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

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: This summery chicken-tomato-mélange's miraculous qualities have all the hallmarks of a braise—the fall-apart tenderness and well-developed, concentrated sauce—without having to sear anything first or spatter your stovetop or do much at all.

You truly can throw everything into the pot in the time it takes the oven to heat, and the simplicity of the technique—snuggle in pan, roast—is fairly un-stumpable, and will expand and contract to fit any size vessel you have. Recipe adapted slightly from Jamie Oliver.
Genius Recipes

Serves: 4
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 1 hrs 30 min


  • 4 higher-welfare chicken leg quarters
  • 1 pinch sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 big bunch fresh basil, leaves picked, stalks finely chopped
  • 2 big handfuls red and yellow cherry tomatoes and ripe plum or beefsteak tomatoes, cherry tomatoes halved, plum tomatoes quartered
  • 1 whole bulb garlic, broken into cloves
  • 1 fresh red chile, finely chopped, or a big pinch of dried chile flakes
  • 1 splash olive oil
  • 1 14.5-ounce/410 g can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
  • 2 handfuls new potatoes, scrubbed (optional)
In This Recipe


  1. Heat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Season your chicken pieces all over with salt and pepper and put them into a snug-fitting pan in one layer, skin side up. Throw in all the basil leaves and stalks, then chuck in your tomatoes. Scatter the garlic cloves into the pan with the chopped chile and drizzle over some olive oil. Mix around a bit, pushing the tomatoes underneath. Place in the oven, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours, turning any of the exposed tomatoes halfway through, until the chicken skin is crisp and the meat is falling off the bone. If after an hour or so the skin isn’t crisping to your liking, you can turn up the heat and switch to convection, or just blast it under the broiler for a bit at the end, rotating the pan occasionally and watching closely, until you get the skin as brown as you like. Just don't let the sauce simmer too vigorously or the meat might toughen up.
  2. If you fancy, you can add some drained cannelini beans or some sliced new potatoes to the pan along with the chicken. Or you can serve the chicken with some simple mashed potato. Squeeze the garlic out of the skins before serving. You could even make it part of a pasta dish—remove the chicken meat from the bone and shred it, then toss into a bowl of linguini or spaghetti and serve at once.

More Great Recipes:
Italian|American|Bean|Chicken|Clove|Tomato|Basil|One-Pot Wonders|Fall|Summer|Gluten-Free|Entree

Reviews (108) Questions (3)

108 Reviews

msmely March 9, 2019
I've made and remade this just like many of the other commenters. No need to sear first and you get slow-cooked wonder and crispy chicken skin with 90% hands-off time. It's winter here in Canada and fresh basil/fresh tomatoes are both expensive and sad-tasting; I'm here from the frozen north to tell you that it works just as well with a generous shaking of dried basil (maybe with an oregano assist) and a big (796mL) can of diced tomatoes. I love it with the Muir Glen fire roasted diced tomatoes.

