Grilled Chicken with Tomato Tarragon Sauce


Simple and easy, grilled chicken recipe, topped with a tomato tarragon sauce.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Here’s a quick and easy grilled chicken cutlet recipe that is served with a side of a simple tarragon-infused tomato sauce. We’ve updated the recipe since we first posted it in 2007, the original recipe used fresh tomatoes, and just puréed them without cooking them. I prefer the taste of cooked tomatoes for a sauce like this, and since the sauce cooks up so quickly, it’s easy enough to make while the grill is heating.

If you don’t have a grill, you can easily cook the chicken cutlets in a little olive oil on medium high heat on the stovetop. Tarragon takes the stage with this recipe, but if you don’t have it, or don’t like it, my father suggests substituting it with basil.

Recipe and photo updated June 10, 2014

Grilled Chicken with Tomato Tarragon Sauce Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4.

You can easily swap out the tarragon for fresh basil.


  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon (or 2 teaspoons dried tarragon)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 pounds of chicken breast cutlets
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 14-ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 1/4 water
  • 1 shallot, diced (about 3 Tbsp)
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste


1 In a medium bowl, combine 2 Tbsp oil, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, and 1 Tbsp of chopped fresh tarragon (or a teaspoon of dried tarragon).

coat chicken cutlets with oil, garlic, and tarragon

2 If your boneless, skinless chicken breasts are not already in cutlet form, slice them in half horizontally, or place them between two pieces of plastic wrap and use a meat pounder to pound them into an even 1/2-inch thickness. Sprinkle the cutlets with salt and pepper. Add them to the olive oil, garlic, tarragon mixture. Let sit at room temperature while you prepare the sauce and heat the grill.

saute shallots and garlic for less than a minute add pureed tomatoes and tarragon

3 Prepare your grill for high, direct heat. While the grill is heating (whether it be charcoal or gas), prepare the sauce. Place the canned tomatoes in a food processor or blender and pulse until puréed. In a medium sauté pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the minced shallots and garlic and cook until just fragrant, less than a minute. Add the puréed tomatoes and water to the shallots and garlic. Add the balsamic vinegar and 1 Tbsp of chopped fresh tarragon (or a teaspoon of dry tarragon). Add salt and pepper to taste. (If the sauce seems too acidic, you can add a pinch of sugar to balance the acidity.) Bring to a simmer and lower the heat to maintain a very low simmer while you grill the chicken.

grill chicken cutlets

4 Grill the chicken cutlets until nicely browned and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side, less or more time depending on how thick the cutlets are.

Serve with tomato tarragon sauce.

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Inspired by a recipe in Bon Appetit Magazine.

6 Comments / Reviews

No ImageGrilled Chicken with Tomato Tarragon Sauce

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. ben

    I took your dad’s suggestion and made it with the basil. Wonerful! Had 6 over for dinner and all loved it. I even enjoyed the leftovers.

    Some freaked out when they saw the recipe with taragon, thought it would be too strong, maybe i’ll try it that way sometime just to see, but the basil was so well liked i’m not sure why i would not stick with that …

    I love this blog, i look forward to it every day.


  2. Suzie

    I was a little sceptical about the sauce but the balsalmic really pulls it together. Excellent meal, even w/ dried tarragon.

  3. faustianbargain

    Indeed..tarragon is a strong herb. Too much of it can be overpowering. Another classic chicken combo with tarragon is with cider. The reduced sauce is enriched with cream to coat the chicken. Serve with honeyed carrots and spatzle. If you have a slow cooker, it’s really no work at all. Just before serving, the sauce has to be finished. And the spatzle, of course. It’s really delicious..:)

  4. faustianbargain

    I love tarragon and it goes so well with tomato(as does basil..indeed). A creamy tarragon sauce or a tarragon jus is great with chicken too.

    PV, gentle poaching(slip tarragon leaves under the skin of the chicken)in a muslin bag is best. Just sear the chicken for a nice finish. The broth is bonus! Chicken noodle soup for the next day!

  5. Candy Schultz

    PV you can purchase stovetop grill pans. They have ridges and you just put them on the burner. Broiling or baking would probably work equally well, you would just not have that grill taste. Since the sauce is the main thing here that probably would not be bad. The sauce is what I want to try. I would even try it on poached chicken.

  6. PV

    Does anyone have an alternate method for cooking the chicken, if one doesn’t have a grill? Stovetop or Broiler?

Grilled Chicken with Tomato Tarragon SauceGrilled Chicken with Tomato Tarragon Sauce