This simple chicken recipe with pancetta and olives and garlic is what folks are calling “One of the best chicken recipes ever!” and “crisp-skinned” and “juicy” and “aromatic” and “easy” and “heavenly.” (It’s traditionally made with rabbit, which is lovely, too.) You can use a whole chicken cut into pieces or you could use all thighs or drumsticks if you prefer.–David Leite

What Wine Do I Serve With Roast Chicken?

Pondering whether to uncork a bottle of red or white? We’d just as soon open a bottle of each. Gourmet Magazine’s recommended pours for this chicken recipe include, for the white, a Fattoria le Pupille Poggio Argentato ($20), “a blend of traminer and sauvignon blanc, a zippy bright, minderal-laden white that hails from the Tuscan region.” As for the red, they opted for a budget-friendly, less-complex Sangiovese produced by a top-flight brunello producer but made from the vineyard’s younger vines and labeled Talenti Rosso di Montalcino ($19). Don’t forget to take a sip of each and tell us which you prefer with this dish.

Roast Chicken With Pancetta and Olives

4.94 / 16 votes
This roast chicken with pancetta and olives and garlic from Gourmet magazine is braised in white wine to keep the chicken tender. A LOT of folks are calling it the best chicken recipe they’ve ever made.
David Leite
Servings8 servings
Calories722 kcal
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time50 minutes
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes


  • Two (3 1/2-pound) chickens or rabbits, cut into 10 to 12 pieces*
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons fine sea salt , (or less if using particularly salty olives)
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 thick slices pancetta or bacon, cut into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces (about 1/4-inch-thick slices or 4 ounces [113 g] total)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 24 black olives, pitted if desired


  • Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C). Adjust the oven rack to the center position.
  • In a large bowl, toss the chicken with the oil, thyme, rosemary, sea salt, red pepper flakes, if using, and black pepper, rubbing the mixture all over the chicken.
  • Arrange the chicken pieces, skin side up, in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Scatter the garlic and pancetta or bacon around the chicken on the baking sheet. Roast until the chicken begins to brown, about 20 minutes.
  • Dribble the wine over the chicken and roast for 8 minutes more. Scatter the olives around the chicken and roast until the skin is golden brown and crisp and the meat is cooked and tender, 15 to 20 minutes more. (If the chicken pieces are particularly large, allow a few extra minutes.)
  • Let the chicken rest on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before serving. If desired, spoon some of the pan juices over the chicken. And if using unpitted olives, you may wish to offer a word of warning to guests. Originally published October 22, 2012.
Gourmet italian Cookbook

Adapted From

Gourmet Italian

Buy On Amazon


Serving: 1 portionCalories: 722 kcalCarbohydrates: 3 gProtein: 50 gFat: 53 gSaturated Fat: 14 gMonounsaturated Fat: 24 gCholesterol: 249 mgSodium: 623 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 0.4 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2012 Gourmet. Photo © 2012 Quentin Bacon. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This roast chicken with pancetta and olives is superb! It positively explodes with flavor—the briny olives, crisp pancetta, soft roasted garlic, crunchy chicken, and the white wine and drippings pan sauce that makes itself. Oh, it’s heavenly! I’m looking for an excuse to have company over so I can wow them with this dish.

I had to cook the chicken a bit longer for the skin to brown (I ended up moving it up a bit in my oven to be closer to the top heat source).

This was absolutely delicious! The aroma of the chicken, fresh herbs, pancetta, wine, and garlic filled the kitchen. I served this for dinner with friends over the weekend and everyone loved the way the salty pancetta and olives complemented the chicken and herbs.

The roasting time was just perfect and basting the chicken with white wine ensured that each piece of chicken stayed moist. If you’re squeamish about cutting up a chicken, you can always ask your butcher to do this for you. Also, I only cut the breast into 4 pieces rather than 6, as the chickens I get from my meat farm share aren’t as huge as the ones found in conventional supermarkets.

This is one of the best chicken recipes ever! It’s so simple and beautifully rustic when it comes out of the oven. The chicken came out tender and juicy with a rich, salty flavor. It reminded me of a brined chicken without the work of brining overnight.

It was great to be able to pick up the olives and garlic at the olive bar in my grocery store. This made the recipe a snap to put together. I served this with spaghetti squash sautéed with tomatoes and basil. It was delicious.

