Pan Roasted Tarragon Chicken

Pan roasted tarragon chicken is a French classic and easier to pull off than you might think. Spectacularly flavored with cider vinegar and the subtle licorice-ness of tarragon, it’s easy yet still impressive.

Pieces of pan roasted tarragon chicken arranged in a white serving platter with a glass measuring cup and spoon in the background.

This simple but flavorful dish from France has made its way into American restaurants. But in the recipes that we tried, something was lost in translation. The keys to this French chicken dish turned out to be avoiding soggy skin and taming the astringent vinegar bite. We start with bone-in chicken pieces, cooking them on the stovetop until well browned. Our sauce gets depth from sautéed shallot and garlic and body from just a teaspoon of cornstarch. Honey helps round out the tangy vinegar, which we combine with chicken broth for savory flavor. We return the chicken to the pan, keeping the browned skin above the liquid, and move it to the oven so that the meat can finish cooking gently while the exposed skin crisps. We finish the sauce with tarragon for bright flavor (and a touch of French flair) and butter for a rich, silky texture.–America’s Test Kitchen

*Can I substitute dried tarragon for fresh?

The licorice scented fronds of tarragon are easy to grow yourself but if that’s not your thing, you should be able to find fresh tarragon at the market. Fresh is preferred here because it can stand up to the tangy vinegar sauce but, in a pinch, dry will do. French tarragon is one of the few spices where dried is nearly as good as fresh. Substitute at a ratio of up to 1 for 1 in this recipe if you want a really robust tarragon presence.

Pan Roasted Tarragon Chicken

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 40 M
  • 1 H
  • Serves 4 to 6
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Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C). Adjust the oven rack to upper-middle position.

In a liquid measuring cup, dissolve the cornstarch in 2 tablespoons broth. Whisk in the vinegar, honey, and remaining broth.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

In a 12-inch (30-cm) ovensafe skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil until just smoking. Cook the chicken, working in batches if necessary, skin side down, until well browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Move to a plate, skin side up.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet and return to medium-high heat. Add shallot and garlic and cook until fragrant and shallots are just beginning to look translucent, 30 to 90 seconds.

Whisk the broth mixture to redistribute the cornstarch and carefully add it to the skillet, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to boil and return chicken to skillet, skin side up, along with any accumulated juices.

Place the skillet in the oven and cook until the breasts register 160°F (71°C) and drumsticks and thighs register 175°F (79°C), 12 to 22 minutes.

Tester tip: If cooking both leg and breast pieces, your drumsticks and thighs may be cooked through before the breasts are done. Remove them, and let the breasts continue to cook until done.

Arrange the chicken on a platter, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest while preparing sauce.

Return the skillet to medium-high heat (the skillet handle will be hot), bring to a boil, and cook until the sauce has thickened slightly, 4 to 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, tarragon, and any accumulated juices from platter into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This beautifully fragrant pan roasted chicken parts with vinegar tarragon sauce came together quickly and easily, and was quite impressive. I would make this for dinner party guests or on a weeknight.

I was a bit concerned about the cider vinegar as I thought it might be too acidic but it was just fine and it settled in nicely with butter and tarragon. I served this beautifully fragrant chicken with roasted asparagus and rice pilaf. Lovely.

This recipe for pan roasted chicken parts with vinegar tarragon sauce produces very succulent chicken with a wonderfully unique sauce—the tarragon really makes it, in my opinion, as it rounds out the sharp vinegar and shallot combination beautifully and makes me want to experiment more with tarragon in general (it is one of my less often used herbs by far).

I sprinkled some extra salt directly over the chicken at service, as well as the lovely yellow tarragon flowers that happened to come with the bundle of herbs I bought for this recipe. I served it with a shaved Brussels sprouts and beet salad on the side.


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