Roast Chicken with Caramelized Shallots

caramelized shallot chicken

I’m always surprised when people say that they don’t have time to cook. I mean, aside from reproducing, physiologically, we don’t really exist on this earth for any other reason. (Unless someone knows something that they’re not telling me.) Feeding ourselves is really our most basic human need.

Now if someone said, “I don’t have time to clean up afterward”, then I can totally relate. I spend at least 40% of my life standing in front of a sink, washing dishes. When people ask if they can come and help me test recipes, I always say, “Bring rubber gloves!” And that’s the last I hear from them.

caramelized shallot chicken

This is one of my very favorite go-to dinners. It’s incredibly easy and there are hardly any dishes to wash; just toss chicken pieces in olive oil, vinegar, soy sauce, and shallots in a baking dish. Season with salt and pepper, and pop it in the oven.


During that time, the shallots get crispy-sweet and caramelized, and since it only takes about 45 minutes to bake, you have time to mix yourself a Sidecar.

This recipe is adapted from French Farmhouse Cookbook, by Susan Loomis, a friend who teaches cooking classes in France and designs dinners online at notakeout.com. If you buy the chicken cut up, it’s super-simple, and the only work really is mincing four shallots. Luckily here in France, there’s lots of volaillers at the markets that will cut up a chicken for you in no time, and it’s included in the price, service compris.

And if you go to the volailler, always, always listen to them. I once was planning on making coq au vin and saw a large rooster in the display case, about the size of a basketball, and told him I wanted it.

L’entier?” he asked. And of course, I said “Oui, Monsieur“, I wanted the whole thing. Thankfully he talked me into only buying half of it, because when I got home and unwrapped the parcel, there must’ve been about forty eight pieces of chicken in there.

(When I moved here, if shopping for a dinner party, I’d shop “American style” and figure one-half chicken per person. That changed pretty quickly when I realized the French are happy to dine on a chicken leg or wing, which they also have the uncanny ability to scrape off every last morsel of meat with surgical precision.)

caramelized shallot chicken caramelized shallot chicken

To the recipe, I added a bit of soy sauce, which is one of the secret ingredients in many dishes, even in French cooking. At a restaurant in Lyon that was widely renown for their ‘secret’ salad dressing, I ate there with a chef friend. And the first thing he said after he tasted it?—Soy sauce.

So I added a bit to the sauce, which gives this dish a savory-salty umami taste—which in French, I believe, is called je ne sais quoi.

Feel free to change around what vinegar to use. Balsamic would not be sharp enough, and too sweet, but apple cider vinegar would likely be nice, as would be sherry vinegar, which is my vinegar of choice for vinaigrette. But you can do whatever you want. After all, you’re the one eating it.

Aside from its utter simplicity, the other great thing about this dish is that aside from the chicken, you can make it from ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. And if you don’t keep shallots around, you should. Because once you taste it, you’ll want to be able to make this at a moment’s notice, as I often do.

Roast Chicken with Caramelized Shallots
Serves 4 to 6

Adapted from French Farmhouse Cookbook (Workman) by Susan Herrmann Loomis

I use a whole chicken cut into eight pieces; two legs, two thighs, and I cut each breast piece in half, crosswise, keeping the wings attached. You could also just use eight of your favorite chicken pieces.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 4 large shallots, peeled and minced
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • One whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • one generous handful of coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC).

2. In a large baking dish, one which will hold all the chicken pieces in a single layer, mix the olive oil, vinegar, soy sauce, shallots, and some salt and pepper.

3. Toss the chicken in the mixture, so they’re completely coated with the shallots. Turn the chicken pieces so they are all skin side up.

4. Roast the chicken for about twenty minutes, until it starts to brown on top. Turn the pieces of chicken over. Scrape any juices and shallots over the chicken that may be clinging to the pan, and bake for another twenty minutes, or until the pieces of chicken are cooked through and the shallots are well-caramelized.

