Ina Garten’s Mustard-Roasted Chicken

Ina Garten's Mustard Roasted Chicken

So, as you can see, I’m kind of on a Barefoot Contessa kick right now. And it’s not stopping here. I’ve got one more recipe coming, something sweet and chocolaty and festive, and I can’t wait to share it.

In the meantime, let’s talk about this chicken, which has become a favorite around here, both piping hot right out of the oven for dinner and cold straight from the fridge for lunch. Like the vodka sauce, this one comes from Foolproof; unlike the vodka sauce, this one wasn’t entirely foolproof, for me at least.

It may have been my oven, which I’m slowly figuring out, but I blame it mostly on the panko, which didn’t brown up after 40 minutes in the oven. Even after I cranked up the oven at the end as instructed, the fully cooked chicken emerged with a pale, only slightly crispy skin. And is there anything less appetizing than that?

Despite its pallid complexion, the chicken, roasted with a layer of mustard, was incredibly moist and delicious, the flavors of thyme, garlic and lemon permeating the meat. And the fix — substituting fresh breadcrumbs for the panko and roasting at a slightly higher temperature for the entire time — made all the difference. After 40 minutes, the chicken emerged once again fully cooked, but this time with a beautifully golden coating begging to be devoured. With just a gentle prod of the knife, the meat, steaming hot, fell off the bone, salty, herbed breadcrumbs spilling all around. Heaven.

I rarely make breaded meat dishes — the flour-egg-coating assembly line always deters me — but this one is simple. A quick dip in a mustard-buttermilk bath provides enough glue for the breadcrumbs to adhere, and roasting versus pan frying makes the hands-on time minimal. This one will surely be entering the weekly dinner rotation. I hope it enters yours, too.

PS: A few ideas for some weekend baking:

1. Something sweet: Brown Butter Spoon Cookies. After posting the Brown Butter Orecchiette with Brussels Sprouts recipe a few weeks ago, one of you pointed me to this must-try Brown Butter Spoon Cookie recipe. I have since made two batches, and I have a feeling I will be making them constantly this holiday season. Many of you probably have already heard of these cookies or have made them yourself — they seem to have quite the following. I recommend reading as many of the user reviews as you can handle. I picked up some good tips. I used a measuring teaspoon to shape the cookies, and I skipped the jam part, but I might try with jam this weekend.

2. Something savory: My friend Katie back in Virginia has been making beautiful loaves of sandwich/toasting bread. She even went to a King Arthur baking class, took detailed notes and shared them in this post. I’m dying to try the “head and shoulders” method of shaping.

3. Something sweet and savory: Darcy’s Challah looks delectable!

food processor

garlic, thyme, lemon zest, salt


chicken and breadcrumbs

ready for the oven

just out of the oven

mustard chicken

cut chicken

Crispy Mustard-Roasted Chicken

Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa’s Foolproof

Notes: You can find the original recipe online in various places, but these are the basic changes I’ve made: fresh bread crumbs versus panko; 4 tablespoons olive oil versus 2 tablespoons olive oil + 2 tablespoons butter; buttermilk versus white wine; 4 thighs and 4 drumsticks versus 1 chicken cut into 8 pieces; oven temp at 400ºF the entire time.

The original recipe calls for cutting up a whole chicken into 8 pieces and using all of them. As many of you know by now, I am partial to dark meat, but feel free to use bone-in, skin-on breasts. I found them to be a bit dry, but again, I am not a huge fan of breasts.

If you are up for a little adventure, this is what I suggest: Buy two chickens. Cut them up (video below if you need guidance). Use the 4 thighs and 4 drumsticks here. Remove the breasts from the bones and make these tarragon chicken breasts on a subsequent evening. With the wings, necks, back bones and breast bones, make stock. After two hours of gentle simmering, pull the meat from the stock bones and make a simple chicken salad: mayonnaise + relish + a squeeze of lemon. Return the bones to the pot and gently simmer for another hour.

Also, if you feel like getting ahead, you can marinate the chicken in the mustard and buttermilk overnight or for a few hours; if you don’t have time, don’t worry. I made this for my in-laws without marinating the chicken at all, and they raved. Because the buttermilk is thicker than wine, I find the breadcrumbs stick to it better. If you marinate the chicken, too, the buttermilk definitely acts as a tenderizer.