This could very well be my next go-to roasted chicken recipe. The ingredients came together quickly and the majority of them I regularly have on hand. I added the full amount of red pepper flakes and this gave the chicken just a little zing. I like the briny flavor imparted by the olives and the pancetta.

The recipe was easy to cut in half. I used chicken breasts with skin and bone and asked my butcher to cut each into 3 pieces. Because the breast pieces weren’t terribly large, I think the final 15–20 minute roasting time was too long and next time will check 10 minutes after the olives are added. And I’ll make a gravy with the juices. I loved the smell my whole house had while this was roasting. I served this with sweet potatoes but the gravy that I’ll make next time would go nicely with polenta. Also, this roast chicken with pancetta and olives will serve over 8 people, more like 10. I’m thoroughly excited by this chicken!

This dish belongs on a glossy color photo. It’s a rustic dish. The colors from the herbs, flecks of pepper flakes and olives, along with the browned chicken skin are beautiful. The fragrance of the roasting chicken was wonderful.

My prep time was only 15 minutes, including cutting up the chicken, preparing the oil rub, and coating the chicken with the mixture in a large stainless bowl. I’d consider preparing the chicken with the oil rub up to a day in advance, as I think it’d enhance the flavor. For my personal taste, I’d cut the garlic amount in half, smash the cloves, and add them to the oil rub. Small potatoes roasted to a crisp would be a nice side dish.

I don’t know how this site does it but you have the best chicken recipes! This roast chicken with pancetta and olives is no exception.

I used two 4-pound chickens as the store seemed to have larger ones than normal. The prep time at 25 minutes was right on target, but then I do cut up whole chickens all the time. The only change I made was to cut the pancetta a bit smaller—maybe 1/2-inch cubes. They got very crisp and were perfect. I had to cook this dish about 15 minutes longer than the recipe stated but I used larger chickens. I urge all readers to use the red pepper flakes. This amount didn’t make the dish too hot but added a nice spicy component.

This is a great dish—try it!

This was a very simple recipe filled with aroma and taste. The chicken came out juicy and tender. The two things I’d adjust next time are to add less salt (I believe half the amount would be perfect) and allow the chicken more time in the oven so that the skin gets a better color. I ended up leaving it in 7 more minutes prior to adding the wine. Apart from those adjustments, this is a very nice chicken.

This delightful roast chicken really was a hit with our family. Rather than using 2 chickens, we used just 1. Tossing the pieces with oil, fresh herbs, sea salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes really harkened me back to the flavors of Tuscany and reminded me of the wondrous yet simple ingredients we so much enjoy there. Just imagine the chicken roasting with those flavors and the addition of garlic cloves, pancetta, white wine, and olives! The skin became and remained crisp, thankfully, as I’m known as the chicken skin fiend in our house.

It took only about 20 minutes to prepare and after 1 1/2 hours in the oven the chicken was tender, juicy, flavorful, and gorgeous. I didn’t even need to make a pan sauce—we just drizzled the chicken juices that had melded with the wine over the chicken (after we ate the skin, of course!) and baby garden potatoes and carrots we served with it. The pancetta and olives added salty umami. The red pepper flakes, though optional, added a bit of a kick that didn’t overwhelm but helped bring the dish together in its lovely entirety.

Want to impress someone with a simple dinner? Make this.

I halved this recipe and used bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. The roast chicken with pancetta and olives is easy to prep and cook, and I lined my baking sheet with foil so there was very little cleanup. The result was a great-tasting chicken with crisp skin.

I used an inexpensive white wine (Nobilis Vinho Verde, $5.99, recommended by my wine guy) that was surprisingly very nice. I poured a little of the pan juices over rice as a side dish. A cheesy polenta would be fantastic with this along with asparagus.

All the flavors of Italy were blended together in this recipe which was delicious. It’s a rustic dish, perfectly suited for company.

I used all thighs. We liked the juiciness of the thighs and we adored the crisp pancetta and chicken skin and tried to include some with each bite. The mellow cooked garlic and olives just added to the delight. I didn’t have a side dish, other than a salad with oranges—just lots of Tuscan bread to wipe our plates clean. I think I may add more white wine next time (maybe 1 1/2 cups total) so as to have more pan juices.

We served a 2008 Nipozzano Riserva (Chianti Rufina) and lots of that bread to soak up the pan juices.

