French Chicken in a Pot (aka Dutch Oven)

This is my favorite kind of recipe – super simple and extraordinarily delicious. The basic idea is to brown a whole chicken in a Dutch oven and then finish it off in the oven at low heat. This cooking method allows for the chicken to simmer in its own juices. The cooking times in the recipe are for a 4½ – to 5-pound bird. A 3½ – to 4½-pound chicken will take about an hour to cook, and a 5- to 6-pound bird will take close to 2 hours.

It is best to use a 5- to 8-quart Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid. If using a 5-quart pot, do not cook a chicken larger than 5 pounds. Use the best chicken you can find, such as a free range, organic or locally pastured chicken. The amount of jus (remaining pan juices) will vary depending on the size of the chicken; season it with about ¼ teaspoon lemon juice for every ¼ cup jus. Thank you to Cook’s Illustrated for inspiring this recipe.

4.9 from 12 reviews
French Chicken in a Pot (aka Dutch Oven)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 whole roasting chicken (4½ to 5 pounds), giblets removed, wings tucked in
  • 2 teaspoons good salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black or white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter, coconut oil, ghee, palm oil, lard, chicken fat or duck fat
  • 1 small onion , rough chopped (about ½ cup)
  • 1 small stalk celery , rough chopped (about ¼ cup)
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, skin removed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 medium sprig fresh rosemary (optional)
  • ½ - 1 teaspoon juice from 1 lemon
Instructions
Part 1
  1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper (this is a very essential step for proper browning).
  3. Heat fat of choice in large Dutch oven over medium heat until just smoking.
  4. Add chicken breast-side down; scatter onion, celery, garlic, bay leaf, and rosemary around chicken.
  5. Cook until breast is lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  6. Using a wooden spoon inserted into cavity of bird, flip chicken breast-side up and cook until chicken and vegetables are well browned, 6 to 8 minutes.
  7. Remove Dutch oven from heat; place large sheet of foil over pot and cover tightly with lid.
  8. Transfer pot to oven and cook until instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees when inserted in thickest part of breast and 175 degrees in thickest part of thigh, 80 to 110 minutes.
Part 2:
  1. Transfer chicken to carving board, tent with foil, and rest 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, strain chicken juices from pot through fine-mesh strainer into fat separator, pressing on solids to extract liquid; discard solids (you should have about ¾ cup juices).
  3. Allow liquid to settle 5 minutes, then pour into saucepan and set over low heat.
  4. Carve chicken, adding any accumulated juices to saucepan.
  5. Stir lemon juice into jus to taste. Serve chicken, passing jus at table.
  6. Enjoy!

 

Comments

  1. Thomas says

    57 years old….have had plenty of roasted chicken dinners. This, by far, is the most delicious, tender, flavorful roasted chicken dish I have ever had. We added a little white wine to the chicken to cook “low and slow”. The drippings made the most satisfying gravy. Added to all this is that this was the simplest of dishes to prepare. Thank you, Amanda! Bon appetit!

    • Amanda says

      Dear Thomas,

      I am so glad you love this recipe as much as I do. Yes, it is so tender and delicious! Yes, it is good with a little wine added to the dish. Thanks for sharing your feedback. Many blessings and Happy New Year!

  2. Mark says

    Just a quick thank you. This recipe is about as idiot-proof as I have used and turns out a moist and delicious product every time. It is also fast and low on the fuss and cleanup. Righteous. I note with the sauce you say to use a fat separator but you don’t mention the purpose of it. Are we discarding the fats with the solids? The juices? I’m just making gravy anyway so it really doesn’t matter but I would like to try the sauce.

    • Amanda says

      When making gravy, it is best to remove the fat, otherwise your gravy will be clumpy and will separate. You can save the fat to cook with at a later use, but for the purposes of this sauce, it is best to remove the fat.
      So glad you are enjoying the recipe!
      Blessings, Amanda

  3. Andrea says

    Just found your website and can’t wait to try this recipe. It’s the first time I’m attempting to cook a whole chicken and your recipe looks simple and non-intimidating for a newbie like me. Thanks!

  4. Anna Belle says

    Made this tonight. It was delicious! Thanks so much for the recipe. I’ve printed it and bookmarked the page.

    • Amanda says

      Yeah! I am so glad you enjoyed this recipe. It is so simple but also so delish!! Thanks for sharing your results. Amanda

  5. Kitti says

    Hi Amanda! This sounds like a great recipe. I have a dutch oven big enough for two chickens. I’m wondering if you have any advice on time for two chickens at one time. Can’t wait to try it!

