This beautiful Chicken in a Pot with Lemon Orzo turns out golden-brown and mouthwateringly tender, with a fragrant lemon-pepper seasoning and fresh vegetables. Tender orzo cooks right in the braising liquid for a satisfying side that’s hearty and delicious!
A Classic “Chicken in a Pot” Recipe
I truly love roasting whole chicken. It’s something I like to do on a regular basis – you can serve it for dinner one night, use the leftovers the next day for sandwiches or salad, and then even make chicken broth with the bones.
Plus, there’s just something about serving the whole chicken, all golden-brown, that makes the evening feel more slow, cozy, and family-oriented. It’s a slice of old-world living, brought right into my fast-paced modern kitchen.
Am I overthinking this? I might be overthinking this, but I think you know what I’m sayin’. 🤔
However, once you try this traditional recipe for chicken in a pot, you might feel the same way! This special roasting method relies on a mixture of stovetop cooking (to get things nice and golden), braising (to keep things tender) and roasting (because, roast chicken).
Does that sound complicated? Hopefully not, because it is super simple! Chicken in a pot is a homespun meal that anyone can make whether they have tons of experience, or they’re just starting out.
You can make this chicken with or without the added orzo, but I always add it because it makes a perfect side dish, right there in the pot with the chicken, and it’s practically no extra work at all. You literally just stir in the pasta and put on the lid. Easy! And the flavor is divine!
What Ingredients Will I Need?
This recipe belongs to Nigella Lawson, and it is so beautiful, yet so simple. I really love the classic lemon flavor here, perfectly accentuated with basil and thyme. The orzo cooked in the chicken juices is the perfect addition! Here’s what you’ll need to make it.
- Olive Oil: Just a bit, for sauteing.
- Chicken: This recipe makes one 3 to 3.5 pound chicken. I recommend getting free-range chicken, if possible. It tends to be of better quality.
- Cooking Spray: My favorite cooking spray is just oil (such as olive oil, avocado oil, or other healthy cooking oil) in a spray bottle! You can use any cooking spray you like, however.
- Seasonings: For this version of chicken in a pot, I used dried thyme, dried basil, and store-bought lemon pepper seasoning. So simple!
- Salt and Pepper
- Garlic: Mince or press several cloves of garlic.
- Onions: You’ll need a couple of small onions, cut into wedges.
- Carrots: Cut the carrots into medium chunks.
- Leeks: Slice the leeks into rounds.
- Lemons: Up the ante with fresh lemons! Cut these into wedges, just like the onions.
- Broth: You’ll need a little over one quart of chicken broth, or you can just use water.
- Orzo: If you don’t have orzo, you could use other small pasta shapes instead.
- Parsley: Chopped fresh, for garnish.
How to Roast a Chicken (the Easy Way)
Chicken in a pot is mostly done in the oven, but it’s technically sort of a roasting/braising hybrid. So what’s the purpose of the braising technique? It keeps the chicken perfectly juicy and tender. Here’s how you do it!
- Prep the Oven, Casserole, and Chicken. Before you get started, preheat the oven to 350˚F. Place a large, heavy oven-and-stovetop-safe casserole (such as a Dutch oven with a lid, that’s about 7-qt or bigger.) over medium-high heat. Add the oil and let that heat up. Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry with paper towels, spritz it with cooking oil, and season it with the thyme, salt, basil, and lemon pepper.
- Brown the Chicken. Place the chicken in the hot oil, breast side down, and let it cook for a few minutes, until the skin is golden-brown. Turn the chicken over, and cook the back for about three more minutes.
- Add the Veggies and Lemons. Reduce the heat to low, and add the garlic to the casserole. Let that cook for a few seconds to release the fragrance, and then scatter in the vegetables and the lemons, all around the chicken. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the vegetables and lemons, and stir slightly.
- Add Broth and Braise. Finally, pour in enough chicken broth to come up about ¾ of the way, but do not cover the entire chicken with liquid, especially not the breast part. Increase the heat again to bring the dish to a boil, and then cover it with the lid. Turn off the heat and move the casserole to the oven. Let it braise in the oven for about one hour and fifteen minutes.
- Add the Orzo. When an hour and fifteen minutes is up, take the casserole out of the oven and carefully remove the lid. Stir the orzo into the broth, replace the lid, and bake for another 30 minutes.
