Nigella Lawson’s Chicken & Pea Traybake

June 24, 2021
51 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Nigella Lawson—domestic goddess and champion of home cooks—has for years been a supporter of the laziest form of sheet pan dinner, or traybake. The most influential ingredient here is frozen peas—quite a lot of them, still completely frozen. As she explains, “The steam they produce as they bake makes the chicken beautifully tender, its skin crackly and crisp on top.” Adapted slightly from At My Table (Flatiron Books, 2018). To read the whole story, head here. —Genius Recipes

What You'll Need
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Nigella Lawson’s Chicken & Pea Traybake
  • 7 cups frozen petit pois (about 2 pounds)
  • 5 medium to large leeks (about 14 ounces trimmed weight), cut into 1-inch slices (note: if the light green part of the leek looks dirty in between the outer rings, remove the outermost layers and rinse them well)
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup dry white vermouth
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt flakes or kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 small bunch dill, torn into pieces
  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • To serve: steamed or boiled baby potatoes, mashed potatoes, or rice or other grains (optional)
  1. Heat the oven to 400° F and clatter the frozen peas into a large roasting pan (Nigella says not to go smaller—measuring inside from inside rim to inside rim—than about 15 by 11 inches, and a little larger is fine), followed by the leeks, garlic, vermouth, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 2 teaspoons of salt, and most of the dill. Turn everything together in the pan—breaking up any large clumps of the frozen peas—until well mixed. I advise you to wear CSI gloves for this, just to stop you from getting frostbite, though you still will feel the cold.
  2. Arrange the chicken thighs, skin-side up, on top, then drizzle them with a little olive oil and give them a good sprinkling of salt, before roasting in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, give the peas a small stir or tamp down, so that the few that are sitting on the surface and drying out a little are submerged in the liquid. Don’t so the same to the leeks, however, as the bits that are peeking out will become desirably caramelized in the heat. Put back in the oven for a further 30 minutes, by which time the peas and leeks will be soft, and the chicken tender and cooked through, its skin golden and crisp.
  3. Tear off the remaining dill fronds, and scatter over the top on serving, perhaps with some simply steamed baby potatoes to soak up the pea and chicken juices.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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    Marzia Bandoni
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    Tamara Dabney
  • Elissa  McEnaney
    Elissa McEnaney
  • Susan Gill Weiss
    Susan Gill Weiss
  • Cathy Leonard McFarland
    Cathy Leonard McFarland
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

