French Chicken Tarragon

French Chicken Tarragon

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Tarragon doesn’t get enough love. Most people know it only in its dried form, and administered with a heavy hand. But a few sprigs of fresh tarragon can be lovely. It’s a traditional component of the mixture called fines herbes, contributing sweetness and an almost anise-like flavor. It happily finds its way into salads, vinaigrettes, and homemade mayonnaise, and it is often the herb of choice for chicken or fish. Tarragon is especially well suited for these braised chicken thighs, complementing the white wine and crème fraîche.


6 servings

6 large chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 shallots, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, grated or minced

2 teaspoons chopped tarragon, plus whole leaves for garnish

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup crème fraîche

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest


  1. Step 1

    Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Let stand for 30 minutes to 1 hour at room temperature.

    Step 2

    Heat the oven to 400°F. Put an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the butter and shallots and cook, stirring, until softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and chopped tarragon and cook for 1 minute (be careful not to let the garlic brown). Arrange the chicken thighs in the pot in one layer, add the broth and wine, and bring to a simmer.

    Step 3

    Put the lid on and place the pot on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 350°F and continue baking for 45 minutes, or until the thighs are tender. Put the thighs on a platter, cover loosely, and keep warm.

    Step 4

    Strain the pan juices through a fine sieve into a saucepan and spoon off any rising fat. Place the pan over medium-high heat, add the crème fraîche and lemon zest, and simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

    Step 5

    Spoon the sauce over the chicken, garnish with tarragon leaves, and serve.


A sprinkling of very thinly sliced scallions and chives could also be nice.

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Excerpted from David Tanis Market Cooking by David Tanis (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2017. Photographs by Evan Sung.
Buy the full book from Amazon.

How would you rate French Chicken Tarragon?

  • Delicuios

  • The flavor of this was great but my sauce did not thicken up. I didn’t notice other reviewers had this problem until I had already made it.

  • I love this dish. I did brown the chicken thighs first. And I am a sauce queen so I doubled the stock and wine and tarragon and creme fraiche…oink 🐷 for me haha. Depending on the company, I will do mashed potatoes with orange carrots or serve it on top of fettuccine alfŕedo with asparagus…

  • I wa so excited by the way this dish turned out, flavorsome, tender, delicious! I stuck absolutely to the recipe and that was the right thing to do, although I’m grateful for the thoughts of those who made adjustments. I will be making this as a staple of our family favorites. A simple and simply wonderful dish. Thank you. And a quick ps to those who criticised without making it, maybe try it first before you put up nasty comments about ‘spin’ and ‘reality’. The reality is that this is a wonderful site and this is a terrific recipe as all the positive reviews attest.

  • Nice dish. Like many others the sauce didn’t thicken much for me. I a beurre manie with 2 tbsp butter and flour…that did the trick. I didn’t get as much lemon coming through as I would have expected. But it was still a nice balanced sauce.

  • This recipe was calling to me as my tarragon was getting out of control in the pot. Took the advice of others and browned slightly before adding the broth/wine. Gave it a blast with the broiler and the skin was crisped up and took on lovely color. Cooked faster than the directions-used thermapen to check. Everyone loved it including the b-i-l who doesn’t like garlic and the husband who is that fond of tarragon!

  • I followed the recipe until I took the chicken out of the oven. Prepare a sheet pan with foil and remove the chicken pieces to it. Put the chicken under a high broiler until browned (7-10 minutes). While chicken is broiling, finish the sauce on the stove. Warm up the butter sauce, add 1/2 cup of 10% cream and the lemon zest, then whisk in 1-1/2 Tbsp. flour until thickened (about 2-4 minutes). Thank you, KKISESKEY.

  • Amazing, I did read the reviews and browned the chicken skin. Also added more garlic and wine and used one whole onion. This was as good as any 5 star restaurant dish.

  • OMG – I wish I had two stomachs so that I could eat the entire Dutch oven’s worth by myself. I followed the recipe, ingredients-wise, but I did as other reviewers and browned the chicken thighs skin-side down in the butter. Removed them from the butter, and added the shallots, etc., and followed as written. I probably put an additional tablespoon of butter. I used boxed chicken stock, instead of making my own. I love tarragon, and probably used a generous tablespoon. I cooked 10 minutes at 400 and 30 minutes at 350. Once finished, I put the chicken on a plate, did not strain the sauce (because I am not a monster), brought the sauce to a gentle boil, reduced to simmer, added creme fraiche and lemon zest and whisked in 1 TBSP flour – it only took a few minutes of whisking, and the sauce thickened beautifully. I intended to serve over rice, but instead, had some leftover bucatini in the refrigerator that served as the base. OMG, SOOO GOOD.

  • I am floored by this. I’ll use more wine and a tad less garlic next time.

  • Tasty and simple enough for a weeknight dinner. I used skinless thighs since there is no browning step (braised, unbrowned skin seemed unappetizing). Next time I might used skin-on parts and brown them in batches before sauteeing the shallots. Great recipe, goes into the rotation!

  • Though I had to substitute Walla Walla Sweet Onions for shallots and chicken breasts instead of thighs, this came out delicious! Added green beans and baby potatoes, and my family was happy.

  • Wonderful combination of flavors!
    I was looking for a recipe because the tarragon in my home garden was getting so prolific. I admit to a few accommodations. I did not turn on the oven (my smoke/heat alarms are too sensitive and were in the middle of a heat wave) I first browned the chicken in olive oil, set them aside and drained off the oil, added the butter for the shallots and then the garlic and tarragon. finally added the chicken broth and wine (dry vermouth) and brought it all to a simmer and then braised the chicken thighs in the broth for 30 minutes.
    After the chicken was cooked, I set it aside and added Israeli couscous to the braising liquid with scallions and more tarragon. I served the chicken on a bed of the couscous.

  • Easy and DELICIOUS!!

  • This was really good. I added mushrooms, just because I needed to use them up. I used olive oil AND butter for the shallots and garlic. Also, doubled the garlic. It did not get as creamy as I would have liked with the creme fraiche and I wonder if heavy cream would thicken up a little better ?? I also put the thighs under the broiler while the sauce was thickening to crisp up the skin on top – that worked great. We had a lot left (yay!!) so I took the meat off the bone and it is in the sauce in the fridge and I think it will make a fantastic soup! Will definitely make again.

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