This beautiful chicken tarragon recipe has a creamy sauce which includes fresh tarragon, white wine, lemon, cream and Dijon mustard.
This creamy chicken tarragon one pan dinner feels a little fancy and a little French. But it’s so simple that any novice cook can manage to put it together. Step-by-step instructions and photos are included with my recipe.
What is chicken tarragon?
Chicken tarragon is chicken cooked in a pan sauce that is flavored with tarragon. There are many variations of this dish. Some use chicken thighs and others use a whole chicken. For my own personal tastes and ease of eating, I chose to use boneless, skinless chicken breasts in my recipe.
A pan sauce is simply a sauce made in the same pan you have used to sear your chicken (or other protein like beef or pork) first. That way, the browned bits and tasty juices from the meat help to flavor and enhance the finished sauce.
Why this recipe works
My recipe is quick and easy for a family favorite, weeknight meal. A little mise en place (preparation or gathering of ingredients) beforehand makes this dish come together so simply. The sauce is both delicate and full of flavor. Butter and flour make a roux to thicken the sauce. White wine, Dijon mustard, chicken broth, fresh tarragon (the star ingredient) and lemon combine for the most velvety, luscious sauce. The perfectly browned chicken and fresh, creamy tarragon sauce can be comforting served with mashed potatoes or rice. Or they can be lower carb friendly served with cauliflower rice or mash.
Ingredients for creamy tarragon chicken
- Chicken – I prefer to use boneless, skinless chicken breast. You could use boneless, skinless chicken thighs if you prefer. Just be sure to cook the thighs to an internal temperature of 170 degrees F. Chicken breasts only need to be cooked to 165 degrees F for safe eating.
- Tarragon – Fresh tarragon is best for this recipe. I kept the tarragon leaves whole for photographing purposes. But you can finely chop the tarragon if you prefer. Keep reading to find out the substitution ratio for using dried tarragon instead.
- Butter – The butter is used to both brown the chicken and make a roux to thicken the pan sauce.
- Flour – Helps to thicken the sauce. You can use cornstarch instead of flour if you prefer.
- Shallots – If you cannot find shallots, you can substitute them with an equal amount of red onion.
- Garlic – You can always use more garlic if you really like it. My recipe calls for two cloves.
- White Wine – Use a dry white wine, like a Sauvignon Blanc. I buy four-packs of small wine bottles to use specifically for cooking.
- Chicken Broth – Helps to flavor the sauce.
- Heavy Cream – Makes the sauce super creamy and luscious. You could save a few calories and use Half and Half instead if you prefer although the taste won’t be quite so creamy.
- Lemon – The lemon slices help to flavor the sauce and also make this dish pretty to look at.
- Dijon Mustard – Really adds a punch of flavor to the sauce and pairs well with the other ingredients.
- Salt and Pepper
Instructions for how to make this tarragon chicken recipe
Prepare all your ingredients so they are ready to go.
Brown the chicken for a few minutes in half the butter. Remove them from the pan and set aside.
Melt the remaining butter and whisk in the flour. Allow to cook for at least a minute.
Whisk in the garlic and shallots and cook for about a minute until fragrant.
Add the wine and bring to a boil. Whisk in the mustard, cream and chicken broth.
Stir in the fresh tarragon.
Return the chicken to the sauce. Top each chicken breast with a slice of lemon. Cover the pan and simmer in the sauce until the chicken reaches 165 degrees F.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does the tarragon flavor taste like?
The pungent, bittersweet flavor of tarragon is often compared to licorice, anise, and fennel, thanks to the presence of methyl chavicol, a naturally occurring compound found in many plants and trees with a distinct licorice-like taste and fragrance.
What other herbs pair well with tarragon?
Parsley pairs well with tarragon. Fresh tarragon brings sweetness and softness to a classic parsley sauce. Anise notes round out the intense grassiness of fresh parsley. Both herbs grow well together in the garden, which is almost always a sign of a good pairing.
How much dried tarragon should I use?
In general, fresh herbs substitute for dried herbs at a 3:1 ratio. So in this case, you would use 1 teaspoon of dried tarragon in place of 1 tablespoon of fresh tarragon. There are three teaspoons in one tablespoon.
What can I use in place of tarragon?
For fresh tarragon, the best substitutes are fresh basil, fennel fronds or dill. For dried tarragon, the best substitutes are dried oregano or marjoram.
- Perfect Mashed Potatoes
- The Best Rice Pilaf
- Broccoli Au Gratin
- Perfect Roasted Potatoes
- Green Beans Almondine
Chicken tarragon is best served fresh. If you have any leftovers, store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to three days. Add both the chicken and sauce to a skillet. Cover the skillet with a lid and reheat over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until the chicken reaches 165 degrees F. I do not recommend freezing leftover chicken tarragon. The cream in the sauce will separate and just not be as good after freezing and thawing.
- I used a non-stick pan with glass lid to cook my chicken tarragon recipe
- Metal tongs for flipping and removing the chicken from the pan
- A whisk for non-stick pans for making the creamy tarragon sauce
- Instant read digital thermometer for checking the internal temperature of the chicken breasts
More weeknight dinner recipes with chicken
- Simply Delicious Chicken and Dumplings
- Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuits
- French Onion Chicken Soup
- Chicken and Rice Casserole
- Mom’s Chicken Divan
- 32 oz chicken breasts boneless and skinless
- 3 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp shallots finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 6 oz white wine
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp fresh tarragon
- 6 slices fresh lemon
- salt and pepper
- Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Remove the chicken to a clean plate.
- To the same pan over medium heat, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter. Add the flour and whisk, cooking for about one minute.
- Add the prepared shallots and garlic. Whisk and cook until fragrant, about one minute more.
- Add the wine and bring to a low boil. Add the Dijon mustard and whisk until smooth.
- Add the chicken broth and heavy cream and cook until simmering.
- Whisk in the Dijon mustard to the sauce until smooth.
- Stir in the fresh tarragon. Return the chicken to the sauce. And top each chicken breast with a lemon slice.
- Lower the heat if necessary to keep the sauce at a low simmer. Cover the pan with a lid. Cook for about 10 minutes, until each chicken breast registers 165 degrees F in the thickest part.
- Serve immediately.
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