9 Best Substitute For Dill In Pickles And Other Dishes: Savor the Flavor

We all know that distinct, somewhat sweet, and slightly bitter taste of dill that lends a unique flavor to a myriad of dishes. But what do you do when you’ve got a recipe that calls for dill and you’ve just run out, or perhaps, you or someone in your household simply isn’t a fan of its taste?

Flavor preferences can vary, and certain dietary restrictions or availability issues might require a dill substitute. That’s where our exploration of substitutes begins.

By understanding the characteristics of dill and considering the flavors and profiles of alternative herbs and spices, we can find suitable substitutes that enhance our dishes with their unique attributes while retaining the essence of dill’s charm.

It’s time to explore the culinary landscape and broaden your flavor horizons. Let’s embark on this flavor adventure!

1. Tarragon

Tarragon in pot

First on our list is tarragon. This herb has a slightly bittersweet flavor and an aroma that is somewhat similar to anise. It’s a popular herb in French cuisine and works wonders in sauces, chicken dishes, and even pickles.

Tarragon can be used as a fresh or dried substitute. It’s particularly effective in dishes that require a slightly sweet, yet aromatic herb. The delicate and nuanced flavors of tarragon can harmonize well with other ingredients, adding complexity and sophistication to the dish.

In pickles, tarragon can offer a refreshing twist on the traditional flavor profile. Its mild licorice-like taste stands up to the vinegar brine, yet doesn’t overpower the taste of the cucumber or other vegetables. Tarragon adds a unique layer of complexity that elevates them to new heights.

Remember, tarragon has a robust flavor profile, so start with a small amount and adjust according to your taste preference. Its potency can vary between varieties, so it’s worth exploring different types of tarragon, such as French, Russian, or Mexican tarragon, to find the one that best suits your palate.

2. Fennel

Fennel plant

Fennel, with its subtle licorice flavor and aromatic profile, is another excellent substitute. The feathery fronds of fennel resemble dill and can be used in a similar way in various dishes.

In pickles, they can provide a lovely flavor backdrop without overpowering the other ingredients. Their delicate texture and mild anise taste add a touch of sweetness and freshness to the brine. When combined with vinegar, fennel fronds create a harmonious balance of flavors that complement the pickled vegetables.

Fennel seeds can also replace dill seeds in recipes. They work well in bread, stews, and, of course, pickles. Fennel seeds contribute their unique taste to the brine, infusing it with hints of sweetness and warmth.

When using fennel, consider the intensity of the flavors. Fennel’s licorice notes can be stronger than dill, so it’s advisable to use it in moderation. Start with a smaller amount and adjust to taste, allowing the distinct flavor of fennel to shine while maintaining a well-balanced dish.

3. Thyme

thyme in garden

Thyme has a subtle, dry aroma and a slight lemony flavor that can complement a variety of dishes.

In pickles, thyme adds an earthy note that pairs well with the tartness of the vinegar. Its delicate, woody flavor can contribute to the overall complexity of the pickles, enhancing their taste without overpowering the other ingredients.

Thyme’s herbaceous undertones create a delightful contrast to the tanginess of the brine, resulting in pickles with a unique twist.

In soups and stews, thyme can offer a complexity of flavor. Its fragrant and slightly citrusy profile can add depth and warmth to hearty dishes. Thyme works particularly well with root vegetables, mushrooms, and braised meats, infusing them with its distinctive taste.

Bear in mind that thyme is more robust than dill, so it’s advisable to use it sparingly at first and then adjust as needed. Its intense flavor can dominate a dish if used excessively, so exercise caution to maintain a balanced flavor profile

4. Parsley

Parsley close

Parsley is a versatile herb that can be used as a dill substitute, especially when the appearance of dill is desired in a dish. Its flavor is milder, but it can still add a fresh note to salads, sauces, and other dishes.

In pickles, parsley can offer a more subtle flavor profile. It’s best used when you want the other flavors in your pickles to shine, yet still desire a hint of herbaceous freshness. Chopped parsley can be added to the pickling brine or used as a garnish to provide a vibrant touch.

Parsley is available in curly and flat-leaf (Italian) varieties. Both can work as substitutes, but the flat-leaf variety has a slightly stronger flavor. Its robustness makes it a suitable choice for dishes where a bolder taste is desired. Flat-leaf parsley pairs well with garlic, lemon, and olive oil, making it an excellent addition to Mediterranean-inspired recipes.

When using parsley, consider the texture as well. Dill’s feathery leaves have a unique visual appeal, and curly parsley can mimic that appearance to some extent. However, both curly and flat-leaf parsley can contribute their own vibrant colors and delicate flavors to a dish, providing a pleasant alternative to dill.

5. Rosemary

rosemary dry

Rosemary has a pine-like aroma and slightly lemony flavor which makes it more unconventional. This robust herb can be an interesting alternative when a unique flavor twist is desired.

In pickles, rosemary can add a distinctive herbal character that stands out. Its assertive flavor profile complements the tanginess of the brine and infuses the pickles with a woody and aromatic essence. Rosemary pairs particularly well with vegetables like carrots and potatoes, creating a delightful combination of flavors.

