Food You Can Eat: Tarragon or Dilled Chicken Salad

This is an old-fashioned recipe that I make with no measurements, so here’s hoping that my approximations are good enough…It is not especially heart-healthy, and I do not eat it (pescatarian), so it is a rare treat for the carnivore.  

Boil chicken breasts. I am guessing that a 3-pack from the grocery will do; we buy an extra-large pack to cook and shred about half for elderly, unwell Violet Chihuahua, who is often on a chicken and rice diet.

Miss Violet

When chicken has been drained and cooled, chop one leek and add to chicken, pressing the rings into individual curls. Moisten with mayonnaise (I use 3/4 Hellman’s to 1/4 Miracle Whip, proportionally, to whatever moistness you prefer). Once mixed, I add a little bit of half and half – maybe an 1/8 cup, to ensure a loose as opposed to clumpy texture – fold this in. Add a big bunch of chopped fresh tarragon or dill from the garden and give it a final mix. As it is cold and March while I make/type this recipe, I used dried dill from the spice aisle. Again, this is to taste – but at least a rounded tablespoon for three chicken breasts (I probably use more). Chill it for 30 minutes.

If you use tarragon, it will have a slightly sweeter finish; if you use dill it will have a more herb-like finish. I like to serve it on a few crispy lettuce leaves, accompanied by a crusty loaf of cranberry pecan bread from a local bakery.

About Elliecoo 474 Articles
Four dogs, one partner. The dogs win.


  1. Violet! She deserves all the chicken and rice. What a sweetheart. I am a veteran of many a chicken and rice diet over the years but I never thought to boil the breasts, I used to just grill them plain on the stovetop grill. You have also inspired me to hobble up to the roof and see if there is any dill to be harvested. I haven’t been up on the roof in a long while; it would be nice to see it again. 

  2. I bet bacon would would give it a special loving touch. HMMM

    • I am sure that your cardiologist would not agree, Mr. “Two Stents” @KeitelBlacksmith.

      • I wonder if there is a not-too-unhealthy bacon flavoring? Or maybe since they’re getting so good at creating plant-based “hamburgers” (never had one; shudder) there is an equivalent bacon-like product on the market. 

        • I still stand by my assertion that in 10 years there will be peer reviewed research demonstrating that fake meat is fucking terrible for people’s health.

          • Oh blah blah. People love bitching about fake meat. There have been tons of studies showing red meat is terrible for people’s health, but people still eat it. Fake meat is often heavily processed too, you know, just like the vast majority of food in the US in general. Is fake meat the healthiest food ever? Of course not. I think there’s a widespread misconception that people are all eating fake meat because it’s health food? That’s just not true. 

            • Fake meat hasn’t been commercially available long enough for longitudinal studies to come out. Further, dietary research has clearly demonstrated there is a huge difference between factory farmed meat of any color and grass fed meat and eggs which have nutritional profiles far healthier than factory farmed meat and that heavily processed garbage being peddled as a healthy alternative. 

        • @MatthewCrawley

          I know you are trying to help but “bacon flavoring” is blasphemous. When you visit with Ellie I’m going to see Butcher and we are going to eat all the bacon. 

          • We get all of our bacon from ButcherBox, so it is grass-fed, nitrate/chemical-free, and 100% delicious.

        • I mean, the classic bacon bits that have been around for decades are entirely vegetarian. Soy based. I like Morningstar fake bacon, which actual bacon lovers tell me tastes pretty similar and has a texture like the crispy part of bacon.
          I’ve also made interesting not-really-bacon-bits out of coconut flakes, interestingly enough. The meat eaters in my life enjoyed it. I don’t think they really taste like bacon, but they’re a nice crispy smoky addition to things. I was pleasantly surprised, because I just decided to give the recipe on the back of the coconut bag a try. 

          • @BigDamnHeroes Hey, have you tried making your own tofu or tempeh? I was browsing through a Martin Yan book and he had a recipe for tofu. It’s easy, like making paneer. I started doing some reading and it seems doable, both tofu and tempeh, but for tempeh you need a culture. I’ve got 5 lbs of soy beans so I might try it this weekend. I really like tempeh but not many stores around me carry it and it never looks fresh when they do have it.

            • I have not! I have considered trying making tofu before. A cooking youtube channel I like did it and yeah, it really just seems to be making a simple cheese from soy milk. Tempeh scares me a little more because cultures are a little intimidating. But if you go for it, let me know how it went!
              And for anyone that hasn’t seen Jun’s Kitchen, the show is just so soothing and pretty.

              • That was cool. I wish he said what he did with the solids left over from making the tofu, I thought you could use that to make tempeh but the texture is wrong.
                His cats are awesome!

                • Agreed. I was actually curious about that too – all he says is that it’s very healthy. I looked it up and it seems like it can get used in some similar ways to tofu, but the texture is obviously going to be different.
                  Aren’t his cats great? He has a video on how he trained them. 

  3. Miracle Whip is an abomination unto God and Nature.  It is only bested in its utter foulness by cilantro.  The chemist who created Miracle Whip should be exhumed and shot.

    That being said, this looks like a tasty recipe.

    • @butcherbakertoiletrymaker I agree with you about Miracle Whip. I buy the smallest “picnic size” jar available, because it is only used in this recipe.

      • I say you should refuse to make this ever again until Keitel does the right and just thing by repudiating Miracle Whip forever and ever, amen.  Bacon is better for him than this poison.

      • Have you tried Kewpie mayonnaise from Japan? It’s really really good. They use rice vinegar and egg yolks only, so it’s mild and super creamy. As a single person the closest I get to chicken salad is puddle some mayo on a plate and drag leftover chicken through it while standing in front of the fridge trying to decide what to eat. Y’all are so fancy with the tarragon and bacon and grapes! Rethinking my life choices…

        • No, no grapes. You see it all the time in recipe collections, but I think on this we can all agree. No grapes.

          • Yeah, I figured it would be poor form to specifically call out the shitty bread in the header photo…but, since you brought it up…

    • The Miracle Whip vs. mayo thing to me is like the Kraft blue box mac’n’cheese vs the Velveeta shells and cheese. Whichever one a person grew up with is the one that is “normal” to them and the alternative is gross.


  4. Looks good Ellie, I’m not a fan of dill but love tarragon.

    • @Hannibal, hello! How is vacation? Have you run out of booze yet?

      • @elliecoo Haven’t run out of booze but not for a lack of trying! We hung out at the beach, saw a lot of dolphins, drinking by the pool, eating lots of seafood. So far so good. 😊

  5. I always add tarragon to my chicken salad. But I also add chopped almonds and grapes so I’m probably on a terrorist watch list.

    • Swap out the almonds for pecans! Pecans are the superior nut!

      Your salad sounds delicious. I just like pecans more in food. 🙂

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