Friday, May 03, 2013

Sauteed Chicken Breasts Recipe with Tarragon-Mustard Pan Sauce

Chicken with tarragon mustard sauce
This easy and delicious chicken recipe is a good reason to grown French Tarragon in your garden!

(For Phase One Fridays I highlight Phase One recipes from the past that have been my personal favorites, and I was reminded of this lovely chicken dish when a follower on Twitter told me yesterday about how much she had enjoyed it.  If you're not growing French Tarragon, this recipe is a good reason to plant some because this simple dish of sauteed chicken breasts with a sauce featuring Dijon mustard and finely-chopped French tarragon makes a great dinner!)

In 2008 I planted French Tarragon for the first time in my herb garden, and it was the beginning of a huge love affair with the flavor of tarragon. I tried lots of different recipes using fresh tarragon, and loved them all. Now it's herb-planting time again at a new house, and this year I'll be planting some French Tarragon among my flowers and praying that the deer don't like Tarragon! And I'm looking forward to trying even more recipes with tarragon.

Of the various types of tarragon, French Tarragon is the most prized for cooking, and it's sometimes called the King of Herbs. It has a strong flavor and should be used sparingly. It can be hard to find because it can't be grown from seed, but the plant is a perennial and gets quite large once it's established. Other types of tarragon include Russian Tarragon (which is easier to grow but much milder and slightly bitter in flavor) and Texas Tarragon (also called Mexican Mint Marigold; a perennial herb with a similar flavor.) To me, the flavor of tarragon is somewhat like a combination of basil and fennel, slightly sweeter than basil to my taste buds, but with a similar anise flavor. Like basil, tarragon should be added towards the end of the cooking time.

Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Tarragon-Mustard Pan Sauce
(Makes 4 servings, recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's Great Food Fast.)

4 boneless-skinless chicken breasts
1 T olive oil (use more or less, depending on your pan)
salt and pepper, plus other seasonings of your choice to season chicken (I used Szeged Chicken Rub and pepper, but no salt)
1/2 cup chicken stock (I used homemade chicken stock, but you could use canned chicken broth, preferably low sodium)
1/3 cup half and half or milk
1 T Dijon mustard
2-3 tsp. finely chopped fresh tarragon (preferably French tarragon)

Trim all visible fat and tendons from chicken breasts. (I save these scraps in the freezer until I get enough to make chicken stock.) If chicken breasts are quite thick, pound them with a meat mallet or other heavy object until they are about 3/4 inch thick.

Wash tarragon leaves and finely chop with chef's knife.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a heavy frying pan just big enough to hold all the chicken without crowding. While oil heats, season chicken with seasonings of your choice. Add the chicken and saute until chicken is cooked through and well-browned, about 10 minutes. (Actual cooking time will depend on your pan and how high you have the heat.)

Remove chicken to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Add chicken stock to pan, scraping off any browned bits, and cook until reduced by half, about 2-3 minutes. Whisk in mustard, tarragon, half and half and any juices from the chicken which have accumulated on the plate and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes more. Serve immediately, with some of the sauce drizzled over each piece of chicken.

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South Beach Diet Suggestions:
I changed the proportions of this recipe with good results to make it more South Beach Diet friendly, and although the sauce still has a bit of half and half, it's a very small amount per serving and I would eat this for even phase one of the South Beach Diet. It would taste great with Pureed Cauliflower with Garlic, Parmesan, and Goat Cheese and a perfect green salad.

Nutritional Information? I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Recipes with Tarragon to Wake Up Your Mouth:

(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly, check ingredients.)
Chicken Salad with Fresh Tarragon and Peas
Roasted Mushrooms with Tarragon Vinaigrette
Grilled Chicken with Tarragon-Mustard Marinade
Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Warm Tomato-Tarragon Salsa
Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad with Lemon, Dijon, and Tarragon Vinaigrette
Tarragon Tuna Melt from Simply Recipes
Eggplant and Goat Cheese Sandwiches with Tomato Tarragon Sauce from What Did You Eat
Cream of Celery Soup with Fresh Tarragon from Christine Cooks
Angel Hair Pasta with Tarragon-Parsley Pesto and Seared Scallops from Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once
Pork Medallions with Tarragon-Mustard Sauce from Blue Kitchen
(Want even more recipes?  I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

Blogger Disclosures:
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

This tarragon-loving dish was first posted as a contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Cate of Sweetnicks.
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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

More to Chew On:


  1. Wow, this sounds fantastic! I think I'll try this sauce with talapia - it sounds like it would be good anyway...time will tell. :)

  2. Mouthwatering. I have seen you blog on tarragon several times, and each time it inspires me to really want to tackle tarragon. the only dish I really make with tarragon (although I love the dish) is chicken la folie.

    I did not know it couldnt be grown from seed. what an interesting fact. how did the plant survive all this time? seems disadvantageous. if i were thinking like a plant that is...

  3. mwit, I'd love to hear how it works with Tilapia, sounds like it could be good to me.

    Erin, I have no idea how the plant propogates itself in the wild, but I kept reading how you must buy plants or grow it from cuttings because the plant doesn't make seeds. Isn't that odd? In Utah I haven't had trouble finding plants labeled French tarragon.

  4. I absolutely LOVE tarragon Kalyn. Tarragon and chicken is such a classic combination. I have often wanted to grow it too but I have found it hard to find until recently. Now I have tracked some down!

  5. This sauce would be delicious on salmon, too. I have a huge tarragon plant in my garden. It gets leggy and woody later in the season, so be sure to cut it back and let the new growth come in.

  6. Kalyn, the combo of tarragon and moutarde is tres francais and Oooh la la! lol

    As for the herb, my tarragon grows back each year like a perennial, leave the plant be this fall and see if it grows back.