I always make this with a heap of beans for that triple threat fiber/veg/carb duty they pull, and potatoes (or half and half) goes perfectly. I've also made it with a smaller amount of beans and a large portion of other veggies, stacking em up high enough in the roasting pan that the chicken legs poke above the lip of the vessel, guaranteeing full crispy skin action. I pull the skin to cover the vegetables entirely, forming a meaty braising lid and guaranteeing maximum crisping surface area.
peggyg November 5, 2018
This was amazing! Took a bit longer than 15 minutes to prep - I had to go out and pick the basil - whatever...The aroma of it cooking was so delightful. I put everything into the pan and then the chicken on top. I used thighs only, cooked for 1 hour then added cannelinis and cooked for another 30 -40 minutes. Accompanied with garlic mashed potatoes and while I was eating - savoring - it, I thought maybe I should have added kalamata olives...maybe next time. Outstanding! I can't wait to make again!
Adam September 18, 2018
Following others’ suggestions, I mixed in the pan the basil leaves, chopped stems, tomatoes, and garlic cloves (peeled) with salt, pepper, chili flakes, and olive oil. I put the salted and peppered chicken leg quarters on top, and roasted for 40 minutes. Then I temporarily moved the chicken to a plate, mixed in the drained, rinsed beans, replaced the chicken on top, and roasted until the chicken was golden, brown, and delicious. The flavor-to-effort ratio is astronomically high! This will be added to my regular rotation.
Javier September 10, 2018
I was pleasantly surprised with this recipe. The basil is the star, and the tomatoes give it a sweet tone. I added the beans 20 mins before it was done. Yummy !!
Manuel M. August 20, 2018
I just made and it looks incredible. I cooked it for the recommendated time of 1.5 hours at 350 and the color of the chicken is perfect. BUT when I checked the temperature of the chicken it was way overdone. It registered over 200F. Should the temp and time be adjusted? Higher temp for less time?
msmely March 9, 2019
Dark poultry meat can handle more heat than white meat can, it's important not to overcook white meat. Dark meat on the other hand, and chicken legs in particular with their fatty, meaty texture, can be delicious cooked within an inch of their life, far beyond their safe internal temperature. Serious Eats' cassoulet recipe cooks chicken legs so long that the joints are turned to gelatin, and that's done deliberately and with delicious results.
Haley H. August 20, 2018
This recipe is so good. When you read the ingredients you think it might be bland but it’s so much more than the sum of its parts. I do with the white beans and skip the pepper for the little kids in the family.
Lauren D. August 7, 2018
This was the easiest and one of the tastiest recipes. With the addition of a bit more salt and of course the optional potatoes to bulk up the dish, I served this on the first night with fresh crusty Italian bread that I lightly toasted. On the second night I tossed all of the leftovers with whole wheat spaghetti as the rendered chicken fat "sauce" created a beautiful, flavorful coat for the pasta.
Whats4Dinner July 15, 2018
So I'm assuming you would add the optional potatoes and beans before everything goes in the oven? I'm definitely making this once it cools down enough here to run the oven.
Danielle July 15, 2018
Yes. It all goes in together. I’ve tried both with the beans and with the potatoes and I love the beans and have mediocre feelings about the potatoes.
Mary E. May 30, 2018
Have made this many times and love it. It's my go-to recipe when I don't know what else to cook. I grow basil year round in my AeroGarden, so I always have it on hand. Sometimes I add small potatoes and sometimes white beans. Don't use too many tomatoes or it gets soupy.
jenncc May 24, 2018
Simple, delicious and infinitely adaptable. I used thighs and they were done in an hour. Loved the crispy basil and the cooked tomatoes. I too put the ingredients together, adding chicken last (on top).
Sixblade K. April 24, 2018
This was delicious. Next time i might at sun-dried tomatoes to give it more acidity. Might also take the skin off the chicken to make it a little lighter. Definitely an excellent dish with lots of opportunity for preferences
Rhonda35 January 5, 2018
SO good! (I have yet to try a Jamie Oliver recipe that isn't delicious.)
Marie December 28, 2017
Will not make this recipe again. Ridiculous amount of rendered fat (from skin) and basil is very overpowering.
Jody C. January 18, 2018
So use boneless skinless chicken and less basil. Make it your own.
Mondo December 27, 2017
In typical Jamie Oliver fashion, this is a throw-it-in-there wonder. He has a way of being casual yet precise with his approach to writing recipes which is very inviting when trying something new. On revisiting one of Oliver's recipes, his loose guidance almost pushes you to adjust and play, thusly making them your own.

I've made this recipe maybe 6 times this year, sometimes by the "book" and sometimes with adjustments, and it always pleases. The best additions I've found have been really good kalamata olives and a healthy amount of vino about halfway through cooking. Oh and the bean option is a must!
Shai11 December 22, 2017
The recipe is nice, but not what I expected from a “genius recipe.” I thought maybe the whole would be greater than the sum of its parts, and the oven would work some transformative magic (the way it often does), but the dish was quite simple and what you’d expect from reading the ingredient list. The garlic mellows as it roasts so it doesn’t add any zip. I can see why it appeals to some - but nothing special here. I will be turning this into a creole or chicken pasta dish tomorrow.
Clay December 20, 2017
What is a “higher welfare” chicken? Is it bigger or more tasty than a “lower welfare chicken?
Terry December 29, 2017
Exactly my question! lol
Victoria H. January 27, 2018
When Jamie says higher welfare chicken he means free range or organic if you can get it. Since he's all over the world he knows there aren't global standards for these things he's is asking you to use your judgment ethically and taste wise to get the best chicken you can reasonably afford for both the taste, environment, and the treatment of the birds and the employees that deal with them.
Clay January 27, 2018
Thank you! I thought it was a unique species of chicken, but no, he is concerned about the chicken's "welfare"
Trish December 18, 2017
This is a great recipe! I found it easier to put all ingredients in the pan, then toss with olive oil, then put the chicken on top, rather than trying to mix everything with the chicken in the pan already. My family loves this dish. I use about 6 thighs and will cook 2 of them in a separate pan since there wasn't enough room.
Michael B. October 28, 2017
Made it once as listed and the kids (11, 18, 22) went wild for it. Gonna try it again tonight but this time subbing yams, diced tomatoes and adding limas to the cannelini beans. Wish me luck.
Delia October 25, 2017
Anyone have ideas on adapting this method using fall vegetables? What could take the place of the tomatoes in terms of moisture and sauce potential?
KJ R. October 16, 2017
So simple! So delicious! This is a great recipe!