Tarragon vinegar is not very common unless you are into French-style cooking and use tarragon-infused vinegar frequently. This vinegar has unique flavor notes, but there are still multiple alternatives to it.
What are the best tarragon vinegar substitutes? The best substitute for tarragon vinegar is white wine vinegar. You can also use dried tarragon, champagne vinegar, rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice instead of tarragon vinegar.
Continue reading to learn more about tarragon vinegar, its substitutes, and how to use them. You’ll also learn how to make homemade tarragon vinegar if you have fresh tarragon at hand and time to wait for the flavor to develop.
What Is Tarragon Vinegar?
Tarragon vinegar may seem intimidating. However, it isn’t much different from other kinds of vinegar as far as usage is concerned. The difference lies in the flavor.
But what is tarragon vinegar? Tarragon vinegar is vinegar infused with tarragon, as the name suggests. Also known by the name estragon, this plant comes from the sunflower family. It is widely used in French cuisine.
Tarragon is very aromatic and has a unique flavor profile. It is bitter and sweet at the same time. It is also very refreshing and can be pungent at times.
The flavor of tarragon has notes similar to anise and fennel. Despite their similarities, the flavor and aroma of tarragon can’t be mistaken for anything else.
This is not surprising, as the three of them contain the same liquid, estragole, an ether. This organic compound has an odor similar to aniseed. It is what gives tarragon its distinctive licorice-anise smell.
Next time you are in the condiment aisle of your supermarket, look for a bottle of high-quality tarragon vinegar. White wine vinegar infused with tarragon is the most popular.
However, you can find other vinegar blends too with tarragon flavoring, such as blends of distilled white vinegar and malt vinegar, red wine vinegar, etc.
Uses for Tarragon Vinegar
Tarragon vinegar is as practical as any other vinegar. However, when using it, expect subdued herbal notes and a mild tarragon kick in your dish.
So long as you like the flavor of tarragon vinegar and it goes well with the rest of your ingredients, you can use it instead of white vinegar in any recipe.
Tarragon pairs nicely with a range of ingredients. It works well in egg and seafood dishes and is widely used to flavor meats, including chicken, veal, and lamb.
You can add tarragon to your vegetable dishes too for freshness and depth of flavor, especially if your vegetables have been roasted.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that you can do a lot with tarragon-infused vinegar.
Here are a few things that you can make with tarragon vinegar:
- Salad Dressings – No one likes eating their salad dry. Use tarragon vinegar to make a simple salad dressing. Mix one part of vinegar with three parts of olive oil. Add salt, black pepper, and garlic to taste. Drizzle this vinaigrette over any vegetable salad and it will make it taste delicious.
- Marinades – Tarragon vinegar can also be used for meat marinades. Mix it with oil, mustard, sugar, pepper, and a few cloves of garlic for an easy yet flavorful chicken marinade.
- Sauces – You can make a reduction sauce using tarragon vinegar. Fry a chicken or fish fillet in a skillet with some butter. Add chopped shallots and the vinegar to the fond left in the skillet. Reduce until thickened, add some broth, and simmer on low heat for a few minutes, and there you have a beautiful tarragon vinegar sauce to serve with your protein.
Tarragon vinegar is a wonderful and unique way to add a splash of tangy freshness to many different dishes.
Is There a Substitute for Tarragon Vinegar?
If a recipe calls for tarragon vinegar and you don’t have it at home, don’t panic. You don’t need to run to the nearby supermarket to get a bottle. If you have any vinegar at home, it will most likely work as a substitute for tarragon vinegar.
If you don’t have vinegar at all, this is not a reason to turn down the recipe either. All you need to do is to add another acidic ingredient. This will mimic the result tarragon vinegar provides in the dish. The key is using it in the right amount.
How to Choose a Tarragon Vinegar Substitute
Choose a substitute for tarragon vinegar according to the dish you are making. When making a salad dressing that calls for tarragon vinegar, choose vinegar with mild flavor for an easy 1:1 substitution.
If the recipe calls for a small amount of tarragon vinegar and its purpose is to add acidity and bring balance, you can go with non-vinegar substitutes, such as lemon juice.
Tarragon vinegar is sometimes used to add tarragon flavor to the dish. In such cases, it would be fitting to go for the herb itself, with a small amount of vinegar added to provide acidity.
If you don’t have tarragon, you can use thyme, oregano, or chervil. The flavor won’t be the same, but adding some herbal notes to the dish is certainly better than nothing.
Consider the flavor profile of the vinegar you want to use as a tarragon vinegar substitute. Some vinegars, such as rice vinegar, have a mild flavor profile.
Others, on the other hand, may have a stronger flavor. Balsamic vinegar, for example, can be very sweet.
The 7 Best Tarragon Vinegar Substitutes
There are multiple alternatives to tarragon vinegar that will bring the dish the acidity that tarragon vinegar would.
With most of these substitutes, the dish will lack the fresh tarragon notes. But it is something you can fix by adding fresh tarragon or other herbs if you have any.
Here are the best substitutes for tarragon vinegar.
1. White Wine Vinegar
White wine vinegar is the best tarragon vinegar substitute.
It lacks the herbal flavor but the taste of this vinegar is so mild that you can use it in any dish that calls for vinegar. Unlike red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar has a delicate flavor profile.
If you ever fail to find tarragon vinegar in store and decide to buy white wine vinegar, pick dry white wine vinegar. Dry white wine vinegar is less sweet.
This is a good thing when you are using it instead of tarragon vinegar. In certain dishes, a small amount of white wine will do the job of tarragon vinegar.
How to Use
White wine vinegar is very versatile. It is not surprising that many people prefer it over other vinegar varieties.
You can use one part of white wine vinegar instead of tarragon vinegar of the same amount when making salad dressings, marinades, pickles, sauces, etc. White wine vinegar pairs nicely with meat, fish, and vegetables.
As for white wine, use it instead of tarragon vinegar when cooking mushrooms and light-intensity meats, such as fish and poultry. It works perfectly for pasta dishes and risotto too.
2. Dried Tarragon
If you have fresh tarragon at home, go ahead and use it instead of tarragon vinegar.
Fresh tarragon, as well as its dried variety, are the only tarragon vinegar substitutes that can give the dish the desired tarragon flavor. Dried tarragon is more common, as it is easier to find and has a very long shelf life.
When using dried tarragon, keep in mind that it has a stronger flavor compared to fresh tarragon. Because of the high flavor concentration, you will need to use the smallest amount of this dried herb.
Unlike fresh tarragon that has an intense anise-like aroma, dried tarragon resembles dried dill, only with more floral notes.
How to Use
When substituting tarragon vinegar for dried tarragon, it is best to use it in conjunction with distilled white vinegar.
Simply add as much plain vinegar to the dish as the recipe calls for tarragon vinegar and add a small amount of dried tarragon.
Be careful not to use too much of the dried tarragon. It has a very concentrated flavor and may be too overpowering.
3. Champagne Vinegar
Champagne vinegar is made from grapes. It is distinguished for its light and floral flavor. So, it makes a perfect substitute for tarragon vinegar. As champagne vinegar is technically fermented champagne, it can be tangy at times.
If you are not a fan of white wine vinegar as a tarragon vinegar substitute, you should certainly try using champagne vinegar. Its flavor profile is considerably mild compared to white wine vinegar.
How to Use
Champagne vinegar is best used for heatless cooking. It is perfect for vinaigrettes and can be used as a finishing touch to hot sauces.
When cooking with champagne vinegar, substitute one part of tarragon vinegar with one part of champagne vinegar. It’s that easy!
4. Rice Vinegar
Rice vinegar is another mild-flavored vinegar variety. However, it is worth mentioning that the taste of this vinegar is on the sweeter side.
Rice vinegar is made from fermented rice and is a popular ingredient in Asian cuisines. However, it is not only Asian dishes this vinegar is used for.
How to Use
There is a lot you can do with rice vinegar. Use it for salad dressings, pickles, soups, sauces, or as a finishing touch for sautéed vegetables.
Substitute one part tarragon vinegar with two parts rice vinegar. You can also add herbs to rice vinegar. As rice vinegar has a delicate flavor profile, the herbs you choose to add to it will stand out, making the dish brighter and more refreshing.
5. Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar is different from other kinds of vinegar in terms of not only taste but also texture.
It is thicker and has a rich and complex flavor. You can experience fruity and rich tones in balsamic vinegar. It is not as acidic as other vinegar varieties but smoky, sweet, and somewhat tart.
How to Use
Despite being different from tarragon vinegar as far as the flavor is concerned, balsamic vinegar can substitute in marinades and salad dressings. It pairs nicely with meat, poultry, and fish, and adds a lot of flavor to cooked vegetables.
When substituting tarragon vinegar with balsamic vinegar, start with a small amount, as the latter has a relatively intense flavor.
A teaspoon of balsamic vinegar would be a good start if the recipe calls for a tablespoon of tarragon vinegar.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar
The chances that you have apple cider vinegar in your fridge are very high. Some people don’t like the aftertaste of apple cider vinegar.
If it does bother you, this might not be the option for you. Other than that, apple cider vinegar is an easy and accessible tarragon vinegar alternative.
So, if you are looking for a tarragon vinegar substitute that you know you will be using often, apple cider vinegar it is. It is extremely versatile and pairs nicely with a range of ingredients.
You can also use other fruit vinegar varieties if you don’t like apple cider vinegar. Fruit vinegar, including plum, pear, and raspberry vinegars, are not only healthier but are also great for salad dressings and marinades.
How to Use
Apple cider pairs well with fish and chicken, just like tarragon vinegar. You can use it to make steak marinades and salad dressings. Apple cider vinegar is the type of vinegar you can use in baking.
So, if you are someone that bakes often and wants to make the most out of their products, grab a bottle of apple cider vinegar to use as a tarragon vinegar substitute too.
It is recommended to use only a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar instead of one tablespoon of tarragon-infused vinegar.
7. Lemon Juice
If you don’t have any type of vinegar at home, you can use lemon juice instead of tarragon vinegar. Lemon juice will work in dishes where tarragon vinegar is used for its acidity and not its tarragon flavor.
You can also add some chopped tarragon to the dish to make up for the herbal flavor.
How to Use
Lemon juice will work as a tarragon vinegar substitute in a range of Mediterranean-style dishes.
You can use lemon juice to make marinades and salad dressings to avoid aftertaste that strong-flavored vinegars might have. Lemon juice also makes everything taste incredibly fresh.
DIY Tarragon Vinegar
If you have fresh tarragon and white wine vinegar at home, it would be best to make DIY tarragon vinegar.
This is a perfect and easy substitute for store-bought tarragon-flavored vinegar. However, making tarragon vinegar at home isn’t quick, as you will need time to develop the tarragon flavor.
For a DIY tarragon-infused vinegar, you will only need fresh tarragon, white wine vinegar, and a strainer or cheesecloth. You can use distilled white vinegar if you don’t have white wine vinegar.
Here’s how to make tarragon-infused vinegar at home:
- Add half a cup of fresh tarragon into two cups of white wine vinegar.
- Bring the vinegar to a boil.
- Once the vinegar starts boiling, remove it from heat and let the mixture cool down.
- Strain the mixture into sealable jars or bottles.
- Store the vinegar in a cool and dark place for 7-14 days. The more you let the tarragon steep, the more intense its flavor will be.
- Strain the vinegar again before you start using it.
Another method is adding fresh tarragon leaves into a jar filled with hot vinegar. Then let the leaves soak for around 2 weeks. After 2 weeks, strain the vinegar to get rid of the tarragon leaves and straws.
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