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Herb-infused vinegar is a brilliant way to add intense flavors to your cooking, especially salads. Tarragon vinegar has the bright, tangy flavor of fresh tarragon, with the delightful anise touch that makes this herb unique. But what happens when you run out of tarragon vinegar and the recipe calls for some? What are the ideal substitutes for tarragon vinegar?
The best substitutes for tarragon vinegar are herbs or other vinegar. For the anise flavor of tarragon, use fennel or chervil. Any herb-infused vinegar is a good substitute, as are white wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, fruit vinegar, malt, rice or balsamic vinegar, white wine, or lemon juice.
Tarragon vinegar is most commonly used in vinaigrettes, dressings, marinades, and sauces to add zest and zing. You’ve probably got other kinds of vinegar on hand and perhaps some herbs as well. What else can you use to get the flavors of tarragon into your food?
Best Substitutes for Tarragon Vinegar: Fresh Herbs
Since tarragon vinegar is vinegar that has been infused with fresh or dried tarragon, herbs are a good starting point. Many recipes call for tarragon vinegar for both the flavor of the herb and the acid of the vinegar.
If your recipe requires freshness rather than acid, replace the tarragon vinegar with another herb and a splash of whatever vinegar you have handy.
Tarragon As A Tarragon Vinegar Substitute
If you’re using tarragon vinegar, the chances are that you want to get the flavor of tarragon into your dish, that gorgeous licorice-like taste. The best substitute, in that case, is to use either fresh or dried tarragon itself.
The most common variety of tarragon is French tarragon, with its perky, long green leaves and strong anise flavor, like fennel. Russian tarragon has coarser leaves and a blander flavor, not a good substitute.
To add fresh tarragon to a dish, chop it finely and add at the last minute for a burst of flavor. Dried tarragon also works well, but use less of it as it can be pungent and overwhelm the flavors of a dish.
For a tarragon vinaigrette, add two tablespoons of fresh tarragon or two teaspoons of dried tarragon to half a cup of olive oil and a third of a cup of wine vinegar. Add garlic and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard for extra potency. Season with salt and pepper.
Fennel As A Tarragon Vinegar Substitute
There are very few herbs with the same anise flavor as tarragon, but fennel is one of them. The bulb, stem, seeds, and frond-like leaves of the fennel plant are all delicious.
To replace tarragon vinegar with fennel leaves, chop the delicate leaves finely and add them to the dish at the last minute, or use them as a pretty garnish.
Replace tarragon in a dressing with an equal amount of finely chopped fennel leaves.
Dried fennel seeds also add a licorice taste to a dish, so you can use them as well. To get the most flavor out of fennel seeds, you need to roast and crush them slightly.
When cooking the onions and garlic in a hot dish, such as a chicken or lamb casserole, add fennel seeds for an anise layer.
You can also add roasted fennel seeds to a vinaigrette.
Chervil As A Tarragon Vinegar Substitute
Another anise-flavored herb is the pale, frilly-leafed chervil, which tastes like a cross between parsley and tarragon. Chervil and tarragon are both staples of French sauce cooking, so make good substitutes for one another.
Like tarragon, chervil doesn’t stand up well to prolonged cooking, so it is best to add it to dishes just before serving.
Replace tarragon with equal amounts of chervil in a vinaigrette, but be aware that it has a more delicate flavor, so use lemon juice rather than vinegar and don’t add strong flavors like garlic and mustard.
Best Substitutes for Tarragon Vinegar: Herb Vinegar
Another great substitute for tarragon vinegar is other herb vinegar. Using another kind of herb-infused vinegar is a good idea if you’re not specifically after the sweet-bitter flavor of tarragon but rather want a punch of freshness.
Basil Vinegar As A Tarragon Vinegar Substitute
Like tarragon, basil is a bold herb, so basil vinegar is a good choice if you want a strong flavor. Tarragon is typically a French herb, so using basil vinegar will give your dish a similarly Mediterranean flavor.
Substitute basil vinegar for tarragon vinegar if you’re looking for a quick drizzle over roasted vegetables, such as green beans. Basil vinegar pairs really well with tomatoes.
You can also use basil vinegar instead of tarragon vinegar to deglaze a pan to make an instant pan sauce, especially if you’ve been cooking fish or chicken escalopes.
Replace tarragon vinegar with equal amounts of basil vinegar for a bright salad dressing.
Chive Vinegar As A Tarragon Vinegar Substitute
Chive or chive blossom vinegar has a somewhat different flavor profile to tarragon, tending to the oniony side. However, chive vinegar imparts a fresh, robust flavor that can be delicious if you don’t have tarragon vinegar.
Tarragon is one of the main flavors in tartar sauce and goes well with fish – this would be a good time to use chive vinegar as a substitute in a marinade. You can also drizzle chive vinegar over grilled fish.
You can also replace tarragon vinegar with chive vinegar in a vinaigrette, especially if you’re looking for a garlicky dressing for a salad – use in equal quantities.
Another good time to substitute chive vinegar for tarragon vinegar is if you’re making mayonnaise.
Another robust herb, rosemary, makes a delicious herb-infused vinegar that you can use instead of tarragon vinegar.
Although the flavors are quite different, rosemary vinegar goes well with chicken, as does tarragon vinegar, so use it when making grilled or marinated chicken.
Use rosemary vinegar as a drizzle over roast vegetables, especially winter root veg and potatoes.
Best Substitutes for Tarragon Vinegar: Other Vinegar
The most likely reason you need to use tarragon vinegar is as an acid element in a dish, so you can substitute another kind of vinegar for a similar result. However, not all kinds of vinegar are the same, and some make better substitutes than others.