5. Remove from oven and toss in the chopped parsley, then serve.

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146 comments

  • I detest doing dishes too, but I hate dirty dishes in the sink more. So, I wash a lot of dishes and will gladly travel to Paris to do your dishes. I swear! It would be a dream. Thanks for the two new mouth-watering recipes that I can’t wait to try: roasted chicken with caramelized shallots and banana-brown sugar ice cream:)

  • Susan Loomis is a gem, no? I missed this, somehow — will have to give it a go. I can very nearly taste it…

  • I made this today and this was pretty good! I added a bit of maple syrup, however, and clearly that was a mistake – talk about not wanting to clean. Some irony here. I am chiseling burned shallots off right now! But I loved the sweet touch and the simplicity of preparation. I did decide that mincing the shallots was not a great idea – next time I’ll chop them coarsely, then they will not burn so much. My home-grown chickens need a much longer time to cook than 40 min (mine took at least an hour and fifteen minutes), so that didn’t help the shallots not to burn. But it’s March in Wisconsin and the sap is running – which means that maple syrup goes on everything. My husband liked this and I am happy to have this added to my repertoire. It was even good with a skinnier 4.5 lb chicken (by our farm standards this is by far too small). Normally, the sad said bird needs some sort of a moist heat method.

    By way of cultural exchange, the two chicken recipes that I make all the time and that are superb, are:

    1)5.5 to 6.5 free-range homegrown chicken (will work with storebotten too), skin and cavity dried well, sprinkled with a generous amount of salt and a bit of pepper, then trussed and roasted on a rack first at 450 for 20 min, then for 375 for an hour, and 350 for another 40 min till 175 F. No basting. No extra seasoning. No stuffing Nothing. It’s perfection itself – salty, crispy skin, moist pink flesh, reminiscent of smoked chicken, found the recipe online. Then you rip it apart with your hands and devour it on the spot – it’s so, so very good. Falls right apart.

    2)Kate Hundt the farmwife from a great megalopolis Middle Ridge, Wisconsin made this great chicken I now make:
    Chicken is cut into pieces (back too), drenched in flour, browned in oil while sprinkling with seasoning salt, then placed in a dutch oven or some covered vessel and then baked at 350 for 2 hrs. The gravy is then made with the drippings, flour, water from the boiled potatoes (that are to be mashed), and cream/half’n'half/milk. Everyone’s favorite. Needs a good fat chicken though as well. Life is all about good fat chickens.

  • One more thing David – the best thing about this recipe was the new way to cut up the chicken – now it had never occurred to either me or my husband to keep the wing on the breast half. Spectacular.

  • I love shallots. I will definitely make this dish. Yum.

  • I made this and it came out great. So yummy! Thank you! I love your blog! I learn something new every time I visit!

  • I love cooking with bananas! I think they are under appreciated for the nutritional value they have and ease of cooking. I really like plantains also.

  • I made this for dinner tonight. The chicken was AMAZING! It’s way better than any roasted chicken recipe I’ve ever used. It’s delicious and easy. More than good enough for company. Thanks, David!

  • I made this with chicken tenders (boneless and skinless slivers of chicken breast) and it was moist and delicious. I used tenders because I had just bought some on sale.

  • This was excellent, and so easy. While the chicken was cooking I chopped some romaine and made my favorite lemon garlic dressing from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Add a big fat chunk of chewy paesano loaf for sopping and a glass (or three) of red wine, and you’ve got one spectacular and spectacularly relaxed supper. Thanks!

  • I made this dish this week with skinless, boneless chicken breasts and and the husband and son absolutely devoured it. Really good!

  • What a perfect timing! as I was just looking for a quick main course for Passover Seder next week. To make sure that I’m not risking my reputation, I made it for lunch today and it turned out to be a hit. Given the soy sauce that goes into the dish I should have been more carfuel with the salt. Will fix it next time. BTW,the somewhat salty juices went prefect with potato puree.

