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Dill Substitute


You have the perfect plate full of salmon, and you’re ready to add a garnish of dill to the top. Except you used the last of your fresh dill weed a few days ago. Not to worry! Below, you’ll find a dill substitute list that will leave your salmon (and other dishes) with a similar pop of flavor.

white counter with spice jar labeled Dill Weed and wooden spoon filled with dried green spice

What is Dill?

Dill is an herb that many people use in dishes that feature fish or egg, in salads, salad dressings, or to season potato salads. It offers a citrusy, grassy, and slightly licorice taste to dishes.

The key to cooking with this herb is to add it at the end since dill weed will lose most of the flavor if added too early.

You may also hear dill called dillweed or dill plant but only when it’s fresh and not dried. This herb has a long history, starting 5000 years ago in Egypt. Dill weed (and dill seeds) have been used for centuries as a medicinal remedy to create wine and are now used worldwide for seasoning food.

Dill weed is part of the carrot family, with its name translating to calm. This name’s meaning is not surprising as, in the past, this herb was used to “calm” ailments. People would use dill for anything from an upset stomach to bad breath and an antsy child in church.

Types Of Dill

Believe it or not, there are many varieties of dill available, with most being edible. The most common type of dill is bouquet – this is likely what you’ve seen (and purchased!) at your local grocery store. It’s named so for its use in many floral arrangements.

Bouquet dill has a bold taste and works well for pickling and cooking.

Other varieties of dill include delikat, dukat, and long island mammoth. You can use most types for pickling, and they grow in various shades of green; some even produce yellow flowers.

Dill Substitutes and Alternatives

Dried Dill

Dried dill is an excellent fresh dill alternative in dishes. As it is the same herb in a different format, it offers a similar flavor to dishes. As with most dried herbs, the taste is more concentrated. Use it in smaller quantities than the fresh version.

This herb is pretty easy to come by, with most grocery stores offering it. You can also find dried dillweed at larger farmers’ markets with an herb section/herb vendor. Use this swap with any recipe you would generally incorporate fresh dill.

Pros
As noted, dried dill is relatively easy to find in stores. It also provides nearly the same flavor as its fresh counterpart, and you can use it in all of the same recipes.

Cons
Using dried dill won’t provide a fresh flavor like the fresh herb.

Cooking Tip:
Use one teaspoon of dried dill for every tablespoon of fresh dill in a recipe.

Fresh Tarragon

Fresh tarragon is an excellent fresh dill replacement. It has a wide range of dishes and recipes you can use, from sauces to meat and fish recipes. Tarragon offers the same licorice flavor, and citrus notes that you find in dill. Though, it also provides a peppery and flowery taste.

You can also add tarragon at the beginning of cooking, whereas dill is more delicate and should be added in at the end. Tarragon (aka estragon) does not have a confirmed origin though it is thought to be Siberia. You can eat the flower blooms, stems, and leaves of this alternative.

Pros
Fresh tarragon is generally available at farmers’ markets. It works well in most recipes that usually require fresh or dried dill. It does not wither during cooking, unlike dill, while adding an anise flavor, citrus taste, and sweetness.

Cons
Local grocery stores may not have the fresh version of this herb, so it can be challenging to find if farmers’ markets are not open. The flavor will be different as tarragon adds additional flavor notes to recipes.

Cooking Tip:
Use this fresh herb in a 1:1 ratio as a replacement.

Dried Tarragon

Dried tarragon, like fresh tarragon, offers a similar citrus and licorice flavor to dishes. The anise taste is more potent in dried tarragon, though, so you’ll want to use a smaller quantity than with most other dried herbs to avoid overpowering the dish.

The dried version of this herb is much easier to find in the grocery store. It’s typically included in spice blends as well, like fines herbes. You can also use this dried herb for nearly all recipes that call for dill (especially dried dill).

Pros
As noted, dried tarragon is easy to find at your local store. It also provides a similar sweetness and anise taste to dishes.

Cons
The dish’s flavor will be different from fresh tarragon due to the peppery taste and floral notes that tarragon offers. Since tarragon has a more pungent anise taste, adding too much to a dish is easy, causing the flavor to overpower other ingredients.

Cooking Tip:
Start with ¾ teaspoon of dried tarragon and adjust up to 1 teaspoon (if needed) for every tablespoon of dill.

Fennel

Fennel is commonly associated with dill and dill seed due to its similar flavor and appearance. If using as a substitute for dill, you’ll want to use only the small green leaves at the top and save the remainder of the fennel for other recipes. This vegetable provides a sweet licorice taste to dishes.

In terms of taste, fennel has a bolder licorice flavor than dill. Use this fennel alternative as a topping. Otherwise, the taste may be too strong.

The fennel plant has made its way around the world. Its first appearance was in Egypt before moving to the Americas and the rest of the world. The name fennel translates to “marathon.” This meaning came to fruition after it was used to gather Spartans before the battle at Marathon.

Pros
Fennel is an excellent sub for dill if you seek a dill alternative for a garnish that provides a similar taste.

Cons
The uses for fennel fronds as an alternative are limited to a garnish when replacing dill. Fennel may not be available at all grocery stores, so it can be challenging to find.

Cooking Tip:
Use in a 1:1 ratio when replacing fresh dill.