If you want a similar herbal effect as tarragon vinegar, then include one of the herbs recommended above in combination with the vinegar.
White Wine Vinegar As A Tarragon Vinegar Substitute
The best vinegar to use instead of tarragon vinegar is white wine vinegar, as it is often the base vinegar for tarragon vinegar. The easiest substitution would be combining fresh or dried tarragon and white wine vinegar.
White wine vinegar is a good substitute for tarragon vinegar in salad dressings. It is not as strong and bitter as ordinary vinegar – you can use it in equal ratios to tarragon vinegar.
Apple Cider Vinegar As A Tarragon Vinegar Substitute
With its medicinal and health benefits, apple cider vinegar makes an excellent substitute for tarragon vinegar. The tangy, sweet flavor of apple cider vinegar is also a good choice if you’re missing the robustness of tarragon vinegar.
Use apple cider vinegar instead of tarragon vinegar as a fruity dressing for pork or beef.
Remember that this vinegar is sweeter than tarragon, so be careful if using it in a salad dressing or mayonnaise. Add the apple cider vinegar slowly as you may well need less of it than tarragon vinegar.
Sherry Vinegar As A Tarragon Vinegar Substitute
Perhaps less common than wine vinegar, Spanish sherry vinegar is a delicious alternative to tarragon vinegar. It has an interesting nutty, almost caramel flavor that comes from the aging process. Sherry vinegar is aged longer than other wine vinegar and has a darker color.
Use sherry vinegar as a substitute for tarragon vinegar in fish and chicken dishes and salad dressings. Replace tarragon vinegar with equal amounts of sherry vinegar.
Champagne Vinegar As A Tarragon Vinegar Substitute
Flavor-wise, champagne vinegar is not a great match for tarragon vinegar as it is milder and fruitier. However, some tarragon vinegar uses champagne vinegar as a base, so it is a viable substitute.
Consider using champagne vinegar if you’re making a vinaigrette, but remember that it will be sweeter and less tangy than tarragon vinegar. However, the vinaigrette will be particularly delicious on a fresh, green, leafy salad. Use equal amounts of champagne vinegar as you would tarragon vinegar.
Fruit Vinegar As A Tarragon Vinegar Substitute
Fruit-flavored vinegar, or vinegar infused with fruit, are very popular, especially for salad dressings. You could use one of these as a substitute for tarragon vinegar.
Choose a tangy fruit vinegar, rather than a very sweet one, to replace the tarragon vinegar in a vinaigrette or marinade: raspberry vinegar has a lovely tartness. You will need to use double the amount of fruit vinegar than tarragon vinegar for the same effect.
Malt Vinegar As A Tarragon Vinegar Substitute
Unlike most kinds of vinegar made from grapes, malt vinegar is made from barley, a grain. This brownish vinegar has a sweet, tangy flavor, almost lemony, and is often served with fish and chips (French fries) in traditional British cuisine.
As a replacement for tarragon vinegar, malt vinegar works well when making a fish dish, especially trout. You can use double the amount of malt vinegar than you would tarragon vinegar, as it isn’t as strong.
Remember that malt vinegar will change the color of your food, as it is brown, and it gets browner and stronger as it ages. This kind of vinegar is not a great substitute if you’re making a salad dressing.
Rice Vinegar As A Tarragon Vinegar Substitute
If you’re a fan of Asian food, especially sushi, you’ll be familiar with the sweet-sour flavor of rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar. Taste-wise, rice vinegar is not the ideal substitute for tarragon vinegar as it is too sweet and mild.
However, if rice vinegar is on hand, it does go well with fish and gives a lift to vegetables. You’ll have to use more rice vinegar than tarragon vinegar, though, perhaps even double the amount to get the same acid kick.
Balsamic Vinegar As A Tarragon Vinegar Substitute
Balsamic vinegar’s thick, luxurious sweetness doesn’t really speak to tarragon vinegar and is the least likely of all vinegar substitutes.
Not only is balsamic vinegar fruitier and tarter than tarragon vinegar, but it also has a dark color and more dense texture, so it will not have the same effect in a dish as tarragon vinegar.
If all you have is balsamic vinegar, use about a third as much balsamic as tarragon vinegar.
Best Substitutes for Tarragon Vinegar: Kitchen Staples
Sometimes you just don’t have the right ingredients for a recipe and seem to have run out of good alternatives. However, having a couple of reliable kitchen staples on hand means that you can always produce something delicious.
Here are a couple of substitutes for tarragon vinegar that you may have hanging around your kitchen.
Lemon Juice As A Tarragon Vinegar Substitute
Lemons are a common kitchen staple, used in many dishes, including your hydrating water and tea. It is a standard companion to tarragon in French cuisine, especially in buttery sauces, so use lemon juice if you have some fresh tarragon.
Lemon juice will add both the brightness and acid of tarragon vinegar to a dish, especially fish and chicken. It is an excellent substitute for marinades.
Also, replace tarragon vinegar with lemon juice in a salad dressing – but add the lemon juice slowly and taste as you go. You will probably only need half as much lemon juice as tarragon vinegar.
White Wine As A Tarragon Vinegar Substitute
Okay, so not everyone has white wine in the fridge as a kitchen staple. But if you have an open bottle of white wine, use it instead of tarragon vinegar.
Dry white wine will add the acidic note you’re looking for with tarragon vinegar and works well if you need an addition to mushrooms, chicken, or fish.
Tarragon vinegar is a delicious herb-infused vinegar that imparts a fresh, anise acid kick to food. Good substitutes are fresh herbs, herb-infused vinegar, or wine vinegar. You could also use lemon juice or white wine.