  • I made this chicken last night and it was a hit! My 8 year old is so picky about food, but I served it with his favorite (bread and balsamic) and told him the same ‘vinegar’ was on the chicken and he ate it!! He usually only eats my homebaked chicken nuggets! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  • I just took this out of the oven and ate a piece of the chicken. Yum, yum, yum! Delicious! Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  • perfect. just bookmarked this for a future meal.

    :)

  • Made that recipe for dinner tonight and it was great.
    Thanks a bunch.

  • I made this for dinner with baked sweet potatoes, steamed asparagus and butterleaf salad. Delicious. Couldn’t have been easier and truly made as few dishes as possible. I loved it. But I like meat on the bones and dark meat. My family prefers white meat and boneless/skinless. For those made it with b/s breasts or tenders, how did you keep it from drying out? Seems like it could be stove top meal if you are working with boneless white meat?

  • I am so in love with shallots I look for excuses to cook them. Tonight was shrimp with shallots, fresh peas. This week, it will be this dish. The soy sauce is a nice touch to bring that hidden zip. I usually do Worcestershire. Thanks for a great recipe.

  • It may be that the tenders stay down to be more covered by the liquid than a bone-in breast would. The cooking time seems to be for the shallots instead of to get the meat done. We cooked it five minutes longer than David called for because the shallots were not yet caramelized and there seemed to be too much liquid left. When we removed them there was still some liquid and the shallots were wonderfully brown.

    I don’t see any advantage in cooking this on the stove top when using tenders and I see a few disadvantages. I would stir them more which might interfere with the caramelization, and if you had the burner on too high, then the liquid would be driven off before the chicken is fully cooked. It also looses its charm as a no fuss, one dish meal because I don’t serve in stove top pans, but I do in my nice baking dishes.

    Oh, I used apple cider vinegar and it worked very well.

  • Finally made this for dinner last night. So tasty. I used a champagne vinegar and served the chicken with risotto and a fresh green salad. Needless to say there were no leftovers.

  • I made this last night. It was outstanding! So easy, so flavorful.

    Going to link to this post today on my blog.

  • I, too, made this recipe this weekend. It was my first time cutting a whole chicken into 8 pieces, and it was strangely satisfying hearing my kitchen shears snap through the bones (does that sound gross?).

    Anyway, it was an amazing dish (I used tarragon vinegar) and you’re right, I will definitely make sure these ingredients are always on hand.

  • I cooked this recipe of yours on Friday evening last week and it was a total hit! No leftover :)

  • I tried this one and it went over well. But the skin on the chicken didn’t seem to be as crispy as it looks in the photos.

    I’m wondering if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Or maybe I could turn it skin side up at the end and give it a blast under the broiler to crisp it up a bit?

  • 7pm, having a look at some of the blogs I like to check out, in the back of my mind wondering what to do with the “blanc de poulet” sitting in my fridge… you saved the day!
    Thank you

  • Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful! As a working mom with two young kids, I am always looking for delicious meals that require little hands on time! This one was spectacularly delicous and a hit with the whole family. It has earned a spot in my regular rotation and I am recommending it to family and friends. Thank you for such a wonderful addition to our repertoire!!!

  • I made this for dinner over the weekend. Very good, so quick and easy that this will become one of my staples! I love recipes that use simple ingredients that I usually have in my pantry.

  • When I make it back to Paris some day, may I come test recipes with you? I’m a great dishwasher.

  • Tried this today. I screwed up a bit by starting the chicken skin side down, plus I didn’t have skin on the chicken breasts. However, all of the pieces still came out tender, the shallots taste amazing, and i feel a bit of spiciness even I think from the pepper/vinegar? Amazed at how little work there was.

  • I just made this dish and it was incredible, thank you so much! It was so simple I don’t even feel as if I made anything, it was less than five minutes prep time and the oven did the rest of the work!

  • Made this the other night and loved it. Just now discovering your blog—thank you for it.
    I’ll be going on my honeymoon in the South of France (with a little Paris at the end) late this summer, so if you have any specific recommendations, I’d love to hear them!

  • Scotty: I’ve been to the Cote d’Azur and Nice several times, and you can use the search engine to find the specific posts about them, as they include recommendations.

