9 Best Substitutes for Dill

Dill Substitute

Dill, an herb celebrated for its delicate fronds and aromatic seeds, embodies a rich tapestry of flavors that range from citrusy to slightly bitter. Originating from the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Asia, dill holds a unique spot in various global cuisines, from pickles in American households to stews in European kitchens. Yet, there are times when your spice rack disappoints, and you find the dill jar empty. The natural question arises: what can stand in for this multifaceted herb without compromising the essence of your dish?

Fear not! This comprehensive guide introduces nine exceptional substitutes for dill that maintain the flavor balance and even bring their unique nuances. Whether it’s tarragon’s anise-like undertones or thyme’s earthy complexity, these substitutes don’t merely fill a void—they open doors to new culinary possibilities. Each substitute has been meticulously researched and explained to help you make an informed choice based on the type of dish you’re preparing. So, next time you find your dill reserves dwindling, your culinary masterpiece can still go on, brilliantly and deliciously.

What is Dill?

Dill is an herb that originates from the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Asia. It is commonly used in both its seed and leaf forms, known as dill weed. The herb has a distinctive flavor profile that combines a faint bitterness with a refreshing, citrusy note. Frequently utilized in recipes ranging from pickles to stews and seafood dishes, dill is a household staple for its ability to complement a variety of flavors. Its unique taste is something you’d instantly recognize but could find difficult to replicate.

Quick View of Substitutes For Dill

  • Tarragon
  • Fennel
  • Thyme
  • Parsley and Lemon Zest
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • Chervil
  • Basil
  • Celery leaves and seeds

Best Substitutes For Dill

Understanding the chemistry and role of each substitute can make your dish shine even in the absence of dill. Let’s dive in!


Perhaps one of the closest cousins to dill, tarragon brings an anise-like flavor that’s both sweet and slightly peppery. Unlike dill, tarragon leans more towards the sweet side, which can be an advantage in certain dishes like seafood and chicken recipes.

Read More  6 Best Substitute For Navy Beans

The herb comes in two main varieties: French and Russian. French tarragon, the more aromatic and flavorful of the two, is a common feature in classical French cuisine. It’s the secret behind the famous Béarnaise sauce. Russian tarragon, on the other hand, has a more muted flavor but still can serve well as a substitute for dill.

Tarragon’s complexity makes it a versatile substitute. It not only provides anise-like undertones but also a peppery kick, especially when used fresh. Remember to start with a smaller quantity, as its flavor can be more overpowering than dill.


Fennel serves as an excellent substitute due to its slightly sweet, licorice-like taste. The bulb, stalk, and fronds can all be used, each contributing a unique texture and flavor to your dish.

In Italian and Mediterranean cuisines, fennel is often seen gracing pasta dishes, salads, and seafood recipes. Its feathery fronds look quite similar to dill, making it an excellent option if the appearance of your dish matters.

When using fennel as a dill substitute, consider the component of the fennel you’re using. The bulb is crunchier and mildly sweet, perfect for salads. The stalks are hardier and can be used in stews and soups, whereas the fronds work well as an herb-like garnish. It’s a multifaceted substitute that can cover a variety of needs.


Although thyme might not visually resemble dill, it brings a bouquet of flavors—minty, earthy, and a bit lemony—that can be a delightful addition to your dish. Thyme is commonly used in Mediterranean and French cuisines, and it pairs wonderfully with meats, stews, and hearty vegetables.

Thyme’s tiny leaves are packed with flavor, so it’s best to use this herb sparingly. Fresh thyme sprigs can be added directly to simmering liquids, letting the flavors steep out. Dried thyme is more concentrated; hence, less is required.

One advantage of using thyme as a dill substitute is its shelf-life. Thyme, especially when dried, has a long storage life, making it a handy option when you’ve run out of dill and don’t have time to rush to the grocery store.

