Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Cooking Tips for Gardeners: Cooking with French Tarragon

French Tarragon grows like a weed, and it's a wonderful flavor when used in small amounts!

Since I started doing garden updates in 2006, I've enjoyed writing about my garden on the blog, and talking about how I use the garden produce in recipes.  This year I decided it would be fun to do a whole series of Cooking Tips for Gardeners, each time spotlighting something I grow in the garden that might be an ingredient not everyone was familiar with.  And when I noticed that my French Tarragon was completely out of control a few weeks ago, I thought that would be a good place to start!

If you want to grow French Tarragon or try cooking with it, the first important thing is to make sure you're getting the right kind of plant (and it can't be grown from seed, so you will need to buy a plant if you want to grow it.)  There are several types of Tarragon, and Russian tarragon and Mexican Tarragon are lacking the lovely anise-like flavor that makes French Tarragon so beloved, and when you see recipes that just list "tarragon" as an ingredient, it's almost certain that it means French Tarragon.  I do think French Tarragon has a flavor that's a little similar to basil with but with more licorice flavor, and it's stronger than basil so you only need a small amount of chopped fresh tarragon to add a lot of flavor to a recipe.  Tarragon traditionally is paired with chicken, eggs, fish, and a few vegetables, but in the last few years I've noticed creative cooks are combining it with many more things.  Here are some of the recipes I've enjoyed that feature French Tarragon, and be sure to check after the photos for more recipes ideas from other blogs.  

Green Goddess Salad Dressing
When someone wonders if they like the flavor of French Tarragon, I ask them if they like Green Goddess Salad Dressing.  I think that's one of the first things I tasted that had this flavor (although at the time I didn't know it was the French Tarragon flavor that made me love this dressing so much!)

Grilled Chicken with Tarragon Mustard Marinade
Grilled Chicken with Tarragon Mustard Marinade might be a good one to try if you've never cooked with French Tarragon before, because the tarragon flavor is more subtle here.

Tarragon Shrimp Salad with Celery, Green Onions, and Celery Seed
I love French Tarragon with shrimp, and I really enjoyed the flavors in this Tarragon Shrimp Salad with Celery, Green Onions, and Celery Seed.

Roasted Mushrooms with Tarragon Vinaigrette
French Tarragon really adds wonderful flavor to roasted mushrooms in this recipe for Roasted Mushrooms with Tarragon Vinaigrette (and you could use the vinaigrette on Grilled Mushrooms as well.

Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Tarragon-Mustard Pan Sauce
This lovely recipe for Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Tarragon-Mustard Pan Sauce is so good I would happily make it for dinner guests!

Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Warm Tomato-Tarragon Salsa
If you happen to have both fresh tomatoes and French Tarragon growing in your garden, you MUST make this recipe for Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Warm Tomato-Tarragon Salsa.  

Tarragon-Mustard Deviled Eggs
French Tarragon, Mustard, and Egg was a perfect flavor combination in these Tarragon-Mustard Deviled Eggs!

Chicken Salad with Fresh Tarragon and Peas
And finally, the beloved recipe for Chicken Salad with Fresh Tarragon and Peas, which was one of the very first recipes I made when I planted French Tarragon in my garden.  I make this every summer and never get tired of it!

Here are a lot more ideas for cooking with French tarragon, because I know once you try it, you're going to want to keep using it.  (Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)

More French Tarragon with Chicken
Chicken Salad with Tarragon from Simply Recipes
Tarragon Chicken Fricassee from The Kitchn
Pasta with Chicken, Tarragon, and Cream from Dinner du Jour
Roast Chicken with Tarragon Sauce from She's in the Kitchen
Tarragon Chicken Salad from Lottie and Doof

More French Tarragon with Eggs:
Tarragon Deviled Eggs with Capers and Crispy Ham from Food for my Family
Tarragon Egg Salad from Black Girl Chef's Whites
Cheesy Baked Egg Tart with Tarragon, Tomato, and Zucchini from Healthy Delicious
Tarragon Egg Salad from Simply Recipes
Strata with Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms, and Smoked Mozzarella from Herbivoracious

More French Tarragon with Fish:
Cod Cakes with Red Pepper, Tarragon, and Yogurt Remoulade from The Perfect Pantry
Salmon with Tarragon and Shallot Butter Sauce from Cookin' Canuck
Barbecued Salmon in Foil with Tarragon, Chives, and Vermouth from Cookin' Canuck
Tarragon Tuna Melt from Simply Recipes
Mussels in Tarragon Cream Sauce from Blue Kitchen

More French Tarragon with Vegetables:
Creamed Corn and Tarragon from Shutterbean
Tomato-Tarragon Soup from Never Enough Thyme
Avocado Bisque with Tarragon from Soup Chick
Cauliflower in Lemon and Tarragon Sauce from Fearless Kitchen
Cream of Celery Soup with Fresh Tarragon from Christine Cooks

More French Tarragon Info and Recipes Ideas:
In 2008 I wrote a series about Cooking with Fresh Herbs for, and shared lots of good recipes ideas for cooking with Tarragon.   

Do you share my love of French Tarragon?  If you have a good recipe using this herb, please feel free to leave your recipe link in a comment.
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More to Chew On:


  1. Love this idea for a series! The French tarragon in my garden is going wild this year, too. I just made a shrimp dish with tarragon yesterday -- love that combination. Thanks for linking to my recipes, and thanks for sharing your garden with all of us.

  2. I'm not a big fan of anise, so I can't count tarragon as a top herb. But making a simple syrup infused with the herb intrigues me, especially when seeing that in a cocktail. A Thought For Food has a lovely looking recipe:

  3. Oh also tarragon vinegar! Infuse white vinegar with tarragon for a few months, put it in cute glass bottles and gift if to everyone you know. I find infused vinegars to be brilliant additions to dressings, sautes, etc all year long.

  4. Love it! I need to find more weed-like herbs to grow. Is it a perennial? :)

    I discovered tarragon last year and really liked it, despite note liking licorice. This is one of my favourite recipes with it:

  5. Thanks for the tarragon ideas everyone. Janet, it's definitely a perennial, mine has been going strong for about 6 years now!

  6. HI Kalyn -
    I love Tarragon! Here are two recipes in one post - one a corn chowder, the other pan seared scallops with tarragon vinaigrette.

    Tarragon vinegar is a great way to use your crop of tarragon.

  7. French tarragon used to be available in San Francisco East Bay garden stores but during the last few years have had trouble finding transplants. Seed packets are also difficult to find. Any suggestions?

  8. I actually don't really like the licorice flavor but adore tarragon...go figure. Thanks for all these ideas for using it!

  9. Not sure why French Tarragon would be hard to find, but you can't grow it from seed, you need a plant.

  10. Oh my gosh, my tarragon is crazy! Every year, I expect it to finally overcome the oregano. . . love the recipe ideas!

    I like a little tarragon in chicken salad. Also, I like to pair it with orange - either stuff the cavity of a chicken, or a quick marinade or sauce for grilled breasts.

  11. I have just started an herb garden in earnest this summer and put in some tarragon (I think it ended up being French Tarragon, though). I am really enjoying cooking and trying the fresh herbs in so many things. Thanks so much for the great information and links to so many great looking recipes to try with this herb. I will be following more of your herb posts (and the lovely recipes you post). Thanks

  12. It sounds like Tarragon Chicken Salad is kind of a universal favorite!

    Sarah, glad the herb recipes are useful for you!

  13. I make a tarragon white wine sauce for chicken that we love. I had to transplant mine when I moved the herb garden this year - seems to be working (fingers crossed)


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