Introduction: Flowerpot Chicken

Picture of Flowerpot Chicken


This is a cheap and easy method of an ancient cooking technique known as clay pot cooking using a common terra cotta flowerpot and saucer. You can spend over $100 on a clay cooker at a gourmet kitchen gadget store, or about $20 at a garden supply. You choose. Some of you may already have the pot lying in your yard, garage or shed. Once you try this you will probably be cooking all kinds of things in it! N

First find (or buy) a large 12-14 inch diameter UNGLAZED pot and saucer. Clean any loose dirt off by scrubbing with hot water, but NEVER use soap on unglazed terra cotta. The taste will never leave.

Step 1: Soak the Pot

Picture of Soak the Pot

Soak the pot and saucer in cool water for at least 15 minutes prior to putting it in the oven. Prepare all your food before and during the soak, so you can quickly fill it and put it in the oven Your oven MUST be cold when you begin or the rapid change in temp may crack your clay pot. Let the pot heat up gradually with the oven.

Step 2: Prepare Vegetables.

Picture of Prepare Vegetables.

Chop your vegetables while the pot is soaking. You can use whatever you like for this, root vegetables mixed with onions are always a nice base. This time I used leeks, bell peppers, garlic and red onions.

Step 3: More Chopping.

Picture of More Chopping.

Chop everything up and set aside. To avoid crying while chopping onions people suggest sucking on a piece of white bread, slicing under cool water, breathing through your nose... none of these work however, because it is a gas that is in the air coming in contact with your eyes, not the fine mist of onion juice going in your mouth or nose. Try wearing a gas mask, which can be purchased from most army supply stores.

Step 4: Relax Your Chicken!

Picture of Relax Your Chicken!

Massage your chicken until it is very relaxed. Coat the chicken liberally with seasalt, fresh black pepper and your favorite poultry spice rub (my sister swears by Paul Prudhommes Poulty Seasoning). Pour all your veggies in the saucer, plop your bird on top of that cozy nest...

Step 5: Heat Things Up.

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Cover the whole party with the flowerpot, and pop it in the COLD oven. Close the door and put the temp at 325f. degrees for 1 hour. You can also drop a remote thermometer sensor down through the hole and into the thickest part of your meat, whatever it may be, and set it to go off when it is about 10 degrees lower than your target temp. I put a pizza tray or cookie sheet under it to catch juices. You will likely have to remove all your oven racks to fit it in.

Step 6: Grate Some Cheese.

Picture of Grate Some Cheese.

Grate a mountain (about 1 loose cup) of your favorite hard cheese (asiago, romano, parmesan etc.) using a microplane if you have one, a fine shredder of any sort will do. A decent food processor will save you some time here.

When the hour is up (or your temp alarm goes off) open the oven, pull the pot out far enough to remove the top (using heavy duty burn protection, not just a kitchen towel, please). Sprinkle the cheese over the bird and cook uncovered for ten minutes more.

Step 7: Gaze Upon Perfection.

Picture of Gaze Upon Perfection.

You should end up with something like this at the end. Refrain from tearing into it immediately. Let it cool for about ten minutes so the juices don't squirt out. Your rice should be done just when it is time to cut the chicken.

Step 8: Mmmm... Be Patient!

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Mmmmm! Scrumptious Delights! Be sure to drizzle some of that gravy onto your rice as well.

Step 9: Enjoy!

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Add a side of asparagus, an artichoke or some other favorite green vegetable and you have yourself a simple, succulent feast! Ala cuisine!

Step 10: Recipe

For those who work better with a detailed recipe, this is my recipe from the first time I used this flower pot at my father's house when I dug it out of the pile of dirt behind the shed. It varies from the instructable only in the extra vegetables used as a "nest" but the process and seasoning is very close.

Rupa's Flowerpot Chicken Geyserville

1 chicken, approx 4 lbs.

2 lbs red or white new potatoes

1 lb plum or roma tomatoes

2 med. onions (approximately 2 cups chopped)

2 med. green bell peppers

3-7 cloves of garlic (depending upon your taste)

1 tsp marjoram and/or thyme
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper (double if using preground)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3/4 cup red wine

1/4 cup Parmesan, asiago or other hard cheese, grated

In advance if possible set your chicken in an cold brine to soak--at least 30 minutes per pound, but not more than 8 hours total.

