Jamie Oliver's Chicken in Milk

March  9, 2022
26 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This recipe features a one-pot technique for the most tender roast chicken you can imagine, with the most strangely appealing sauce. The lactic acid in milk makes the meat especially tender and turns into an amazingly flavorful sauce that you won't be able to get enough of.

Some of you will want the sauce to be smooth and refined. You can blend it, but frankly, scraping it all up to do so is a chore. Or, according to Cook's Illustrated, you can add a few tablespoons of fat to keep the sauce from curdling: "The fat molecules ... surround the casein clusters, preventing them from bonding," they say. But the added fat is unnecessary, plus the curds are the best part, and the split sauce is actually the point. But feel free to do whatever makes you happy to make the sauce's consistency appealing to you. Adapted slightly from Happy Days with the Naked Chef (Hachette Books, 2002). —Genius Recipes

What You'll Need
  • 1 (3-pound; 1½-kilogram) organic chicken
  • 1 pinch kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces (1 stick; 115 grams) unsalted butter or olive oil
  • 1 pint (565 milliliters) whole milk
  • 2 lemons, zest peeled in thick strips with a peeler
  • 10 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 good handful fresh sage, leaves picked
  • 1/2 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
  1. Heat the oven to 375°F and find a snug-fitting pot for the chicken. Season the chicken generously all over with salt and pepper.
  2. In the pot over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Fry the chicken, turning to get an even color all over, until golden. Remove from the heat, transfer the chicken to a plate, and throw away the butter left in the pot (or save for another use). This will leave you with tasty sticky goodness at the bottom of the pan, which will give you a lovely caramel flavor later on.
  3. Return the chicken to the pot along with the milk, lemon zest, garlic, sage, and cinnamon. Roast, basting with the juices when you can remember, for 1½ hours. (Oliver leaves the pot uncovered, but you can leave it partially covered if you'd like it to retain more moisture.) The lemon zest will sort of split the milk, making a sauce, which is absolutely fantastic.
  4. Pull the meat off the bones and divide among plates. Spoon over plenty of the juices and the little curds.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Laurence Vincent
    Laurence Vincent
  • BrettyJax
  • Ellen Zanky
    Ellen Zanky
  • Adrienne Wright
    Adrienne Wright
  • julie
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

122 Reviews

Janice June 9, 2020
Prior to watching the video of Jamie Oliver and the Italian chef making this dish together, I had a lot of the same questions about the details too. Watch the video and all of your concerns and questions, i.e. ‘why toss the butter?’ will be answered. I followed the info in the video and this has been the most intensely flavorful Chicken recipe I’ve ever eaten. Incredibly different from the printed recipe. Btw, the butter becomes burnt at the bottom and needs to be tossed a couple of times to get the yummy browned skin in order to roast in the oven with all those delicious flavors. Garlic skins keep the garlic mild and sweet, the ‘curds’ become a wonderful ricotta-like cheese. This is truly deliciously genius.
Renee B. August 3, 2020
Thanks so much for that suggestion. I just watched the video (
It's very instructive. Too hot to bake 1 1/2 hours in the summer but I'm definitely making this on a cool fall or winter day. Can't wait.
merle May 1, 2019
Made this for dinner tonight. It was the easiest recipe I've ever done with chicken and it turned out perfect! My sage hasn't come in fully this season, so I augmented what my garden produced with thyme and marjoram with two top snips of savory. I served the chicken with mashed potatoes and broccoli; whisked the sauce and poured it over the mashed potatoes to serve a perfect side. The chicken was moist, tender and perfect. I will be repeating this recipe1. Thanks, Jaimie!
Shortrib May 19, 2018
Sauce was fragrant and, yes, strangely appealing. Chicken itself was a bit dry and not very flavorful. Going back to Richard Olney's chicken (also curd-ish), and jamie's chicken with basil and tomatoes. But I love this site and all the inspiration!
Laurence V. January 9, 2018
I'm presently starting this good looking recipe, and will come back with my guests comments later! but I just wanted to give my French part: garlic baked with skins on is a very French treat,called "ail en chemise", literally garlic with its shirt on, and offers the best way to taste garlic, it is said that cooked this way it does not give the regular after taste and smelly breath..
Mary D. December 27, 2017
Garlic, with the skins on? Can you eat those or should you discard? Do the skins lend any unique flavor? So curious!
Kristen M. December 30, 2017
You don't eat the skins, but you can squeeze the cooked garlic out for more roasted garlic flavor as you go, if you like. (The flavor will have already infused into the liquid through the skins, too.)
BrettyJax February 26, 2017
Has anyone tried this with coconut milk?
Victoria C. February 23, 2017
I usually use olive oil and have changed the recipe by using a pint of heavy cream instead of milk and leaving out the lemon (because the person who eats dinner with me is not a big fan of anything lemon). This sauce doesn't split into curds so if that's the draw for you, forget doing it. BUT it does makes a delicious cream sauce. You can leave out all seasoning, except salt and pepper (which is what I usually do), and it's plain and rich and wonderful, especially served over basmati rice (I use Meera Sodha's recipe from Made in India, which heats up well in the microwave). Whenever I can find a D'Artagnan Organic Chicken that is only 3-½ pounds, I always snag it. It is perfect here. Also, I start with a VERY dry chicken and cook it in hot olive oil. Then when I take it out of the pan to get rid of the oil, I salt and pepper the chicken all over before I put it back in the pan, add the cream, cover the pot, and plop the whole thing in the oven. You can probably add whatever seasonings you feel like - the cinnamon, perhaps curry powder, cardamom, etc. I imagine the sky's the limit. Anyway, if this appeals to you at all, I recommend you give this a go.
Timildeepson October 25, 2019
There is a classic, very old Venetian dish very similar to this that uses wine to split/curd the milk. (It uses red wine, but I prefer a dry white) Originally used to poach veal, but works just as great for turkey, chicken, and pork!
jean January 6, 2017
I recall my Scottish mom or gran poaching fish in milk. Black Cod. Kippers. Sole. I've never tried chicken...but sounds good. Fish is delish done this way. Not fussy and very simple.
jean February 23, 2017
And there were curds if I just seemed part of the dish. Shrug.

Ellen Z. May 12, 2016
Lovely...lots of extras for other dishes.
Adrienne W. March 24, 2016
After browning I finished it in the slow cooker. It was good, but the flavor was quite mild. Not sure what the big deal is.
Austin B. February 18, 2018
Exact same sentiments, tender, but nothing to write home about. Certainly not worthy of the praise.
julie February 3, 2016
Ha! The first time I made this dish I used 2% milk and had a much nicer
"sauce". Last evening I used whole milk and had less sauce as well as the curds sticking to the sage. 2% milk is the key for me.
LeBec F. February 3, 2016
I am so flabbergasted that anyone would WANT to eat curds instead of the silky sauce after removing the fat layer and blending the sauce. ForGET this Oliver guy and look up the brilliant Paula Wolfert's version.
GregoryBPortland February 3, 2016
Well don't sell Jamie Oliver short. He's a brilliant creator of recipes and one of the few "chefs" who truly understands home cooking. Marcella Hazan also has a recipe similar to this as i mentioned earlier and she too skims off the fat and dilutes the curds with hot water to make a very silky sauce. I've made Oliver's version a number of times and have had success. The curds are just as silky whether they are eaten whole or thinned out. Again a recipe is a template and all sorts of issues go into making the dish work for the cook. By the way, if you want to experience Oliver genius, get a hold of a copy of JAMIE COOKS. Every cookbook writer of consequence has one book that sets him or her apart. Oliver has written a number of fine books, but thus far, this in my mind is his best.
LeBec F. February 3, 2016
'SILKY' CURDS???fogGEDaboutit. curds are GROSS.
Rachel L. February 27, 2016
I'm FLABBERGASTED that someone thinks that their "opinion" I the only one worth having and everyone else is wrong! I like the curds! What's it to you??
Rachel L. February 27, 2016
Meant to type "... Is the only one worth having"

Le Bec Fin, your ATTITUDE is GROSS!
GregoryBPortland February 2, 2016
I wouldn't worry about sage, lemon zest peel or garlic adhering to the curds. They are easily enough separated from them. I do remember the second time I made this, that I added some hot water (just a little) to move things around in the pot and to add to the sauce after I spooned off some of the fat. This inspiration came from Marcella Hazan's recipe for Pork Loin Braised in Milk. It too had curds that were thinned out a bit with warm water, which was then spooned over the sliced meat before being brought to the table. If you're worried about overcooking your chicken, start to take its internal temperature about one-hour to make sure it is approximately 165-degrees in the breasts. The thighs and drumsticks will take a little longer to reach that temperature--remove the white meat and keep cover and warm while the rest finishes. Don't worry about the size of the curds--they will still remain curds--just smaller.
pattyrat February 1, 2016
Made this tonight and while the chicken was good, it wasn't fantastic, and I don't think I'll make it again. As a previous commenter noted, the curds were stuck to the sage, garlic and lemon zest - so it was impossible to spoon the juice and curds over the chicken as instructed. I thought about straining the sauce, but then would have lost the curds. So I just served it as it was on the side, but it was a bit of a mess. Also, an hour and a half cooking time was too much for the chicken, even though mine was 4 1/2 pounds.
IslandJulia January 15, 2016
Would buttermilk work for this recipe?
warre January 9, 2016
I could only find 6 lb chicken. double everything????
Rebecca January 4, 2016
Coconut milk might work. Sorta sounds good. May try it myself.
julie January 4, 2016
Made the dish for dinner and YUMMMMMMM! Wondering if you could use thai coconut milk?
katstreet January 2, 2016
Delicious. Moist and flavorful. Was really excited about the "gravy." The curds ended up sticking to the sage and the garlic, so was hard to get a lot of that creamyness that everyone was raving about. Would absolutely make it again though. So easy.
Cindi January 2, 2016
This was a winner in our house. I spatchcocked the chicken for easier browning. I simply put a pot lid on top for weigh distribution and it formed a nice even brown skin. I also used a 3 1/2 quart braising Le Creuset dish which was the perfect size for the bird. Next time I may leave the lid on until the end as we would have enjoyed more liquid.