If you need a recipe to impress but are short on time, this fits the bill. An easy recipe to put together and get in the oven while you tackle other evening shenanigans.

I used chicken thighs, herbs from my garden, and a cooking wine from the grocer. I had to use pancetta that was thinly sliced so I tucked it in between the thighs so it was sticking out. It worked well and the flavors were wonderful. I added the black olives at the same time I added the wine and eliminated one of the steps. This worked out well, as the olives tasted great. I served it with a side dish of couscous but rice and a green salad would also be nice. When I make this again, I’ll serve French bread to slather the soft garlic on. Great for a special dinner or a casual sit-down dinner with family and friends.

This is an easy, interesting twist on the classic roast chicken. The use of olives and pancetta provide an unexpected balance. Two birds felt like a lot (even for 8 people), especially when serving it alongside other dishes. I like that this recipe uses a lot of ingredients that might already be in your pantry (salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic, wine) and it does come together fairly quickly.

Breaking down the chicken before cooking made serving so much easier. The pancetta did get a little dark while cooking but there was no burnt flavor so it was fine. Would definitely recommend using the red pepper flakes; the little bit of heat is quite nice in the chicken. The olives add a great tangy, rich saltiness that I enjoyed way more than expected.

This is a winner! I used 6 pounds of skin-on, bone-in thighs. I used only a 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, as my husband isn’t a fan of too spicy and that was perfect. The skin was crisp, the meat juicy. The leftover chicken was delicious in a chicken salad.

The only thing I’d change is the size of the pancetta pieces—I’d dice them smaller.

This recipe produced very moist chicken with a nice pan gravy to pour over it. I divided the recipe in half, making it with 3 pounds chicken thighs, which amounted to 9 thighs. I spent about 20 minutes prepping the chicken thighs, getting rid of things like excess fat. I think it’s important for the chicken not to be too spread out, so that the wine and chicken juices don’t get cooked off.

We had a lot of pan juices, which were wonderful spooned over the chicken as well as the rice pilaf that we served alongside it. I placed most of the garlic and pancetta on the top of the thighs, as well as throwing some between the pieces of chicken. The pancetta and garlic cloves that were on top of the chicken got too dried out. Those that were down between the chicken pieces were great. The cooking time was spot-on accurate. We had some Caprese salad left to eat with the chicken, as well as the rice pilaf made with whole garlic cloves and pine nuts. We also had some fresh haricot verts that were mixed with corn fresh off the cob.

We paired this dish with a beautiful medium-bodied 2008 Anderson Valley pinot noir. That was one of those “match made in heaven” pairings.

Oh, such a simple recipe to make. It lends itself to being a crowd-pleaser. The flavors of the rub came through very well. The sweetness of the roasted garlic, along within the saltiness of the black olives, was a perfect accompaniment for the chicken and with the addition of the wine, it made the chicken very moist.

I used 12 bone-in, skin-on chicken thigh pieces. Worked well for me. I did, however, transfer the chicken pieces after cooking to a baking sheet layered with paper towels to drain off the excess fat.

This recipe for roasted chicken with pancetta and olives is a definite winner. I changed the recipe to serve 4 rather than 8, using half of the ingredients, and this worked well. I also used chicken thighs rather than a whole chicken.

The only thing that is a danger zone is the choice of olives. If you use ones that are very salty, as mine were, I’d only use 1/3 of the amount called for in the ingredient list, as they added quite a salty taste. This is on the menu for this week too!

What an easy and rewarding meal this is! A perfectly fine, herby roast chicken with crisp skin and gorgeous pan juices, taken to a higher level by the pancetta and whole garlic cloves.

Not wanting to take anything away from the chicken, I just put together a green salad on the side and toasted semolina bread slices. We slathered the bread with the sweet roasted garlic and dunked it in the rich pan juices—oh my! I used chicken thighs only, which is preferred to breast meat in my household. It eliminated the need to cut up whole chickens, making this dish a speedier weeknight dinner.

This is a very easy recipe to pull together and much of the prep can be done ahead. The final result was very flavorful and cooked perfectly. I used 8 pounds of bone-in, skin-on thighs and breasts and increased the other ingredients accordingly—and used even more pancetta, olives, and garlic given my personal taste. We served this with couscous with pine nuts and grilled asparagus. I’d definitely make it again.

Looking for a dish that’s a breeze to pull together, can feed a horde, and is packed with boatloads of great flavor? This is just such a dish.

