle long cooking times; in fact, it is preferred for use in braised dishes. You can use thyme to flavor many of the same times of dishes for which dill would be used. Dishes in which you can use thyme include stews, sauces and even salads. Thyme can be used to make salad dressings and marinades as well. To get the most from your thyme, you will want to add it early in the cooking process. You can find fresh thyme in the produce section of many supermarkets and dried thyme in the spice section.
Other popular dill substitutes include rosemary, which is also widely used in French and Italian cooking. Like thyme and tarragon, rosemary is best for long-cooking dishes. It can be used to cook lamb, chicken or pork. You can also use basil in place of dill for salads, pickles and in marinades.