If you love a charcuterie platter, you might have eaten some little green pickles with your cured meats. These pickles are known as cornichons – literally, they are tiny pickles. Cornichons is a French word that means little horns. The English call these pickles gherkins.
They are sweet with a hint of the spices added, making them ideal to use as a garnish to serve with your favorite charcuterie staples like sausages, pates, terrines, etc.
You can easily find cornichons in most conventional supermarkets and specialty food stores. If you can’t find any, here are some good substitutes you can use.
- Dill Gherkins
- Pickled Vegetables
- Pickle Relish
- Salted Cucumber
- White Vinegar
Cornichons complement most pork dishes like grilled pork chops or roast pork belly. You can also add them to your sandwiches. They also go well with deviled eggs.
Before we move on to the full list of substitutes, let’s find out more about this small fruit and how it is being made.
11 Best Substitute For Cornichons
Cornichons are small fruits with an average length of 2 to 7 centimeters. They are cylindrical and narrow and have a straight to a slightly curved shape.
Their ends are round, and their skin is dark green and firm with distinctive bumps and soft spines. Their flesh is crispy and pale green, with high water content. Some types are seedless, some have a few tiny seeds. [Source]
How are cornichons made? The process starts by selecting a smaller variety of gherkins. They resemble cucumbers but the gherkins that “become cornichons” are not exactly cucumbers.
These fruits are pickled quite young when they are about 1 inch to 2 inches in length, and with a bumpy texture. They are cured with salt overnight to draw out the liquid, then immersed in vinegar and left overnight.
The gherkins soaked in vinegar are simmered for a few minutes, then set aside to cool before transferring to jar containers. In these containers, herbs, and aromatics like bay leaves, cloves, tarragon, pearl onions, and thyme are added before placing the covers. [Source]
At the top of our list are dill gherkins as they are the closest substitutes for cornichons. Here is the complete list of the best cornichon substitutes.
Dill gherkins are the closest substitute to cornichons in terms of flavor and texture. Though they are not exactly the same since dill gherkins are made from a larger type of cucumber.
Also, cornichons are crunchier than dill gherkins, but when added to any recipe, you’ll hardly notice the difference. You can use it to replace cornichons in almost all the recipes requiring cornichons.
The ideal substitution ratio of dill gherkins to cornichons is 1:1.
Capers are made from a prickly bush known as Capparis spinosa, which grows in the Mediterranean and some parts of Asia. The ones you get from the grocery store are the green flower buds of the plant.
The flower buds are picked before they ripen, dried under the sunlight, and preserved using salt, vinegar, wine, and brine. Capers have a distinctly savory and briny flavor.
They also make a good replacement in most recipes that need cornichons. The sour and salty taste of capers is similar to the taste of cornichons. Capers add uniqueness and “character” to any dish. You can use them in your pasta, fish, and vegetable dishes, and stews and sauces.
In general, the flavor of capers varies, depending on the size and age of the caper bush. Younger and smaller buds have a mild sour taste and delicate texture. The more mature buds are more acidic and crunchier.
For every one part of cornichons needed in the recipe, use equal amounts of capers.
Another viable substitute for cornichons is zucchini since they belong to the same family, gourd or Cucurbitaceae. Although the taste of zucchini is slightly different from cornichons, it is still a suitable replacement.
Take note that zucchini is denser and contains less moisture than cornichons. Zucchini is more bitter than cucumber.
The ideal ratio is one part of zucchini for every one part of cornichons in the recipe. But you can adjust depending on your preference.
You can simply cut the zucchini into small chunky slices, and soak them in vinegar with salt and spices. Then you can add your pickled zucchini to any recipe that needs cornichons.
Pickled vegetables are an ideal substitute for cornichons. Pickled vegetables are sour. You can use any suitable vegetable for pickling, but the most commonly used are carrot, radish, and cabbage.
You can easily make your own pickled vegetables, but you can also get one from your local grocery store. Using water, vinegar, salt, and suitable herbs and spices, you can create pickled vegetables that are similar in flavor to cornichons.
The ideal replacement ratio is 1:1.
Pickle relish is a condiment similar to jam. It is made from pickled or fresh cucumbers soaked in vinegar with salt, sugar, and spices. It is fruity and acidic.