4 bone-in, skin-on thighs and 4 bone-in, skin-on drumsticks
½ cup Dijon mustard
½ cup buttermilk

4 garlic cloves, peeled
a small handful fresh thyme leaves (if the strands are soft, no need to strip the leaves)
zest of one lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 cup olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF and place oven rack in the middle of the oven. In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard and buttermilk. Place the chicken in a large bowl and pour the mustard-buttermilk mixture overtop. Toss to coat.

2. Place the garlic, thyme strands (stems, if they are soft, and all), lemon zest, 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt (use 1.5 tsp if you are sensitive to salt), and 1 teaspoon pepper (or a few large cracks on the grinder) in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until the garlic is finely minced. Add the breadcrumbs and olive oil, and pulse a few times to moisten the breadcrumbs. Pour the mixture into a wide, shallow bowl or onto a large plate — something with sides is best.

3. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper (for easy clean-up — this is not necessary, but I like using parchment.) Dip each piece of chicken skin-side down only into the crumb mixture, pressing gently to make the crumbs adhere. Place the chicken on the sheet pan crumb-side up. After one or two pieces have been dipped, the crumb mixture might not adhere to the chicken as well. Just use your hands to press the remaining crumbs onto the chicken pieces.

4. Bake the chicken for 40 minutes. Check on the chicken. If necessary cook another five minutes or until the crumbs are browned. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Two chickens:
two chickens

chicken stock; chicken salad:
stock, chicken salad

I’ve posted this video before, but since we’re talking about cutting up chickens, I’m posting it again. One more relevant post: making the most of a whole chicken. And this post has more detailed instructions on cutting up the chicken.

These brown butter spoon cookies are completely irresistible:
brown butter spoon cookies


  1. says

    I was totally going to offer that the buttermilk/mustard would make a spectacular soak for the chicken. I feel like I’ve done this before from either one of her other books or the website and wasn’t wowed by it. Probably the damn panko…it’s my own personal nemesis. Maybe I will follow your tweaks and give it another go. Because I do love me some easy roasted chicken.

    • says

      I know, I was not impressed by the panko version. I don’t know what’s happening, I used to love panko. I think maybe I like panko best for pan-frying or deep frying, but not baking. I recently tried the summer squash gratin recipe that I posted a few weeks back with panko…no bueno. Do give it a go with the fresh breadcrumbs…so yummy!

      • says

        We had this for dinner tonight and it was perfect I mixed up the buttermilk and mustard (dijon AND whole grain) along with some salt, sugar, and garlic and let the chicken bathe in it overnight. I really think the soak takes the chicken to a whole new level of moistness.

        Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

        • says

          Yesssss. And I think you are right about the overnight soak — I marinated 4 extra drumsticks in the mustard-buttermilk bath and cooked them off the following evening, and they were even more tender than the first bath. Love the idea of adding garlic and salt and sugar — does the sugar help brown and crisp up the chicken/topping? Or is it mostly for flavor. SO happy you liked this!

          • says

            Adding the salt and sugar is a carryover from another recipe I make that has me soak chicken in a buttermilk brine overnight then roast. So yes, it’s really just for flavor although I am confident that even without those an overnight mustard/buttermilk bath will do great things to keep the chicken moist and delicious. I feel like this is one of those recipes that you really can’t break.

          • says

            cool, good to know, and I think you’re right. I had gotten into the habit awhile ago of immediately placing any chicken I purchased from the store in a ziplock and covering it with buttermilk before storing it in the fridge, but then I got lazy. I need to get back into that routine.

  2. Elizabeth Campa says

    Thank you! I’m currently in Amman, Jordan for work and VERY much wishing I had my kitchen and could make this recipe! I’ll have to wait a few weeks but so excited! Thanks for posting. :-)

  3. Liz says

    Love your changes. Ina’s recipes are often heart-cloggingly heavy on the butter and cream. Also, I know panko are all the rage, but isn’t there something unnatural about crumbs that never spoil? I think that foreign products are not subject to including all ingredients on their packaging, but I could be wrong. Anyway, I like the idea of using fresh breadcrumbs, and your results are confirmation enough.

  4. Sunie says

    I have been making a similar recipe that uses panko that is great for boneless/skinless breasts that turn out moist and delicious. Here is the link:
    I’ve made it several times and it has turned out great each time.
    I have been a bit baffled by the leftovers because the crumbs are always soggy a day later, but I cut up the leftovers in an impromptu country captain sauce and it was delicious. The crumbs helped to thicken the sauce.

    • says

      Sunie, hi! This recipe sounds delicious! Thanks so much for sharing it. I have four little chicken tenders that I might have to try that with tonight. I think the kiddos would approve. And, yes, so true, crumbs are always soggy a day later, but sometimes just as delicious, in their own soggy way :) Love the sound of your leftovers!

  5. says

    Thank you for testing this – I have wondered if it was just me because I so often have to adjust things from her recipes- often oven temps, and cooking time. I am big fan of Ina’s – but I confess a bigger fan of yours!!

    • says

      Oh, Christy, thanks so much for saying that. Means a lot. You know, I’m a big fan of Ina’s, too, and I think most of her recipes/ideas are spot on, but when you crank out that many books/recipes every few years, there are bound to be a few imperfections. We are loving this recipe with the fresh breadcrumbs. I used to love panko…I think we’re going through a bit of a break up :)

  6. becca says

    I can’t get over how much I love your posts…I always feel wiser and more confident heading into the kitchen after reading your thoughts on dishes:) I love the idea of buying two chickens and the dishes to make with those!! So helpful!!

    • says

      Oh Becca, thank you so much for saying that. It always feels like a lot of work cutting up a chicken — and it’s so tempting to buy cut up thighs and drumsticks — but it’s so rewarding in the end. There’s something satisfying not only about cutting it up, but also using every last ounce of it. Thanks for writing in!

  7. stephanie says

    Oh my goodness! I forgot about spoon cookies. I always want to make them and then get lost in the reviews/alterations. Do you have any tips or hints? Thank you for all of the helpful links and tips in this post, as well!

    • says

      I know, the reviews can be overwhelming. OK, a few things, after you brown the butter, be sure to let it cool completely in a mixing bowl until it solidifies — there is no need to do the ice bath. Never refrigerate the finished dough. And I used a measuring teaspoon to shape them — I found a regular spoon (like one you eat with) to be hard to use as a shaper, though I think the finished shape of the regular spoon is more ideal for forming the actual “spoon” cookie. I haven’t tried the jam, but want to. I baked some for 9 minutes and some for 14 minutes, and honestly could barely tell a difference in the finished cookie — they look really pale coming out of the oven. And although these apparently get better after 3 days, I found them to be delicious every day.

  8. Bob B. says

    Marvelous recipe! I cooked this last evening using six fat chicken thighs from Whole Foods. Marinated the chicken in buttermilk for six hours then made the mustard/buttermilk mixture. The bread crumb mixture wouldn’t adhere at all with pressing, so I put the thighs on the baking sheet and pressed it on top with my hand. The thighs were pretty large so I cooked them about a hour to perfection! Thanks.

    • says

      Oh Bob, I am so happy to hear you made this! I think marinating in buttermilk if you have the time is the way to go — nice work! And I have the same problem — I have to use my hands to mound those crumbs onto the chicken pieces. Also, thighs are my favorite!

  9. Denise says

    Hi. My friend just told me about your blog and also “Cooking With Mr.C.” on Facebook, also a blog. I just “Liked” his Facebook page and came to your site. Very nice ! I love when people share blogs with each other. Denise

  10. Laurie F says

    Dinner’s a little late tonite but if the chicken tastes as good as it smells, YUMMO! :) I was shy a little thyme but it’ll still taste amazing I know….
    Don’t you just love homemade bread crumbs!? XO

    • says

      Laurie, yes, I do! I don’t know that I’ll ever go back to panko…it’s just not tasting as good as it used to to me. And doesn’t the house smell amazing with this chicken? I love it. xo!

  11. says

    Thanks for sharing these Ina Garten posts. She’s great! I’ve looked at this book several times and I think I’ll put in on my Christmas list. Aren’t the cookies divine?

