Salt Crust Chicken

Salt crust chicken is a revelation if you’ve struggled with roasted white meat that never seems juicy or tender enough. And the technique makes a showstopping centerpiece on the dinner table, too.

Two salt crust chickens on a bed of leaves and wooden plate

Food critics often say that the measure of a great restaurant is its roast chicken. This technique of using a salt crust on the chicken is much more forgiving than regular oven-roasting, although this chicken doesn’t have a crispy skin. I believe that achieving moist white meat is even more important than the skin, and using a salt crust does that.–Francis Mallmann

Salt Crust Chicken

Two salt crust chickens on a bed of leaves and wooden plate
Salt-crusted chicken is a technique of encasing a chicken in a salt crust before baking. The salt crust seals in flavor and juices so the chicken is perfectly tender and juicy when it's done.
Francis Mallmann

Prep 30 mins
Cook 50 mins
Total 1 hr 20 mins
4 servings
949 kcal
5 from 1 vote
Print RecipeBuy the Seven Fires cookbook

Want it? Click it.


For the Salsa Lucía

  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives minced
  • 1 tablespoon capers rinsed, dried, and minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves minced
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 red bell pepper minced
  • 1 green bell pepper minced
  • 1 small red onion minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil

For the salt crust chicken

  • 1 chicken about 3 1/2 pounds
  • 5 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 4 garlic cloves unpeeled
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 9 pounds kosher salt (three 3-pound boxes)
  • Salsa Lucía


Make the salsa

  • Combine the olives, capers, thyme, garlic, bell peppers, onion, orange zest, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl. Whisk in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream. The salsa can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Make the salt crust chicken

  • Heat an horno (similar to an outdoor bread oven) or home oven (with the rack positioned in the lower third of the oven) to approximately 500°F (260°C).
  • Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Put the thyme, garlic, and bay leaves in the cavity and truss with kitchen twine.
  • Empty the salt into the sink (or a large basin or bucket if working outdoors). Pour 2 cups of water over the salt and, using your hands, toss to combine. Add more water as needed, a cup or two at a time, tossing until the mixture has the consistency of damp snow.
  • Make a 1-inch-deep bed of salt in a roasting pan and tamp it down. Place the chicken in the center. Stick the probe of a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. Cover the chicken completely with the remaining salt, tamping it down to make a salt crust so that it is completely encased.
  • Transfer the chicken to the oven and roast for 35 to 40 minutes; the internal temperature of the thigh should read 175°F (79°C). Spread newspapers on the counter next to the sink. Remove the pan from the oven, place on the newspaper, and let the chicken rest for 10 minutes. The internal temperature will rise to about 185°F (85°C).
  • Crack the salt crust with a rolling pin or mallet, lift off the pieces, and discard them. With a pastry brush, brush the remaining salt away from the chicken. Carefully pull off the skin from the breasts and legs. Slice off the chicken breasts from the bone and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Slice the meat from the legs and thighs.
  • Arrange the meat on a warm platter and spoon the salsa over the chicken.
Print RecipeBuy the Seven Fires cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 949kcal (47%)Carbohydrates: 9g (3%)Protein: 37g (74%)Fat: 86g (132%)Saturated Fat: 16g (100%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 12gMonounsaturated Fat: 53gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 143mg (48%)Sodium: 2219mg (96%)Potassium: 578mg (17%)Fiber: 3g (13%)Sugar: 3g (3%)Vitamin A: 1756IU (35%)Vitamin C: 76mg (92%)Calcium: 72mg (7%)Iron: 3mg (17%)

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I’ve made this several times, as it’s easy to put together and makes for a great presentation if you break the crust in front of your guests. The meat is moist and cooked to perfection, but doesn’t taste salty. My only problem is cosmetic, because the skin does not brown. TIP: When adding the water to the salt to make the crust, you want it to feel like wet sand.

Originally published August 10, 2009


#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


  1. 5 stars
    This is a great recipe. I’ve done a similar version myself on multiple occasions. One thought: if you use Sel Gris (I use a cheap sel gris from Noirmoutier France) or another naturally moist, unprocessed sea salt for the crust (which is how these crusts were originally developed), the moisture that forms the salt crust comes from the salt, and not the chicken! A juicier chicken is the result, and there is the added bonus of a salt crust that looks like a natural gemstone cracked open to reveal the bird inside! Sort of prehistoric-sounding, but dramatic and beautiful.

Have something to say?

Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Attach it below. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

Rate this recipe!

Have you tried this recipe? Let us know what you think.

Upload a picture of your dish