What is Tarragon?

What is tarragon? This aromatic herb is one which I never thought I needed to keep. It has only been in the later part of my life that I really began to appreciate this great flavor. One year my brother raised so many herbs. He gave me large freezer bags full of probably ten different ones. Among them was a bag of tarragon. I put them all in my freezer thinking I would try different ones in different recipes. I never realized how much I loved this fresh flavor!

What is Tarragon?What is Tarragon?

What is tarragon when it comes to flavor?  Tarragon has a unique flavor. It is like anise or licorice.  Never using the fresh tarragon before, only dried, I found it a little strong to be one of my favorites. Now that I have found fresh tarragon so useful in my cooking, I began also using the dried form only in much smaller amounts. When fresh, I found this herb still to have an intense flavor but so delicious.  Tarragon is very popular in French cooking and the cuisines of many countries around the world. Here in the United States, it is most often used in egg, fish and chicken recipes. It makes a very flavorful vinegar to be used on green salad recipes.

Some countries use tarragon to flavor drinks. I am not sure how I would like that. I cannot imagine drinking it! I can tell you it is great in soups stews and all kinds of meat recipes. It makes an excellent seasoning for salmon and chicken.  Tarragon is used in some countries in sweet recipes like cake. Years ago, I would have thought that sounded bad as I once did rosemary. After trying rosemary cookies, I change my opinion of that also. To be sure, now tarragon is a staple with me as are many other herbs.

What is tarragon for medicinal uses? As with most herbs, there are many reasons to eat tarragon for your health. Many different cultures have used this herb for various ailments for decades. Many people have also added it in some supplement form because it is so high in vitamins and other nutrients. It is often used for a toothache, a digestive aid, sedative and an appetite stimulant. Certain varieties are especially high with antioxidant properties. These medicinal properties make it even more important to add it in my everyday cooking.

What is Tarragon?


What is tarragon? Try using it in a flavored vinegar for salad dressing.

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons tarragon red wine vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ Teaspoon garlic salt
  • ¼ Teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 Jar (4.5 ounces) sliced mushrooms drained
  • 1 Medium bunch red lettuce leaves separated
  • 2 Ounces Swiss cheese cut in strips
  • 1 Tablespoon shelled roasted sunflower seeds

Combine oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic salt and pepper in bowl; whisk to blend well.

Add drained mushrooms; toss to coat.

Arrange lettuce leaves on 4 individual salad plates.

Top lettuce with half of the cheese strips; spoon mushroom mixture on top of cheese.

Top with remaining half of cheese; sprinkle with sunflower seeds.

BERNAISE SAUCE RECIPE with salmon and potatoes

What is tarragon? The question is what would any Béarnaise sauce recipe be without tarragon? Only this herb adds that unique flavor to complete the recipe.

  • 4 Salmon steaks (1/2 inch thick)
  • 4 Small red potatoes
  • Salt 
  • Water
  •  ½ Cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon minced green onion
  • 1 ½ Teaspoons tarragon
  • ¼ Teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 Egg yolks lightly beaten
  • ¾ Cup butter
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
  • Salad oil
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 4 Large minced black olives for garnish
  • Watercress for garnish

Cover potatoes in saucepan with water; add ½ teaspoon salt.

Bring water to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender about 10 to 15 minutes.

Drain potatoes and keep warm.

TO MAKE BERNAISE SAUCE RECIPE combine vinegar, onion, tarragon and pepper in top of double boiler.

Place double boiler TOP DIRECTLY ON BURNER.

Over high heat, heat to a boil; boil about 3 minutes until vinegar is reduced to about 1 tablespoon.

Place double boiler top over double boiler bottom with hot water (NOT BOILING).

Add egg yolks and cook beating constantly with whisk until slightly thickened.

Add 1 tablespoon of the butter at a time beating constantly until melted and mixture thickened.

Stir in parsley; keep warm.

TO COOK SALMON PREHEAT broiler; lightly oil broiler pan.

Place salmon steaks on broiler rack; lightly sprinkle with salt.

Broil salmon for 3 minutes; turn over and broil another 2 minutes.

TO SERVE cut potatoes in half; arrange potato halves and salmon on a plate.

Top potatoes with sour cream and minced olives; garnish with watercress.

Serve Bearnaise sauce in a bowl to pass; 4 servings.


Roasted Tarragon Chicken RecipeRoasted Tarragon Chicken Recipe
  • ¼ Cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • ½ Teaspoon pepper
  • ½ Teaspoon salt
  • ¼ Cup non fat plain yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 Frying chicken in pieces about 3 pounds

Preheat oven to 375F degrees.

