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Cornichons Substitute Ideas (12 Best Options)


In this food guide, we’ll be exploring what you can use in place of cornichons. We’ll share with you the best cornichons substitute ideas and tips on using them in your dishes.

green ceramic dish with cornichons

What are Cornichons?

Cornichons is a French word that translates to “little horn.” True enough, they look like tiny horns submerged in pickle juice. Similar to regular cucumbers, they’re green and long but come with a bumpy exterior.

Their taste is the perfect blend of sweet, tart, and salty. Herbs and spices like dill, tarragon, bay leaves, and black peppers are usually added to the brine. These give cornichons a spicy (but not hot) flavor.

Cornichons can have a soft or crunchy texture depending on the pickling process.

Aside from charcuterie platters, these baby pickles are also added to savory dishes. They impart a distinct tart taste to recipes and make them more flavorful.

Best Substitute For Cornichons

Substituting cornichons is a great way to add flavor and texture to a dish without overpowering the other ingredients. These small pickles give a unique tangy taste. Using them as part of your recipe can provide a great contrast to the main flavors of your dish while also providing an extra crunch. Let’s see what other ingredients you can use if you don’t have any cornichons.

1. Dill Gherkins

The closest and top substitute for cornichons is dill gherkins. These pickled cucumbers are flavored with the same herbs, so they taste almost the same.

They even look identical to cornichons. That said, most people wouldn’t notice the difference. But to the expert mouth, dill gherkins would feel crunchier. 

2. Salted Cucumber / Pickled Cucumber

Unsurprisingly, good ol’ cucumbers also make great alternatives to cornichons. They’re larger, sure. However, when pickled and sliced, they’ll look and taste almost the same.

The best thing is that cucumbers are accessible, and you can pick them up easily at any grocery store. Now, that’s a convenient substitute!

2. Zucchini

Zucchini comes from the same family as cornichons. If not for the bumpy texture of cornichons, one can easily mistake zucchinis for them. Other than that, zucchinis don’t differ that much from cornichons. This is especially true with pickled zucchinis. 

They have similar flavor profiles, with zucchinis being just a bit more bitter. That said, your swap will give an almost similar taste to your final dish. When it comes to texture, though, zucchinis are denser.

3. Baby Dill Pickles

If you want something that looks and tastes the same as cornichons, go for baby dill pickles. Often, you can find pickled baby dill cucumbers in jars at the store.

In most cases, though, they make baby dill pickles with a bumpy variety called Kirby cucumbers. In that case, they’re identical and will make perfect substitutes.

4. Pickled Vegetables

Pickled vegetables share the same tart and briny flavor. You can use them in most dishes as a substitute for cornichons. The best vegetables for pickling include radishes and cabbages. Carrots also taste great when pickled.

5. Pickled Capers

If you’re looking for a quick swap, you can try pickled capers instead. Capers are berries you can buy in most grocery stores. If you cook often, there is a big chance you have them in your pantry.

They have a sour flavor, along with a tang reminiscent of lemons. With this flavor, they can easily replace cornichons. They are round in shape, which might change the appearance of your dishes. 

6. Green Olives

Another easy replacement for cornichons is green olives. Green olives are cured with lye before they’re ready to eat, as raw olives are intensely bitter. This curing process gives them a unique aroma and a tangy, slightly bitter flavor.

For this reason, you can use green olives in most recipes that require cornichons. That is, of course, if you don’t mind their grape-like shape.

7. Pickle Relish

Pickle relish is just pickled chopped cucumbers. It is usually flavored with the same ingredients used to pickle other food. Because of this, they taste almost the same as cornichons, so they won’t get in the way of your other ingredients.

The biggest difference comes in appearance. Pickle relish doesn’t look anywhere near cornichons. 

8. Chutney

Originating in India, chutney is a spread made from various fruits and vegetables. Vinegar and different spices are also used to flavor them. Needless to say, the taste of a particular chutney will depend on the ingredients used.

But chutneys tend to be tart, sweet, and spicy in general. For this reason, you can use them to replace cornichons in some of the recipes. 

9. Celery

Did you know you can use celery instead of cornichons too? Indeed, the versatility of this vegetable knows no bounds! Celery can be bitter when raw, but it does have a sweet and tangy taste when cooked properly.

This is a perfect alternative for those who want a slight twist on their dishes. Plus, it is a healthy substitution too! 

10. Green Bell Peppers

Green bell peppers are viable alternatives for cornichons as well. They’re juicy and slightly sweet, but they don’t taste like cornichons in the slightest. Green bell peppers have an earthy flavor that is not present in cornichons. They do go well with many other savory ingredients.

What makes them an option here, despite lots of differences, is their green color. If you want to add a pop of color to your dish, green peppers can do the same as cornichons. 

11. White Vinegar

If you’re totally out of options, you can choose vinegar as a last resort. It will give you that acidic, sour taste that most dishes that call for cornichons need.

Vinegar will only work in a limited number of dishes, though. This includes soups, stews, and other savory dishes that can take on a liquid ingredient.

Remember, adding too much may significantly alter your dish’s consistency. Plus, it has a sharper flavor which can overpower your other ingredients.

Culinary Uses of Cornichons

Cornichons are frequently served alongside cured meats, sausages, and fish. They’re great in beef stroganoff and steak tartare recipes. Pâtés, terrines, and rillettes also taste better with cornichons on the side.

Chopped cornichons are also used as toppings for sandwiches and hotdogs. They can also be an ingredient in a potato salad recipe.

The flavor of cornichons also goes with eggs, whether an egg salad or deviled eggs. These tiny pickles are also used to make tartar sauce (spelled tartare sauce in the UK).

Can You Make Your Own Cornichon?

Yes, cornichons are pretty easy to make, so you can whip them up yourself. All you have to do is source some gherkins and make a pickling solution. To make the solution, you must boil water, vinegar, and salt.
Place the gherkins in a jar and throw in some dill, bay leaves, and tarragon. Add peppers if you like. Pour the hot mixture into the jars. Let the gherkins soak for at least three weeks, and you’ll have cornichons ready by then.

What Is The Shelf Life Of Cornichons?

Cornichons have a pretty long shelf life. After all, pickling is a good way to preserve food. Unopened jars of cornichons can last for 2 years. Once opened, they can stay at peak quality as long as they’re submerged completely in their juice and refrigerated.

Are Cornichons Healthy?

Since cornichons are cucumbers, they boast lots of benefits. Cornichons are a great source of Vitamins A, C, and K. They also contain potassium and calcium. When eaten regularly, they can form part of a healthy and balanced diet. 

Summary

Cornichons are French-style pickled cucumbers. They are most commonly seen as part of charcuterie plates alongside cured meats. Cornichons are also used when making steak tartare and potato salads. 

You can still make recipes using cornichon substitute ingredients if you don’t have them. The best ones include dill gherkins and baby dill pickles. Green olives and capers are also excellent alternatives. In a pinch, white vinegar can also work for some recipes.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!

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