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Fresh Tarragon Revelation

I bought a bunch of a fresh herb not knowing what it was. When I got home I figured out via the Internet that I had some fresh tarragon on my hands.
Baked chicken on a bed of the herb mixed with fresh spinach, onion and garlic, topped with a splash of red wine. Wow!
I haven't been super fond of the dry stuff when I've had it but this fresh tarragon is something else.
Do you have any recipes that use it in chicken dishes, salads or sides?

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  1. I can't make chicken salad without it now, I love it. It pairs extremely well with mustard. It's also extremely easy to grow if you buy a starter plant (apparently its difficult from seed.)

    6 Replies
      1. re: almond tree

        I make chicken salad with homemade mayo, tons of chopped tarragon, salt and lemon juice. I can't think of anything that would make it better.

        I just bought more tarragon plants at the nursery today, since I keep using the two I bought originally. As you've discovered, it's fantastic with poultry -- use it with salt to prep a chicken for roasting. It's also wonderful in scrambled eggs.

        It's my favorite herb, no contest.

        1. re: JonParker

          My introduction to tarragon was courtesy of Whole Foods about 15 years ago in the form of a tarragon chicken salad. All I remember is it was chunks of chicken, probably a mix of mayo and sour cream, and split grapes. And tarragon of course. Man I loved that stuff. I have it in the back of my mind to try to recreate it at some point. Distinct tarragon flavor and the grapes really worked with it. It was great.

        2. re: almond tree

          What I make it with depends on what I have around- green apples or dried cranberries (lots of people use grapes,) chopped almonds, red onion or green onions, homemade mayo, chicken, and lots of tarragon.

          1. re: weezieduzzit

            Sounds good. I was wondering most about the dressing -- whether it was mayonnaise based or oil & vinegar based.
            I have some not-quite-as-ripe-as-I-would-like figs I bought. Maybe I'll cut them up & use them as the fruit in this salad.

        3. re: weezieduzzit

          Tarragon is a part of the traditional cheese and vegetable plate in Persian cooking. White cheese (similar to feta), fresh mint, fresh tarragon, radishes, walnuts, tomato, green onions, and pita.

        4. I make this Poulet au Vinaigre a la Delia Smith over and over again for dinner parties or cold Sunday nights - it is a completely perfect recipe, aromatic, comforting and so delicious!!! http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/cu...

          1. My basic uses for tarragon are roast chicken: stuff a handful in the cavity with a lemon cut in two and roast; make tarragon butter and rub that on the chicken flesh under the skin and over the skin, then roast or grill; in a chicken marinade for grilling of olive oil, white wine, dijon mustard and tarragon. And in salads: just throw in a bunch of the leaves with other greens and herbs. Tarragon adds a delicious note to a green salad, especially when dressed with a simple vinaigrette.

            Finally a classic chicken braise/fricassee is poulet a l'estragon, a bit of work but completely delicious:


            2 Replies
            1. re: janniecooks

              Last week I made a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice + zest, and chopped tarragon. It was delicious on a spinach salad, and even better on a pasta salad.

              One note. I'm a firm believer in seasoning the salad, not the dressing. Put salt & pepper on your greens/pasta first, then add dressing.

              1. re: JonParker

                I use this same vinaigrette, with the addition of finely chopped shallots and grainy Dijon, for my version of salade Nicoise.

            2. And if you decide to grow your own I have found that in hot climates (I currently live in Austin) tarragon is very hard to keep alive, but Mexican mint marigold is a good substitute and heat tolerant. I love it in a white wine vinaigrette and in mayonnaise.

              6 Replies
              1. re: tim irvine

                Hmm .. sounds worth a try - if I can find the Mexican mint marigold to begin with. I definitely live in a hot climate.
                Do you grow it from seed or seedlings?

                1. re: almond tree

                  I got the little plants at my local nursery.

                  1. re: almond tree

                    Tim's spot on. Put a sprig or two (tarragon I mean, but maybe Mex mint marigold would work too) into a bottle of white wine vinegar, push in two or three cloves of garlic and leave for a couple of weeks (lasts for ages, actually). Use this to make vinaigrette using no more than one vinegar to six EVO, plus s&p. Perfect on a plain green salad.

                    1. re: Robin Joy

                      I learned on CH that putting garlic (and other things) in oil and storing can cause botulism. For real. So make only enough to use quickly.


                      1. re: c oliver

                        True, but it's no risk to put garlic in vinegar, as Robin Joy is suggesting. Its acid is a preservative (which is why those bottled crushed garlic products include citric acid or similar).

                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                          What an idiot I am :) I didn't read the post correctly. Thanks.

                2. Thanks for all the suggestions. I just finished the last little bit of the original chicken dish, and think that tarragon may be my new "try it with everything" herb. Coriander served in that role for quite a few years, but somehow the romance has lost its luster.