    • says

      Allison, yes! Thank you so much for sharing that recipe. I hesitate to blog about them because so many people seem to know about them, but I might just have to anyway. I am obsessed. Hope all is well!

      • says

        Hi. I didn’t know that others knew about this recipe. I thought it was mine all mine!!! No, I tore the page out of Gourmet Magazine a couple of years ago and pull it out every now and then, mostly at the holidays. Is that you cutting up that chicken? Good night! I didn’t know sharp knives made such a difference! Beautiful work.

  12. Amanda R says

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I have read through Foolproof dozens of times and somehow skimmed over this one. I made it for dinner tonight and used (gasp) chicken breasts instead of a whole chicken and only had dried thyme on hand. It still turned out great and the house smells amazing! Will definitely be making it again! Thank you again for sharing this recipe and all your recipes – everything I’ve made from your blog has been fantastic!

    • says

      Isn’t it funny how that happens? I’ve looked at that book so many times, and it wasn’t until recently that I felt inspired to make that chicken. And please, no gasps about the breasts! I was conditioned at an early age to love dark meat…blame my mother…and I’m just so happy you were able to adjust the recipe to your liking. Thanks for writing in!

  13. says

    for some reason I want to say “gobble gobble” even though this isn’t turkey and isn’t Thanksgiving. It just looks so damn good. YUM. You are my chicken-cutting-up hero. I’ve followed your video a gazillion times always with great success, although admittedly my pieces never look quite as cleanly cut as yours (a good reminder to sharpen my knives). Just a quick question on homemade breadcrumbs – I’m following the ‘no such thing as a stupid question’ rule here – how do you make them? Stale bread in a cuisinart? Do you toast the bread first to make sure it’s extra crumbly and then pulverize? I am positive you’ve discussed the technique here before so feel free to simply redirect me to a past post/recipe. Oh, and I love that you’ve added Buttermilk – that is so you!

  14. sarah says

    Hi! I want to try this recipe, but fail so often with breading chicken. It almost always turns out soggy! I’m not a fan of Panko, either, but I’m not sure what you mean by fresh bread crumbs. Do I just give my sandwich bread a few whirls in the food processor as is, or does the bread need to be stale?

    • sarah says

      Nevermind! I read almost all the comments, except for the very last one that EXACTLY answered my question. Haha. Making this tomorrow!

      • says

        Sarah, hi! And Sorry I didn’t get back to you earlier today — I tend to respond to comments really late at night or early in the morning…whenver the kids are asleep. Anyway, I’m glad you found the response to Talley’s comment, and I hope you are more clear about how to create fresh bread crumbs — it really is just a matter of pulsing stale (or even just sort-of stale) bread in the food processor. I hope you like the chicken! I have made it so many times now, and twice now for company to rave reviews, and I don’t just think my visitors were being polite. Just a head’s up: when you dip the pieces of chicken into the bread crumb mixture, you might find that the crumbs are not adhering. If this is the case, forget the dipping: just use your hands to pack the breadcrumb mixture onto the chicken pieces. Hope that makes sense. I love this recipe because the bread crumbs truly come out nice and crisp, and there is no pan-sauteing breaded pieces of chicken, which always makes a mess in my frying pan. Let me know if there is anything else! I’ll try to check my email during the day tomorrow.

  15. Judy H says

    This looks wonderful! Thank you for sharing!
    I’m curious – does the original recipe call for 2 cups of panko, or did you have to change the amount of breadcrumbs when using the homemade version? If the original recipe calls for 2 cups as well, was thinking I might try using half and half – 1 cup of each. The panko could give it a little more crispiness, but the homemade will brown better. Decisions, decisions!
    I’m definitely going to be trying this soon! Thanks again!
    I just looked at Foolproof on Amazon, and I think I may have to buy it! s

    • says

      Judy H, yes! The original recipe calls for 2 cups panko. Ok, of course you should do whatever your heart desires, but my vote is to use exclusively fresh homemade crumbs. They crisp up so nicely! And they are so much better than panko! I don’t what it is — honestly, part of me is wondering if I bought a bad brand of panko — but the panko I used both here and in another recipe just ended up tasting so artificial and bland, and I’m not sure I’ll ever go back, except of course for my favorite tofu recipe.