It can enhance the taste of your dishes. It also makes a good alternative to cornichons. It is usually prepared as salsa, and is easily available in most grocery stores.
Cucumber makes an ideal substitute for cornichons. You can get a similar taste by making your own version. Slice the cucumbers and soak them in vinegar seasoned with salt.
You can get the same crunchiness and taste of cornichons with this technique. You can replace cornichons with salted cucumber in many recipes, and you won’t know the difference.
You can use white vinegar if you cannot find any other suitable substitute for cornichons. With white vinegar, your dish can acquire the taste of cornichons, elevating your dish.
While white vinegar has a different texture than cornichons and is actually very different, it can give the sharp zesty taste that your dish might be lacking if you don’t have cornichons. Any dish could also need the extra liquid.
For dishes that don’t require to have a dense texture, white vinegar would serve to be a good replacement for cornichons.
Take note that vinegar is more acidic and sharper in terms of smell and flavor. When using it, gently pour a small amount first, then you can adjust accordingly.
Chutney has a similar tangy taste to cornichons; hence, it can be a suitable alternative for your dishes. Chutney has a sour taste and goes well with most ingredients. It adds richness to your dishes.
Chutney is a popular spice that comes from India. It is gluten-free and considered a healthy spice by nutritionists. Its main ingredients are vegetables, fruits, herbs, sugar, different spices, and vinegar. Aside from enhancing your dishes, it goes well with cheese and crackers.
You can easily find them in your local grocery store.
Another suitable replacement for cornichons is celery, which is a member of the Apiaceae family, cultivated as vegetables. Celery is a popular ingredient for cooking because it is versatile and can enhance a lot of different dishes. It is a root vegetable that has a distinct earthly flavor.
Cooking celery brings out its sweet tangy taste that works well for many ingredients. They are a perfect substitute for cornichons in soups and stews.
Can’t find cornichons in the supermarket but you have green olives? They can be a good substitute for cornichons. Green olives are typically harvested before they become fully ripe. They have a distinct taste, flavor, and aroma as they are first soaked in lye before being brined in oil.
Green olives are the healthiest alternative to cornichon. They are a good source of vitamins A, C, and E, which protect your skin from free radicals, and against the effects of aging. They are also rich in antioxidants, including polyphenols, beta carotene, and flavonoids or lutein.
The taste of green olives varies according to their type. Some types of green olives are bitter, some are tangy, and others are salty. You can use them in most dishes that need cornichons.
Baby Dill Pickles
Baby dill pickles are tender, mildly acidic, salty, and fresh. They have a lot of similarities with cornichons in terms of texture and flavor profile, thus making them a good alternative to cornichons. They can give the crunchiness, acidity, saltiness, and mild sweetness that cornichons bring to any kind of dish.
Cornichons Substitute Related FAQs
Are cornichons the same as gherkins?
Gherkins are commonly known as baby pickles, and they are not the same. Cornichons are French-style pickled cucumbers. The main ingredients are smaller than the regular ones available in grocery stores.
They are harvested while they are young, just about an inch or two long. They have a rough texture.
What is the difference between cornichons and pickles?
Cornichons have a distinctly sweet and briny flavor. The taste will depend on the herbs and spices added to the brine mixture. Pickles, on the other hand, are sour.
Are cornichons actually baby pickles?
Cornichons are small pickles with a crunchy texture and tart taste. They are often used as appetizers. You can also use them in enhancing the flavor of most of your dishes.
How can I choose the most suitable cornichon replacement with all these choices?
There are a few considerations:
- Establish your purpose. Do you need a side that has the exact flavor profile of cornichon? If so, dill gherkins and baby dill pickles are the best choices. But if you want your dish to be more acidic without the need for texture, then white vinegar is the way to go.
- Consider the structure and texture of your dish. Choose the recipe that will imitate the texture of cornichons, or you can also try adjusting the recipes so that you can still get the original cornichon taste. Your choice of substitute should be the more similar, the better.
- The end flavor is just as important when considering which substitute to choose. Look for ingredients that will give the closest flavor to your preferred taste. The best technique is to choose recipes that have a similar origin as cornichons.
- It is also important to consider diet restrictions. If you or the other members of your household have food allergies, this should be a factor of consideration, or if there are restrictions to your diet due to a medical condition. Consult your doctor if there is a need to modify the recipes.