67 Reviews

SusanRos May 8, 2022
I was really disappointed in this recipe, unlike almost all the other Food 52 recipes I've tried before. Because of other comments, I even dry brined the chicken before. But even so, Just pretty "blah" tasting. :- ( and the sauce is greasy. Surprisingly, the peas weren't too bad
Lisa May 8, 2022
To overcome the blandness of chicken, I salted and peppered chicken, even put dry tarragon under the skin, then put in refrigerator to dry for few hours. Then I followed the rest of recipe, but baked baby potatoes with it, so I will have a complete meal in one sheet pan. I did not have leek. I used pearl onion instead as it works well with peas.
Alicorn June 24, 2021
Did a 3/4 batch, followed all instructions except I cut cooking time by 10 minutes because it was ready. The skin was indeed crispy, and the leeks and peas were delicious... but the chicken thigh meat had no flavor. The salt hadn't reached it, there were no seasonings there, and nobody went back for seconds. I might be interested in trying this with brined or marinated chicken (lemon garlic marinade might do the trick), but won't be doing it again as-is.
Deborah K. May 25, 2021
I used boneless chicken thighs and it still turned out! I liked the flavor but I have a couple pickey eaters and they are not fans of chicken thighs. I had a good amount of leftovers so I blitzed the thighs and leeks in the food processor with a bit of mayo and more dill. Stirred in the peas at the end and am happy to report this made a wonderful chicken salad!
Marzia B. May 2, 2021
Conventional or convection, for the oven? I noticed the tray seems to be placed quite low in it: can you confirm it?
Tamara D. March 24, 2021
Winner winner chicken dinner! I followed the recipe with two exceptions: white wine in place of vermouth and I cut total cooking time to 50 minutes. Chicken was perfect, delectably juicy, with a crispy skin. I’ve never baked peas before, but I love peas... I usually hardly cook them at all. So I was surprised how delicious they were. Baking them in pan juices at 400 resulted in a nutty sweetness not usually found with peas. And though they sort of braise in the liquid, they aren’t mushy, but more creamy, with some tooth on the ones that were on the edges. Leeks were an amazing touch. I might swap out dill for thyme next time. But the aroma in the house, even 4 hours later, is wonderful. Thanks, Nigella!
Erin W. March 22, 2021
Great recipe-loved by all. Couldn’t find leeks so quartered brown and red onions. Delicious! Could have used a bit more salt and pepper for my taste but still delicious as is!
tracey March 21, 2021
Yum. Great recipe. Delicious! Don’t overthink.
Kelly B. December 15, 2020
I made this recipe the first time because it looked easy and now I make it because it’s so delicious and still easy! I add a few tenders to the pan and I love the leftover peas and leeks over rice for lunch the next day.
Elissa M. June 27, 2020
I made this tonight because I had a package of chicken thighs in my freezer that were older than everything else I had. I have had this recipe saved from emails sent by Nigella for a few years now, and I never thought about making it. But in the age of COVID, you try to use ingredients you have on hand. And I’m so glad I did! I halved the recipe because I only had three thighs, and I forgot to turn my oven down when I started my roasted potatoes at 425, so my thighs did get drier than they would have if I had remembered to turn it down. I used thyme because I prefer it to dill. Also, I used a quarter sheet pan, which was the perfect size. If you love sweet peas and caramelized leeks, you will love this recipe. It definitely going into the rotation.
Elissa M. June 27, 2020
I forgot to mention that I only cooked this for 45 minutes.
Debra March 22, 2021
Elissa, i can’t see where it says to turn the oven down, How far do we lower it and at what point?
Susan G. January 16, 2020
This was really good! Simple, and not too "spicy" for my spicy-averse husband. In fact, he generally doesn't care for peas, but enjoyed these, and the leeks were yummy! Certainly does NOT need to cook for 75 minutes, not sure what Nigella was thinking...45-50 minutes is plenty of time at 400F, so do the mid-check/pea stir at around 20-25 minutes. I did appreciate previous reviewer suggestion to stir all together in a bowl and then dump onto the sheet pan. Won't be my only sheet pan with chicken (LOVE Ottolenghi's bake with clementines but this will certainly be in the rotation.
Lori B. January 12, 2020
This recipe is delicious but Thank goodness I took it out well before the 45 minutes plus another 30. It was done in 45 minutes and perfect. I do have a wolf oven, and it is very precise.
CFrance March 11, 2019
Whenever I see a direction to put things in a pan, add oil, and toss together to coat, I put everything in a bowl instead. It's so much easier to stir things in a bowl than on a flat pan, and I think you get better coverage. Then take a rubber spatula and scrape everything onto the sheet pan.
DCThunder March 3, 2019
Nigella advises not to use a smaller sheet pan than 15 x 11. Do you know why? Living alone, I'd love to make this recipe but I'd prefer to halve the number of thighs and peas and use a 8 x 12 sheet pan. Any reason I couldn't do this?
Kristen M. March 4, 2019
She just doesn't want the pan too crowded for these amounts, but feel free to adjust the amounts (and pan) to suit your needs!
Staci February 24, 2019
I made this recipe once to rave reviews. I am planning to make again for a family birthday dinner next weekend for folks who hate dark meat. If I make this recipe with bone-in chicken breasts (split) instead of thighs how much extra time should I add? Any other adjustments to make?
Kristen M. February 25, 2019
Hi Staci—breasts will actually likely take less time to cook through and are much more prone to drying out than thighs, so I would check them as early as 30-40 minutes, depending on size, to see how close to done they're getting. (When done, they should be 165F with an instant read thermometer in the thickest part, and if you cut in to peek, the meat should be firm and white but still juicy, not pink or squishy.) If the breasts are done before the peas and leeks have cooked to your liking, you can just pull the chicken off and tent it with foil to keep it warm and keep cooking the veg. And if the breasts are done before the skin is browned, try broiling them (with a watchful eye). Good luck!
Lisa J. January 22, 2019
Thank you for the delicious recipe. I saw the preparation on your cooking show and you served it to your family....very inspiring family arrived home from London and I had prepared this delicious dinner. I did add some no salt chicken broth only because I had just a bit of vermouth....but I was happy to bake all in one container. So delicious....just like on the show.
Olivia January 15, 2019
This was good but it wasn't a game changer. I'll make it again because it was easy and relatively quick and healthy for a weeknight. The dish would welcome a creamy component- maybe a dill yogurt sauce or some goat cheese? I'll try that next time.
Cathy L. January 13, 2019
This was delicious! Per all of the comments of being bland I salt and peppered the skin on the thighs andI used white wine instead of vermouth. I also didn't have enough leeks so I added 2 shallots divided into quarters.
Martha January 6, 2019
Edible but not memorable. It will not be making it into the rotation. Still looking for a tray bake worth repeating.
lazysusankitchen March 12, 2019
Try Melissa Clark's harissa chicken with leeks, potatoes & yogurt - so delicious & beautiful too!
Lisa January 4, 2019
After reading some of comments, I got a little hesitated to cook this. But decided to give a try. I prepared chicken thigh based on an article on Food52 by Karen Palmer. Pat dry chicken thigh and well salted. Then fried them in my Creuset Dutch Oven: 8 min skin side down, then 4 min the other side along with sliced mushroom, pearled onions, then take out chicken thighs, followed the rest of recipe without leek (don’t have it). Chicken broth instead of wine. Added cubed potatoes. 1 hour in oven, complete meal is done. Crispy tender chicken thigh, sweet peas and potatoes. So delicious. Not at all bland.
Lynn B. March 21, 2021
This is a completely different recipe.
NYanne December 29, 2018
I made this last night for 2 people. Cut recipe in half. Peas were mostly over cooked and crunchy. Chicken was great. The peas, not so good. Leeks were okay. Not sure I would make it again.