WHAT IS TARRAGON?
Tarragon is a perennial herb native to Russia and Western Asia. This leafy green herb is also part of the sunflower family. While it's commonly used around the globe in various cuisines, it's the most popular in French cooking. Tarragon not only has a unique taste but also a potent aroma that can bring depth to any dish. Learn more about tarragon and how you can use it to make some delicious recipes.
WHAT DOES TARRAGON TASTE LIKE?
Tarragon leaves have a unique taste, often described as sweet and anise-like, with a subtle licorice flavor. It also has mint, vanilla, and pepper notes that make for a dynamic flavor profile. Tarragon is strong but not overpowering, making it perfect for delicate dishes where the other ingredients can complement it. When you add tarragon leaves to your recipes, you can expect a bittersweet taste and pungent aroma that'll draw everyone to the kitchen for dinner.
HOW TO USE TARRAGON IN COOKING
One of the best things about tarragon spice is that it is incredibly versatile and can be used in savory and sweet dishes. One of the easiest ways to use tarragon is to chop the fresh leaves and sprinkle them onto finished dishes. This herb goes well with omelets, frittatas, and scrambled eggs, adding a fresh and flavorful touch to your breakfast. Tarragon also pairs well with lighter meats like chicken and fish. Try marinating your chicken with olive oil, garlic, and freshly chopped tarragon. You can even add freshly chopped tarragon to your roasted veggies like asparagus, potatoes, and carrots.
You can also use dried tarragon spice in your recipes but be mindful that the herb's potency may vary depending on its freshness. Dried tarragon is excellent for marinades, soups, and sauces that have a long cooking time, as they release the flavor more slowly into the dish.
FRESH VS. DRIED TARRAGON
What's the difference between fresh and dried tarragon? Mainly the power of the flavor. Fresh tarragon has a much stronger flavor and should be used sparingly in dishes. If left cooking for too long, fresh tarragon can develop a bitter taste. Therefore, it's better used raw or added toward the end of a recipe as a garnish. In contrast, dried tarragon is concentrated in flavor and can be used early in a recipe to take advantage of its pungent aroma. We recommend using one teaspoon of dried tarragon for every tablespoon of fresh tarragon whenever substituting one for the other.
WHAT CUISINE IS TARRAGON USED IN?
Tarragon is an essential part of French cuisine, where it's considered "the king of the herbs." Typical recipes with tarragon in it include traditional sauces like Béarnaise sauce and tartar sauce. The herb also complements seafood, chicken, and egg dishes. Besides traditional French dishes, tarragon can be used in salad dressings, marinades, and cocktails like the famous tarragon-infused vodka-based drink. Adding tarragon leaves to desserts, such as chocolate mousse and lemon tart, can also be an experiment worth trying.
WHAT WOULD A TARRAGON SUBSTITUTE BE?
Tarragon substitutes include:
- Basil Leaves have an aromatic, sweet flavor that blends well with garlic and tomatoes. You can use this ingredient as a tarragon substitute in your pasta, marinara sauce, and minestrone recipes.
- Fennel Fronds or Seeds: If you're looking for a tarragon substitute with a similar licorice flavoring, fennel seeds have what you need. Fennel Seeds offer a sweet licorice flavor that can be used to flavor your meat dishes or tomato-based sauces.
- Thyme: For your French recipes, roasted vegetables, and meat rubs – thyme leaves are the perfect replacement for tarragon whenever you're in a pinch.
- Rosemary: Perhaps just as aromatic as tarragon – rosemary leaves offer a distinctive piney flavor that can elevate your meat dishes.
CHECK OUT MCCORMICK'S TARRAGON PRODUCTS
EXPLORE OUR FAVORITE TARRAGON RECIPES
- Unami Vegetable Sauté with Tarragon and White Wine
- Tomato Slices with Blue Cheese and Balsamic Vinegar
- Old Bay Butter Sauce on Fish
- Tarragon Vinaigrette
- Potato Leek Soup with Tarragon
Want to create a meal plan for your tarragon recipes? Need help planning your weekly meals and want to try new recipes? Save your favorite food, dessert, and drink recipes and organize your ingredients with McCormick Meal Planner.