However, due to its strong flavor, rosemary should be used sparingly to avoid overpowering the other ingredients. Fresh rosemary is preferred for its vibrant taste, but dried rosemary can also be used. Keep in mind that dried herbs have a more concentrated flavor, so adjust the quantity accordingly.

Rosemary’s versatility extends beyond pickles. It can be a wonderful addition to roasted meats, grilled vegetables, and even bread. Its distinct taste can elevate the flavors of savory dishes.

6. Basil

basil in garden

Basil, a staple in Mediterranean and Asian cuisines, with its sweet, slightly peppery flavor, basil can bring a unique twist to dishes that call for dill.

Fresh basil leaves can add an interesting depth of flavor to pickles. Basil’s sweet notes can offer a nice balance to the sourness of the vinegar brine. The combination of basil’s aromatic profile and its herbaceous taste can create a delightful fusion of flavors that sets the pickles apart.

It is important to consider the specific type of basil. There are various types of basil, from sweet basil to Thai basil, each with a slightly different flavor profile. Sweet basil is the most commonly used variety and works well in a wide range of recipes. Thai basil, with its anise-like taste, can add a unique twist to Asian-inspired dishes.

Experiment with different basil varieties to find the one that complements your dish best. Remember that basil leaves are delicate and can wilt quickly, so add them to your recipes towards the end of the cooking process or use them as a garnish.

7. Dill Seed

dill seed bowl

Dill seeds have a more concentrated flavor that’s somewhat similar to caraway.

They are often a key ingredient and can easily take the place of dill weed in pickles. They contribute to the fermentation process and infuse the pickle brine with a distinctive flavor. Dill seeds provide the characteristic taste associated with pickles, making them an ideal substitute in recipes that call for the herb.

When using the seeds, it’s important to note that their flavor can be stronger and more pungent than fresh dill. Start with a smaller quantity and adjust according to your taste preference. Keep in mind that the intensity of the seeds can vary depending on their freshness, so choose high-quality seeds for the best results.

They can also be used in spice blends, bread, and other savory dishes.

8. Caraway Seeds

Caraway seeds

Caraway seeds can be used particularly in recipes that call for dill seeds. They have a sweet, slightly peppery flavor that can resemble that of dill.

Caraway seeds can be an interesting addition to pickles, providing a sweet and earthy flavor that complements the tanginess of the brine. They can also work well in bread, stews, and hearty vegetable dishes, adding a distinct taste to the final dish.

As caraway seeds have a strong flavor, start with a small amount and adjust according to your taste preference. Their potency can vary, so it’s advisable to taste and gradually increase the quantity until you achieve the desired flavor balance.

Caraway seeds offer a unique dimension to recipes, infusing them with a subtle nuttiness and warmth.

9. Mixing Herbs

mix of herbs

Another approach to replace dill is to use a mix of herbs. Combining parsley for its fresh flavor and appearance, a bit of tarragon for its sweetness, and a touch of thyme for its earthiness can create a bouquet of flavors.

This mix can be used in various dishes, from pickles to salads, sauces, and seafood. The combination of herbs allows you to recreate the herbaceous and tangy profile of dill while adding unique layers of taste. The proportions of each herb can be adjusted based on personal preference, allowing you to fine-tune the flavors to suit your palate.

Remember, the aim is not to perfectly replicate the taste of dill but to provide a similar depth and complexity of flavor. Mixing herbs can result in delightful surprises and creative flavor combinations that elevate your dishes to new heights.

When to Skip Dill or Its Substitutes

source: unsplash.com

While there are many possible substitutes, there may be occasions where it’s better to simply skip the dill or any substitute. This could be the case in dishes where this herb is the star ingredient or when the flavor of the dish hinges on its unique taste.

For instance, if you’re making a classic dill sauce or a dill-centric salad, omitting it or substituting it may significantly alter the intended flavor profile. In such cases, it’s advisable to choose a different recipe that doesn’t require the herb instead of trying to substitute it.


Can alternative flavors replace dill in dishes?

Yes, flavors like celery seed, mustard seed, and coriander seed can add a similar touch.

Which substitute works well in creamy dressings instead of dill?

Chives or mint can offer a unique flavor profile and freshness in creamy dressings.

Can a dill substitute be used in seafood dishes?

Tarragon or even cilantro can bring a unique twist to seafood dishes.

What substitute can be used for dill in herb butter or compound butter?

Fresh chives or tarragon can provide a delightful alternative flavor in herb butter or compound butter.

Can dill substitutes be used in canning recipes?

Yes, many of them can be used in canning recipes to provide flavor and aroma.


To sum up, each substitute brings its own unique touch. However, the aim is to retain the depth and freshness of flavor that dill offers.

Whether it’s tarragon, fennel, thyme, parsley, rosemary, basil, dill seed, caraway seeds, or a mix of herbs, you have a myriad of options to explore. And in the process, you just might stumble upon a new flavor combination that you absolutely love!

Cooking is all about experimenting and finding what works for you. So, don’t be afraid to try different substitutes and adjust the quantities to suit your palate.