Parsley and Lemon Zest

Parsley, the ubiquitous herb of Mediterranean and European cuisines, works beautifully in tandem with lemon zest to mimic dill’s distinct, citrusy kick. Parsley itself brings a slightly peppery, fresh flavor that’s incredibly versatile.

Read More  7 Best Substitute For Stewed Tomatoes

While parsley alone may lack dill’s citrus undertones, combining it with lemon zest fills that gap admirably. This pairing is especially useful in salads, fish recipes, and sauces where dill’s zesty component is needed.

When using this combination, it’s generally a good idea to start with equal parts of parsley and lemon zest. Adjust to your preference, keeping in mind that lemon zest packs a potent citrus punch. This substitute’s versatility and availability make it a go-to for many home cooks.


Rosemary offers an entirely different flavor profile, rich in woody, pine-like notes. It’s a dominant herb in Mediterranean cooking, famous for its role in roast meats and stews.

Rosemary’s needles are much tougher than dill fronds. For this reason, it’s often used in dishes with longer cooking times to allow its flavors to meld and mellow. For immediate consumption, mince the rosemary finely to avoid an overpowering texture.

Though not a direct replacement, using rosemary as a dill substitute can still produce a dish with a rich, multidimensional flavor. Just be cautious with the amount, as rosemary can quickly dominate other flavors in your dish.


Oregano offers a more robust, peppery zing with a hint of astringency, setting it apart from dill’s delicate nature. Yet, for dishes where the particular nuance of dill isn’t the star, oregano steps up quite adequately.

Common in Italian and Greek recipes, oregano pairs particularly well with tomato-based sauces and meat dishes. It’s also a staple in pizza and pasta seasonings.

Because of its strong flavor profile, it’s advisable to start with a smaller amount and adjust according to your taste preferences. While it may not fully replicate the flavor of dill, oregano’s own complexity offers a distinctive richness that can make your dish memorable.


Chervil’s delicate anise-like flavor can evoke the mildness and complexity found in dill. Its feathery leaves even resemble dill fronds, making it an apt substitute, especially in French cuisines where it is a common ingredient.

This herb is more commonly used in fresh form rather than dried due to its subtle flavor profile. Chervil’s understated nature means you can use it quite liberally without worrying about overwhelming the dish.

Read More  7 Best Substitutes for Whipped Cream

However, chervil is a bit less common to find in supermarkets compared to other herbs on this list. If you can lay your hands on it, don’t hesitate to use it in a broad range of culinary applications, from salads to sauces and beyond.


Basil provides a very different but still delightful flavor profile that’s fresh, sweet, and slightly peppery. It’s a staple in Italian cuisine, especially in dishes featuring tomatoes and cheese.

In terms of versatility, basil has a lot to offer. From Thai to Italian recipes, it lends a wonderfully aromatic experience that can salvage a dish missing dill. However, its flavor profile can deviate significantly from dill.

A word of caution: basil wilts rather quickly when exposed to high heat. If substituting in a hot dish, add it towards the end of cooking to maintain its aromatic qualities.

Celery Leaves and Seeds

Celery offers two dill substitute options: its leaves and its seeds. The leaves provide a fresh, earthy flavor with a hint of peppery bite. While not an exact match, the leaves do have a similar texture to dill and can work as a garnish or in salads.

Celery seeds, on the other hand, are often used in pickling and brining, just like dill seeds. These seeds add a concentrated burst of earthy flavor, a bit more robust than what you’d get from dill.

Both celery leaves and seeds can serve as functional replacements for dill, but remember that the leaves are milder and will require larger quantities for similar impact. The seeds, being concentrated, should be used sparingly.


The art of cooking lies not just in following recipes to the letter but also in improvising and adapting when ingredients run out. Our exploration of dill substitutes reveals that various herbs and combinations can emulate, if not perfectly replicate, the multifaceted characteristics of dill. The key to a successful substitution lies in understanding the flavor profile of your alternative and tweaking your recipe accordingly. After all, in cooking—as in life—adaptability often leads to unexpectedly delightful results. Cheers to your culinary adventures!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *