Genius Recipes

The 15 Most Genius Chicken Recipes of All Time

April  3, 2019

With Genius Recipes correspondent Kristen off for a few months trying to raise a genius newborn, we’re revisiting the column’s Greatest Hits with brand-new videos—and hearing from a few special surprise guests. Wish her luck! (And keep sending those tips.)

Here are 15 brilliant, proven, utterly delicious chicken recipes from some of the greatest cookbook authors of the last 50 years—how about that? So next time I dare you to trust me and try something a little weird—sunflower seed risotto, or burnt toast soup, perhaps—I want you remember this moment.

1. Barbara Kafka's Simplest Roast Chicken

Photo by James Ransom

"This is not astrophysics," Barbara Kafka said of her easy-as-can-be recipe. A super-hot oven (500°F!) ensures that gorgeous, golden-brown skin.

2. Ideas in Food's Korean-Style Chicken Wings

Photo by James Ransom

These crispy wings are all about the dipping sauce—it's got soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, chile flakes, sesame seeds, and then some.

3. Canal House's Chicken Thighs With Lemon

Photo by James Ransom

This hands-off, stovetop method produces a shatteringly crispy skin. Plus, the simple recipe is ripe for riffs (like adding kale and croutons).

4. Michael Ruhlman's Rosemary-Brined, Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Photo by James Ransom

Between the rosemary-lemon brine (juicy meat) and buttermilk dip (craggy crust), there's no way for this chicken to be anything but wonderful.

5. Richard Olney's Chicken Gratin

Photo by Bobbi Lin

This is French comfort food at its finest: chicken parts baked in a creamy Gruyère sauce. Serve with cold wine and a warm baguette.

6. Kevin Gillespie's Barbecue Chicken with Alabama White Barbecue Sauce

Photo by James Ransom

This white BBQ sauce—seasoned with garlic powder, ground cayenne, and plenty of black pepper—is awesome on chicken, yes. But try it with steaks, pork chops, and even fish, too.

7. Jamie Oliver's Chicken in Milk

Photo by Bobbi Lin

Milk-braised chicken? Yes! The lactic acid in milk makes meat especially tender and turns into an amazingly flavorful sauce.

8. Judy Hesser’s Oven-Fried Chicken

Photo by Bobbi Lin

Big pot of oil? Not today. This recipe, dreamed up by our co-founder Amanda Hesser's mom, turns to a super-hot oven instead.

9. Jamie Oliver’s Tender & Crisp Chicken Legs With Sweet Tomatoes & Basil

Photo by Julia Gartland

We aren't sure what's better: the chicken or the sauce. Cherry tomatoes, basil, garlic, and chiles make this dish a warm-weather favorite.

10. Melissa Clark's Feta-Brined Roast Chicken

Photo by Mark Weinberg

Brining a whole chicken in salt water is a good idea. Brining it in feta brine is a great one.

11. Mark Bittman’s Minimalist Buffalo Wings

Photo by Julia Gartland

These minimalist wings from Mark Bittman are broiler-"fried," then tossed in an easy-peasy sauce of melted butter, hot sauce, minced garlic, and sherry vinegar.

12. Shaheen Peerbhai & Jennie Levitt's Cold-Oven Roast Chicken

Photo by James Ransom

No preheating necessary. This chicken goes into a cold oven, which then gets turned up to 450°F, and comes out with crispy skin and juicy meat.

13. Nigella Lawson’s Chicken & Pea Traybake

Photo by Bobbi Lin

According to Nigella Lawson, frozen peas are the secret to success in this sheet-pan dinner: "The steam they produce as they bake makes the chicken beautifully tender, its skin crackly and crisp on top."

14. Donald Link's Braised Chicken With Salami & Olives

Photo by Bobbi Lin

Salami, olives, and fennel team up to create your new favorite braised chicken. Serving over polenta: oh-so highly recommended.

15. Claudia Roden's Circassian Chicken (Çerkez Tavuğu)

Photo by Bobbi Lin

This tender chicken is a standout thanks to its rich sauce, thickened by ground nuts. Use your favorite type—say, walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts—or a mixture.

Chicken Helpers

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Perhaps something perfect for beginners? Please send it Kristen's way (and tell her what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

Order Now

The Dynamite Chicken cookbook is here! Get ready for 60 brand-new ways to love your favorite bird. Inside this clever collection by Food52 and chef Tyler Kord, you'll find everything from lightning-quick weeknight dinners to the coziest of comfort foods.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • momoffive
  • Valerie Richardson
    Valerie Richardson
  • MsMora
  • Mary
  • Rebekah Goodgame
    Rebekah Goodgame
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


momoffive April 9, 2019
thanks - didn't you just do a contest for chicken recipes you would make for company? I can't find it and need to make dinner for someone who doesn't eat red meat. Thanks to anyone who can help.
Valerie R. April 9, 2019
chicken Marbella from the Silver Palate should be on this list

Marsha F. September 7, 2019
I totally agree!

