Tarragon Is The Fresh Ingredient That Brings Out The Best In Chicken Salad

Everybody loves a good chicken salad. Fresh and flavorful with a savory kick, it's filling enough for a quick lunch, but would also make a stellar companion in a hearty dinner or outdoor potlucks. Although it often includes certain staple ingredients, you can dress it up as much as you want to keep this salad endlessly exciting. Want to give it a simple yet unique twist that makes it so much more enjoyable? Tarragon is the one-ingredient upgrade you've been searching for.

Although often described as licorice-like in flavor, tarragon is far from overwhelming or difficult to eat. It's delicate and subtle, with softly spicy, minty, and citrusy notes that brighten anything dish it's added to. In chicken salads — like Tasting Table's sous-vide chicken salad — these flavors tend to blend right into the tangy, creamy mayonnaise. It's an odd contrast between the dressing's rich, dense taste and the herb's distinctive nature. They don't cancel each other out, however. On the contrary, they flow together seamlessly to make a complementary pairing that rounds out the overall flavor profile. As you bite into the savory chicken and colorful, flavorful veggies, you'll adore the way all these different ingredients are elevated by this layered combo.

A simple yet impactful addition to your chicken salad

The amount of tarragon to use depends on how intensely you want its flavors to shine. Generally speaking, one to two tablespoons mixed into the dressing should be enough to impart that herby fragrance without overpowering everything else. The fresh variety is ideal, but if not readily available, you can always use dried tarragon. In this case, only one or two teaspoons is sufficient since dried herbs tend to be deeper and more potent.

As for the rest of the dressing, not much has to change. The usual mayonnaise and mustard base works fantastically every time, with a squeeze of lemon juice to balance out the tangy richness. This, of course, varies from one recipe to another. Some like to go for sour cream, Greek yogurt, or just regular yogurt instead. Salt and pepper are usually enough to enhance the flavors, but feel free to sprinkle in a bit of garlic powder, onion powder, etc. if you'd like a stronger kick.

As for the salad itself, the usual staples — chicken, lettuce, celery, and onions — can hardly be replaced. If you want to diversify the flavors even further, dried fruits like raisins and cranberries are a safe option in mayo-based salads like these — as proven by this cranberry and pecan chicken salad. That said, fresh grapes would be great for adding a sweet hint. Chopped nuts like almonds and pecans can also be added for an extra crunch and fun nutty bites.