    • Amanda says

      I have never tried this with 2 chickens but I imagine it would work just the same. It may take 15-20 minutes longer, but all other directions should still apply. Let me know how it comes out!

  6. Kitti says

    So, I finally got around to trying this recipe. The only thing I did different with the chicken was cooking it breast down. I had a problem with the back skin sticking on the browning part. Think I’ll need to move it around some while it does it or do you have another tip? My husband could not stop talking about how moist it came out. The flavors were nice and I’ll definitely cook it like this again. I made more of a rustic gravy from the leftovers in the pot. That was well like by my husband too. Good recipe!

    • Amanda says

      Hi Kitti,

      Thanks for sharing your success of this recipe! I am glad your hubby liked it too! I have not had the sticking problem before. What I would suggest is nestling some veggies under your chicken so there is something under them and then the chicken should not stick. Let me know if you try it again and this tip works. Happy cooking!

  7. Dazz says

    I was really surprised how delicious this was and how little time it takes to cook at such a low temperature. While the chicken was not nearly as moist and flavorful as it would have been with brining, it was so much less work and still very moist and tender. Instead of a Dutch oven, I used an Emile Henry tajine and I expect that the results would have just as good in either one. Bravo!

    • Amanda says

      Thanks for sharing your results from this recipe. Yes, this dish would be even more tender if it were brined which one could always do, but I like that this dish is very simple and still turns out very tender. Great to know it worked in your tagine.

  8. Grace says

    I cant wait to make this recipe! Looks amazing. I am wondering about roasting the chicken with onion, carrots and potatoes in the dutch oven. How would I adjust the overall cooking time? Would it turn out just as good? Thinking of a one-pot meal

    • says

      Hi Grace, yes, you can definitely cook this dish with all the veggies you mentioned. Just cut them into large chunks and they should be cooked by the time the chicken is done. They will likely not be browned as they would be like when you roast veggies, but will still be yummy as they will be cooked in the chicken juices. Enjoy and let us know how it turns out! Amanda

  9. Jason says

    I just made this pretty much the same way, but I added carrots and potatoes around the chicken with the celery and onion. I also stuffed some onion, garlic, and fresh herbs inside the chicken and tied the legs together, then added some white wine and stock to partially cover the vegetables. Cooked it in a covered dutch oven for a little over 2 hours for a 5 1/2 pound chicken. It was very good! I’ll be making this again.

  10. Emily says

    I have to echo everyone else’s comments here….this recipe was flawless! The chicken could not have been more juicy or flavorful. I did more of a “rustic” gravy as well, which turned out great. For the first few minutes of eating my boyfriend and I simply stared at each other, and nodded…. and then quietly rushed back to the kitchen for seconds.
    Thank you!

  11. Valerie says

    Loved this recipe for it’s wonderful flavor and juciness but also the ease of cooking. I used onions, carrots and quartered red potatoes and they were perfect (forgot to bring celery up to the cabin). My husband loved this and will definitely make again.

  12. Michael says

    I don’t use “recipes”. I cook by intuition and feel. I did use some of the guidance here when I cooked for a group of rugby coaches I work with. You can fit four chickens in a 14 inch camping type dutch oven and follow most of the same directions adding some more time. The results are outstanding. I served an arugula/endive salad with walnuts and a strong vinegrette, potatoes Anna, and plenty of red wine. Lots of compliments.

  13. carol says

    made this tonight. oh so juicy. loved the jus. my husband prefers a thicker “gravy”, but i just loved it. i probably could have browned the chicken a bit more. oh well, next time! i deglazed the pot with just a tiny bit of white wine and water after pouring off the juice…i couldn’t bear to throw away the fond, it smelled so good. i just poured it in with the rest of the drippings. thanks for the recipe!

  14. Becky says

    This recipe is outstanding. (And I’ve been living in France for years.) There is no need for brining. Indeed, I dont think much brining is even done over here. This recipe is versatile and I use the heavy enamel cocotte my mother in law gave me when I got married 17 years ago. I like to add a medley of whatever vegetables I have on hand… potatos, carrots, asparagus, green onions, etc. I usually add a splash of dry white wine, lardons and some thyme, and while the chicken is resting I leave the vegetables in the cocotte in the oven.

  15. says

    I’ve made this twice now and loved it. I can’t get over how easy it is to cook a whole chicken! I just got a dutch oven and experimenting with it has been so fun. I made my own seasoning rub, so I mostly just followed the method, but oh-the chicken was so moist and delicious. Thank you so much!

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