Chervil is a herb many chefs use in French cuisine. Mild-flavored, chervil tastes similar to anise and makes a good addition to soup, fish, cheese, seafood, egg, and chicken. Many chefs also use it to flavor butter and dressings.
Chervil is most often used to flavor fish and make seafood less fishy tasting. For example, you can use it to cook roasted halibut. By mixing chervil into a buttery sauce, you can bring a light licorice-like flavor to your roasted halibut.
You can also use chervil in various sauces, such as mushroom and butter sauces.
If you haven’t seen chervil before, here’s how you can recognize it. Chervil has the following characteristics:
- Looks like parsley, but slightly lighter in color
- Leaves are thinner and have a frilly edge
- Leaves look similar to carrot leaves since chervil is from the same family as carrots
- It should not come with blossoms. If you see blossoms on your chervil, you should not use the herb for cooking. The herb often becomes bitter once it starts flowering.
However, what happens if you run out of chervil or your local supermarket does not have any in stock? What can you replace it with? What makes a good chervil substitute?
Chervil tastes mild and as such, it is not immediately recognizable in a dish. This makes it relatively easy to find substitutes for the herb.
Recommended Chervil Substitutes
You can use Tarragon, Parsley or Dill as Chervil substitutes because they have the same closeness in taste and texture as chervil, although you may need to apply them in varying quantities. Other alternatives are Cicely and Fennel Seeds.
Tarragon is not only a great chervil substitute , but also a French fine herb in its own right.
Like chervil, it complements fish and poultry extremely well. By sprinkling bits of it over finished dishes, you can add some fragrance to your food.
Tarragon also tastes a bit like anise, just like chervil does. However, there are some minor differences from chervil: tarragon tends to be strong and can overpower other flavors.
As such, if you plan to use tarragon as a chervil replacement , use only half of what you’d normally use or chervil.
Where can you buy tarragon? In warmer climates, tarragon is usually available in winter, while it is more common at the end of winter in temperate climates. Tarragon is a common sight in specialty stores and farmers’ markets, but it is not that common in general grocery stores.
Here are some recipe ideas for tarragon:
- Tarragon makes a terrific chervil replacement in this dish.
- Mix dried tarragon into cream and white wine sauce to add some twang to your chicken fillets.
- Tarragon tastes best when the sauce you mix it into is thick and hearty.
- If you want to make a chervil soup but have no chervil, you can consider making tarragon soup.
- Like chervil soup, a tarragon soup is usually cream-heavy. Tarragon, like chervil, works well with cream and other dairy products.
- Consider adding just a bit of lemon juice to your soup. It will bring out tarragon’s pungent flavor.
Parsley is another great chervil substitute.
Parsley belongs to the same family as chervil. Both herbs look like carrot greens. This makes parsley more than an acceptable substitution for chervil , particularly if you plan to use it as a garnish.
Parsley, particularly dried parsley, tastes mild and doesn’t taste like anise, so it is not very close to chervil. However, it visually resembles chervil and will not ruin or radically change the taste of a dish. Accordingly, one teaspoon of parsley is equivalent to one teaspoon of chervil.
Add parsley to your dish after you’ve cooked everything so the herb’s vibrant green color won’t fade.
Here is a recipe idea for parsley:
Parsley Pesto Pasta
- Fresh parsley lends dishes a fresh, bright flavor, which goes well with garlic and olive oil, so it is a good companion to pasta
- Use some lemon juice in addition to parsley to bring out parsley’s subtle flavor and enrich the garlic flavor
Dill is a decent substitution for chervil.
It goes great with fish, sauce, soup, or potatoes. From the same family as chervil, dill also has chervil’s mild tint of anise.
Dill is one of the stronger-tasting herbs on this list. You will not need a lot of it to make an impact. A single sprig can lend your soup or salad the flavor it needs to stand out.
Dill leaves look beautiful since they appear feathery and delicate. You can use them to add extra color and texture to more simple-looking dishes.
