Whole chicken is a classic Sunday supper, as delicious to smell as it is to eat. Though, the dish can be tough to perfect: 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 whole chicken: Cook it in a Dutch oven.
A true one-pan meal, a Dutch oven whole chicken roast allows home cooks to roast the vegetables alongside the chicken, ensuring that both are super flavorful. The Dutch oven’s design, with high sides and a lid, allows the chicken to cook in a moist environment first—ensuring even, moist cooking. Removing the lid and baking again lets the roast dry, giving that crackling skin everyone loves.
Dutch Oven Whole Chicken Ingredients
- Broiler/fryer chicken
- Dried thyme
- Fresh parsley sprigs
- Red potatoes
- Chicken broth
Step 1: Prep the ingredients
Set the chicken on the counter for about a half hour to an hour to take the refrigerator chill off (this will allow the chicken 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°F, 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: Bake the chicken
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: Season and bake again
Remove the Dutch oven from the oven and lift the lid—carefully, as steam will escape. Sprinkle the remaining teaspoon of salt over the chicken. Scatter the potatoes around the chicken. Slowly pour the broth into the pan, so as not to splash any liquid.
Return the Dutch oven to the oven, uncovered, for another 25 minutes. Steam prevents the skin from becoming crispy, so it’s critical to remove the lid for the final cooking step. The added liquid helps keep the meat moist and helps the chicken to cook evenly.
Step 5: Increase the temp for crispy skin
Kick up the oven temperature to 400°. This allows the chicken to dry roast and become crispy. Increasing the oven’s temperature helps render out the fat in the chicken skin, developing a crispy crust on top.
Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes. The chicken is done when a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 170° to 175°.
Step 6: Let it rest
The baking is done! Remove the Dutch oven 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.
Dutch Oven Whole Chicken Variations
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:
- Italian-style chicken: Season the chicken with fresh or dried basil, parsley and salt, and toss some tomatoes in with the potatoes.
- Curried chicken: Season the chicken with your favorite curry spice blend. Omit the herbs.
- Thai-style chicken: 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.
How long does Dutch oven chicken last in the fridge?
A whole chicken typically serves four people, so you may end up with leftovers. Luckily, leftover chicken is extremely versatile, and it lasts in the fridge for three to four days. We like removing the meat from the bone, chopping or shredding the leftover chicken and storing it in an airtight container.
What do you do with leftover Dutch oven chicken?
From there, the shredded chicken can be used to make chicken salad, added to soup, tossed with salsa for tacos, layered with tortillas for enchiladas and added to casseroles. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out these easy leftover chicken recipes.
Tips for Making a Whole Chicken in the Dutch Oven
How long does it take to fully cook a whole chicken?
As a general rule of thumb, a whole chicken takes about 90 minutes to cook. To be sure the chicken is finished cooking, we recommend using an instant-read meat thermometer. The thickest part of the chicken breast should register 165°; the thickest part of the thigh should read 175°.
How do you keep a full chicken from drying out in your Dutch oven?
The best way to keep chicken from drying out is to prevent it from overcooking. Meat loses moisture as it cooks, so the chicken can taste dry and flavorless if it’s cooked past 165° in the white meat or 175° in the dark meat. Of course, adding moisture to the cooking process is a good way to add some insurance protection. This can be done by brining the chicken before cooking it or using a moist-heat cooking method, like a Dutch oven with the lid on.
What should you serve with Dutch oven chicken?
Roast chicken is even better when served with the perfect side. Most vegetables pair well with chicken, but side dishes containing spinach, broccoli, carrots, corn or Brussels sprouts work particularly well. We also love serving chicken with potatoes: mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, scalloped potatoes, fried potatoes—you name a potato cooking method, and it will probably taste great.
When it comes to starches, most of them work well. Whip up a creamy polenta, a complex rice pilaf or go simple with rolls or cornbread. Our favorite sides for roast chicken has more inspiration.
Can you make Dutch oven chicken in a roasting pan?
If you don’t have a Dutch oven, you can make this recipe in a roasting pan, an oven-safe casserole dish or a cast-iron skillet. Just make sure to cover the pan tightly with foil through the first four steps to trap the steam inside.
Can you make stock from Dutch oven whole chicken?
Be sure to save the bones and carcass to make stock. If you’re planning to make the stock in the next few days, store the bones in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Otherwise, pop them into a freezer bag and freeze them for up to six months. When you’ve collected enough bones, add them to a stockpot with onions, celery, carrots, thyme, a few whole peppercorns and a bay leaf. Cover with water and simmer for a few hours until the mixture turns into a delicious, aromatic concoction.