This Creamy Tarragon Chicken with Mushrooms is quick, easy and perfect for weeknights. The chicken gets beautifully crispy and the mushroom cream sauce is rich, velvety and delicious. It needs only a few ingredients and around 20 minutes to prepare. If you didn’t know any better, you’d never guess it’s Whole30 and Paleo compliant. Try serving with some of my Best Ever Mashed Potatoes to soak up all that sauce.
What You Need for Creamy Tarragon Chicken with Mushrooms
- Chicken: This is one of the few times I actually prefer to use chicken breast in a recipe. You could, of course, substitute chicken thighs. My advice is to use boneless and skinless pieces of chicken so that it cooks quickly.
- Mushrooms: You can use any variety of mushrooms you like here. Cremini, shitake, button, oyster, portobello, mini bellas, you name it. They will all work in this recipe.
- Coconut Milk: To keep things Paleo and Whole30, try making the cream sauce with a full-fat coconut milk. The brand you use will make a big difference. See below for my favourite ones.
- Garlic: Using a healthy amount of finely chopped garlic is part of the reason this Creamy Tarragon Chicken doesn’t taste like coconut milk.
- Tarragon: For best flavour and colour, use fresh tarragon. The flavour works wonderfully with the mushrooms and chicken. If you absolutely can not find fresh tarragon, you can try substituting dry but be sure to use half the amount called for fresh.
- Tapioca Starch: Dredging the chicken in tapioca starch before frying will give it a beautiful colour and slightly crispy texture. The residual tapioca starch leftover in the pan will also help thicken the cream sauce.
You can find tapioca starch at most Asian grocery stores. Or order online. Alternatively, you can substitute arrowroot starch, cassava flour, or almond flour. Keep in mind that each alternative flour will give you a slightly different texture.
- Ghee or Butter: Ghee is butter that has been clarified with almost all of the dairy solids removed (usually +99%). It is considered both Paleo and Whole30 compliant and almost entirely dairy-free.
Ghee has a fairly strong, nutty and pronounced flavour so use it as desired. Alternatively, if you are not concerned with keeping this recipe Paleo and Whole30, you can substitute unsalted butter.
My Favourite Coconut Milk Brands
The brand of coconut milk you use will make or break this dish. Look for one without any stabilizers, gums or added sugars. It should contain nothing more than coconut cream and water. Ideally, there should be at least 70% coconut cream, but you can also use ones that contain 80%.
My favourite brands are Arroy D and Savoy. Also great is the private label coconut milk from Thrive Market.
Coconut Milk Substitutions
- Almond Milk: You can try substituting your favourite almond milk creamer in this recipe. Note: avoid regular almond milk because it is too loose in texture and will result in a watery finished product. Instead, look for a thick almond creamer, like the ones from Nut Pods. They are closer to a table cream in texture.
- Regular Cream: If you are not concerned with keeping this recipe Paleo and Whole30 Compliant, you can substitute regular, heavy cream. 35% fat will give you the most luxurious texture and flavour, but you can use anything with 18% or more.
3 Tips For Cooking with Tapioca Starch
Tapioca starch makes for an excellent alternative dredging flour. It’s naturally gluten-free and grain-free, which makes it both Paleo and Whole30 compliant.
The only downside is that it can be a bit fickle to work with and can turn a bit gummy. Here are my top 3 tips for using it in this recipe and others.
- Keep it Dry: Make sure the chicken is very dry before dredging. Take your time to thoroughly pat the chicken with paper towel. Otherwise the starch will absorb the surface moisture and turn gummy.
- Do Not Dredge Ahead of Time: Same principle as above. Ideally, you want to dredge the chicken or protein immediately before frying. Otherwise the starch will absorb the moisture of the chicken and it will not brown as nicely.
- Preheat the Oil: Make sure your oil is preheated before cooking. If your oil is not hot enough the starch will absorb it and it will not get as crispy.
Creamy Tarragon Chicken with Mushrooms – Whole30, Paleo
- 2 chicken breasts
- Kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
- ½ cup tapioca starch
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon ghee substitute butter for non-Whole30
- 8 ounces mushrooms sliced, such as shitake, cremini, button, or portobello
- 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 14 ounces full-fat coconut milk substitute full-fat almond milk or heavy cream for non-Whole30
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 small bunch of chives finely chopped, for garnish
- Slice the chicken breasts in half, lengthwise and season all sides with salt and pepper. Add the tapioca starch to a large bowl and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Preheat a non-stick or stainless-steel pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat until shimmering. Lightly dredge both sides of each chicken breast in the tapioca starch and carefully add them to the hot oil. Cook, undisturbed, until golden brown, 4 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown and the thickest part of the breast reaches 165F, 4 more minutes. Note, depending on size of skillet you may have to work in batches. Transfer browned chicken to a serving platter and cover with foil to keep warm.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the ghee and mushrooms. Cook, undisturbed, until the mushrooms start to turn golden brown, around 4 minutes. Flip and cook, stirring, until the other sides start to take on some colour, 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, 60 seconds.
- Pour in coconut milk and use a wooden spoon to scrape off any brown bits that formed on the bottom of the pan. Bring the sauce to a simmer and reduce by half – around 4 minutes. If the sauce becomes too thick, adjust with more coconut milk, chicken broth or water. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired. Remove from heat, add the tarragon and stir to combine.
- Spoon the sauce overtop of the chicken, garnish with chives and serve immediately.