Chefs primarily use dill as a garnish, since it can lose a lot of its flavor once cooked. The longer you cook it, the blander it will taste, so remember to only add it after you’re done cooking.
If you use dill seed rather than dill weed, you will be able to season your food even more. Dill seed becomes more potent the longer it is cooked, so you can add dill seed to your food while it is cooking or before you cook it. As such, dill seeds are great for pickling and seasoning.
Here are some recipe ideas for dill:
- Many people use chervil to make ranch dressing. Dill is a good replacement.
- Mix dill weed into mayonnaise, sour cream, and milk, mixing them until they form a creamy melange.
- Add in some onion powder, salt, parsley, chives, pepper, and garlic powder
- You can also add some lemon juice to bring out dill’s pungent flavor
- Like chervil, dill weed can give flavoring to blander foods like egg
- Whisk together two to three eggs with some milk and add materials you’d like to add, such as onions, bits of meat, vegetables, and dill
- The dill can be outside or inside the omelet
- Flip the omelet once you are done one side and flip a second time when you are done both sides
Salmon with Dill Sauce
- Since dill seeds are more pungent and can be cooked along with the food, they are a good way to overpower fishy flavors.
- Grill the salmon and make a dill sauce for your fillet by mixing dill seeds with lemon juice, butter, and mayonnaise. You can adjust the proportions as you like
Related Article: Best Dill Substitutes
Another relative of chervil, cicely tastes a bit like anise and is somewhat mild. Try using it with rhubarb to reduce rhubarb’s tartness.
You can also use cicely in savory dishes such as:
- This flexible batter will bring a crispy texture to your fish, meat, or vegetables
- Put the cicely leaves in the flower
- Beat an egg in another bowl until the egg whites and yolk are barely mixed
- Mix 1 cup of ice-cold water to the beaten egg
- Put the flower and leaves into the bowl with the water and egg mixture and use chopsticks to mix
- You can now use the batter to coat your vegetables, meat, or fish and fry in oil until crisp
Egg and Asparagus Salad
- Boil an egg, peel it, and cut it in half. Let the egg cool.
- Start preparing the salad by shaving the asparagus. Chop up the asparagus and throw in ½ teaspoon of olive oil.
- Add a sprinkle of salt and sprinkle cicely leaves and dried cicely on the mixture.
- Put the egg with the cicely and asparagus to finish preparing this salad.
Finally, we have fennel on our list of chervil replacements.
This is a popular herb in French, Italian, and English cooking. While French and Italian cooks use fennel on sausages and other pork dishes, English cooks usually use fennel in seafood dishes.
Fennel has a fresh anise flavor. You can eat it roasted, sauteed, or raw. Like the other herbs on this list, you can add fennel to soups, salads, roasts, and more.
Fennel is great for salads too. In its raw form, it has a crisp texture similar to celery and can bring out the taste of raw ingredients well.
Fennel is not particularly strong, so you can use it in the same quantity as you would for chervil.
Here are some recipe ideas for fennel:
Shaved Fennel Salad
- Salads can bring out the flavor of fennel. Use a mandoline to get paper-thin slices of fennel that will mix well with the other ingredients of the salad.
- Lemon juice will make the fennel soft and melt in your mouth
- Cucumbers will complement the crispiness of fresh fennel
- Pesto will add interesting texture
- Feta will add a tangy flavor
- Peaches will further enrich the tanginess of the lemon juice and slices of fennel
- Make this classic German chervil dish with fennel instead of chervil by simmering fennel stems and stalks in a saucepan until they are tender.
- Puree the leaves and stalks with cream, yolks, salt, and pepper until it turns into a smooth blend and mix with broth
Related Article: Fennel Seed Substitutes
All in all, tarragon, parsley, dill, cicely, and fennel are all great replacements for chervil. Not only are these chervil substitute s generally easier to find than chervil, but you can also use them to make near-identical dishes.
We hope our guide and recipe ideas have helped you locate a suitable chervil substitute.