People know tarragon vinegar for its licorice-like flavor. It’s a mix of sweetness and bitterness that makes it ideal for fish, chicken, or vegetables.
When you need a tarragon replacement, it’s hard to capture that unique favor. Still, a lot of vinegars come close to capturing its complexity – depending on what you’re cooking.
You may just need to supplement it to get the full body. But unless tarragon is the spotlight flavor in your dish, you can probably get away with using any of these alternatives.
Below, we found eight tarragon substitutes for when you’re in a pinch.
Best Substitutes For Tarragon Vinegar
1. White Wine Vinegar
The best substitute for tarragon vinegar is White wine vinegar, which also happens to be one of the main ingredients used in making tarragon vinegar. If you happen to have this and fresh tarragon leaves in your kitchen, you can combine them for new, DIY tarragon vinegar. If you don’t have the herb, though, using white wine vinegar brings you pretty close to that sweet, mild flavor.
To make your tarragon vinegar, you can get 1-2 fresh cups of tarragon leaves. Store it in a jar, and pour white wine vinegar over it. Let it steep for two weeks.
Alone, white wine vinegar has a fruity flavor that makes it great for salad vinaigrettes. Use it in a one to one ratio as you would tarragon vinegar.
2. Champagne Vinegar
After our first recommendation, champagne vinegar also lends itself as one of the most popular bases for tarragon vinegar. It tends to be even sweeter than white wine vinegar, though, so it might not pack the punch you want.
As a tarragon vinegar substitution, this works best drizzled over salads. It also pairs well with leafy greens, chicken, or seafood. If you pair it with more robust flavors like red meat, it’ll be hard to capture the taste of the champagne. For those situations, some of the vinegar listed below might fit better.
To use champagne as a tarragon alternative, keep it at an equal ratio. So if you use one tablespoon of tarragon vinegar, use one tablespoon of champagne vinegar.
3. Malt Vinegar
To make malt vinegar, you use barley cereal grains instead of wine. The final result is a liquid that has a sweet, lemony, and toasty flavor all at once. People traditionally pair malt vinegar with fish and chips. So, if you need a tarragon replacement to cook trout, this is a good bet.
The more aged malt vinegar is, the stronger the flavor gets. It’ll also turn dark brown, which can change the color if you’re cooking. It’s something to keep in mind if you’re trying to make your dish have a particular appearance.
Use a one to one ratio of malt vinegar to tarragon vinegar. If your malt vinegar is very aged, use one tablespoon of malt for two tablespoons of tarragon vinegar instead.
4. Sherry Vinegar
This vinegar comes from the Sherry wine in Southern Spain. However, it’s milder than even white wine vinegar. That makes it an excellent pairing for fish and chicken, though some people use it with red meat. Manufacturers often age sherry much longer than white wine, which helps give it a darker hue.
One advantage of this tarragon substitute is that it’s more complex than white wine or champagne vinegar. Some people describe its flavor as being nutty, or even like caramel. It’s not the same as tarragon, but a great alternative if you want a unique element in your meal.
Sherry vinegar isn’t very overpowering. Generally, one tablespoon of this in place of one tablespoon of tarragon vinegar will do.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is powerful and acidic. At the same time, the apple taste gives it a fruity, mellow undertone. Some people find it sweet enough to remind them of tarragon’s licorice-like taste. However, tarragon isn’t as tangy as apple cider vinegar.
This tarragon replacement is one of the most flexible on this list. You can use it in salad dressings, pork, or beef. Many people find it gives a great sweet and sour flavor. Some people will even combine it with tarragon herbs, bringing their bitter and sour flavors together.
Apple cider vinegar can be very harsh alone. Start by using one teaspoon of it for every tablespoon of tarragon vinegar.
6. Lemon Juice
Lemon juice works best as a tarragon substitute for fish or poultry dishes. Like apple cider vinegar, it’s tangier than tarragon. However, they share a similar acidity that can give your meal the punch you’re looking for.
A lot of recipes combine lemon juice and tarragon into butter or sauces. If you don’t have any other vinegar on hand, you can try combining the two. That brings the herbal essence and acidity you want together.
Lemon is more prevalent in baking than tarragon. Still, if you’re making something like Slovenian potica, lemon juice can turn into a handy substitute. Use a half tablespoon of lemon juice to replace one tablespoon of tarragon vinegar.
7. Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar is unique for it’s thicker texture and viscosity. Like Sherry or Malt vinegar, it also tends to be dark. Many chefs complete recipes like Italian Caprese salads with a straight drizzle of this ingredient on top. It lends a fruity and tart flavor to milder foods like cheese.
Keep in mind that tarragon vinegar usually has a runnier base than this one. Still, you can use it as a tarragon replacement in recipes that combine it with olive oil. Then, both of these options are suitable for salad vinaigrettes.
Balsamic vinegar is a flexible replacement for mayonnaise-based recipes, too. Since it has a thick texture, use one teaspoon of balsamic vinegar to replace one tablespoon of its tarragon counterpart.
8. Rice Vinegar
Rice vinegar is one of the mildest tarragon alternatives for any dish. You may recognize it from cuisines that combine it with sushi rice. Since tarragon vinegar pairs well with seafood, rice vinegar can replace it in those cases. They also both work well to spice up vegetables.
The taste of rice vinegar is on the sweet yet sour side. It doesn’t have as much bite as white wine vinegar. However, you may like that as a base to mix with your preferred herbs. Keep in mind that some rice vinegar is seasoned, meaning they contain sugar and salt.
To make up for its mild flavor, use 1-2 tablespoons of rice vinegar in place of one tablespoon tarragon vinegar.
One of the main things you might notice in this thread is that all these kinds of vinegar work well with tarragon. So if you have fresh or dry tarragon in your kitchen, you can find ways to combine them that bring the same unique flavor tarragon vinegar would.
If you don’t have dry tarragon, you can use dried dill, thyme, marjoram, or anise seeds. On the other hand, chervil, fennel seeds, and basil leaves can replace fresh tarragon herbs.
Keep in mind that dried tarragon has a much more potent taste than its fresh counterpart. However, fresh tarragon has a more complex flavor.
Regardless, almost any vinegar can make for a good tarragon vinegar alternative. These substitutes all have the acidity that makes vinegar remarkable. The rest comes down to your favorite tastes and recipes.