The flavor of chervil is a cross between parsley and tarragon, though on the mild side with hints of anise or licorice. Chervil is used typically to make flavorful soups and salads because of its delicate flavor.
It is a favorite herb to enhance the flavor of your omelet. It is usually added towards the last minute of cooking as its flavor gets lost in prolonged cooking.
If chervil is not available on hand, you can try the following substitutes:
- Dried Chervil
Read on to find out more on how you can utilise these alternatives for your recipes.
Chervil is a member of the parsley family and is commonly used in French cuisine. It is often called the French parsley as its leaves look a little like parsley, only a lighter shade of green.
7 Best Chervil Substitutes
The name chervil actually came from the Greek word, chaerophyllon, which means “herb rejoicing”. In fact, it is called the happy herb in Greece.
Its leaves are curly and delicate, almost similar to carrot leaves, but paler. Chervil bunches with blossoms should be avoided because those herbs have become bitter.[Source]
Unlike parsley, chervil is quite hard to find at most supermarkets and groceries stores, other than specialty stores. Being a spring herb, chervil can be abundant at different times, which typically depends on the area’s climate.
In cooler climates, you’ll find chervil from spring to summer. On the other hand, in warmer climates, chervil becomes available towards the end of winter or at the onset of spring.
To get the closest taste possible, the best substitute for chervil will be either using tarragon or parsley, or a combination of them both.
You can also test out the other alternatives mentioned below.
Parsley is first on the list for obvious reasons – it’s chervil’s “cousin”. Parsley is more commonly used in cooking than chervil since parsley is more readily available and not too many people know about chervil.
Parsley is a versatile herb and can be used in many different ways, though, it is typically added as a garnish for soups and casseroles.
It is easier to preserve parsley since you’ll only need to put it into paper bags then remove as much air as possible, and keep it in the freezer. Parsley preserved this way is often used to enhance the flavor of mashed potatoes.
Another method of preserving parsley is by blending chopped leaves with olive oil or water and making it into a thick puree.
The pureed parsley is then poured into an ice tray, then frozen. Once done, you can transfer the cubed parsley puree to a sealed plastic bag and keep it in the freezer.
Dried parsley has a milder taste that is closer to the flavor of chervil without a hint of anise flavor. The ideal ratio is 1 teaspoon parsley to every 1 teaspoon chervil. Ideally, parsley is added to an already cooked dish to preserve its vibrant green color.
Here is a recipe you can try:
- Use fresh parsley for this recipe to get the best of fresh and bright flavor. Then combine with olive oil and garlic using a blender or food processor.
- You may add a few drops of lemon juice to bring out its subtle flavor.
- This is perfect for a pasta dish or chicken pesto meal.
Fennel is typically used in Italian and French dishes with pork and sausages, and in English dishes with seafood. It has a fresh anise flavor. Fennel leaves can be used fresh (raw), roasted, or sautéed.
You can add fennel to salads, soups, and roasts.
The ideal ratio is 1 tablespoon of fennel leaves for every 1 tablespoon of chervil.
Ideas for fennel as chervil substitute:
- To make a digestion booster cocktail, you can mix fennel with Campari.
- Add fresh fennel to enhance the flavor of your risotto dish.
- Make your pasta salad more flavorful by adding finely chopped fennel, dried basil, fresh spring onions, and oregano.
- Make vegetable broths and seafood soups tastier by adding fresh fennel.
Make this popular German chervil dish using fennel:
- In a saucepan, simmer fennel stalks and stems until tender.
- Puree some stalks and leaves with thick cream and egg yolks. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the smooth puree to the broth.
- Best served hot.
Here is a recipe idea for fennel salad:
- To produce paper-thin fennel slices, use a mandoline.
- Add a few drops of lemon juice into the bowl with fennel slices.
- Mix in cucumbers to complement the crispiness of the freshly sliced fennel.
- Add feta cheese to give your salad a tangy flavor.
- If you want to enhance the flavor, add in some sliced peaches as well.
- Have pesto sauce on the side to give your salad an interesting and unique texture.
One of the best substitutes for chervil in your favorite dishes is fresh tarragon. It has a mild and bittersweet flavor with a hint of licorice. It is often used to add flavor to poultry and fish dishes.
Tarragon also gives an anise flavor to your dishes, although it can overpower other flavors; hence, the ideal ratio is ½ tablespoon fresh tarragon to replace 1 tablespoon chervil.
Tarragon is typically available in specialty stores.
You can try these recipes using tarragon in place of chervil:
Chicken with Tarragon
- You can combine dried tarragon with cream and white wine sauce and then use it to marinate the chicken fillet.
