Tarragon Chicken Salad

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Editor's Note: Quick! Your book club is meeting at your house for lunch in a few days, and your menu is still a big question mark. What do you do? While you could order delivery, consider making something special with this recipe for Tarragon Chicken Salad. This delicious and easy chicken salad recipe checks all the boxes, as it can be cooked in advance without too much prep work. While you can certainly serve this Tarragon Chicken Salad on a croissant roll, consider serving it on a bed of fresh mixed greens. This easy recipe for chicken salad is perfect for dining al fresco on your patio!

We feel this is a chicken salad with style as well as substance. It is dressy enough to serve as a main course, delicious in a sandwich, and so simple to assemble that you’ll soon know the recipe by heart. We adore this recipe and think it’s pretty safe to say that it wears well — it has for decades now. You can always vary it by using black walnuts, or by tossing in some green grapes or dried cranberries.  Use the accumulated juices from the jelly-roll pan to enrich soups or sauces.

Serves4 to 6

Cooking MethodBaking



Total Timehalf-day

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

Occasional Fresco, Buffet, Buffet Meal, Casual Dinner Party, Family Get Together, Game Day

Recipe CourseMain Course

Five Ingredients or LessYes

MealDinner, Lunch

Taste and TextureCreamy, Herby, Juicy, Meaty, Nutty, Savory, Tangy

Type of DishMain Course Salad, Salad, Sandwich


  • About 3 pounds boneless, skinless whole chicken breasts
  • 1 cup Crème Fraîche or heavy cream
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup mayonnaise, preferably Hellmann’s
  • 2 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch-long pencil strips
  • ½ cup shelled walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon crumbled dried tarragon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Arrange the chicken breasts in a single layer in a large jellyroll pan. Spread evenly with the crème fraîche and bake until cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.

  3. Shred the meat into bite-size pieces and transfer to a bowl.

  4. Whisk the sour cream and mayonnaise together in a small bowl and pour over the chicken mixture.

  5. Add the celery, walnuts, tarragon, and salt and pepper, and toss well.

  6. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 4 hours. Taste and correct the seasoning before serving.


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