  • Oh my! As soon as I saw the picture, I HAD to have this for dinner. I live alone, so I rarely buy a whole chicken, and as I prefer the thigh & leg meat anyway, this was perfect for the tasty free-range marylands I had in my fridge. So simple. so good. Two thighs, two legs, two meals. This is now my go-to chicken dinner. Merci beaucoup David! Also a great big merci for all the handy info on your blog which helped make my month in Paris last year extra delicious!

  • I’ve tried this three times already. The first time with a whole chicken cut in half. The second and third times using a whole chicken cut into 8 pieces. Yesterday, I added a couple of white mushrooms to the marinade and pureed them using an immersion blender before adding the shallots. I also used tamari instead of shoyu as I’ve done the previous two times. A combination of the tamari and the mushroom definitely added more umami to the chicken.

  • Made this for dinner tonight and it was perfect! Will definitely become a regular in my house. Simple yet very flavorful and moist. With a big green salad, its a perfect meal. Thanks for sharing!

  • David, this was dang tasty.

    I too had problems with my juices not reducing but it was because my dish was overcrowded. Single layer, yes, but with no space between the pieces. I knew that as I put it in the oven but didn’t have the time to move to a bigger dish. And yet it was still so yummy – can’t wait to try it again and do it right.

    I’m also starting to make my way through your new book. Racine’s cake (we’re calling it Nibby Cake) was divine.

    Thanks for doing what you do!

  • Bookmarked this when first posted and finally made it for Mother’s Day. It was a hit with all the moms, including me. Flavor and ease of prep won me over. Used only legs and thighs and met with success. Like Darla my juices didn’t reduce entirely because of over crowding but everyone loved sopping up the shallots, parsley, and drippings.

    I like my skin well browned so I turned the meat skin side up for an additional 10 or 15 minutes — looked great, tasted delicious.

    This will be served again and often. Thanks!

  • I don’t think this was already answered, but I have made this chicken three different times and it’s a HUGE hit! BUT, the first time there weren’t enough shallots, the second time there still weren’t enough and the third time there were too many! Are shallots in France smaller than the ones we find in the US? Please help!

  • Here’s a picture of slicing a shallot in half, which shows the size of shallot that I use.

  • this is delicious; it is now in our regular rotation of recipes. and we just blogged about it: http://su.pr/2PBugC thanks for sharing such an awesome and easy dish!

  • Its sooo easy and delish! I’ve made it 3 times..

  • I’ve made this 4 times, and think it’s the easiest, tastiest chicken recipe. The last two times I made it with boneless skinless chicken breasts and tenders. I much prefer it on the bone, but my family really only likes white meat. When making it that way, I can do it in a heavy cast iron skillet on the stove top. I start caramelizing the shallots before adding the chicken pieces (cut thin and pounded a bit). It’s pretty good, especially for chicken breast. The family loves it. This is really one great recipe, or technique, that I am so grateful for. Thanks!

  • This recipe was everything I hoped for and more :) I ended up using sherry wine vinegar and hitting the pan with a bit of extra tamari (looked a bit dry when I turned the chicken) and it was absolutely perfect. It’s funny: Growing up my mom always made roasted chicken thighs doused in soy sauce and sliced onions, so this recipe seemed very familiar yet somehow a little more grown up. I’ve forwarded the recipe on to Mom so she can try it. The addition of the vinegar just makes this dish sing. You rock, David!

  • I made this last week and it was awesome. Plus the recipe is super easy. Thanks David!

  • Hi David!
    I’ve made this recipe a good number of times with great success this summer. Thank you.
    Tonight I made it again and decided to add a pinch of brown sugar to the soy sauce, vinegar & oil. Well……..you know……..with the sweetness added in…….it’s awfully good with brown sugar too. Totally naughty (brown sugar) and yummy!
    -Caroline

  • Thank you David. This dish is really delicious. It is amazing that just these few ingredients give so much flavor. Can you point me to a couple more of your easy weeknight meals?