Overnight Chicken 4.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Jan 18, 2019

This foolproof chicken is low-maintenance slow cooking at its most elemental: chicken, salt, pepper, water and heat. That's it. Dry-roasting the bird first browns the skin on top while rendering some of the fat, adding richness to the broth.

An optional step of rinsing the chicken is included here, to remove any moisture or liquid from the packaged bird. Do the rinsing carefully, without causing a lot of splashing, and this should not increase chance of kitchen contamination. Use this chicken in any recipe you would otherwise use roasted, poached or baked poultry: served as a main or tossed into salads, soups, burritos, pasta dishes and more.

To read the accompanying story, see: Overnight chicken in a pot has become the savior of our weeknight cooking.

Make Ahead: To firm up the meat and skin and promote even browning, the bird needs to air-dry in the refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours (an optional step). The cooked chicken meat and broth can be refrigerated, separately, for up to 5 days; the broth can be frozen for up to a year.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings

  • One 3 to 3 1/2-pound whole chicken (giblet packet removed, if there is one)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups water, or more as needed

Related Recipes


Rinse the chicken, inside and out, under cool running water (optional; see headnote). Pat dry with a paper towel and set on a large plate. Season aggressively with salt all over and inside the cavity. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 8 hours, and up to 24 hours.

When you’re ready to begin cooking, position a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 450 degrees.

Place the chicken in a Dutch oven (8-quart) or heavy pot with a lid. Season with several grinds of pepper. Roast, uncovered, for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the skin has browned, then remove the pot from the oven, leaving the oven door ajar. Reduce the temperature to 200 degrees.

Add the water to the pot, or more as needed to come up about two-thirds on the sides. Cover tightly and return to the oven; slow-poach, undisturbed with the oven door closed, for 6 to 8 hours.

Transfer to the stove top (off the heat) until the broth has cooled to a warm, noninjurious temperature. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board; pull all the meat, discarding the skin and bones as needed. Strain the broth in the pot, discarding any solids.

Use right away, or place in separate containers for storing (see headnote).

Rate it

Recipe Source

Adapted from chef Chris Bradley.

Tested by Helen Horton.

Email questions to the Food Section.

Email questions to the Food Section at food@washpost.com.