  7. Yumm, I want to try this dish for sure. I love terragon also.

    Ranee in OK

  8. Great pictures, Kalyn. I loved the idea of half&half and tarragon, already bookemarked the recipe.

  9. For some reason I couldn't find any this yearl
    The chicken looks so good. But I've already put chicken with the mustard marinade to marinade. We liked it so much we're already having it again. Maybe this for the weekend. Seems your on my table every night.

  10. I absolutely loved this simple recipe, so I'm glad other people also think it looks good. Some of the other options people are thinking of sound good too.

    Burcu, I took this photo with some new lights I got which I'm going to write about soon. I still have a lot to learn about food photography, but my main goal is to make the food look appetizing and I thought this looked good.

    Tanna, so glad you like it that much! In my family everyone LOVES this recipe and we all make it over and over too.

  11. This looks great! I planted tarragon last week and I am really excited for exactly this sauce. We made a very similar one in a French sauces class I took a few years ago.

  12. I made this same recipe and loved it also! It makes me wonder what kind of tarragon I have growing in my herb bed!

  13. tht is a tempting chicken dish.nice.

  14. That chicken sounds really tasty. I don't think that I have ever seen and tarragon labeled as anything other than plain old tarragon. I will have to keep an eye out for some French tarragon.

  15. wow I love this recipe and I love chicken and tarragon so this is perfect.
    need to go and buy some chicken... ;o)

    uhm,... now I am hungry *sigh*

  16. I was just making my list of herbs to get at the market tomorrow, and I'd forgotten to add tarragon. Thanks for the reminder! I didn't have much luck with it last year, but savored what I was able to harvest.

  17. Chicken and tarragon is like tomatoes and basil...perfection!

  18. Hey Kalyn! I love your blog! I have tagged you via my blog!!

  19. That really looks tasty. Can you give us a few details on how the sauce was made?

  20. I'm betting that most people who have tarragon in their garden have French Tarragon, but don't know for sure. Everyone try growing it if you haven't tried it because as Lisa says, you will love it even if you don't get that much tarragon.

    Survival gourmet, the sauce recipe is part of the recipe, maybe you didn't click through?

  21. Hi Kalyn,
    I have tarragon in my garden too, but seldom use it. Now I've got a good excuse, thanks much! I'm looking forward to it.

  22. I have a huge Russian tarragon in my herb garden... for show, I guess. It was an accident. I now don't hesitate to nip a leaf and taste in the nursery....
    The little French tarragon plants surround it.
    I love this - and, I'm afraid I never use sparingly ;-))

  23. Hi Kalyn!

    I tried the dish and it was great. Well the chicken part was for sure. I don't think I let my broth cook down enough cause my sauce wouldn't thicken. But I drizzeled a bit over the chicken anyhow and my husband loved it. Once I get the sauce down he'll probably love it even more. I also tried your egg muffins, yum, the greek meatballs, yum, will be doing those again this week with the greek pilafe, amer greek salad and tazikie (sp?) sauce. I cooked the basil vinegar pot roast yesterday, It was yummy! We tried the curry deviled eggs and I'm a curry fan but my sweetie wasn't it was a little strong for him. Oh and we tried the asian chicken spinach salad. It was very good! I'm sure I am forgetting something. LOL Thanks for the great recipes!!

  24. I'm on SBD phase 1 and I was browsing for something new. This was truly fantastic. I was lucky to have a bottle of gourmet tarragon mustard someone gave me as a gift, so it was even easier than the recipe. It was so spectacular, it was worth the extra calories from the half & half - I was just careful not to eat too much. Thank you!

  25. Ranee, sorry I missed responding to your comment, but very glad to hear you're enjoying the recipes.

    RachelJo, great idea to use tarragon mustard! So glad you liked it.

  26. My sauce, although delicious, came out too soupy. I'm wondering if I added too much chicken stock, or if it's the fact that I'm a single male learning how to cook, haha. But I'll keep on trying. Thank you for all the great recipes.

  27. Polvadis, I'm wondering if you missed this step:
    "cook until reduced by half"

    When something has too much liquid, just cook it down until enough liquid evaporates and it's the thickness you want. This concentrates the flavor too. Congratulations on learning to cook though. Hope you're having fun.

  28. I made this one, (as well as the chicken salad) and it was super. Thanks! A couple other wonderful tarragon recipes are Grilled Chicken Salad w/Tarragon Pesto from bon appetit, and Sauteed Tilapia over Swiss Chard with Tarragon Butter from Fine Cooking. Love your Blog.

  29. Candice, thanks! Will check out those other recipes too (two of my favorite sources for recipes!)

  30. This was SO good!! Tarragon was perfect in this! Thanks!!

  31. Thanks Michelle, I did love this too!

  32. I use a similar tarragon mustard sauce for brushing on grilled pork tenderloin. It's fantastic! I don't know why I haven't tried it on chicken would make for a tasty, quick meal.

  33. Dara, and I'm wondering why I haven't tried it on pork!

  34. I was just thinking about how I need to cook with mustard more! This looks just fabulous!!

  35. I don't know about Utah deer, but Rhode Island deer don't seem to have a taste for tarragon!

  36. This is a wonderful recipe, thank you! I used 2% milk and a bit more mustard and tarragon than called for (I tend to like things strongly flavored).

    I love creamy dishes, but think South Beach followers will be satisfied with the milk versus the half and half, as all the other flavors blend so perfectly together.

    Thanks again!

  37. Stacy, glad you enjoyed it. I would probably still eat this for South Beach even with the half and half, since you're eating such a small amount of the sauce. But good to know that you liked it with milk too.

  38. Absolutely agree, Kayln. Even with the half and half if should be fine. But, as someone who loves cream, I'm very happy to find something that a milk sub works fine with! Again, thanks so much for posting it.


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