What Does Tarragon Smell Like?

What Does Tarragon Smell Like?

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Tarragon is a popular herb known for its distinct anise-like flavor and aromatic leaves. It is commonly used in French cuisine and is one of the fines herbes, a classic French herb blend that also includes parsley, chives, and chervil. Tarragon is used to add a unique flavor to a variety of dishes, including sauces (like béarnaise sauce), salads, and soups, and as a seasoning for chicken, fish, and vegetables. It pairs particularly well with chicken and is often used in French and Mediterranean cuisine. Tarragon vinegar is also a popular condiment made by steeping tarragon leaves in white wine vinegar, imparting its distinctive flavor to the vinegar.

What Does Tarragon Smell Like?

Tarragon has a wonderfully aromatic scent that is often described as a combination of sweet anise and hints of fresh grass. When you crush or rub its delicate, narrow leaves, the aroma intensifies, releasing a fragrant bouquet reminiscent of licorice and herbs, with subtle notes of mint and citrus.

What Is Tarragon?

Tarragon is a herbaceous plant known for its distinctive flavor and aromatic leaves. There are two primary varieties of tarragon:

French Tarragon- This is the most sought-after variety for culinary purposes. French tarragon has narrow, dark green leaves and a sweet, anise-like flavor. It is prized for its delicate and aromatic taste, making it a staple in French cuisine and herb blends like fine herbs.

Russian Tarragon- Russian tarragon is a related species with broader leaves and a milder flavor compared to French tarragon. It is less commonly used in cooking due to its less pronounced taste.

What Does Tarragon Mean?

The name "tarragon" is believed to have originated from the Arabic word "tarkhun," which means "little dragon." This name likely came about due to the herb's twisted, serpentine root system or perhaps because it was believed to have medicinal properties that could counteract the effects of snakebites. Over time, the word evolved into "tarragon" in various languages.

Tarragon has a long history of culinary and medicinal use, dating back centuries in different cultures, including ancient Egypt and Greece. It eventually became a popular herb in French cuisine, where it gained recognition and widespread use, especially in sauces and dishes. Today, tarragon is a well-known and beloved herb in many parts of the world, prized for its unique flavor and aromatic qualities.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does tarragon taste and smell like?

Tarragon has a distinct flavor that is often described as a combination of sweet, slightly peppery, and with hints of anise or licorice. The taste of tarragon is unique and not easily substituted with other herbs. It provides a subtle sweetness and herbal complexity to dishes, which can be both refreshing and slightly pungent.

  • What spice is tarragon similar to?

Tarragon is a unique herb with very few herbs bearing close scent, taste, or use with it. If you need to replace tarragon in a recipe, you can consider using a combination of other herbs and spices to approximate its flavor:

  • Anise or Fennel Seeds
  • Basil and Parsley
  • Dill
  • Chervil


  • What is tarragon used for?

  • Tarragon is commonly used as a seasoning or herb to enhance the flavor of dishes.
  • Tarragon is a key ingredient in the classic French sauce known as Béarnaise sauce.
  • Tarragon leaves can be used to make herbal teas, which are believed to have various potential health benefits.
  • Fresh tarragon leaves or sprigs can be used as a garnish to add a touch of flavor and elegance to dishes.

  • What is the other name for tarragon?

Tarragon is sometimes referred to as “estragon.”

  • Is tarragon hot or spicy?

Tarragon is not hot or spicy in the way that chili peppers or other spicy ingredients are. Instead, it has a distinct and somewhat delicate flavor profile that is often described as slightly sweet with a hint of licorice or anise. The flavor of tarragon is more on the herbal and aromatic side rather than being spicy or fiery.

  • What is the difference between thyme and tarragon?

Thyme has a warm, earthy, and slightly minty flavor with a hint of lemon and a savory undertone. It is often described as having a subtle, herbal aroma. Thyme leaves are small, narrow, and green-gray. They are typically found on woody stems and can be used both fresh and dried.

Tarragon has a distinct and intense flavor characterized by a slight anise or licorice-like taste, often described as sweet and slightly peppery. It has a more pronounced aroma compared to thyme. Tarragon leaves are long, slender, and bright green. They grow on tall, bushy stems and are usually used fresh, as their flavor diminishes when dried.

  • Is coriander similar to tarragon?

No, it isn’t. Both coriander and tarragon are herbs used in cooking, they have different flavors and are not similar in taste. Coriander has a citrusy and herbaceous flavor, while tarragon has a sweet, anise-like flavor.

  • Is tarragon similar to parsley?

No, they are not. Tarragon has a strong anise-like taste, whereas parsley has a milder, fresh flavor with a peppery undertone. They

  • What herbs go well with tarragon?

Some herbs and seasonings that complement tarragon are-

  • Chives
  • Parsley
  • Dill
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Mint
  • Cilantro
  • Oregano
  • Sage

  • How do you identify tarragon?

The most distinctive feature of French tarragon is its strong, anise-like aroma. It typically grows to a height of about 18-24 inches (45-60 cm). It has slender, branching stems with narrow, lance-shaped leaves. The leaves are usually bright green and can grow up to 2 inches (5 cm) long. It tends to produce small, pale green or yellowish flowers in late summer, but the flowers are not as flavorful as the leaves.

  • What herb can replace tarragon?

Tarragon has a distinct flavor with subtle anise and licorice notes. If you need to replace tarragon in a recipe because you don't have it on hand, you can try using one of the following herbs as a substitute, depending on the dish: Fennel Fronds, Basil, Dill, Chervil, Marjoram, and Oregano

  • What is the active ingredient in tarragon?

The active ingredient in tarragon that gives it its distinctive flavor and aroma is an organic compound called estragole, also known as methyl chavicol. Estragole is responsible for the licorice-like flavor and fragrance of tarragon and is a key component of its essential oil.

  • Where does tarragon grow?

Tarragon is commonly grown in countries throughout Europe, including France, Russia, and Spain. French tarragon, in particular, is highly prized for its culinary uses.

It is also grown in North America, with the most widely cultivated variety being the Russian tarragon. French tarragon is more flavorful and is often preferred for culinary purposes.

  • Which tarragon is best?

French Tarragon.


Tarragon can be grown in gardens or pots and prefers well-drained soil and full sun. It can be propagated through cuttings or purchased as a plant from nurseries. Fresh tarragon should be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag to maintain freshness. Dried tarragon can be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.

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