Chervil (pronounced SHER-vil) is a delicate herb that is popularly used in French cooking. It’s a part of the famous fines herbes often used in French cuisine along with tarragon and parsley.
The mild hints of licorice or anise in chervil offer a delicious flavor to dishes. Its mild flavor goes well with a wide array of dishes like poultry, fish, sauces, salads, and many more. In most parts of the Mediterranean region and the United States, fresh chervil is available from early spring through late summer. Even if you don’t have it, there are a few other substitute herbs with similar flavor and leafy texture.
Best Chervil Substitutes
If you require a dried or fresh substitute for chervil, choose any of the following ingredients listed below. Choose the alternatives according to the flavor profile and texture of your dishes.
Chervil and tarragon have a similar flavor with a note of anise. Both are interchangeable, and also complement each other. Both of them are ingredients in French fines herbes.
However, tarragon’s flavor is slightly stronger than chervil. For this reason, tarragon may overpower the flavors of your dish if used in excess.
While using this leafy vegetable, start with just half the amount of chervil required for your recipe and, if needed, add more at a later part of the cooking.
It has a bittersweet flavor with a subtle undertone of licorice-root. The herb works best in fish, poultry, and egg dishes. Use a half tablespoon of fresh tarragon in place of one tablespoon of chervil. Some of the tarragon substitutes may also work in your recipes.
2. Fennel leaves
Fennel and chervil belong to the carrot family of plants and thus share a few similarities.
It tastes a bit like licorice, and when roasted it develops a natural sweetness that balances out its bitterness.
Fresh or dried fennel leaves are a popular ingredient in several Italian and French recipes. It’s a must-have ingredient in sausages and pork dishes. Many home chefs love to use it in seafood dishes.
Its leaves are a good alternative to chervil, especially in salads, eggs, and fish dishes. Like the chervil leaves, you can simply mince fresh fennel and sprinkle them over your salad.
Use the leaves of fennel in the same amount as the former is required in your recipe.
Parsley and chervil belong to the same family of plants. They both have identical features to carrot greens. Because of their similarity, chervil is also known as French parsley.
Chervil and Italian parsley complement each other well, and both are included in the Fines herbes spice mixture.
As for taste, a mild anise flavor is common to both these herbs. Parsley works as a great substitute for chervil, especially for garnishing your dishes.
Dried parsley loses most of its original flavor and aroma, so use fresh parsley when you are making your substitution. Like chervil, add parsley leaves to your dishes towards the end of cooking to retain their flavor to the maximum. In case you don’t have them, using a parsley substitute might still work for you.
Use parsley exactly in the same measure of chervil that your recipe requires.
4, Dill leaves
Dill is another possible replacement for chervil. Like the chervil herb, this plant is also an annual herb in the plant family of Apiaceae.
It has a distinctive taste that is likened to fennel and anise. It has a deliciously fresh, citrus-like taste, with a slightly grassy undertone. Like parsley and chervil, the sweet odor of this herb is strongly reminiscent of anise.
Closely related to chervil, it works well in fish and seafood dishes in particular.
As a substitution, use fresh leaves of dill in the same quantity of chervil that your recipe requires.
If you don’t have either of them, even one of the replacements for dill may fit into your recipe.
The sweet leaves and stems of cicely, when crushed, have the aroma of aniseed. Similarities between cicely and chervil make them a good substitute for each other.
Notably, it is a sweet herb that is mostly used in sweet dishes and candies. While using this herb in place of chervil, use it in moderation. It works best in salads and garnishing. In addition, its stems are useful for reducing the tartness of herbs like rhubarb and savory dishes.
Use about a teaspoon of fresh cicely to replace one tablespoon of chervil. You may add it more if your recipe complements the sweetness of cicely.
Frequently Asked Question
What herbs are similar to chervil?
Along with parsley, tarragon is another herb that is almost similar to chervil. In fact, all these three herbs can be used together or interchangeably. Chives and dill are also somewhat similar to the former despite the differences in flavor.
Can you use dill instead of chervil?
After parsley and tarragon, dill is a close match for chervil. It’s a fun spice and is very good for pickling or salt-curing. Instead of chervil, dill leaves are a good option used in egg dishes.
Are chervil and cilantro the same?
No. Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) is a leafy herb similar to parsley and tarragon, while cilantro is the leaves of the coriander plant (Coriandrum sativum). Both of them have different flavors and uses in cooking but are a lot alike in appearance.
Can I substitute dried chervil for fresh?
Yes. Chervil is a delicate herb with a mild flavor, so it loses most of its flavor and texture when dried. In fact, chervil tastes best when it is fresh and added to a dish in the last seconds of cooking. If you are using dried chervil, add it at the last part of cooking to grilled lamb, soups, bread, or pasta dishes.
For further reading, also see the ingredients to replace scallion and the best alternatives to leeks you can use in cooking.