Comfort food is back with rich flavors with this excellent tarragon chicken.

This tarragon chicken is a classic French staple that has been gracing tables for decades.

Almost all French cookbooks, brasseries, bistros, and small restaurants in France have a similar version.

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Tarragon Chickne

Simple to assemble, only a handful of ingredients, and so delicious.

You will be back for seconds. This is a good fall start dish, a perfect date night French recipe, and a delicious weeknight meal.

In this Article

What is Tarragon Chicken?

Tender, juicy chicken. Wonderful tomato sauce infused with white wine and tarragon vinegar. The mild flavor of tarragon. So many wonderful flavors to love.

Adding the carrots balances the vinegar’s bitterness and the tarragon’s savory.

As a side dish, sautéed potatoes with butter are simple yet so tasty. They also absorb the sauce from the poultry.

Or, if you prefer, a crunchy French baguette to absorb the sauce.

What is Bistro Style?

As the word Bistro comes from the term “bwystra” in Russian meaning “fast”, it is purely applicable here. A bit easier to make it when you are in a time crunch without compromising the delicious flavor.

I also only use chicken thighs, which cook faster and have a deeper flavor. Of course, chicken breasts can be used.

Give it a try, I am confident you will love it too.

tarragon chicken served on a white plate

Recipe tips 

  • Boneless skinless chicken thighs can be used; however, do adjust the cooking time.
  • Use fresh tarragon; you will not regret it. A robust aromatic flavor with a hint of licorice.
  • Always use fresh herbs when the recipe calls for it.
  • You can substitute the shallots with yellow onions. Chop them into small pieces.
  • Tarragon vinegar is one of my favorite types of vinegar. It uplifts most salads, meats, and poultry, such as with this recipe.
  • Always use good wine when cooking. If you drink it, use it in your cooking.

Equipment needed

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Large deep-sided 12-inch skillet

Serving platter

Cooking tongs

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Cooking step-by-step instructions to create this wonderful chicken recipe

  • In a large deep-sided 12-inch skillet, heat the oil with one tablespoon of butter over high heat. Season the chicken thighs well with salt and black pepper. When the butter is melted but not smoking, add the chicken and cook on both sides until the skin turns an even golden brown and the chicken is cooked to the desired doneness, about 12 minutes.
  • Carefully regulate the heat to avoid scorching the skin. Do not overcrowd the skillet or cook the chicken in several batches.
  • Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and cover it loosely with aluminum foil. Keep warm.
  • Pour off the fat from the skillet. Return the large skillet to medium-high heat and add one tablespoon of the butter to the wine. Deglaze the pan, scraping up any bits that may have stuck to the skillet. Add the shallots and carrots and cook for 4-5 minutes without browning them.
  • Add the tomatoes and cook for several minutes.  
  • Raise the heat to high and slowly add the tarragon vinegar. Cook for another couple of minutes. Whisk in the remaining one tablespoon of butter, cook for 1 minute, return the chicken to the skillet, and coat well with the sauce.
  • Cover and cook over medium heat until the chicken absorbs some of the sauce. Sprinkle with tarragon and turn the chicken pieces to coat. Serve immediately.  

What do you do with fresh tarragon leftovers?

Combine it with delicious fragrant herbs such as parsley, chervil, and chives, and it can be used with a beautifully seared steak.

You can also chop it, add it to soft unsalted butter, and store it in the refrigerator.

It’s a great way to enjoy it a bit longer.

tarragon chicken

Substitutes and Additions

  • If fresh tarragon is unavailable, dried tarragon can be used in a smaller quantity due to its more concentrated flavor. The general rule is one teaspoon of dried herbs for every tablespoon of fresh herbs.
  • Replace the butter with olive oil or any plant-based butter alternative for a dairy-free option.
  • To enhance the sauce, add a splash of heavy cream or crème fraîche for extra richness.
  • Mushrooms are a fantastic addition, especially sautéed and stirred in before serving.
  • For those who like a little heat, a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes added to the shallots can bring a pleasant warmth to the dish.
  • Consider serving the meal over rice, quinoa, or pasta to make it more filling.

Storage  

Proper storage is essential to preserve the flavors of this comforting dish.

