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

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: This recipe is a boon in warm weather, because you don’t preheat the oven at a ripping 500° F. In fact, you don’t preheat the oven at all. The technique Shaheen Peerbhai & Jennie Levitt spun together for their Friday Lunch series in Paris is one that they now use for every gently cooked chicken salad and sandwich, for picnics and beyond—and it’s already become one of the most popular recipes in their book. Adapted slightly from Paris Picnic Club (Sterling Epicure, 2018). To read the full story, head here.Genius Recipes

Serves: 4
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 45 min


  • 8 chicken thighs (or 1 whole chicken)
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled but kept whole
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 to 5 fresh sage leaves
  • Peel and juice of 1 lemon (the yellow part of the peel only, using a vegetable peeler)
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In This Recipe


  1. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and rub it all over with coarse sea salt. Loosen the skin with your fingertips and rub the salt into the flesh, and then pull the skin back over it. Let the salted chicken rest for 15 minutes. (If you have time to do this for longer, even overnight in the refrigerator, do!)
  2. Coat the bottom of a lidded cast iron pot (or another ovenproof pot) with the olive oil. (Choose a large pot with enough room that the chicken won't be too packed in—it should have a bit of room to breathe around each piece.) Add the garlic cloves, rosemary, thyme, sage, and lemon peel. Place the chicken on top (skin side up for thighs, breast side up for whole chicken). Squeeze the lemon juice over it, and then season with salt and pepper. Cover the pot with the lid.
  3. Place the pot in a cold oven. Turn up the temperature to 450°F (225°C) and cook the chicken for 30 minutes for thighs or 45 for whole chicken, then remove the lid and cook until the skin is golden and crisped, about 15 minutes. To make sure the chicken is cooked, the flesh shouldn’t be pink on the inside or should measure 165° F (75° C) with an instant-read thermometer. If the juices in the bottom evaporate too quickly and look like they're beginning to burn, you can pour a little water in the bottom of the pan.
  4. Remove the pot from the oven and let the chicken cool to warm or room temperature to serve. Serve the chicken with spoonfuls of the pan juices and garlic.
  5. Tip: When using the chicken in salads, discard the herb sprigs, shred the chicken into the pot, and coat in its juices.

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Reviews (66) Questions (3)

