Our Creamy Tarragon Chicken is a great easy weeknight dinner that feels elevated. We sear chicken breasts in a cast-iron skillet and then simmer them in a garlicky, creamy tarragon and mustard sauce. Serve with veggies, pasta, or a little bit of creamy mashed potatoes.
Creamy Tarragon Chicken
Calling all tarragon lovers!! This Creamy Tarragon Chicken is BONKERS delicious. And obviously what makes it so delicious, is the completely drinkable tarragon and mustard-infused cream sauce the chicken is lucky to be simmering in.
And honestly, if you’re not into tarragon, you’re still going to love this. It’s tangy, creamy, slightly sweet, and full of herbaceous flavor, which is always a crowd pleaser.
Even though the tarragon chicken does appear to contain a copious amount of heavy cream, don’t let that scare you off, because there is actually a higher ratio of chicken stock over cream. We add in just a small amount of cream to make the sauce luxurious, but light at the same time.
Ingredients in Creamy Tarragon Chicken
Butter + olive oil. When searing chicken, I like to use a combination of butter and olive oil. We use butter for flavor and olive oil to keep the fat and chicken from burning. Because olive oil has a higher smoke point, it can tolerate the time it takes for chicken to brown properly. If you only have one or the other, that’s fine too. Just make sure if you use all butter, you keep an eye on the chicken to prevent the butter from burning.
Chicken. I was THIS close to using chicken thighs for this creamy tarragon chicken. Personally, I think they are more flavorful than chicken breasts, but like so many of you out there, my family prefers white meat, so breasts it is. If you’re a thigh fan, I highly recommend trying them out, but either will work.
Garlic. Lots of garlic. I use about four cloves, but if you’re not a fan of garlic, you can scale it back, no problem. Also, if you don’t like the texture of minced garlic, you can grate it as well.
Tarragon. Tarragon is such an underrated herb, but it’s actually one of my favorite fresh herbs to cook with, especially in the summertime (we just shared these Brown Butter Tarragon Scallops).
Which brings me to – What does Tarragon taste like? To me, it has a slight anise flavor, similar to fennel, but a little more bright and fresh. There’s also hints of lemon, which makes it a great addition to vinaigrettes.
Mustard. We use two kinds of mustard in our tarragon chicken. First, dijon. Second, whole-grain mustard. I use a combination of the two because I love the tangy zippiness the dijon gives the tarragon chicken, but I love the texture and more classic mustard flavor whole-grain mustard has. The combination of the two is really lovely and matches up really nicely to the fresh tarragon.
(Fun fact: tarragon + mustard is actually a classic French combination, which is why it works so well here.)
Vinegar. Instead of using a dry white wine or lemon juice, the acid I’m using is white wine vinegar. When using cream, it’s important to add in some kind of acid to cut through the richness of the cream and white wine vinegar does the trick.
Chicken stock. As always, we want to use a low-sodium chicken broth or stock. We want to be able to control the amount of salt in the creamy tarragon chicken.
Cream. A little heavy cream never hurt anyone, and it’s what makes our tarragon chicken really luxurious.
Let’s make Creamy Tarragon Chicken, shall we?
Sear the chicken
As I mentioned before, I like to sear chicken in a combination of olive oil and butter. What I didn’t mention, is I also like to sear chicken in a cast-iron skillet. Whenever anyone asks me what my favorite pan to cook with is, it’s always a cast iron skillet. Not only does the heavy bottom facilitate an even cooking process, but it also puts the most wonderful sear on just about anything.
If you don’t have a cast-iron skillet, that’s totally fine, just use your favorite skillet you’ve got on hand.
Add the butter and olive oil to the hot skillet. Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper and then add the breasts to the pan. Depending on the skillet you use and your cook top, it should take 4-5 minutes for the chicken to properly sear. Don’t move the chicken until it’s ready to flip. You’ll know it’s ready to flip when it easily releases the pan. Flip it over and repeat on the other side.
Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
Sauté the garlic and tarragon
Turn the heat down on the skillet and add the garlic and half of the tarragon. Saute for a minute or so.
Make the sauce
Once the garlic is slightly softened, remove the pan from the heat and add the vinegar and both mustards. Let it bubble for a minute and then pour in the chicken stock, cream, salt, and remaining tarragon. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 2-3 minutes until it thickens up just a touch and then add the chicken back to the pan.
Simmer the tarragon chicken
Use an instant-read thermometer to determine when the chicken is done cooking. It should read 165 degrees.
This is a stick-to-your-ribs kind of chicken dinner, and you’re going to want to slurp up as much of that sauce as possible. So! I highly recommend serving our creamy tarragon chicken over a big bed of cream cheese mashed potatoes or our creamy dreamy classic mashed potatoes. Crusty French bread would also be totally appropriate.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- As we mentioned before, be sure to use low-sodium chicken stock. You want to be able to control the amount of salt you use.
- Use chicken breasts or chicken thighs. If you want to make this tarragon chicken ahead of time, you might be better off using chicken thighs since they tend to stay moist for longer periods of time.
- If you don’t have white wine vinegar, feel free to use a splash of white wine or dry sherry.
Looking for more easy chicken dinners, check out these favorites
- These Easy Chicken Meatballs go with EVERYTHING. Swap ’em out for beef meatballs in our spaghetti and meatballs.
- Creamy Chicken with Olives and Sun-Dried Tomatoes is similar to our tarragon chicken, in the sense that it’s chicken in cream sauce, but the flavor profile is completely different and equally as delicious.
- If you love French Onion Soup, then you will adore our French Onion Chicken skillet.
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4-6 chicken breasts
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp chopped tarragon, divided
- 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp grain mustard
- 1 tbsp dijon
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- pinch kosher salt
- 1 tsp honey
- Cast iron skillet
- Heat a large cast iron skillet or regular skillet to a medium-high heat. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Add butter and olive oil to the pan. Once the butter has melted and both the oil and butter are hot. Add the chicken. Sear the chicken until golden brown, it should take about 4 minutes and will easily release from the pan when it's ready. Flip over and sear the other side for another 3-4 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside on a plate. Cover with foil.
- Turn the heat down to medium low. Add the garlic. Cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the mustard, 1/2 of the tarragon and the vinegar. It will spit and spatter. Cook for 10-15 seconds and pour in chicken stock, cream, remaining tarragon, a pinch of salt, and honey. Bring to a boil adn reduce to a simmer. Add the chicken back to the pan and simmer uncovered until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened. (Chicken is done when an instant read thermometer reaches 165 degrees. Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve over mashed potatoes, veggies, or pasta.