Roast chicken is a classic Sunday supper, as delicious to smell as it is to eat. The dish is also tough to perfect, though: white meat can dry out while the dark meat cooks, and the skin doesn’t always get brown and crispy. The trick to making perfect roast chicken: cook it in a Dutch oven.
The Perks of Dutch Oven Chicken
A true one-pan meal, a Dutch oven roast allows cooks to prep the vegetables alongside the chicken, ensuring that both are super flavorful. Cooks know that the best chicken recipes strike this balance.
Plus, the Dutch oven’s unique design, with high sides and a lid, allows the chicken to cook in a moist environment first—ensuring even, moist cooking—and then to roast dry, giving that crackling skin everyone loves.
How to Make a Whole Chicken in a Dutch Oven
Dutch oven whole chicken roasts are easy to make, even for those squeamish about handling raw poultry. This recipe comes to us from Judy Page of Edenville, Michigan and is a family favorite.
- 1 broiler/fryer chicken, approximately 3 pounds
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1 large onion, cut into eighths
- 2 celery ribs with leaves, cut into 4-inch pieces
- 4 fresh parsley sprigs
- 8 small red potatoes
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- A 5-quart Dutch oven with a lid
Step 1: Prep Your Ingredients
Set the chicken on the counter for about a half hour to an hour before cooking to take the refrigerator chill off (this will allow it to cook more evenly and develop a browner exterior). Sprinkle the skin with salt.
Meanwhile, wash and chop the vegetables.
Preheat the oven to 375°, and lightly coat the bottom of a Dutch oven with oil.
Step 2: Season the Chicken
Sprinkle the inside of the chicken with the thyme and 1 teaspoon salt. Stuff the chicken cavity with onion, celery and parsley sprigs. Settle the chicken in the Dutch oven and cover with the lid.
Step 3: First Round of Baking
Slide the covered Dutch oven into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Baking with the lid on allows the chicken to roast in a gentler, less dry heat, locking in the juices and flavor.
Step 4: Second Round of Baking
Carefully lift the Dutch oven from the oven and remove the lid—carefully, as steam will escape. Sprinkle the remaining teaspoon of salt over the chicken. Scatter the potatoes around the chicken. Pour the broth into the pan, slowly, so as not to splash the liquid.
Cover the pan again and return to the oven for another 25 minutes. The added liquid helps to keep the meat moist and, again, helps the chicken to cook evenly.
Step 5: A Final, Hot Round in the Oven
Kick up the oven temperature to 400°. For this final round, you’ll remove the lid of the Dutch oven, allowing the chicken to dry roast and become crispy.
Cook for about 10-15 minutes. The chicken is done when a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of thigh reads 170°-175°.
Step 6: Allow to Stand
The baking is done! Remove the pan from the oven and tent the chicken with foil for 15 minutes before carving. In this resting time, the chicken will continue to cook, and the juices will distribute throughout the meat. If you slice immediately, you’ll lose too much delicious juice.
Step 7: Serve
Serve the chicken with the perfectly seasoned potatoes and a sprinkle of parsley.
Variations on the Recipe
This recipe is pretty much perfect as-is, but the good news is it’s incredibly adaptable. You can vary the herbs, spices, vegetables and liquid to put your own spin on the dish. Some ideas:
- Go Italian: Season the chicken with basil (fresh or dried), parsley and salt, and toss some tomatoes in with the potatoes.
- Curry-style: Season the chicken with your favorite curry mixture. Omit the herbs.
- Thai-style: Season with salt, lemongrass and star anise. Swap the broth with coconut milk, and add a few cloves of garlic and some frozen spinach to the potatoes. Top with minced green onion.