      Decisions Decisions is right! :) Whatever you decide will be right. And honestly, I highly recommend Foolproof. Just made the braised carrots, and while they were a little softer than I might light, the flavor was delectable!

      • Judy H says

        Wow! This is a new favorite chicken recipe at this house!!!

        Here are the changes I made:
        1 – I was going to take your suggestion and buy two whole birds, but they were not on sale here, and I couldn’t bring myself to pay more than $8 a chicken. I usually stock up when they’re on sale for 77 cents a pound, so I was in sticker shock! Instead of buying the crazy-expensive chickens, I got a package of bone-in thighs. I didn’t want the skin, so I took it off prior to marinating. I cooked 8 thighs.
        2 – Because I wasn’t leaving the skin on while it marinated, I was afraid the mustard would be overpowering – so I increased the buttermilk to 1 cup. I started marinating the chicken this morning at 7:30 am, and cooked the chicken about 5:45 pm. When I laid the pieces on the cookie sheet, I made sure the tops had a good overall coating of the marinade. It came out moist and tender! YUM!
        3 – I do like panko, so I decided to try half and half with the bread crumbs. It was perfect! I tore open some French bread a couple hours before cooking, and just let it sit on the counter awhile before tearing it into pieces and putting it in the food processor. The topping browned, it was crunchy, and we scarfed it down! LOL!

        Unfortunately because I couldn’t make a stock as planned, I had to buy some stock to enjoy the next meal on my meal-plan. I wanted the stock to make a cheesy butternut squash risotto. Next time chickens are on sale I’ll be sure to stock up and try your suggestion again!

        Thank you for posting this! I’m going to keep coming back to this recipe for more! So tender, so juicy, crunchy, and full of flavor!

        • Judy H says

          Oh, I forgot to say – I didn’t even try to dip the pieces of chicken. I just laid them on a foil-covered cookie sheet and patted the topping on them.

          My hubby ate three large thighs, and said he would like to have this again! :) Thanks!!

        • says

          Judy, hi! And thanks so much for reporting back with such detail. Loved reading all of it. You’ve got to go with your gut sometimes, and I’m so happy it turned out well for both you and your husband. I hope you do come back again for this recipe. It has become my entertaining go-to recipe for the past few weeks. Hope your cheesy butternut squash risotto is just as delectable…sounds like heaven :)

  16. D. says

    Thank you for posting this lovely recipe. We do not like chicken skin, so I used skinless thighs. I used 1 cup buttermilk and quite a bit less mustard. I did the same with your suggestion for the coating (although I pressed the breadcrumbs into the thighs once I laid them out) and it turned out DELICIOUS. Many thanks!

    • says

      You are so welcome! So happy to hear you liked this. So sorry for this late response, too…it has been a crazy week with the holidays. Question: did you use bone-in skinless thighs? Thanks!

  17. Joelle says

    I have all of Ina’s cookbooks but made your version last night for a Holiday party. It was SUCH a hit! I only used drumsticks and they came out perfect. Thanks so much!!!!

  18. claire says

    hi! this recipe looks and sounds fantastic! i’m thinking of making it with chicken wings instead of the larger parts as part of a cocktail party spread… i have another recipe for plain baked chicken wings and it says to do the following:
    “Arrange wings, skin side up, in single layer on prepared wire rack. Bake wings at 250 on lower-middle oven rack for 30 minutes. Move wings to upper-middle rack, increase oven temperature to 425 degrees, and roast until wings are golden brown and crisp, 40-50 minutes longer, rotating sheet halfway through baking.”

    do you think that would turn out ok with your breadcrumbs? it has them cooking for longer, but only at 250…

    • says

      Claire, hi, and so sorry for just getting to this now! Have you had your party yet?

      This is what I suggest: don’t add the fresh breadcrumbs until after the 30 minutes. I think they will brown too quickly once you turn the oven up if you have the crumbs on the wings the whole time because even at 250 degrees, they will start to dry out. Does that makes sense. So, after the 30 minutes, take the pan out of the oven, mound each wing with some of the breadcrumb mixture and return pan to the oven for 40 to 50 minutes. Mounding the breadcrumbs onto the wings might be tricky because the wings will be hot. If you have rubber gloves (I know that sounds kind of odd), they will protect your hands. Hope they turn out well for you!