                  1. Yes, fresh tarragon is a revelation. Back in the '70s it was very popular, but then fell out of favor. Hope it is coming back as a recipe ingredient. Try it in egg dishes and cheese dishes. Amazing in scrambled eggs/omelettes, quiches. Also mushroom or potato soup, veal scallops. My favorite spinach recipe is to steam the leaves, add tarragon and lemon with a little butter. Heavenly.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: lyden

                      I have to second the idea of adding Tarragon to egg dishes. One of my secret lunch concoctions: egg salad , tarragon, lobster paste! This was an accidental discovery when finishing up a few left overs. Am I the only person left on earth who LOVES lobster paste?

                      1. re: lovetocookPEI

                        Lovetocook, I've never heard of lobster paste! Where do you find it? And what else do you use it in?

                    2. The first recipe I ever used it with was tarragon chicken salad from the Silver Palate cookbook. It was the only way I dressed chicken salad for years. Mexican Tarragon, as also mentioned, is easier for me to grow too. You can't grow French Tarragon from seed, all the seeds are Russian Tarragon. I grow the French under my Eggplants as a companion plant.

                      The Mexican tarragon is a beautiful plant but can become invasive.

                      1. I have a wonderful tarragon plant, comes back every year. Every summer I look forward to corn season. Butter and tarragon on corn on the cob is delicious!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ElsieB

                          I had that same revelation a couple years ago after my neighbour split her plant with me (it's a perennial by the way).

                          Now it is my favourite herb to use. Dressings are a staple with it. A creamy mayo and yogurt dressing with lemon, white wine vinegar and garlic. I love this on anything.

                          I also find it compliments fish really well. I will combine w mayo and lemon then slather on before cooking or make a sauce with it for after.

                          I have made a French style friccase with it and chicken and white wine that is amazing. Enjoy!

                        2. I love a salad dressing made from olive oil, white wine vinegar, minced tarragon, minced garlic, and a smidge of honey (be conservative and taste to see if the flavors are balanced). This is especially good with sharp or bitter salad greens, sliced ripe pears, toasted nuts, and if you like, a tangy feta or blue cheese. That's more a fall/winter dish, but works perfectly with the tarragon and honey.

                          1. Unless I missed it, no one has mentioned Bernaise sauce,
                            one of my favorite but infrequent indulgences. Not sure it
                            qualifies as a "side" but it does qualify as delicious!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: ferventfoodie

                              Yesss! I was just scanning to see if Bearnaise was mentioned. So glad you did. You can't have eggs Benedict without this wonderful "mayonnaise" made with drawn butter instead of oil. It's also fabulous on a great steak! Oh my goodness... I feel a craving coming on. Help me!

                              1. I just had the same revelation. Last weekend my friend made me a chicken salad with chicken, light mayo, halved red grapes, and fresh tarragon. It was wonderful. I have since bought a tarragon plant to add to my herb garden.

                                1. Poulet au vinaigre was my first introduction to tarragon; this summer I've been using tarragon mostly in an herb vinaigrette - a vinaigrette base of olive oil, white wine vinegar, shallot, S & P; add honey, a handful of fresh herbs, including tarragon, parsley, chives, maybe a small amount of basil and/or mint; blend, add a couple tablespoons of creme fraiche or sour cream (optional). A wonderful complement to "mild" lettuces like Bibb.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: hungryjoanne

                                    I don't think I'd care for the honey, but that vinaigrette with lemon juice as the acid is my favorite salad dressing ever. Try it with pasta salad with kalamata olives and chopped,scallions.

                                    1. re: JonParker

                                      I'd leave out the honey also but the rest sounds very good

                                      Having stumbled across this last evening, I added tarragon to my very plain chicken salad. Nice.

                                    2. re: hungryjoanne

                                      I googled "poulet au vinaigre" for recipes (ty for the idea) and found there is also a movie by this name, aka ... wait for it ... Cop au Vin. The themes are crime, romance, comedy, mystery.
                                      Sounds like a good one to watch while sampling some of these tarragon flavored creations.

                                    3. When I have a lot of tarragon I stuff tender stems and leaves into glass bottles and add vinegar. Usually cider vinegar, but other types work too. The thing is, I really stuff those bottles, and the reward is a more intense tarragon vinegar, good for vinaigrettes, salads, sauces etc.

                                      A note about growing: Don't bother with Russian tarragon seeds that many seed companies sell. It grows well but has only a tiny hint of tarragon flavor.

                                      The only way to grow for flavor is to buy a French tarragon potted plant, and give it lots of space for new roots and shoots to spring up. You can also get a root division from a friend, and it will usually grow well in good soil. French tarragon winters well even in Canada, and grows rapidly in spring, tapering off in summer and fall. It never ever goes to seed, unlike the Russian plant.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: jayt90

                                        How long does the vinegar keep? Would wine vinegar work? I don't think I can find cider vinegar here.

                                        1. re: almond tree

                                          Really? I just use Heinz cider vinegar, in the large gallon or 4 liter containers. But it may not be everywhere; white wine vinegar or a light red wine vinegar will be fine. It should keep for 6 months or a bit more, if the tarragon leaves and stems are washed in cold water first.

                                        2. re: jayt90

                                          Can tarragon be easily grown in a windowsill garden, or is it high maintenance?


                                          1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                            Yes, French tarragon will do well in a temperate sunny window. Keep away from heat sources. When the pot has 9 or 10 new ground shoots, divide into three pots, and enjoy.

