What Does Tarragon Taste Like?

By Adelaide | Food & Recipes

Apr 27
what does tarragon taste like

Herbs and spices provide a distinct flavor to any dish. These plants can be easily grown in the comfort of your own home which makes it convenient when cooking delicious food. Tarragon adds flavor and depth to your recipe to make your meal more interesting.

So, what does tarragon taste like exactly? Knowing the distinctive taste and texture it brings is crucial to the success of your recipe.

In this article, we’ll discuss what this herb is, how it tastes like, and what it can bring to the table. We’ll give you an idea of what recipes you can prepare using tarragon. 

Tarragon is an herb with strong qualities. It originated from Asia and belongs to the family of sunflowers.

Tarragon leaves feature long, narrow, and pointed tips. When buying this herb, make sure you get the ones with bright green leaves and avoid the yellow or black leaves as suggested by Food Print. However, it can be a bit challenging to differentiate French from Russian tarragon because they look the same.

If you are unsure, try crushing a leaf and smell it. French tarragon smells strongly like anise while the Russian type has a more sweet and grassy scent. Mexican tarragon, on the other hand, is easier to spot due to its distinctive yellow flowers.

There are three types of tarragon: French, Russian, and Mexican. According to Masterclass, the difference relies mainly on the flavor of each type. The most widely used are French and Russian tarragon.

  • French – Produces the most flavor out of all types and is mostly used in cooking
  • Russian – Has an extremely mild flavor
  • Mexican – Features a strong anise flavor and is less popular

What Does Tarragon Taste Like?

Tarragon has a very distinctive taste with a combination of sweetness and bitterness. Although it has a peppery taste, this herb also gives off a mint and eucalyptus flavor. With its unique blend of flavors, it makes an interesting addition to most dishes.

When dried, tarragon tastes and smells similarly to dill. However, it also has a floral scent. Fresh tarragon, on the other hand, has an herbal flavor which tastes like anise.

Whether you prefer it in fresh or dried form, this herb offers the same potency. However, dried tarragon produces a more concentrated flavor. Once you eat tarragon, you will also discover that it has a mild pinch of lemon and black pepper in addition to anise.

French tarragon is arguably the most popular among the three types of tarragon and is also most commonly used in kitchens. This type of herb contains estragole which creates a licorice taste and gives tarragon its distinct flavor. However, it can be difficult to grow.

Russian tarragon, on the other hand, is easier to cultivate in the garden but has a milder taste which can appear bland in comparison to French tarragon. Meanwhile, Mexican tarragon or also known as Spanish or Texan tarragon produces a flavor closer to French tarragon. However, it is not commonly used among households.

Dishes and Herbs That’s Best with Tarragon

With its unique flavor, tarragon is best used with fish and poultry. Its distinctive taste complements high-fat fish such as salmon as well as chicken. Other dishes and herbs that go well with tarragon include eggs, veal, asparagus, tomatoes, carrots, artichokes, and fava beans among many others.

However, its fresh licorice taste can be overpowering and therefore, we recommend you use it sparingly. It’s always best to start with small amounts and then gradually add more as the dish develops its flavor. You can either use fresh or dried tarragon to add more punch to your recipes.

When cooking chicken, an article from the NY Times suggests that you should insert the tarragon leaves under the skin before you roast it. You can also whip up a salad, add some potatoes, and mix tarragon with vinegar as its dressing. Tarragon adds a rich flavor when added to vinegar.

Here’s an easy recipe for tarragon chicken.

What Can Be Substituted for Tarragon?

In case tarragon is not available, there are other herbs you can use to replace it. Some of the best herbs include anise seed, chervil, basil leaves, and fennel seed. These are the best options if you want to achieve the closest taste of tarragon.

Chervil has the closest scent to fresh tarragon but the flavor is milder. Fennel seed, however, is twice as stronger compared to fresh tarragon in terms of taste. Meanwhile, basil leaves offer a much milder flavor than chervil.

With this in mind, you can use around two tablespoons of basil leaves, one and a half tablespoon of chervil, and half a tablespoon of fennel seed. These measurements equal to one tablespoon of fresh tarragon.

If you want to substitute the taste of dried tarragon, you can opt for oregano, rosemary, marjoram or dried dill. One teaspoon of these herbs is equivalent to one tablespoon of fresh tarragon. 

How to Use Tarragon in the Right Way

Tarragon is not cultivated on a large scale which means that it is not easily sourced. It is available in late spring to early summer. However, it is still possible to grow this herb on your own as it thrives well in sunny areas with regular watering.

To store this herb properly, put the stems in a vase with water. This will extend the life of the herb for at least one week or even longer.

Another way to store it is to wrap the stems with a damp paper towel, place it in a ziplock bag, and keep it inside your fridge. This will make the herb last from three to four days.

Many food experts recommend using dried tarragon for dishes. To dry it, just hang the herb upside down in a dry area for a couple of weeks until it becomes dry. Afterward, store it in an airtight container.

When it comes to cooking, dried tarragon has a more concentrated flavor than its fresh version. Therefore, as a general rule, one teaspoon of dried tarragon is equivalent to one tablespoon of fresh tarragon.

If you want to add more flavor to your vinegar, add fresh tarragon to a bottle of distilled white vinegar and store it for a few days. Afterward, taste the mixture and add more until you get the desired taste. Once you achieve the flavor, remove the tarragon. 

Conclusion

Tarragon may be one of the most understated herbs you can use for cooking. While it may not be as popular as other types of herbs, you should not completely ignore this one. This herb is great for different types of dished but exceptionally works well with poultry and fish.

Tarragon is known for its licorice-like and anise flavor. At the same time, it brings together a blend of peppery and mint taste. Therefore, making it a great addition to various types of recipes as it creates a rich flavor and adds more depth to the dish.

If you have any feedback, suggestions or questions about this topic, feel free to comment below. We’ll be more than happy to reply to you.

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