- Let Stand. Take the casserole out of the oven, turn off the heat, and remove the lid. Give the orzo a stir, and let the dish stand for about 15 minutes so that the juices redistribute and the orzo is tender. Garnish and serve.
My Top Tips for Perfect Roasted Chicken
I know, I know. Even though it’s supposed to be “easy” to make roasted chicken, it can still seem a bit intimidating. But fear not! These helpful tips will help guarantee a perfect result, every time. Bon appetit!
- Extra Juicy: If you’re concerned about the breast meat drying out, you can actually turn the chicken upside down, and cook it with the breast meat in the liquid for the first half of the cooking time. Then turn it right side up again. To get a crispy, golden-brown breast, make sure to follow it with…
- Broiling Time! You can get a nice golden-brown color and slight crisp to the chicken if you place it under the broiler for a few minutes after cooking. However, make sure to keep an eye on it, and don’t let it dry out. Keep in mind that food should not be broiled in glass baking dishes.
- Flavor It Your Way: The choice of herbs and seasonings is really up to you. If you follow the recipe as written, you’ll get a nice, well-balanced lemon pepper chicken, but you could just as easily go with your own favorite seasonings.
A Few Fabulous Side Dishes
Chicken in a pot is a one-pot meal, but I still sometimes like to make a side dish or two. Healthy and easy are my guide words! And, when it comes to healthy, easy side dishes, these have got to be three of my favorites:
- Broccoli: Steamed, topped with cheese, or roasted in an air fryer, broccoli is always a great idea! Did I say roasted in an air fryer? Yes, I did – because this method is my new favorite! And if you try making your own Crispy Air Fryer Roasted Broccoli, it might just be your new favorite, too.
- Shopska: Traditional Macedonian Shopska is a refreshing chopped salad that brightens any meal. You’ll love this creamy, crunchy, side dish.
- Squash: I think any kind of baked winter squash is a great side dish. They are so flavorful, all you really need to do is drizzle with oil and add a little salt! If you’d like a super easy tutorial, try this Roasted Acorn Squash recipe.
Storing and Reheating the Leftovers
To store, I recommend taking the chicken off of the bones and placing it in airtight storage containers. From there…
- Keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or
- Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge before reheating.
- Reheat the leftover chicken in a covered skillet on low heat, until heated through. You can add a splash of water or broth if it seems dry.
Chicken in a Pot with Lemon Orzo
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 to 4 pound whole chicken
- Cooking spray
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ¾ teaspoon salt, plus more for the vegetables
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning, use fresh ground black pepper if you do not have lemon pepper seasoning
- Fresh ground black pepper, to taste, for the vegetables
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 small yellow onions, cut into wedges
- 2 large carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 medium leeks, sliced into ½-inch rounds
- 2 lemons, cut into 4 to 6 wedges (use 1 lemon if you don't like a strong lemon flavor)
- 5 to 6 cups chicken broth
- 1 ¾ cups dry orzo pasta
- chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350˚F.
- Heat the oil in a large heavy based pot or a Dutch oven with a lid that’s about 7-qt or bigger. Make sure that the pot you use is safe to use in the oven and on the stove top.
- Pat dry the chicken with paper towels.
- Spray the chicken with cooking oil and season with thyme, salt, basil, and lemon pepper.
- Place the chicken in the heated oil, breast side down, and cook over medium-high heat for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden; turn it over and cook for 3 more minutes.
- Decrease heat to Low; add in the garlic and cook for 15 seconds. Add more oil, if needed.
- Scatter the onions, carrots, leeks, and lemons all around the chicken; season the veggies with salt and pepper and give them a stir. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Pour in about 5 to 6 cups of chicken broth, or just enough to come up about ¾ of the way up, but do not cover the entire chicken with liquid, especially not the breast part.
- Increase heat to High and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, cover with the lid and cook in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Take the pot out of the oven.
- Carefully remove the lid; stir in the orzo.
- Put the lid back on and continue to cook in the oven for 30 more minutes.
- Take out of the oven and remove the lid; stir the orzo and let stand for 15 minutes.
- Remove the lemon wedges.
- Garnish with parsley and serve.
- Inspired by Nigella Lawson
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.