10 Tarragon Wine Vinegar Substitutes [For Marinades, Sauces, & More]

Tarragon is a lovely, bright herb popularized through French cuisine. It’s an essential ingredient in traditional French recipes such as Bearnaise sauce, a complex emulsified French sauce made with butter, egg yolk, white wine vinegar, shallots, and featuring tarragon as its main flavor.

If you own a Julia Child cookbook you’re sure to have come across the occasional recipe calling for tarragon vinegar but other than that it’s not a very commonly used ingredient in the U.S. 

Despite it being an uncommon ingredient in the U.S., tarragon vinegar is an easy ingredient to replace in most recipes. White wine or Champagne vinegar make the best substitutes. However, you can substitute dried tarragon leaves, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, fruit vinegar, rice vinegar, sherry vinegar, lemon juice, or malt vinegar depending on the recipe and your preference. 

In this article, we’ll be going over more details on the best ways to use all of these substitutes. The best part is, they are all gluten-free and vegan! We’ll also go over some common questions people may have about tarragon, and even how to make your own tarragon vinegar.

Best Overall Substitutes

1. White Wine Vinegar

Conveniently, white wine vinegar is one of the best substitutes out there for tarragon vinegar, and also one of the easiest to find in the store! White wine vinegar does not have a strong or distinct flavor besides the vinegar flavor, making it a great replacement for tarragon vinegar. You will still get the acidic flavor without adding in any new flavors. 

Because it is such a simple flavor, white wine vinegar can be used as a replacement in pretty much any recipe that calls for tarragon vinegar. If the tarragon flavor is important, you can always add a few fresh or dried leaves along with the vinegar.

You will hardly notice the difference at all! You can replace tarragon vinegar with white wine vinegar at a 1:1 ratio. Tarragon Wine Vinegar Substitutes

2. Champagne Vinegar

Champagne vinegar is very similar in flavor to white wine vinegar, but a little smoother and less harsh than white wine vinegar. It is typically a bit more expensive than white wine vinegar, making it a less popular choice for the cook on a budget.

That being said, champagne vinegar will elevate any dish you add it to because while it has an acidic bite, it is very smooth and slightly sweet. 

When using champagne vinegar, simply replace the amount of tarragon vinegar with the same amount of champagne vinegar. You can also choose to add a few tarragon leaves (dried or fresh) for extra flavor. Just like the white wine vinegar, you can replace this at a 1:1 ratio. 

For Dishes That Need Tarragon Flavor 

3. Dried Tarragon Leaves

Some dishes will really require that specific tarragon flavor. If tarragon is the main flavor in your dish, it will be difficult to replace it without completely changing the dish.

In the case of tarragon vinegar, your best bet will be to simply use dried tarragon leaves, and maybe a splash of plain white wine vinegar along with it. 

Bear in mind that dried tarragon leaves will have a much more intense flavor than tarragon vinegar. If you choose to go this route, simply add the amount of white wine vinegar that the recipe calls for and add a pinch of dried tarragon leaves to the vinegar itself. 

As Salad Dressings

4. Balsamic Vinegar

If you were planning on making a salad dressing with your tarragon vinegar, look no further than balsamic vinegar. Sweet and slightly viscous, high-quality balsamic vinegar will have a slightly different quality than some of the other kinds of vinegar on this list.

It is very popular drizzled over a Caprese salad with a bit of olive oil. To replace tarragon vinegar with balsamic vinegar, you can use a 1:1 ratio. Balsamic vinegar will work best in dressings that have an olive-oil base, but it will pair well with other oils as well. 

5. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a great choice as a replacement for tarragon vinegar. It has the most health properties of any of the kinds of vinegar on this list, especially if you get the organic kind with the mother still in the bottle. 

If you are using apple cider vinegar in a dressing, a 1:1 ratio is best to be able to reach emulsification. However, if you use it for a different recipe, only one teaspoon for every tablespoon of tarragon vinegar is recommended, because apple cider vinegar is very tart and pungent. Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar With the Mother– USDA Certified Organic – Raw, Unfiltered All Natural Ingredients, 16 ounce, 2 Pack

Substitutes for Marinades

6. Fruit Vinegar

Marinades and dressings are similar in makeup -they typically contain an oil, an acid (usually vinegar), and whatever spices and seasonings you want to use to flavor your sauce. Fruit vinegar makes a fantastic addition to marinades because of their intense and pungent flavor that can penetrate the meat and add amazing flavor to your dishes. 

Some of the more popular fruit vinegar include pear, berry, plum, or tomato vinegar. Like apple cider vinegar, they are chock full of vitamins and nutrition from the fruit itself and may help lower cholesterol. 

To use fruit vinegar as a replacement for tarragon vinegar in a marinade, a 1:1 ratio works perfectly. Mantova Organic Flavored Balsamic Vinegar of Modena 4-Variety Pack: Fig, Pear, Pomegranate, & Raspberry; Perfect for Gift Basket, Add to Pasta, Salad, Ice Cream and Cocktails, 8.5 oz per bottle

Alternatives for Sauces

7. Rice Vinegar

Rice vinegar is a traditional Japanese vinegar that is actually made from fermented rice. It is used when making sushi rice and a number of dipping sauces common to Japanese cooking. It also makes a great substitute for tarragon vinegar because it is mild, slightly sweet, and blends well with a number of flavors. 