I made this for the gang using bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs rather than the 2 broken-down chickens called for, as no one in my family is a fan of breast meat (I’ve trained them well.) I had my dish in the oven in about 20 minutes. If you have to break down the chickens and pit your olives, you’ll want to add at least 10 to 15 minutes.

Once in the oven, this dish couldn’t be easier to complete. I used a timer to manage the different phases of cooking, adding the wine after 20 minutes, and the olives 8 minutes after that. As written, the recipe yields perfectly cooked and crisp chicken, meltingly sweet garlic cloves, and a delightful pan jus that keeps everything moist and succulent. The rosemary and thyme that I pulled from our garden added a lovely herbal note, and the pancetta and olives some salty chewiness.

The one warning I’d give with regard to this dish is the amount of salt called for in the recipe. Given the use of cured olives and pancetta, I found the amount of salt to be a bit heavy-handed—and I like salt. I’d recommend tossing the chicken with the herbs, red pepper flakes (yes, you should use these), and black pepper, then sprinkling each side with a moderate amount of salt when placing it on the rimmed baking sheet. For me, about 1/2 a tablespoon of salt was perfect. Aside from this caveat, this dish is a total winner. Pretty on the plate and loaded with bold flavors that make your taste buds stand up and take notice—a definite candidate for the TC pantheon.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

Hungry For More?

Seared Skirt Steak with Salsa

Hungry for something flavorful and good-for-you? This seared skirt steak is jam-packed with everything you need.

50 mins

Flourless Chocolate Cloud Cake

This lofty cake is so crammed full of chocolate and butter and air, there’s no room for flour–although we made sure to leave space for ample swoops of softly whipped cream.

1 hr 15 mins

Homemade Yellow Mustard

Why make your own mustard? Because you can, dammit! And if that’s not reason enough, there’s no comparison between this and the store-bought stuff. Enough said.

1 hr 45 mins

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This definitely lived up to its many 5 star reviews It’s excellent! The meat was fall-off-the-bone juicy, tender, and flavorful. I used 2 chicken leg quarters that I kept whole, as well as 3 drumsticks, and despite the fact that it was less chicken than the recipe called for, I made a full recipe of the oil rub and used it all. I made the oil rub the night before, massaged it into the chicken, then marinaded it in a ziploc bag for 24 hours. Many reviewers commented on the salt level so I only used 1/4 tsp salt in the rub, then seasoned the chicken pieces were more salt and pepper when they went into the oven. The only other change I made to the recipe was to grate 6 large cloves of garlic into the oil rub. I also tucked 10 cloves under and around the chicken pieces. I didn’t have any issue with the pancetta getting too crisp or brown. I let the marinated chicken sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes before putting it in the oven. It tested done at 43 minutes. Instead of a sheet pan, I used a shallow granite-ware roasting pan. There was no need to turn on the broiler to brown the skin – it was a beautiful golden brown by the time the chicken was done!

    1. Sadie, you should be a food writer! When I was done reading your comment, I felt like ditching our plans for a simple Friday dinner (a creamy pesto and chicken on pasta) for this. Brava!

  2. I need to serve a crowd for my son’s graduation party. This dish looks economical and very tasty. Could I scale it up for about 30-40 people, use only chicken thighs and legs, and make it the morning of the party? Could it be served at room temp or simply reheated in large trays? Any suggestions would be helpful. Thanks!

    1. Hi Kristen, I think this dish would be great for a party and easily scalable. I would assemble it in the morning then pop it in the oven and serve it piping hot at the party. I worry that the chicken skin might become a little soft if made too far in advance.

  3. 5 stars
    I made these roasted chicken legs with pancetta and black olives for Sunday night dinner! I’m the cook of the house and very rarely does my reserved brother say anything at dinner but he was raving about these! Rustic, succulent, juicy, crispy, they have it all. The only thing I would do differently next time is ensuring the pancetta pieces are scattered on the pan, not resting on the chicken. A few of the pieces turned too crunchy because they weren’t cooked in any of the drippings. I also enjoyed that the chicken doesn’t need to brine or rest for long which saves you from the responsibility of having to plan dinner 12 or 24 hours in advance.

    A platter of roast chicken with pancetta and olives

    1. Arden, your photo looks fantastic!! And I agree: This recipe is rustic, juicy, and just wonderful!