Refrigerator

Leftover tarragon chicken can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Freezer storage and reheating

For more extended storage, this recipe freezes well; simply portion the cooled chicken into freezer-safe containers and freeze for up to two months.

When reheating, slowly thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat gently on the stove until piping hot throughout. 

Meal Prep

Tarragon chicken can also be made ahead in preparation for a busy week. Prepare the dish as instructed, but do not add the final tablespoon of butter or the fresh tarragon until ready to reheat and serve.

This ensures the flavors remain fresh and vibrant.

Whether made ahead, kept as leftovers, or frozen for future use, this tarragon chicken will be as delightful as it graces your table again.

tarragon chicken on a white serving plate

Frequently Asked Questions

Can the chicken be marinated with tarragon beforehand for extra flavor?

Yes, marinating the chicken with some tarragon and a splash of olive oil can deepen the herb’s essence in the dish. Allow it to marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour before cooking.

Is it possible to make this dish without alcohol?

Absolutely. While wine adds a specific flavor complexity to the dish, it can be substituted with a non-alcoholic white wine or chicken broth to maintain the sauce’s moisture and richness.

Can this recipe be adapted for a slow cooker or Instant Pot?

Yes, this recipe can be adapted for both appliances. You might want to reduce the liquid amount for a slow cooker since there’s less evaporation. In an Instant Pot, use the Saute function to brown the chicken, then cook it under high pressure for about 8 minutes.

What would you recommend pairing with this dish for a complete meal?

Tarragon chicken pairs beautifully with light and crisp green salad, steamed green beans, or roasted asparagus to complement the creamy sauce. Pair with a side of mashed potatoes or rice pilaf for a heartier meal. 

How can you tell when the chicken is done cooking?

When measured with a meat thermometer, the chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (75°C). The juices should run clear, and there shouldn’t be any pink in the center of the chicken.

Does the flavor of the dish change significantly if I use dried tarragon instead of fresh?

Fresh tarragon typically has a brighter, more pronounced flavor, but dried tarragon can be used when fresh is unavailable. Remember that dried herbs are more potent, so you should use less, as specified in the “Substitutes and Additions” section.

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Tarragon Chicken

5 from 35 votes
Tarragon Chicken
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4 people
A tender juicy chicken. A wonderful tomato sauce as a result of being infused with white wine and tarragon vinegar. The mild flavor of tarragon. So many wonderful flavors to love.

Ingredients 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 chicken thighs, skin on, well rinsed, and dry with paper towels
  • salt
  • pepper
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 4 shallots , minced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced small
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled, cored, seeded, and chopped
  • ½ cup white wine tarragon vinegar,
  • 1 tarragon leaves

Instructions

  • In a large deep-sided 12-inch skillet, heat the oil with 1 tablespoon of butter over high heat. Season the chicken thighs well with salt and pepper. When the butter is melted but not smoking, add the chicken and cook on both sides until the skin turns an even golden brown, and the chicken is cooked to the desired doneness, about 12 minutes.
  • Carefully regulate the heat to avoid scorching the skin. Do not overcrowd the skillet or cook the chicken in several batches.
  • Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and cover it loosely with aluminum foil. Keep warm.
  • Pour off the fat from the skillet. Return the skillet to medium-high heat and 1 tablespoon of the butter add to the wine. Deglaze the pan, scraping up any bits that may have stuck to the skillet. Add the shallots and carrots and cook for 5 minutes without browning them.
  • Add the tomatoes and cook for several minutes.  
  • Raise the heat to high and slowly add the tarragon vinegar. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. whisk in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, cook for 1 minute, return the chicken to the skillet, and coat well with the sauce.
  • Cover and cook over medium heat until the chicken absorbs some of the sauce. Sprinkle with tarragon and turn the chicken pieces to coat. Serve immediately.  

Nutrition

Calories: 675kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 53g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 244mg | Sodium: 191mg | Potassium: 689mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 3509IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 2mg

Giangi’s Kitchen provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as a registered dietician does not calculate them.

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tarragon chicken - a French classic

Originally published on 10/2/2019 and updated on 11/1/2021