You can use rice vinegar to make sauces, marinades, or dressings using a very simple 1:1 ratio of rice vinegar to replace tarragon vinegar. Tarragon Wine Vinegar Substitutes

8. Sherry Vinegar

Sherry vinegar is derived from sherry, a cooking wine that originated in Spain. It is darker in color than traditional white wine because it is fermented much longer. The long fermentation means that sherry vinegar is a bit sweeter and much smoother than white wine vinegar. 

The smoothness of sherry vinegar along with its sweet and caramelly flavors make it a great replacement for tarragon vinegar because it will blend well with many different flavors. You can use sherry vinegar as a replacement at a 1:1 ratio in marinades and other sauces. 

For Fish dishes

9. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is an excellent replacement for tarragon vinegar, especially in fish-based dishes. Why? Because it is very commonly paired with fish dishes.

Bright, acidic, and slightly sweet, lemon juice brings out the briny flavors of the sea in many fish dishes. It also pairs well with a number of delicate herbs and seasonings. 

Replace lemon juice at a 1:1 ratio for fish dishes calling for tarragon vinegar. It is also a great substitution that you can pair directly with dried or fresh tarragon leaves. Lucy’s Family Owned - Lemon Juice, 32 oz. Bottle (Pack of 2)

10. Malt Vinegar

Malt vinegar is one of the more unique substitutions on this list. It comes from grains that are germinated (or malted) and then brewed into beer. Like white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar, the beer-making process naturally produces vinegar, which in this case becomes malted vinegar. 

Malted vinegar is slightly sweet and milder than tarragon recipes. In the UK it is a very popular topping for fish and chips. Its mild yet bright flavor adds an excellent kick to a wide variety of recipes.

But, it does work particularly well with fish-based dishes. You can replace malt vinegar at a 2:1 ratio for most recipes that call for tarragon vinegar, unless it needs to be emulsified, in which case keep the ratio the same.  Tarragon Wine Vinegar Substitutes

Commonly Asked Questions 

What Is Tarragon Vinegar? 

Tarragon vinegar is quite simply an infused white wine vinegar. Tarragon is added to the vinegar to infuse the flavor into the vinegar. Then, when it is sufficiently flavored, the leaves are removed. 

It is a perennial herb that comes from the sunflower family. It is what’s known as a “flat-leaf” herb because it has soft stems and delicate, flat leaves (unlike rosemary or thyme, which are stem-based herbs). 

You can purchase fresh tarragon in most produce sections of the grocery store, and dried tarragon in the spice aisle. Fresh tarragon will keep for 4-5 days in your fridge, or you can choose to dry it yourself. Dried tarragon is more delicate than other herbs and only keeps fresh in your cupboard for about 2-3 months. 

Fresh Vs. Dried Tarragon

Fresh or dried tarragon is not “worse” or “better” than the other, though they have slightly different properties. Fresh tarragon will be more delicate in flavor, can be used as a garnish, and will carry the flavor through more with fewer leaves.

Dried tarragon will require slightly more, and it’s a bit easier to accidentally over-season with the dried variety. When cooking with either fresh or dried tarragon, always taste as you go so you understand how the dish is developing!

Can I Make Homemade Tarragon Vinegar?

You absolutely can make your own homemade tarragon vinegar! There are two different methods you can use, a cold infused method and a hot infused method. 

To cold-infuse, your vinegar, take about a cup of tarragon leaves for every two cups of vinegar you use. White wine vinegar is the most popular choice, but you can actually use any kind of vinegar you’d like.

Lightly flavored kinds of vinegar like rice vinegar, plain white vinegar, or champagne vinegar are your best choices because they will not overpower the tarragon flavor.

Add the tarragon leaves to the vinegar. Leave it to steep for 10-14 days or until the flavor is infused to your liking. After that, strain to remove the leaves. 

To make hot-infused tarragon vinegar, use the same ratio (one cup of leaves for two cups of vinegar). Next, boil everything on the stove for about 10 minutes. Let cool, then strain the leaves out. 

How Should I Store Tarragon Vinegar? 

Vinegar is a shelf-stable item, so you can store it covered in a dark, cool space indefinitely. If you made your own homemade vinegar and you are concerned about contamination, you can feel free to store it in the fridge, where the flavor may keep a bit longer. Tarragon vinegar will keep indefinitely, especially store-bought vinegar.

However, peak freshness (especially with homemade vinegar) will be within 3-4 months. 

Final Words

Tarragon vinegar is a delightful and unique flavor that can add a lovely bright and floral note to a variety of dishes. Nearly any vinegar will work as a replacement, especially lighter flavored vinegar.

It’s incredibly easy to make your own tarragon vinegar at home if you have the time. The next time you are looking to cook recipes calling for tarragon vinegar, you can rest easy knowing you probably have a substitute sitting right in your cupboard. 

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