How to Make a Dutch Oven Chicken with Crispy Skin
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Here's why a Dutch oven chicken is the easiest, juiciest roast chicken ever.
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
A Dutch oven is ideal for this country roasted chicken recipe from Judy Page of Edenville, Michigan. Its tall sides and lid come together to create the perfect roasting environment for a whole chicken. 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.
- 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°F, and lightly coat the bottom of a Dutch oven with oil. (These are our favorite Dutch ovens for every style.)
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.
Be sure you’re not making any of these Dutch oven mistakes!
Step 4: Season and bake again
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: Remove the lid for crispy skin
Kick up the oven temperature to 400°. 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 the thigh reads 170°-175°.
Editor’s tip: Cooking a whole chicken in a Dutch oven is perfect because the lid traps the moisture inside, resulting in deliciously moist meat. Unfortunately, all that steam prevents the skin from becoming crispy, so it’s critical to remove the lid for the final cooking step. Increasing the oven’s temperature to 400° also helps, as the extra heat renders out the fat in the chicken skin, developing a crispy crust on top.
Step 6: Let rest
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.
Serve the chicken with the perfectly seasoned potatoes and a sprinkle of parsley. Find more inspiration for Sunday dinner side dishes.
What to Do with Leftover Roast Chicken
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.
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.
Be sure to save the bones and carcass to make stock. If you’re planning to make 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.
Variations for Dutch Oven Chicken
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.
Once you’ve mastered this recipe, try some of our Dutch oven recipes that will put your skills to the test!
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 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 the 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.
When cooking a whole chicken, do I cover it?
We’ve found that the best way to cook a whole chicken is to cover it for the first hour or so. This keeps the meat juicy and moist, resulting in a more flavorful bird. Then, we like to uncover it for the final 10 to 15 minutes to crisp up the skin.
What should I serve with Dutch oven chicken?
Roast chicken tastes great on its own, but it’s 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. Check out our favorite sides for chicken if you need more inspiration.
Still hungry? Find more roast chicken ideas.