How to Roast a Whole Chicken in a Dutch Oven

Use one of our most versatile pans to prepare a whole chicken with perfectly golden brown skin.

Izzy Johnson|Aug 10, 2022
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When you think Dutch Oven, your first associations may be

hearty stew

s and

pasta dishes

cooked on the stove. While Our

Enamel Cast Iron Dutch Oven

is excellent for stovetop cooking, part of what makes it such a versatile piece of cookware is that it can move seamlessly from the stove to the oven. It’s the pan that we reach for when we want to

braise any protein or vegetable to perfection

. For this reason, our Dutch Oven is also a great pan for roasting a whole chicken, giving it a tender interior and a crispy skin.

Why Dutch Ovens Are Perfect for Whole Chickens

Our Dutch Oven is

specifically designed

to heat evenly and lock in moisture. Its cast iron core retains heat, while the enamel coating ensures that there are no hot spots so that your ingredients cook evenly and don’t burn from the bottom up. Additionally, its cloud cover lid traps steam and redistributes it to keep your braise moist. This is especially important when cooking chicken, which is notoriously susceptible to tasting dry.

Chicken cooked in a Dutch Oven straddles the delicious line between a braise and a roast. Roast chicken is a classic weeknight dish typically cooked with or served alongside roasted vegetables, but it has a tendency to dry out in the oven. Braised chicken on the other hand is more tender because of the addition of braising liquid, but is usually broken down into individual parts of the chicken like breast or thighs. In this recipe, we show you how to roast a whole chicken using our Dutch Oven, which will not only lessen the cooking time, but will yield the most perfect cooked chicken inside and out.

How to Roast a Whole Chicken in a Dutch Oven

In terms of equipment, roasting a chicken doesn’t call for much. You’ll need our Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven and a digital meat thermometer, along with some optional twine to truss the bird.

You can flavor your roast chicken however you like. We recommend using fresh herbs in some capacity, either chopped and added to softened butter and rubbed on the bird, placed in the Dutch Oven before the roasting process begins, or stuffed inside the cavity. The same is true for other vegetables. Creating a base layer of  potatoes or other root vegetables will yield a tender side dish that helps keep the meat moist, while gaining lots of deep flavor in the process.

You can also stuff the cavity with the same ingredients you might find in a mirepoix—celery, onions, and carrots. The inclusion of carrots especially will give the meat an earthy, slightly sweet flavor. However, the vegetables used for stuffing may get too soft during the cooking process and are there to provide flavor rather than to be served as a side dish.

In addition to the vegetables, you’ll need fat for the chicken’s exterior. Part of what helps achieve that golden brown skin is brushing the bird with melted butter, olive oil, or a combination of the two. You can also use something acidic (another advantage of using a

non reactive pan

) to balance out the flavors, like lemon juice or white wine. Finally, you will need kosher salt and black pepper, plus any additional seasoning if desired.

Step 1: Prep the Ingredients

Start by removing the chicken from the fridge so it can come up to room temperature as you prep your ingredients. Pat the skin dry and season generously with salt as far in advance as possible. Try to do this an hour before or even up to two days in advance and leave it uncovered in the fridge. This will dry out the skin, which will help develop more color later on. Slice the vegetables into chunks or spears depending on if you’re using a bed of vegetables or stuffing the bird. Preheat the oven to 400F.

Step 2: Add the Fat

You’ll want a good layer of fat in your pan so that the surface of the enamel isn’t damaged in the oven. This helps the skin crisp, while also ensuring that your vegetables get tender and caramelized. Add butter or olive oil to the Dutch Oven along with the vegetables and herbs if you’re cooking them on the bottom.

Step 3: Prep the Chicken

Once your chicken has come up to temp, stuff the cavity with vegetables and aromatics if desired. Optionally, truss the bird by tying its wings and legs close to its body, which will help it cook more evenly. Next, rub or brush it in your fat of choice along with chopped herbs, if desired. Season all sides with salt, pepper, and any other seasoning of choice.

Step 4: Bake the Bird

Set the chicken in the Dutch Oven and drizzle with lemon juice or white wine, if desired. Cover with the lid and place in the oven. Bake until the internal temperature measured at the thickest part of the thigh reads 165F, about 60 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken.

Step 5: Brown the Skin

Now that the chicken is cooked, you can uncover the bird to let the skin get beautifully golden brown. Remove the lid and let cook for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the skin is burnished to your liking. Additionally, you can cook it under the broiler for a few minutes, just keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.

Step 6: Let it Rest

The work is done but this is by far the hardest part. Let your roast chicken rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. This will not only keep you from burning your mouth but it will also let the juice distribute throughout the meat as it finishes cooking. Once your chicken has rested, it’s time to carve up and serve.

Step 7: Make Stock or Broth

Once you have finished your beautiful roast chicken, you can still use its carcass for

stock or broth

. The bones and remaining meat will make a flavorful base for your next soup, stew, or

pan sauce

. Now you not only have several delicious meals but also a pantry staple that will last for several months in the freezer

Dreading Clean Up?

If this has inspired you to cook more with your Dutch Oven, but you’re worried about cleaning it, check out this video. Here, Steve breaks down several methods of cleaning based on the level of mess in your pan. Follow along the next time you have a serious clean up to tackle.