In a small bowl combine all ingredients except chicken; blend well.

Carefully loosen skin from chicken; place some of the mustard mixture under the skin.

Place chicken in a shallow oil sprayed baking pan; bake about 60 to 75 minutes until chicken is fork tender.

NOTE: Cover lightly with foil if browning becomes a problem after about 50 minutes.

Serves 4.


What is tarragon? In this hearts of palm salad, tarragon blends with Dijon mustard to make a wonderful sauce for hearts of palm.

  • 1 Clove minced garlic
  • 1/3 Cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ Teaspoon salt
  • ½ Teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 Teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/8 Teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/8 Teaspoon dried thyme
  • 6 Cups mixed baby salad greens
  • 1 Can (14.4 ounces) hearts of palm (drain and cut in bite size)
  • 1 Medium tomato cut in wedges

Combine first 9 ingredients in a small bowl; blend well.

Cover bowl; chill at least 4 hours.

Combine salad greens, hearts of palm and a tomato in a bowl.

Pour dressing over salad and toss; serve immediately.

Serves 6.

CHLODNIK RECIPE a cold creamed soup

What is tarragon? In this Russian shrimp soup recipe, tarragon contributes to the combination of these delicious flavors.

  • 2 Cups crème fraiche (*See below)
  • 5 Cups cultured buttermilk
  • ½ Cup sauerkraut juice
  • 4 Cloves minced garlic
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • ½ Teaspoon pepper
  • 1 Pound cooked and peeled shrimp cut in bite sizes
  • 2 Medium cucumbers peeled seeded and diced
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1 Teaspoon ground tarragon
  • 1 Bunch chopped green onion
  • 3 Hard boiled eggs chopped for garnish

Place crème fraiche, buttermilk, juice, garlic, salt and pepper in a large glass bowl; whisk until blended.

Stir in shrimp, cucumber, dill, tarragon and green onion; cover and chill for several hours.

To serve ladle into chilled soup bowls; garnish with chopped eggs.

WHAT IS CRÈME FRAICHE? This is a French version of sour cream which is used often in the French and other cuisines around the world. It adds a delicious flavor to many cream soups and sauces. Sometimes in larger cities, it can be purchased in health food stores. You can also make it by combining 1 cup of heavy whipping cream with EITHER 3 tablespoons buttermilk or ½ cup sour cream. After combining, let it stand at room temperature about 12 hours. Adjust recipe for more.


  • 1 Pound or over (skinned salmon fillet)
  • 2 Tablespoons salt
  • 1 Tablespoon fine sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 Teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • Salt/ pepper


  • 1 ¾ Cups cream cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon snipped fresh chives
  • Pinch of paprika
  • Sprigs of dill for garnish

Place salmon in a glass casserole dish; combine and blend 2 tablespoons salt, sugar and dill in a small bowl.

Rub salt mixture into fish until well coated; cover with plastic wrap and chill for 48 hours turning one time.

Combine tarragon, mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Remove salmon from refrigerator and chop into small pieces.

Add salmon to tarragon mixture and toss to coat well.

TO MAKE TOPPING combine all ingredients in another bowl and mix well.

Place 4 inch round cooking rings on 4 small serving plates.

Fill rings HALF full with salmon mixture leveling the surface of each.

Top the filling in rings with the cream cheese topping; smooth the surface.

Carefully remove the cooking rings; garnish with paprika and sprigs of dill.

POACHED PEACHES in tarragon and wine

What is tarragon? Tarragon gives these peaches a great hint of “licorice like” flavor for a tasty dessert.

  • 6 Fresh peaches peeled and sliced
  • 4 Sprigs of tarragon
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1 Cup white wine
  • ½ Cup water

Combine sugar, water and wine in a heavy saucepan.

Bring mixture to a boil; add peach slices and the tarragon sprigs; simmer for 2 minutes.

Cool mixture to room temperature; replace tarragon sprigs with fresh ones before serving.


What is tarragon?  In this chicken recipe the tarragon mustard sauce changes plain to elegant.

  • 3 Whole skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • Salt/pepper
  • 1 Clove minced garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh chopped tarragon
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 Cup heavy cream

Split breasts in half; pound slightly for an even thickness.

Sauté breasts in butter; salt and pepper to taste.

Cook until thoroughly done; remove to heated platter and keep warm.

TO MAKE SAUCE add garlic to the pan drippings; cook until softened.

Add flour stirring until golden brown; whisk in the mustard, tarragon and cream.

Simmer while stirring until the sauce is slightly thickened; pour over chicken breasts.

Serves 6.