66 Reviews

tin December 22, 2018
can this work with duck?
Kristen M. December 23, 2018
I've never tried it, but I'd be concerned that the fat wouldn't have a chance to render and crisp up. It might be better to stick with a recipe designed for duck, but if you decide to try it, please let us know how it goes!
GordonW December 17, 2018
When you do you start the clock on timing? From the point the oven has reached 450? Thanks!
Kristen M. December 17, 2018
Nope, as soon as you turn it up!
willbfrank November 13, 2018
This has become our favorite chicken dish...all seasons. Have made it with a butterflied whole chicken, thighs and also with cut up chicken. It just works great! And the dipping sauce it makes is scrumpcious! Grab a bagguet and dig in.
Stephanie W. November 12, 2018
Had to put my two cents in. This was delicious! I used 3 chicken breasts and followed the recipe exactly except for shorter cooking time. Loved the pan drippings, I added a splash of wine when I removed the lid. Also had to turn the broiler on to crisp up the chicken. I served with a potato and arugula salad with a mustard vinaigrette. I felt like I was eating in a French bistro! This recipe is a keeper!
kritt November 11, 2018
So looking forward to trying this! I just returned from the store with a 7 1/2 pound whole chicken (yikes!)...any thoughts on the timing for this size bird?!
Kristen M. November 14, 2018
So sorry for the delay—I saw someone answered your question over on the Hotline, too, so hopefully that was helpful. The most important thing is keeping an eye on the internal temperature and adding water if the good stuff in the bottom looks like it might burn. How did it go? <br />
Michele G. October 24, 2018
This was absolutely delicious. I used a whole chicken. I put the lemons inside the cavity after squeezing them over the chicken. I ended up with less juice than I expected so I deglazed the bottom of the pot with white wine on the stovetop. Just new favorite!
Rachel October 22, 2018
Made this tonight and hot dang! It was delicious. Used a whole chicken. The meat was super juicy and tender and the skin was just right amount of crispy. My friend asked for the recipe immediately. Will definitely replace the way I used to roast chicken.
Margaret G. September 9, 2018
So I just made this for the second time. I live a 5,000+ elevation, and the first time around the breast was a little dry. Also the ingredients at the bottom got a little burnt. The second time I did 48 minutes covered and 12 minutes uncovered, which led to a supremely juicy and wonderful bird. I’m still perfecting the liquid...this time I added about 1/2 cup white wine at the beginning and another 1/2 cup after removing the lid. I’d still love more drippings in the end, but it was super delicious. Served with quinoa and green beans.
Margaret G. December 9, 2018
For anyone following the recipe at elevation, I found that 1/2 to 3/4 cup of white wine at the beginning and 1/2 of water at the end when you uncover makes for the most (and wonderfully flavorful!) drippings.
Breadgirl August 8, 2018
I have made this awesome recipe multiple times. If I am missing an herb, I use whatever fresh herbs I have. Th roast time I made it, I used orange peel instead of lemon and it was delicious!
Breadgirl August 8, 2018
The last time I made it.
Cameron B. July 13, 2018
Does the cooking time change if you cut up a whole chicken and are using mixed pieces? I butcher my chickens.
Kristen M. July 14, 2018
I would follow the timing and cues for breasts and thighs listed, taking the breasts out when they're done and continuing on with the thighs.
Mara R. June 22, 2018
So, last night I did 2 large chicken breast (halves) on the bone, skin on, trimmed. Made in Breville toaster oven at 450 for 20 minutes + 15 minutes uncovered, just right. The chicken skin was perfectly browned and crispy with lovely, fragrant, tender white meat underneath. There was almost enough juice, so I just skimmed fat, added a bit of water and some chicken base, so delicious! Today I will shred the other breast in the juices and make a pasta salad. Such an easy method, no pre-heat, and for me, no big oven. <br />Love it, thanks Kristen!
Mara R. June 19, 2018
Wow, what a surprise. I usually wait an hour or so for meats, not fish, from fridge to pan. Even with a thick steak you would go directly to grill from fridge? I'd like to know more about this! Thanks, Kristen
Kristen M. June 20, 2018
Yes, I do—wild, huh? ;) See more about it in this article, under "Rest at Room Temperature Before Cooking? Don't Bother":
Mara R. June 19, 2018
Hi Kristin - should the chicken be room temp or direct from the refrigerator? Hope you see and can answer this question soon as I am about ready to go with some chicken breasts on the bone w/skin. Go ahead or wait for room temp? Hmmm...
Kristen M. June 19, 2018
Go right ahead! That's what I always do, ever since I learned from Kenji at Serious Eats how long it takes to truly bring meats down to room temp (and how little difference it makes). So freeing!
Amy June 12, 2018
I made this last night with thighs and it was very good but the chicken didn't brown at the final stage so I had to turn the broiler on to get a fairly crispy skin.
Kristen M. June 12, 2018
Great thinking—that's what I would do, too.
Deborah R. June 12, 2018
I assume the issue was that it was not a conventionally processed chicken that are plumped up with water. Thanks for the feedback
Kristen M. June 12, 2018
Interesting, and luckily easily fixed by introducing more liquids.
Deborah R. June 11, 2018
I made this with a farmers market chicken {air dried} the flavor of the chicken was great but no sauce and every thing on the bottom of the dutch oven kind of burned ??
Kristen M. June 12, 2018
I wonder if your bird was on the leaner side or the juices dried up before the chicken was done, which can happen if there's a lot of exposed surface area in the pan (due to a relatively large pan or small bird). Was everything looking okay when you first took the lid off? Next time, you might want to check a bit sooner and pour in some water, wine, or stock to keep the bottom from burning if it's looking dry. I'm glad the chicken was tasty!
Kirk June 10, 2018
I Cooke do this today. I cooked a whole chicken instead of thighs and stayed true to the recipe. I was suspect that a 6 pound chicken would cook in an hour but it did. So much juice too. Very tasty!!
Maureen W. June 7, 2018
I made this last night. My whole chicken cooked faster than the guideline and was way too salty for my family. Any suggestions for amount of coarse salt used. The recipe is so easy, and allows for free time at the dinner hour to be with family. I would like to make it work for us.
Kristen M. June 8, 2018
Hi Maureen—I hate when that happens, and glad you want to try again. I'm hesitant to give too much of a guideline, since the amount will vary so much based on the type/coarseness of the salt, the size of the chicken, and your personal tastes (I use what seems like a heck of a lot of Maldon salt, because it's in very large flakes and I love salt, for example). But I'd say that, altogether, you shouldn't use more than you'd typically use to season chicken when simply sprinkling on the surface (or than your favorite recipes call for), and that you can err on the side of under-salting next time since you can add more later (and the pan juices will have so much flavor)—say a couple small pinches for each individual piece of chicken. One more tip if you decide to add this into your repertoire: Make a note of how much you use, so you can reference it the next time—I have a similar issue with scrambled eggs, because they're impossible to season internally to taste, so I've experimented and learned that for every 2 large eggs, 1/4 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt is perfect for me.
willbfrank June 7, 2018
Can I butterfly the chicken (leaving bone in)? Modify cooking time?
Kristen M. June 7, 2018
Hi willbfrank—another commenter on the article page did this last night and said the following (though timing will vary with the size of your chicken, etc. so be sure to look for the doneness cues in the recipe): "It was delicious and perfectly cooked at 45 minutes with the 15 minute browning time without the pan lid."
willbfrank June 7, 2018
Kelli June 7, 2018
I was intrigued and made this last night. It was easy and a huge hit! Definitely will be part of my dinner go-to's.
Kristen M. June 7, 2018
So glad to hear it!