If you think of a snack or a salad, can’t you just hear the crunch of the cornichon and taste that sweet-n-sour taste?
These little gherkins are versatile but are not the only ingredient that can give snacks, salads and sandwiches ‘that’ flavour.
Substitute for Cornichons
Cornichons seem to be the quintessential snack and salad ingredient, with a characteristic sweet and sour taste and a crunch. There are other foods and sauces that can be used as a substitute for cornichons, though, that will give a similar taste and texture. Pickled carrots, sliced peppers and onions are some of the substitutes that can be used.
What is a cornichon?
A cornichon is basically a small cucumber that has been pickled.
They are most commonly called gherkins and really do look like a miniature version of pickled cucumber.
A gherkin is a miniature pickling cucumber that is usually flavoured with dill.
What does a cornichon taste like?
Pickles are made by soaking vegetables, such as gherkins, in vinegar or brine, which means that they characteristically have a slightly sour flavour.
However, things are added during the pickling process that changes the flavour slightly to give the pickled vegetable a particular taste.
If sugar is added during the pickling process, then the gherkins will have a sweet and sour flavour.
A herb, such as dill will give the gherkins another type of flavour.
Dill gherkins (cornichons) have a strong flavour which can dominate in a dish or salad.
What are cornichons used for?
Basically, cornichons are used to give flavour to a platter or a dish.
They can be eaten on their own, as part of a snack platter, or a salad, or on a sandwich.
Because of their size, cornichons make great finger food, so they are often used as part of a snack plate, or on a charcuterie platter.
They are also great sliced into a salad and chopped up on a sandwich.
Gherkins lose some of their flavours when they are cooked, because they blend with the other flavours in the dish, so they are quite versatile in the way they complement other foods.
If you don’t have cornichons or don’t like the taste, there are some interesting substitute foods you can choose from.
Because of the sour taste of the cornichons, look for a substitute that still has a slightly bitter taste.
The obvious thing to use here is another kind of pickle because they are also soaked in vinegar or brine.
Sometimes it is better to think outside the box and look for other substitutes.
Cornichons as a snack
Sometimes, cornichons are eaten on their own as a light snack, but they most often feature on a snack platter, or on a biscuit, very often with cheese.
I suggest using a pickle such as cauliflower as a substitute for cornichons on a snack platter because they are also suitable finger food.
Pickled onions are too slippery and not really easily eaten with the fingers, so pickled carrots should rather be used.
They can be held easily and go well with a dip, or with flavoured cream cheese.
You can also substitute fresh vegetables for cornichons as a snack. Cut peppers into chunks, or strips and add these to a platter with a dipping sauce.
If the sour taste of a gherkin is not what you are looking for, then you can use raw carrots that are cut into sticks.
Cornichons can be combined with other ingredients and arranged on a cracker to produce a snack.
These often use the slightly sour taste of the cornichon to counter a more neutral, or even sweet taste.
A slice of gherkin on a piece of cheese arranged on a cracker makes a great, quick snack.
You can replace the cornichon with a slice of preserved green figs, which have a flavour that is basically sweet and sour.
You can also try to spread a little chutney on the cheese, which will complement the cheese and give that slightly more sour taste.
Cornichons in a salad
Cornichons are a great addition to any salad. They give that slightly sour taste and add to the texture with a little crunch.
Possibly the most obvious substitute for a cornichon in a salad is slices of pickled cucumber, but there are others you can look at too.
Either go for the flavour or the texture of a cornichon.
Sliced peppers have a slightly sour taste, but it is less noticeable than that of a cornichon. They do give that crunch, though.
You can, of course, use slices of plain cucumber for the crunch and touch of green in the salad, but the taste is neutral. Adding fresh or pickled onions will give the salad a distinct flavour. The raw onions also have that crunch.
Substituting cornichons means thinking outside the box. What about adding walnuts to a salad for the crunch factor? Combined with peppers or onions, you will have the flavour and crunch.
Cornichons on a sandwich
Have you ever had a chicken mayo sandwich with chopped up cornichon?
Because the mayo gives a very dominant taste to the sandwich, you can use a chopped up raw cucumber instead of the gherkin.
Sauces like chutney or sweet chilli can give a sandwich the same sweet and sour taste as a gherkin.
Be creative and combine one of the sauces with sliced and fried aubergine, or with sugar snap peas.
Slice up some zucchinis very thin, let them simmer in a sugar solution for ten minutes. Let them cool and add them to a sandwich instead of gherkins.
Frequently Asked Questions About Substitute for Cornichons
Can cornichons be eaten as a snack on their own?
Because cornichons are only a few inches long, they are the perfect finger food. The flavour and crunch make them a great snack just on their own, but they can also be combined with other ingredients in a salad or on a sandwich.
What can I use instead of cornichons in a chicken mayo sandwich?
A chicken mayo sandwich already has a slightly sour flavour, so adding chopped up cucumber will give it the crunch that cornichons usually add. You can also chop up peppers into the mix of chicken and mayo.
Cornichons seem to be the perfect ‘combination food’, that can be used in snacks and salads and on sandwiches.
They are not alone, though. There are other foods and ingredients that can be used instead of cornichons to give their own flavour and texture.