Chervil (pronounced SHER-vil) is a delicate herb that is popularly used in French cooking. It’s part of the famous fines herbes used in French cuisines 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.
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 has a slightly stronger flavor than chervil. For this reason, tarragon may overpower the flavors of your dish if used in excess.
While using this herb, start with just half the amount of chervil required for your recipe and if needed add more at a later part of the cooking.
Tarragon has a bittersweet flavor with a subtle undertone of licorice. The herb works best in fish and poultry dishes. Use about a half tablespoon of fresh tarragon in place of one tablespoon of chervil.
Fennel and chervil belong to the carrot family of plants and thus share a few similarities.
Fennel 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.
Fennel leaves are a good alternative to chervil, especially in salads, egg, and fish dishes. Like the chervil leaves, you can simply mince fresh fennel leaves and sprinkle them over your salad.
Use fennel leaves in the same amount as the chervil required in your recipe.
Parsley and chervil belong to the carrot family. They both have identical features of carrot greens. Because of their similarity, chervil is also known as French parsley.
Parsley and chervil complement each other well and both are included in the Fines herbes spice mixture.
As for taste, a mild flavor of anise 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 to your dishes towards the end of cooking to retain its flavor to the maximum.
Use parsley exactly in the same measure of chervil that your recipe requires.
Dill is another possible replacement for chervil. Like chervil herb, dill is an annual herb in the carrot family Apiaceae.
Dill 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 aroma of this herb is strongly reminiscent of anise.
Closely related to chervil, dill works well in fish and seafood dishes particularly.
As a substitution, use fresh leaves of dill in the same quantity of chervil that your recipe requires.
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.
Note, cicely 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 for garnishing. Also, cicely is useful for reducing the tartness of herbs like rhubarb.
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.
What herbs are similar to chervil?
The herbs that are almost similar to chervil are parsley and tarragon. In fact, all these three herbs can be used together or interchangeably. Chives and dill are also somewhat similar to chervil despite the differences in flavor.
Can you use dill instead of chervil?
After parsley and tarragon, dill is a close match for chervil. Dill is a fun spice, and 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 a different flavor and uses in cooking but are a lot similar in appearance.
Can I substitute dried chervil for fresh?
Yes. Chervil is a delicate herb with a mild flavor, thus it loses most of its flavor and texture when dried. In fact, chervil tastes best when 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.
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