Dill is the star of the herb garden, but it isn’t always available or easy to find at retail.
It has a relatively unique taste, and is often used to add a layer of flavor to a variety of things, from ranch dressing to fish dishes.
Since it’s not as common as a lot of other herbs, a lot of people don’t keep it in their homes. If you’re cooking and find that dill is called for and you don’t have any, you still have options open to you.
We’ll go through some of the best ones here, so let’s get into it.
Fennel is another plant in the carrot family with a similar flavor profile. However, it tastes like aniseed, which is actually not a million miles away from the taste of dill.
Some people will use fennel instead of dill in recipes where they need that subtle hint of aniseed. Other than that, it’s pretty flexible. You could also leave out one ingredient entirely if another works better for you.
Basil can be substituted for dill pretty well. Basil is just about twice as potent, but only adds a little more aroma than the flavor.
So, you can definitely substitute basil for dill, but again, there are a few differences. If you want something that really shows off your basil leaf, try making pesto. Then, you wouldn’t even miss dill!
Oregano can have a stronger taste than either dill or basil, which means that it can be very overpowering in certain dishes.
But if you want its distinctive flavor on top of a dish, oregano is certainly worth trying instead of dill, if the latter’s not available.
As long as you aren’t substituting too many other ingredients, it should work great.
Tarragon isn’t quite as strong as both of these other two herbs. That said, it does add a fairly distinct, fresh, almost licorice-like taste, which makes it one of the closer substitutes for dill.
Depending on what you’re doing with your food, tarragon might be all you need.
Or, if you’d prefer a milder flavor, you can stick with basil. Just note that you may lose some depth of the flavors if you swap them around.
Parsley has a ton of uses: it is the main herb for salad mixes, it goes into soups and stews, and parsley tea is traditionally taken to help clear up congestion during cold seasons.
For substitution purposes, we recommend using flat leaf parsley in place of curly leaf varieties because they tend to pack a punch when compared to the milder taste of the curly kind.
It’s particularly effective if you’re using it as a garnish in place of dill, since it can come fairly close to matching that green, leafy appearance.
Thyme isn’t exactly a replacement for dill; rather, it simply offers a slightly different spin on the same basic theme.
It’s a lot more common in supermarkets too, meaning that you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding it. Besides, how good would that chicken breast dinner be without thyme?
Cilantro is the cousin of coriander (coriander). While cilantro adds color and lightness to a recipe, it doesn’t have quite the same flavor as dill.
Still, you can probably take advantage of cilantro’s bright citrus notes in lieu of dill, especially if you’re looking to make salsa or something else with a touch of brightness.
Rosemary is an evergreen shrub with tiny leaves that grow densely in pairs along the branches. They smell strongly of pine and are sometimes used to infuse wine and spirits.
Rosemary is extremely versatile: it’s used in almost everything from meat dishes to desserts. Try substituting rosemary in place of dill where you want a similar earthiness, savory quality and scent.
Sage is a member of the mint family, offering more of a sweetness or honeyed edge to the overall flavor profile. This means that it might appeal to people who prefer things sweeter/more sweet than savory.
And it also works nicely in recipes that call for lemon rind or orange zest, since sage can cover those flavors. It will make a reasonable substitute for dill in a pinch, although it’s not exactly the same kind of flavor profile.
This tropical grass has an unmistakably lemony quality—almost a citrus flavor—that pairs perfectly with fish.
If you want to offer a Thai twist on any salmon dish, go ahead and sub away for this grassy, lemon-esque herb.
This makes it a good substitute for dill in the many fish dishes that dill is often used in. Of course, it will change the overall flavor profile a fair bit, but it’s certainly worth trying.
11. Caraway Seeds
Caraway seeds make an excellent substitution for dill seeds, since they provide a very similar flavor profile.
They’re an ideal substitute both in creamy soups (there are a lot of Eastern European dishes like this) and in cooking cabbage.
This works both ways – if you ever need to substitute something for caraway seeds, you can try using sill seeds instead.
12. Celery Seeds
Celery seeds will also work quite well as a substitute for dill seeds. The celery seed variety comes from the Mediterranean region, where it was historically used primarily as a spice, and also as a medicinal plant.
Since celery seeds don’t really add any other flavor to your food (aside from celery), they’re actually perfect for things that already contain some flavor, such as pickles or relishes.
13. Dill Pickles
You might not have any actual dill in your home, but you might still have a jar of dill pickles. If you do, then you can use their flavor by adding them to dishes.
Of course, they’re pickled so they taste sour, but this can be a boon to some dishes.
For example, several different soups will benefit from the flavor profile, and the crunch of the pickles themselves is also a plus.
14. Lemon Thyme
Lemon thyme is a hybrid of true thyme and lemon verbena, which means its flavor is somewhere between those two plants. If you’ve got a bottle of dried lemon thyme lying around, feel free to use it in place of dill.
You’ll want to adjust the amount depending on how much you have, because thyme can vary greatly based on growing conditions, but there should be enough to get you started.
It’s not all that similar to dill in some ways, but it does have a grassy, herbaceous note that it shares with dill.
It won’t work in all dishes – substituting it in a creamy soup might not strike the right note, for example, whereas you might be surprised at how well it works with something like salmon or pickled foods.
Of course garlic doesn’t taste like dill, but it can certainly add necessary depth to a whole range of dishes.
If you don’t have any dill, one of the best approaches in some cases might be to just leave it out but increase the amount of garlic in the dish.
Of course, this works particularly well if you’re a lover of garlic to begin with.
17. Bay Leaves
While bay leaves technically aren’t herbs, they share a similar character with most herbs – a slightly bitter, earthy, woodsy tone.
So while you may not necessarily have any bay leaves lying around, if you do, feel free to use them in a pinch.
Just keep in mind that the flavor profile isn’t entirely the same, though, so you may prefer to stick with the original ingredient if you can find it. If not, though, you’ll find it adds welcome depth in a pleasing way.
All in all, dill has a wide range of applications. But there are many good substitutes, including ones that you probably already have at home!
If you end up needing to replace it for whatever reason, or if you just want to experiment, these 16 substitutions will allow you to easily start making substitutions on your own.
However, before you do, check with your local supermarket or grocery store in case they carry these particular varieties.