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The 7 Best Substitutes for Cornichons (And How To Use Them)

Does your recipe call for cornichons, but you don’t have any handy? This article has you covered on finding a good replacement. I’ll also explain if you can use pickles instead of cornichons, if they’re the same thing, and if capers are a good substitute. 

1. Homemade Pickled Cucumbers

Jelly Grandma's Pickles
“A batch of my homemade pickles.

Cornichons originate as baby cucumbers, after which they are pickled in brine (salt water), vinegar, and herbs. If you have some cucumber in your refrigerator, it will make an excellent substitute for cornichons. If you use the method below, you don’t have to wait several weeks for the cucumber to pickle. 

You will need about 20 minutes to prepare them, and a handful of ingredients, including: 

  • One cucumber
  • A pinch (0.36 g) of salt
  • One tablespoon (4.93 ml) of vinegar (apple cider or white wine vinegar is an excellent choice)
  • One teaspoon (5.69 g) of caster sugar 
  • One tablespoon (5.69 g) of dill 

After gathering your ingredients, here’s how to pickle your cucumber: 

  1. Chop the cucumber lengthwise according to your desired portion size. Avoid peeling your cucumber as the peel adds pleasant crunchiness. 
  2. Combine the vinegar, salt, caster sugar, and dill, and give it a good stir. 
  3. Place your cucumber pieces in the vinegar, and allow them to pickle for 15 to 20 minutes. 
  4. If desired, sprinkle them with some chopped dried herbs, such as dill, parsley, or tarragon. 
  5. Remove the cucumber pieces and serve them. 

2. Eggplant

Whole and Sliced Eggplant on a Table

Eggplant is not an obvious substitute for cornichons because it tastes slightly bitter. However, when it is combined with other, strong-flavored foods, it quickly absorbs the other flavors, which can offset the bitter taste. 

You can create a great substitute for cornichons using eggplant if you chop it up into your desired shape and pickle it according to the recipe above. 

Raw eggplant works as a good substitute for cornichons in the following dishes: 

  • Salads  
  • Sandwiches or wraps
  • Steak tartare
  • Potato dishes, such as cold new potato salad or a potato bake

Alternatively, you could cook eggplant as you usually would and then sprinkle it with balsamic vinegar, which adds acidity and a little sweetness. 

3. Sliced Celery

Chopped celery on a cutting board

Many people enjoy eating cornichons because they offer a satisfying crunch when you bite into them. Celery has a similar texture, but it is also stringy, which can be off-putting to some people. 

Thankfully, removing the stringy part from celery is easy because it’s located on the stalk’s surface. Here is how to do it: 

  1. Take a celery stalk, and snap a piece off each end. Avoid using a knife as this might not expose the stringy parts. 
  2. You should now see the stringy parts over both edges. Grab onto each stringy piece and pull it off. 
  3. Alternatively, scrape them off using a vegetable peeler. 

To give your celery a similar taste to cornichons, soak them in a vinegar and salt solution (as described above). 

Finely-chopped celery makes a tasty substitute for cornichons in fish dishes, and you can use it to make a tartare sauce for fish. 

4. Green Olives

A closeup of a glass of preserved olives on a red background

If you don’t have time to pickle a vegetable for 15 to 20 minutes, consider using green olives. Green olives are also canned in brine and offer a similar level of saltiness to cornichons. However, since they haven’t been pickled, they lack the acidic taste of cornichons. 

Green olives are also not as crunchy as cornichons but have a similar level of moisture. Avoid using black olives if possible, as they have a stronger flavor profile with a slightly fruity taste. On the other hand, green olives have a milder taste and a subtle nutty flavor. 

Pitted green olives are more convenient to use as you don’t have to remove the pit, which can be a painstaking process. If you’re using them on a hamburger or as a side, slice them in half to prevent them from rolling around the plate. 

5. Thinly-Sliced Radishes

Fresh radish with a thinly sliced radish next to them

Were you planning on making sandwiches or hamburgers with sliced cornichons as a garnish, only to discover that you’ve run out? If so, consider using radishes instead. 

Radishes have a sharp and slightly spicy taste, and some folks might find this overwhelming, which is why you should slice them thinly. 

They have a crisp texture and are drier than cornichons but not as salty. Drizzling them with a little olive oil and sprinkling them with some Kosher sea salt can enhance the taste and texture.

6. Green Bell Peppers

Slices of fresh green bell peppers on a plate

If your goal when using cornichons is to introduce green into your dish, green bell peppers make an excellent substitute. When combined with red and yellow bell peppers, they provide a beautiful rainbow effect.  

Green bell peppers have an earthy and slightly sweet taste, and their texture is crispy and a little juicy. 

Cutting the bell peppers into strips is a great way of using them as a salad ingredient or sandwich garnish. If your recipe calls for cornichons in a fish or chicken dish, finely chop some bell peppers instead.

7. Pickled Zucchini

A jar of pickled zuchinni squash next to a chopped up zuchinni

Zucchini makes a fantastic substitute for cornichons, and when eaten raw, it has an earthy and barely noticeable sweet taste. 

If you pickle sliced zucchini in apple cider or white wine vinegar (as mentioned in the first section), this will help it to develop a stronger taste with plenty of acidity. 

Pickled or plain zucchini works well in place of cornichons in salads, wraps, or as a relish. However, be careful not to use overripe zucchini as the taste will be too bitter. 

Can I Use Pickles Instead of Cornichons?

You can use pickles instead of cornichons. Pickles have a similar (but not quite the same) texture and taste. Pickles are larger, and you may need to cut them so that they are the same size as the required cornichon. 

You will notice some subtle differences if you eat them on their own. Depending on the company that canned your pickles, they can be sweet, sour, or both. 

Cornichons are typically prepared in brine, vinegar, and traditional French herbs, such as rosemary, garlic, or tarragon. Pickles, on the other hand, are not pickled with herbs, and their sweet, sour (or sweet and sour) taste is due to the sugar content in the pickling liquid. 

However, when you add pickles instead of cornichons to a dish or as a garnish, the difference is barely noticeable, so go ahead and use pickles if you don’t have any cornichons!

In this video, I show how to make American sweet pickles:

Are Cornichons the Same As Pickles?

Cornichons are not the same as pickles. The main difference lies in their size because cornichons are made from young cucumbers, and pickles are larger. Cornichons usually have bumps on their skin, while pickles have smooth skin. 

Since they are made from larger cucumbers, pickles are often canned in slices or discs, making it easy to grab a few and add them to a sandwich or salad. Due to their small size, you can normally buy cornichons whole and choose whether you want to eat them that way, slice, or chop them. 

Cornichons are widely sold and consumed in France, but pickles are more popular in the USA and Canada.   

Can I Use Capers Instead of Cornichons?

You can use capers instead of cornichons because both foods have a similar tart and citrus taste. However, use capers sparingly because although they are tiny, they are packed with taste and flavor. 

Capers are very salty and have a similar texture to green olives, and they aren’t as crunchy as cornichons. 

As a substitute for one cornichon, you would need approximately three to five capers, but consider slicing them in half because you might get overwhelmed with the strong taste of a whole one in your mouth.


The 7 best substitutes for cornichons: 

  1. Homemade pickled cucumbers
  2. Eggplant
  3. Sliced celery
  4. Pickled zucchini
  5. Green olives
  6. Thinly-sliced radishes
  7. Green bell peppers

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

For more, don’t miss The 9 Best and Most Similar Cabbage Substitutes.