So You Roasted a Chicken—But What About the Pan Drippings?

September 20, 2016

I have just begun roasting chickens, and—as I mentioned yesterday (when I wrote about a smart trick I learned on our app that involves a safety pin!)—I feel like I've encountered a whole new world.

Yesterday, I learned about crispy skin. Today, I conquer the drippings.

Chicken drippings, not only plentiful, but very flavorful, too. It would be a waste to throw all that fat (not to mention the little crispy browned bits that come with it) away. So, what to do with them? Here are a few ideas:

  • Turn the drippings into a sauce to serve alongside the meat. While the chicken rests post-roast, get your pan of drippings onto the stovetop, add a bit of broth (or even water), and stir as it all simmers, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon as it reduces in order to take advantage of the fond. Stir in a little butter, some flour or cornstarch if you want, and then serve this either drizzled over the chicken or alongside, in a little gravy boat.
  • Toss it with roasted vegetables (or, even better, add chopped raw veg right to the roasting pan so that they can benefit from the drippings as they (and the chicken) roast.
  • For a richer chicken stock, save the dripping in a jar and spoon some of it into the pot along with your roast's backbone, neck, and abdomen.
  • Use it as a salad dressing! Brighten it with a little lemon juice (maybe from lemons you roasted with the chicken) and toss with salad—especially if there are croutons involved, like in this killer one from Zuni Café.
  • Toss it with rice (or another grain).
  • Swipe it (warm, from the pan, or solidified from the fridge) onto bread.
  • Speaking of bread, you could fry a slice of bread in chicken drippings—or toss it with cubed bread before baking into croutons.
  • Toss hot popcorn with it! (This idea comes from Greg on a thread about using up bacon fat.)
  • Render as much fat as possible from your bird (more on that here) and you've got schmaltz! Which is great for roasting with, or sautéing onions and/or mushrooms in, or frying potatoes with, or scrambling eggs in...

How do you use up the drippings? Teach me some tricks in the comments below.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • paizley
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Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.


paizley January 5, 2023
From the pan drippings I make gravy, save it for later, add it to soups, and use it as is on baked or mashed potatoes and on the chicken. My favorite way is to heat the drippings (don't skimp on that good chicken fat) add some green onions, bell pepper, garlic, etc., saute until tender then add cooked rice until it starts to sizzle. You can make the rice and prep the veggies while the chicken is roasting. While the bird is resting is the perfect time to make the finished rice side. Also works with turkey, duck, pork, and beef roast drippings. If you're worried about the fat, you can start with a smaller amount and add more as needed for flavor or add some good quality heart-healthy oil. It's definitely a treat.
Vasantha September 22, 2016
Agree with prior poster. Most of these are good suggestions but the first suggestion--making a "sauce" with pan drippings and a roux, then serving it in a gravy boat--is gravy. Am I missing something here?
creamtea September 20, 2016
Before putting the roast in the oven, I pour an inch or two of water in the bottom of the pan. The resulting juices go over the rice, over individual servings of chicken,etc. Then my daughter and I sneak into the kitchen and eat up the rest; if there are browned parts to scrape with spoons, so much the better.
Beth G. September 20, 2016
My new favorite restaurant, Branch Line, will sell you a small pot of drippings (with a couple of cloves of garlic) from their rotisserie to dip your bread in. I would drink it if I weren't in public.
Nancy September 20, 2016
Primarily to roast root vegetables and winter squash.
I also do as Karin - chill and use the gel and fat separately.
Last, Michael Ruhlman has a book out recently (2015, Book of Schmaltz) which has all sorts of unusual recipes...like this oatmeal cookie
Karin B. September 20, 2016
Chill it, the juice will become jelly and the fat will solidify on top, lift a portion on some french bread and have with a glass of wine tomorrow while you are cooking
ChefJune September 20, 2016
After chilling it, I then often freeze it and pull it out to enrich a "quickie" chicken dish when the recipe doesn't create it's own deep flavors.
Oh, and btw, Caroline, I grew up calling that sauce made from the pan drippings "gravy."
My mom always said if you could roast a great chicken, you'd be prepared to "serve dinner to ANYone, even the Queen of England."