- Get the most out of tarragon by adding it to sauces with a thicker consistency.
- Tarragon soup is as good as a chervil soup, only on the creamier side.
- You can add a few drops of lemon juice to your soup to enhance the pungent flavor of tarragon in your soup.
- You can enhance the flavor of white wine vinegar by infusing tarragon. This mixture has a shelf life of six months.
- Make a butter-based sauce, better known as Bearnaise sauce, more flavorful by adding freshly chopped tarragon.
- Add dried tarragon to olive oil and other herbs to make a flavorful salad dressing.
Dill is another excellent substitute for chervil as it has a slight anise undertone flavor, ideal for any kind of dish. You can use it to enhance the flavors of your soups, sauces, or potatoes.
Take note that dill is usually added as a garnish as it tends to lose its flavor once cooked. Keep in mind that the longer you cook it, the blander its taste becomes. Ideally, dill leaves are added after you’re done cooking your dishes.
Dill seeds are more flavorful than dill weed, hence, more chefs prefer to use dill seeds. Unlike dill weed, the seeds become more flavorful as you cook them.
The ideal ratio is ½ tablespoon fresh dill weed for every 1 tablespoon of chervil.
You can try the following:
- Dill is the perfect replacement for chervil when you want to make a delicious ranch dressing.
- Add dill weed to mayonnaise, milk, and sour cream. Mix well until you get a creamy consistency.
- You can also add a dash of salt, onion powder, garlic powder, some chopped parsley, chives, and pepper.
- To bring out the pungent flavor of dill, you can add a few drops of lemon juice to the mixture.
- Make your omelet more flavorful by adding dill weed.
- Whisk three medium eggs, add milk, and then add whatever you like to your omelet (like ground pork, ham, or bacon bits, dropped vegetables, and onions).
- You may opt to add dill when you make the filling or once the omelet is cooked.
- Make sure both sides of the omelet are done.
Grilled Salmon with Dill
- Dill seeds are best used for fish dishes because their strong pungent flavor overpowers the fishy flavor.
- A dill sauce goes well with grilled salmon. Mix dill seeds with mayonnaise, butter, and a few drops of lemon juice. Adjust the proportions according to your preference.
The cicely plant is not as popular as the other herbs on the market. Cicely is sweet but with a hint of anise flavor, the reason why it is often used in desserts, baked goods, and candy flavoring.
Tread carefully when using it as a substitute for chervil, particularly for savory dishes because of its sweet flavor profile.
Ideally, use about ¼ tablespoon fresh cicely per 1 tablespoon chervil, then add accordingly, per your preference.
Cicely is not readily available in local groceries and supermarkets, but you might be able to find fresh cicely in specialty stores.
- Because of its sweet flavor, many pastry chefs add cicely to their cheesecake and cream frosting recipes. They add a few drops of lemon and a dash of salt to give them a tangy taste.
- Make your apple pie crumble more flavorful by adding cicely and caramelized apples.
- Enhance the flavors of your fruit jams and jellies by adding cicely.
You can still use cicely in cooking savory dishes:
Tempura Batter with Cicely
- Add freshly chopped cicely leaves to a bowl of flour.
- In another bowl, beat one medium egg.
- Add 1 cup of ice-cold water to the bowl with the egg.
- Add in the flour and cicely leaves mixture into the bowl with water and egg and whisk until thoroughly mixed.
- You can now use this batter to coat meat, shrimps, or vegetables, then fry until crispy.
Asparagus Salad with Egg
- Boil one medium egg, peel, and cut in half. Set aside to let it cool.
- In a mixing bowl, combine chopped asparagus and ½ teaspoon olive oil.
- Add a pinch of salt to taste.
- Add fresh cicely leaves and dried cicely into the mixture.
- Add the egg before serving the salad.
Chives may not be commonly used as a substitute for chervil, but some chefs would recommend them. For one, they are easily available at your local market and groceries.
However, you cannot use chives alone because chives and chervil have different flavor profiles. Chefs recommend using chives with thyme and hyssop when you don’t have readily available chervil herb.
The combined flavor of these three spices creates a flavor profile similar to chervil.
They are best finely chopped or blended before adding to soups as chervil substitute. If using 1 tablespoon chives, then thyme and hyssop should also be 1 tablespoon each.
You can substitute fresh chervil with the dried variety as they have similar flavors. However, you have to remember that dried chervil may have lost most of its “punch” during the drying process.
Dried chervil is best used in slow-cooked meals. Just allow enough time for its flavor to infuse through your dish.