  19. says

    I’m not much of a cook, but I do love to eat, so when I saw this on Pinterest, I had to give it a go. The chicken filled my house with the most delicious smell and I couldn’t keep the hubs away from the resting chicken when he got home from work. My god, it was good. I found myself captivated by your blog and I’m most definitely not a food blog reader. I’ve already amassed a list of your featured recipes to try. Will definitely be checking in regularly. Thank you!!

    • says

      Camille, I’m so happy to hear this! I’m glad you are seeing some recipes you like. That mustard roasted chicken is a favorite around here, too. Thanks so much for writing in!

  20. Laura in Sonoma says

    Hi Ali, jumping all over the place here, thanks for the reply on the Kale dish. Never did make either as I ended up going out with friends but it’s on the menu for Sunday dinner.

    C&C Friday night again… doing Ina’s chicken with your changes. Before I found you Ina was my hero. DH still refers to me as his Ina but may need to modify that :)

    So did something interesting with the Involtini (sp?… zucchini thing) filling. Had some leftover and added greek yogurt and used it for a dip with celery sticks. Trying to keep snacks at a low cal level and it was delicious!!! Love the lemon thyme mix.

    Cooking up some Kale and Chard as a side… Happy Friday Ali!!!

    • says

      Hi Laura! Hope Ina’s chicken worked out well for you — when I first discovered it, I made it twice a week for a month. I need to make it again soon. Great tip on how to use the leftover filling! I am going to make a note in the recipe. I never know what to do with leftovers like this, and a healthy dip that is fast to whip up is such a great idea.

      Who won the cribbage match?

  21. Linda Hoffman says

    I recently bought the Ina Garten cookbook and was interested in this recipe. Before I made it I saw your blog. I have a very similar recipe that I got from Sunset Magaizne many years ago. Ingredients are similar but combined in a different way…but the chicken is cooked in a 500 degree oven for 15 minutes…comes out crispy and juicy every time.. I also live in Portland, Oregon and my local grocery ( Zupans) makes 6 different kinds of panko…one is pistacio nut and I use it all the time. These Pankos are way better than the national brands.. So I took your recipe and my old one and came up with this…perfectly crispy and juicy. I was making this for two…so downsized the recipe. We are also watching our weight so I removed the skin from the chicken.

    Preheat oven to 500 degrees
    4 6 to 7 oz chicken pieces, skins removed – breasts or thighs

    1/4c dijon mustart
    1/4 c butter melted
    2 clove garlic
    Mix together in a pie plate

    1/2 c. pistacio nut panko
    zest of half lemon
    thyme leaves, chopped
    salt and pepper to taste
    mix together in a pie plate

    salt and pepper chicken, dip chicken pieces in mustard/butter mix and then panko mix. arrange on cookie sheet covered with parchment. Place in oven for 15 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink. It came out lovely…and was a snap to put together. I served it with an arugula and roasted beet salad with a lemon vinegarette dressing. This would be good enough for company.

    • says

      Yum! Thanks so much for sharing your recipe. I was wondering about the brand of panko I have been buying. It just isn’t doing it for me recently. Love the sound of pistacio nut panko….oh to live in a food haven like Portland! Must be fun. This chicken sounds delish!

  22. Courtney Jackson says

    I’m not an expert or anything but I have done this recipe for years with breadcrumbs. Then I discovered Panko. ( where had it been all my life…lol). Anyway, I did a recipe recently for Parmesan chicken bites, also baked in the oven. It asked me to put a shallow layer of Panko bread crumbs on a cookie sheet, lines with foil. I baked them for almost too long as they roasted fairly quickly. They came out even more crispy than before. This may help for getting the desired color and crispness that many are looking to attain. Hope this helps….

    • says

      Toasting the panko is a good idea. I think it may have been the panko I was using — it just wasn’t tasty, and the fresh breadcrumbs get so nice and golden and are so delicious, but yes, panko is so great to have on hand.

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