Fresh Basil

Basil is versatile and works with many different recipes ranging from Italian to Mexican and Asian. It’s an easy-to-find herb – both as a dried version and fresh. If you have fresh herbs already growing in your garden, you’ll likely have basil. Basil offers a sweet, licorice flavor that is also minty and peppery.

This herb has also been used for years for its medicinal purposes. However, basil also holds religious meaning and is used in certain ceremonies. In each culture, basil has a different connotation ranging from love to hate and everything in between. There are multiple varieties available, including holy basil and sweet basil, the most used variety.

Pros
You’ll find this herb easy to find at the grocery store, or you may already have it in your garden. It’s versatile, and you can use it in both cooked and raw recipes. Use it for most dishes that request dill.

Cons
Basil has a complex flavor, so while it works in many dishes, it is not a good swap for all dishes. There will be a noticeable taste difference when incorporating basil into your recipes instead of dill.

Cooking Tip:
Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing the dill with basil.

Chervil

Chervil looks very similar to parsley, and rightfully so as it is related to parsley. If you seek an herb that offers a licorice taste, chervil works well as a dill alternative. This herb has a more delicate flavor than that of dill. If you do not use enough chervil, you may not taste it in the dish.

You’ll find that chervil can be challenging to find at some grocery stores, though you’ll have better luck at stores with a more extensive herb section or farmers’ markets. Use chervil in place of dill when making dishes that revolve around poultry or fish.

This herb’s origin is in China; it is another herb commonly included in fines herbes. While chervil is used as an herb or flavoring agent in many countries, some Europeans use chervil as a vegetable.

Pros
Chervil works well to add a licorice taste to recipes. Use it in fish and chicken recipes as an alternative to dill.

Cons
Other ingredients can easily overpower chervil’s more delicate taste, so it will not work well with heavier meats or strong-tasting dishes. You’ll also notice a difference in flavor when using chervil. This herb is not always easy to find in the grocery store in its fresh form.

Cooking Tip:
Use a 1:1 ratio when swapping dill for chervil.

Thyme

Thyme is a great herb to use as a substitute for dill weed. While it does not have the same flavor, it will provide a citrus taste to recipes. This herb is part of the mint family, so expect a slight minty taste when incorporating it into recipes.

You can use thyme for many recipes ranging from sauces to soups, cheese, and fish. This herb can be found in dried and fresh form at the store and is relatively easy to find in at least one form.

There are multiple varieties of thyme, including garden thyme and wild thyme. Over the years, this herb has been enjoyed worldwide from Egypt to Europe and the Americas. It continues to be used to flavor many dishes.

Pros
Thyme is widely accessible; you likely have a jar of dried thyme already in your kitchen to use as a replacement for dill in recipes. This option is another herb you can add at the beginning of cooking without worrying that the flavor will disappear.

Cons
Expect this herb to have a bolder flavor than dill. If you use too much, it can overpower a recipe quickly. The taste is not a perfect match with dill; you will notice a flavor difference when using this swap.

Cooking Tip:
Use ¼ the amount required by the recipe and adjust to your taste preference.

Fresh Parsley

As you might imagine, parsley works well as a substitute (since it is related to chervil). Parsley is a lightly flavored herb with a peppery, earthy flavor. Keep in mind; this herb will not offer an anise-like taste or citrusy flavor. However, it works well with most dishes and adds freshness and a pop of green to any recipe.

You’ll want to start with a smaller quantity of parsley and adjust as needed. While this herb works well with many dishes, it might not pair well with all seasonings.

Pros
Parsley is easy to come by at the grocery store and an inexpensive herb. Use this herb to spruce up your dishes that need a brighter taste.

Cons
Parsley does not taste like dill so that it will change the flavor of any recipe. Its leaves are also quite different in appearance.

Cooking Tip:
Start with ½ the required amount and add more for a stronger flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Spice Is Closest to Dill?

Fennel is the first spice that arises when you Google a dill substitution. It is similar in both appearance and flavor, making it the closest option regarding an alternative.

Can You Substitute Dill for Thyme?

Yes, you can substitute dill for thyme and vice versa. You can use both thyme and dill in fish recipes to add flavor.

Can I Use Pickle Juice Instead of Dill?

Yes, you can use pickle juice instead of dill for pickling. You may also include a small amount of pickle juice as part of a marinade, though it will not work as a swap in all recipes.

Is Dill the Same as Fennel?

While these two herbs are similar in flavor and appearance, they are not the same plant. You’ll notice a difference in their flavor as fennel has a bolder taste.

What Does Dill Taste Similar to?

Besides tasting similar to fennel, it also has a similar flavor to parsley. As noted above, dill offers a citrus-like flavor with a subtle sweetness to recipes.

How much-dried dill equals Fresh Dill?

Three teaspoons of fresh dill equal one teaspoon of dried dill.

Is Dill weed the same as dill?

Yes, the dill weed is the same plant as dill and the same as dried dill.

Summary

Whether you’ve run out of dill, don’t have any, or are making a recipe on the fly – there are plenty of dill alternatives that will leave your recipes flavorful. Dried dill will be your best bet in terms of flavor, with tarragon and fennel coming in second. Each fresh herb substitute above will offer you a splash of green and freshness to your dish. Now, you can avoid panicking when you realize you’re missing an ingredient.

Recipes With Dill

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document easy real food recipes perfect for busy families. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!

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