With its bittersweet anise flavor, tarragon can add an aromatic kick to all sorts of dishes. We like to use it to brighten seafood dishes especially, but also vegetables, sauces, and even cocktails. This strong herb can easily overpower—a little goes a long way. To help you learn to use it appropriately, we’ve rounded up our favorite tarragon recipes.
Tarragon’s light but intense flavor is a beautiful complement to shellfish. We love it with scallops, as in our seared scallops served with creamy prosciutto-laced risotto accented with tart grapefruit or coquilles St-Jacques, scallops poached in wine and gratineed. Tarragon is a great complement to lobster, too—use it in our lobster cocktail with preserved lemon and fennel or lobster roll with lemon juice and butter.
We often pair tarragon with other fresh herbs to lighten up creamy dressings. To make a refreshing variation on ranch dressing, replace heavy mayonnaise with light, tangy yogurt and mix in chives, parsley, tarragon, and thyme. Serve it on a simple red leaf salad. The same quartet of herbs goes into our green goddess sauce made with mayonnaise, crème fraîche, and white wine vinegar. Spread it on a turkey sandwich or use it as a dip for crudites.
Tarragon probably doesn’t currently have a place behind your bar, but it’s a great cocktail ingredient. It adds a peppery licorice note to a floral mix of gin, grapefruit juice, and elderflower liqueur in our Charleston Fizz and doubles down on the anise flavor of our Pernod-laced Green Thumb.
Find these dishes and more in our collection of tarragon recipes.
Grilled sweet corn, plus fresh edamame in place of the traditional limas, elevate this summer mainstay from Neal Ballard of Lawrence, Kansas. James Oseland Although coquilles St-Jacques simply means “scallops” in French, in the idiom of American cooks, the term is synonymous with the old French dish of scallops poached in white wine, placed atop a puree of mushrooms in a scallop shell, covered with a sauce made of the scallop poaching liquid, and gratineed under a broiler. —Jacques Pepin Todd Coleman Bluefish gets the haute cuisine treatment at Puritan & Company in Cambridge, where chef-owner Will Gilson serves it as a smoky paté. Landon Nordeman This simple, understated appetizer is a combination of preserved lemon, tarragon, olive oil, and lobster. Farideh Sadeghin This trout dish turns smoky and succulent in a stove-top smoker. Todd Coleman This flavorful ragu is served with fresh tarragon-flavored garganelli at Frankies Spuntino restaurant in Brooklyn, New York, but is delicious with any kind of pasta. Todd Coleman In this dish, thick-cut ham is doused in a velvety tomato-based cream sauce made with chablis. Ingalls Photography Here is Jacques Pepin’s French twist on New England’s classic lobster roll—sans mayo, but bathed in warm butter with lots of fresh tarragon. SAVEUR The floral flavor of gin is a natural match for bright grapefruit and elderflower liqueur in a refreshing cocktail. Fresh tarragon adds an aromatic, peppery anise note. Khushbu Shah These airy potato pillows get an infusion of color and flavor from sweet peas and fresh mint before being coated in a lemon and herb cream sauce. Anna Stockwell Eamon Rockey of Manhattan’s Betony restaurant cures grapefruit peel in granulated sugar to create oleo-saccharum, the citrusy syrup that goes into this tarragon-laced drink. Ingalls Photography In this refreshing spring cocktail, muddled basil and tarragon add freshness and intensify Pernod’s green hue, while a squirt of fresh lime juice and splash of champagne cut through the sweet anise flavor. Helen Rosner Light, orangey Lillet Blanc and fresh lemon juice brighten a springlike twist on the Negroni. Tarragon and tart, hibiscus-based Burlesque Bitters from Bittermens add floral, herbaceous notes. Zoe Schaeffer Ravigoter means “to invigorate” in French, and indeed, this lightly acidic French sauce perks up the palate. Andrew Ingalls This elaborate appetizer is based on one served at the seafood festival on the Atlantic island of Miquelon. We use snow crab in this recipe, but Dungeness or jumbo lump crabmeat works just as well. Ingalls Photography Sour cream and fines herbes make a great sauce for cooling down a spicy snack like our fried cucumbers. Maxime Iattoni Sweet sea scallops complement this creamy prosciutto-laced risotto accented with tart grapefruit. Ingalls Photography Light, tangy yogurt replaces rich mayonnaise in the herb-laced dressing for this salad. André Baranowski Oyster shells act as a natural serving platter for these crispy fried oysters with a creamy, spicy sauce. Todd Coleman Manhattan’s Grand Central Oyster Bar serves this dish each spring in softshell crab season, but it’s delectable all summer long. Maxime Iattoni Our version of this classic uses peeled garlic; after removing the chicken from the pan, keep cooking the garlic until the cloves have all but melted. Then, a quick spin with a whisk makes a smooth sauce well worth the effort of all that peeling. Get the recipe for Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic » Penny De Los Santos An adaptation of a regional French classic, this version swaps out the traditional Dijon in favor of a grainy, seeded mustard. Helen Rosner Smoked tomatoes add additional depth of flavor to a thick, tangy soup. James Roper Encrusting whole fish with a salt-and-egg white mixture keeps the fish incredibly moist as it roasts. Todd Coleman The Water-Prince Corner Shop and Lobster Pound in Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island is known for their seafood-laden chowder. Gemma and Andrew Ingalls Topped with a pan-fried egg and Gruyère cheese and slathered with herb aïoli, this turkey and ham club is a decadent upgrade to the diner staple. Ingalls Photography This sauce of herbs in a creamy base is great for dipping veggies in. Todd Coleman This layered no-cook appetizer from former test kitchen assistant Eliza Martin features a sweet core of dried apricot coated in tangy goat cheese and then rolled in a savory mixture of crushed pistachios and fresh herbs. The finger-friendly “truffles” can be made up to 2 days before serving and stored in the refrigerator, making them the perfect hors d’oeuvres for the busy host or hostess. Get the recipe for Goat Cheese and Apricot Truffles » Laura Sant An intriguing alternative to shrimp cocktail, this dish of fresh crustaceans and creamy, aromatic dip makes a wonderful appetizer. Get the recipe for Peel-and-Eat Shrimp with Herb Aioli » Todd Coleman The substitution of almond flour for conventional wheat flour in this recipe, developed by Judy Haubert, originated as a gluten-free workaround, but actually makes the cakes moister and more tender than traditional crab cakes. Helen Rosner These little sandwiches have a big range of flavors, from the salty sardines to to the tangy flavors of tarragon and chive salsa verde. Maxime Lattoni Tender springtime pea shoots are natural partners for rich-tasting shrimp and bacon. Caitlin Santomauro