                                          2. re: jayt90

                                            When I lived in Hawaii, I found Russian tarragon (actually a marigold) easier to grow in the hotter months than real tarragon. The flavor was almost as strong, but slightly different. Still, I thought it was pleasant. The Russian stuff bloomed regularly in that climate.

                                          3. If you love the flavor of fresh tarragon, try these quick pickles. Even if you've never made pickles before, these are easy. The sugar snap peas are at the peak right now here in Washington--I'm going to make some this weekend.

                                            Pickled Sugar Snap Peas

                                            1 1/4 cups white distilled vinegar
                                            1 Tbl. kosher or pickling salt
                                            1 Tbl. sugar
                                            1 1/4 cups cold water
                                            1 pound sugar snap peas, stems trimmed and strings removed (make sure you get them on both sides!)
                                            4 springs fresh tarragon
                                            4 garlic cloves, sliced
                                            1/2 tsp. dried red pepper flakes

                                            In a nonreactive saucepan, heat the vinegar with the salt and sugar until they are dissolved. Remove from the heat, and add the cold water which starts the cooling process faster.

                                            When the vinegar mixture is cool, pack the sugar snaps, tarragon, garlic and flakes into a 1-quart jar and pour the brine over it. Cover with a non-reactive cap.

                                            Refrigerate for two weeks before eating.

                                            Each pound makes about three 12-ounce jars.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: MsMaryMc

                                              Yum, yum, yum! How long do these keep?

                                              1. re: almond tree

                                                I've kept them for months, in the fridge. I start with clean, sterilized jars right out of the dishwasher.

                                            2. I made this tonight. It was one of my better off the cuff attempts. I really like this because it shows off how decadent tarragon can be when treated as a star of the show.

                                              6-8 chicken thighs (mine were quite small, so I went with 8)
                                              3 tbs. neutral oil
                                              1 1/2 tbs. fresh French tarragon, chopped
                                              3 tbs. shallots, chopped (I used baby shallots, white and green portions, but peeled and chopped shallots are fine)
                                              1 c. white wine
                                              1/2 c. white wine vinegar
                                              3 tbs. heavy cream

                                              Put oil in skillet over medium heat. Season chicken thighs liberally with salt & pepper on both sides. Cook until golden brown, turning, 4 or 5 minutes per side.

                                              Remove chicken from skillet. Add shallots and cook, stirring, until barely golden, 2 minutes. Return chicken to skillet and add white wine, wine vinegar and tarragon. Salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat to very low and cook, turning once, for 40 min. or until done through.

                                              Remove chicken, turn heat to med. Add heavy cream and stir constantly until sauce thickens. Spoon over chicken and serve.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: JonParker

                                                You've touched every ingredient I like including thighs which I'm only just coming to (sometimes) appreciate.

                                                1. re: JonParker

                                                  have wine in the fridge, tarragon in the garden and no plan for dinner, now, I am set! thanks. serve with rice?

                                                  1. re: cleopatra999

                                                    That works for me. I served mine with fingerling potatoes and salad.

                                                2. Pasta with Lobster and Tarragon from the Silver Palate Cookbook is delicious. The recipe calls for dried tarragon but I have usually made it with fresh.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: EM23

                                                    If substituting fresh herbs in a recipe that calls for dried, remember to triple the volume called for.

                                                  2. we make a version of this recipe all the time:


                                                    it's a "version" only b/c we don't measure anything, and we make sure to have way too much tarragon. healthy, quick, easy, and delicious. the tarragon goes well with the chicken and the potatoes in the dressing.

                                                    1. I LOVE tarragon! I do a swordfish marinade with about 2T of tarragon, 1/2 C rice wine vinegar, 1/2 C soy. It's delicious.

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: synergy

                                                        I love swordfish and this sounds great. How long do you marinade?

                                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                          2-3 hrs. Longer than that and the swordfish will get mushy.

                                                        2. re: synergy

                                                          I have fresh swordfish ready to go for this recipe this weekend. Do you use the marinade as a sauce or just marinade?

                                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                            Sorry I read this late...I use it only as a marinade, not a sauce.

                                                            1. re: synergy

                                                              No problem, I didn't end up using this marinade but will definitely give it a try in the future. I think it might work well with tuna as well.

                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                Tuna would work very well. I'd say any of the 'white' fillets too, sole, flounder, sea bass, etc.

                                                        3. This weekend I used I made a wonderful swordfish dinner with tarragon. I was inspired by this recipe http://food52.com/recipes/5755-pan-ro.... For my prep, I sauteed mushrooms with garlic and onion, splash of white wine, added stock and let reduce and then mixed in Dijon, a good heaping of tarragon and lemon juice and it was wonderful.

                                                          1. I know this will sound bizarre, but one of my favorite breads we make in our breadmaker uses chopped tarragon and lemon zest. It's basically a white bread and is really delicious. If anyone wants the recipe, see my details on the personal page.

                                                            1. Not chicken, but one of the best things I ever had was halibut with a butter and fresh tarragon sauce. The people serving it had their own Alaskan fishing boat, so it was really fresh.