Tarragon is a perennial herb belonging to the sunflower family and it’s become a very popular ingredient that is used in many favorites in your kitchen, even if you’re not aware of it. 

It has been around for generations and Tarragon is native to Europe and Asia and has been used for culinary and medicinal purposes for centuries. Its fresh leaves are used to drum up a distinct flavor to a whole bunch of dishes, especially those that are associated with French cuisine. Tarragon complements many dishes such as poultry, seafood, eggs, and others that contain vegetables. And it’s also a key ingredient in sauces like Béarnaise sauce and other mixtures. 

Fresh tarragon, chopped in a wooden bowl
Photo Credit: Lunov Mykola/shuterstock
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People all over the world love tarragon for a number of reasons. Firstly, it has a unique taste that’s a little bittersweet and also subtly reminiscent of anise or licorice.  For some people, the flavor is a tad too strong but for others, it’s just the right amount. Tarragon’s unique flavor gives a ton of depth and complexity to dishes, which makes them more interesting and flavorful.

It’s also a very versatile herb that happens to pair well with a number of ingredients, from things like meats and seafood to vegetables and sauces too. The herb’s ability to go well with a wide range of flavors makes it a valuable addition to a ton of recipes from many different regions and cultures.

There is a lot to learn about tarragon and it’s a rich family tradition for many. Tarragon has a long history in culinary practices, particularly in French cuisine. It’s a fundamental component of many classic French sauces.

Its memorable, one-of-a-king, decadent aromatic properties contribute not only to taste but also to the overall sensory experience of any dish it’s a part of. The scent of tarragon can upgrade the enjoyment of just about any meal.

While primarily appreciated for its taste, tarragon has been historically used in herbal medicine for its possible digestive benefits too. Some cultures also consider it helpful as an appetite stimulant as well.

Whether it is being used fresh or dried, tarragon is actually pretty easy to incorporate into a bunch of various dishes. It doesn’t actually require a whole lot of complex preparations, making it accessible for both experienced chefs and novice cooks too.

Overall, the amazing flavor profile and versatility of tarragon make it a beloved herb in the culinary world. Its ability to enhance dishes with its distinct taste and aroma adds depth and character to a wide range of recipes, contributing to its popularity among food enthusiasts.

What Exactly Is Tarragon Used For?

As we noted, Tarragon is a versatile herb that has a long list of various culinary and medicinal uses. That is a major reason why it is so beloved across the globe. It can spice up a meal and its smell is divine but it can also heal people of certain ailments too. 

Tarragon’s distinctive flavor is often described as a little bittersweet and that is an important draw to many cooks who want to incorporate that into their dishes. It’s used to enhance the taste of sauces, soups, salads, dressings, marinades, and certain kinds of vinegar.

From poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, and vegetables, tarragon is used by millions as a way to add a special little twist and depth to the overall flavor.

Tarragon is a part of the fines herbes family, which is a classic French herb blend along with chervil, parsley, and chives. It’s also used in blends like bouquet garni and herbes de Provence. In other words, some of the finest French meals use a bit of tarragon to increase the flavor and the aromatic elements. 

It’s not just about food either, as there are also some medicinal uses that people turn to Tarragon for. In traditional herbal medicine, tarragon has been used to aid digestion and alleviate digestive issues like indigestion, bloating, and flatulence. And some cultures use tarragon to stimulate appetite due to its aromatic properties.

Tarragon’s essential oil is occasionally used in aromatherapy for its purported calming and stress-relieving properties. That means that there are many yoga centers and meditative practices that use tarragon as a way to calm people and put them in a good state of mind. Indeed, its smell has a way of soothing even the busiest mind. 

Tarragon’s flavor is unique and not easily replaced, which means that finding substitutes for it aren’t always easy. The good news is that many chefs have worked hard over the years to find the right combination of other ingredients to best mimic the taste and smell of tarragon. It’s not always a perfect one-on-one replica but there are many ways to get close to what Tarragon brings. 

What Are The Best Tarragon Substitutes?

Tarragon has a distinctive flavor, so finding an exact substitute can be challenging. However, if you’re out of tarragon, there are some pretty handy alternatives that can create the sort of flavor profile that you’re looking for.

Dried tarragon

If you have dried tarragon, use it as a direct substitute. While the flavor might not be as vibrant as fresh, it can still provide a similar essence. Now, when it comes to the aroma of regular tarragon, you might be out of luck because dried tarragon just can’t come close. 

Fennel or anise

Fennel and anise aren’t that common either but they can do a great job at mimicking the taste of tarragon. That is because both have a little hint of licorice flavor that can simulate some aspects of tarragon. But be warned: use them sparingly as they can be pretty potent and just too much for some people.

Basil and marjoram

Combining the two herbs basil and marjoram can partially replicate the mild, herbal notes of tarragon. It’s a fine line with these two and you’ll have to experiment to get it just right. Try to use equal parts of both to get a balance.


Although not identical to tarragon’s taste, dill can do a good job of offering a fresh, slightly tangy flavor reminiscent of it. And dill works well in dishes where the quality and taste of tarragon is less crucial.


The herb chervil is sometimes thought of as a tarragon substitute itself due to its delicate, anise-like taste. It can be used in a similar manner as tarragon, but it might be harder to find in some places so it should be used as a last resort for a substitute.

You should try to experiment with these substitutes based on the dish you’re preparing so you can see which is right for your budget and best for your taste buds. Keep in mind that while they may not replicate tarragon perfectly, they can still contribute interesting flavors to your cooking.

Tarragon is a versatile herb that adds a distinctive flavor to various dishes across different cuisines which means that it can be found in a number of different popular dishes all over the world. 

Chicken Tarragon

A classic dish where chicken is seasoned with tarragon, which is often accompanied by a creamy tarragon sauce.

Béarnaise Sauce

As mentioned before, Tarragon is very popular in France so it’s not surprising to find it in this sauce, which is a traditional French sauce made with vinegar, wine, shallots, egg yolks, butter, and tarragon. It’s a popular accompaniment for steak and fish.

Egg Dishes

You will find Tarragon in a ton of egg meals because the herb is known to enhance the flavor of omelets, quiches, and scrambled eggs, providing a subtle aromatic note. It can be subtle when with eggs so you may not have noticed any tarragon you’ve had. 

Salad Dressings

Salads are another place where you may have found Tarragon. It is often used in vinaigrettes and creamy dressings, adding a unique herbal flavor to salads.


This specialty herb also pairs well with fish and seafood dishes, whether it is being used in marinades or sauces or perhaps as a seasoning.


Tarragon can definitely complement the flavors of a lot of different vegetables, such as roasted carrots, asparagus, or potatoes, so it is often used as either a seasoning or in herb blends.

Herb Butter

Tarragon-infused butter is a flavorful addition to grilled meats and vegetables, or as a finishing touch on dishes like steaks.

Soups and Stews

Additionally, Tarragon can be put into bowled meals like soups, broths, and stews to impart a delicate herbal taste.

Pasta and Risotto

Finally, Tarragon is a popular addition to pasta sauces or stirred into risottos to add depth and complexity to the dish.

Tarragon’s distinctive flavor profile makes it a versatile herb that really does go well with a wide range of ingredients, from things like meats and seafood to others such as vegetables and sauces. Its use varies across cuisines, but its ability to add a distinctive yet subtle taste makes it a favorite in many kitchens around the world.
Are you ready to make that perfect, yummy soup that will wonderfully welcome Tarragon? You’re in luck because we have you covered.

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