MsMora April 3, 2019
Loved the technique of heating the sheet pan and melting the butter. This style of oven-fried chicken is one of my favorites, and I like that you can also riff on the flour mixture however you like. My only request is that a clean, brown paper bag be substituted in place of the plastic bag. There is enough plastic going into landfill. I'd hope that the plastic bag was washed well, dried and stored for a future use.
Kerry January 10, 2021
I didn't even realize I could use a paper bag -- this is great advice, thank you!
Mary April 3, 2019
Great recipe, I never make fried chicken because it does not turn out as good as my parents made it. The reason your mother used margarine was a left over from WW 11, when butter was not available. I assume this because that was my experience , I a 66 and my daughter looks to be the same age as you. Enjoyed your video
Rebekah G. April 3, 2019
Boneless skinless chicken thighs are some of my favorite things to buy for easy family dinners. Would love to see some genius recipes featuring those!
EdieBSure March 22, 2017
You are absolutely missing one of the best genius chicken recipes if not the best - Judy Hesser's Oven Fried Chicken. I tell everyone about this. Every time my husband asks - why didn't you make more?
Elaine April 10, 2019
Hey, check #8.
Chocolate B. March 21, 2017
What mouth-watering pictures and recipes. All the same, I can't imagine giving up Judy Rodgers' roast chicken with bread salad for any other roast chicken recipe.
ChefAnnie April 3, 2019
Zuni Cafe in SF is one of my favorites. Judy Rodgers’s roast chicken is AMAZING. I will keep making it, but will add this “fried” chicken to my repertoire as well.
ChefJune March 21, 2017
This is such a lovely article. However I find it impossible to compare roast chicken with fried chicken with barbecued chicken. They are very different from each other.
When my book was published (quite a few years ago now) I was interviewed on the radio and the interviewer called attention to this recipe, She surprised me with the news that she had made this chicken recipe for her family the night before, and they had declared that it was even better than Julia Child's! Very flattered, but it does show you don't have to be "famous" to write a really great recipe. Try my Perfect Roast Chicken!
Sana S. January 13, 2017
wow i really like the recipe of butter milk fried chicken it was really a good a upgrade to broast chicken ! but similar to that i have maked my own recipe you should try it to it was good with a unique taste of spicy red sauce in it and you can to make this sauce with cheddar cheese also its will make you feel like your in heaven !
Sana S. January 13, 2017
and try this recipe as well i have tried it and i filled it with spicy red chili cheddar sauce it was out of this world !
Lisa E. March 21, 2016
Chicken in Milk was so delicious! Used cream instead of milk as well and this is a wonderful addition to my rotation of poultry
HDeffenbaugh March 21, 2016
These are great options! The chicken gratin looks fantastic and a great dish to host some dinner guests with. I may try this out for an Easter dinner I have coming up. There will be kids and adults and this seems like an elevated dish that will still appease to the mouths of 7 year olds.
Transcendancing March 20, 2016
I love a bunch of these - the Buttermilk Fried Chicken was what convinced me brining was awesome, Chicken in Milk was so mouthwateringly tender, and the Chicken Gratin was one of the most decadent feasts I did last year and I've been thinking about it ever since (time for a repeat now that the cooler weather is on its way!) I'm looking forward to trying the Chicken with Lemon, the Perfect Roast Chicken, and the Alabama BBQ sauce too :)
Judith R. March 20, 2016
My two go-to chicken recipes are:
Chicken thighs with bone and skin, rubbed with a mixture of Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce, covered with panko, roasted at 375 degrees until done
Spatchcocked chicken, rubbed with a mixture of olive oil, salt, and red pepper flakes, roasted at 375 degrees until done
Victoria C. March 16, 2016
Barbara Kafka wrote a book called Food for Friends, which is, sadly, out of print. For me it is a real classic. It sits on a shelf in my kitchen with my favs. Jamie Oliver's Chicken in Milk is delicious. The last time I made it, I used a pint of heavy cream instead of milk, and that will be my go-to way to make it from now on. The cream didn't curdle, and it was absolutely, hauntingly delicious!
Transcendancing March 20, 2016
Ooh, I shall have to try it with the cream I think :)
Isabelle J. March 16, 2016
Oliver's milk chicken IS delicious. But otherwise I think my go-to is still Amanda H's spatchcock chicken as taught to me by Mrs.Wheelbarrow.
702551 March 16, 2016
A year ago, the Detroit News pitted three classic roast chicken recipes against each other to determine the best amongst the three: Julia Child, Thomas Keller, and Judy Rodgers.

The winner? Judy Rodgers' (Zuni Cafe) version.

I think her bread salad is almost as important as the bird itself.