1 quart cool water
1/2 cup kosher Salt
1/2 cup sugar
12 peppercorns
6 allspice berries
3 whole cloves
1 sprig fresh rosemary

Mix the salt and sugar in the water, add the whole spices and submurge the chicken in the pot, cover and place in refrigerator's bottom shelf. Be careful not to let the water drip on anything! Place the pot in a shallow dish such as a pie plate lined with a few layers of paper towels to be extra safe.

Make a rub mixture of all dry spices (marjoram and or thyme, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and nutmeg).

Lay onions, tomatoes, garlic and green peppers into pre-soaked flower pot and pour 1/4 cup red wine over the veg mix.

Remove chicken from brine and dry with paper towels from under the pot, then lightly coat with olive oil and rub chicken liberally with spice mix, being sure to coat all over, inside and out!

Place chicken on the bed of vegies in the saucer, add a sprig of fresh rosemary and cover with the flower pot.

Place the whole thing into cold oven, turn temperature to 350* and bake for one hour without interuption.

At one hour open and remove top. Baste liberally with juices from under chicken.

Turn oven temp up to 500*

Sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan or other hard cheese of your choice and cook for another ten minutes uncovered.

Serve over brown rice.


spiritchat (author)2014-09-26

I have heard that freezing the onions stops the gas release best. But i am not a cook which is why i am checking this out :D

Bubbler (author)2008-02-08

You can bake a loaf of bread in these pots as well. Very nice.

rosehill (author)Bubbler2008-05-28

I've heard that, you wouldn't happen to have a recipe for that - would ya:) ?

Goodhart (author)rosehill2010-07-16

One of the places I go for tips on things like this is here....they have some ideas on baking in a pot.

matthewabel (author)rosehill2010-03-02

 It's been a long time since this comment, but perhaps you're still looking?  I don't have a specific recipe, but I would bet any recipe for "Dutch Oven Bread" would work just as well in a flower pot.  It may even be easier since you'd be able to construct the  loaves directly on the saucer as opposed to dropping them into the dutch oven.

There's one or two recipes here on instructables.

archerj (author)2010-05-14

If your cookstove has a ventahood, just put your cutting board on the stove and turn on the ventahood fan--all the onion gases go out the hood and out of your house.
This is a great recipe and 'ible!

Goodhart (author)archerj2010-07-16

I will have to try that next time I have to dice onions by hand.....thanks.

matthewabel (author)2010-03-02

 I may try this in an altered form.  I have been thinking a chicken roasted in large iron skillet with an overturned ceramic bowl over it would result in a similar awesome bird.  The downside would be it being more difficult to get the probe thermo in there...

This an awesome 'ible, love the oven, too.  

killerjackalope (author)2008-02-07

You jerk! now Im hungry... This is great, and I have loads of these pots just sitting there... I wonder if a leg of ham would cook well upright (hung from the top of the pot...

 Ham is amazing cooked right in a cast iron skillet - no need to cover, at least for me.  Ham rarely dries out, I've found.

The plus is after cooking, the skillet will be perfectly seasoned.

mmm try it and report! I would definitely to the probe thermometer (if you have one) with any meat other than chicken, personally.

Hmm not probe thermometer but the shop I work in sells ones for chicken and turkey, maybe for ham that pop up, I suspect that it would work fine and slighltly reduce cooking time, and the ham would be really juicy too!

Azulax (author)2008-07-03

I tried this recipe and got a chicken that was raw on the inside... is it really just supposed to be 1 hour on 325? Or did I do something wrong?

rupamagic (author)Azulax2008-07-04

I'm so sorry to hear about your mishap! I can't know exactly what went wrong. :(

It took about one hour in two different gas ovens for me, and both times was completely cooked. In an electric oven I noticed it took a bit longer for the oven to actually reach 325 than with the gas stoves.
I would definitely use a thermometer to check the internal temp before deciding it is finished, as all ovens may vary a bit. I suggest you start the timing once your oven reaches 325f and not from when you put it in, since that warming up may vary greatly, especially in electric stoves.

I hope you will give it another try, as it really is a delicious and fun way to cook chicken.

I really love my meat thermometer, it cost my mom about $25 and has made my meat roasts, turkeys and chickens nearly foolproof every time I use it. It is one with a timer and an alarm you can set to go off when the probe reaches a certain temp. The probe is on a long wire lead so you can stab it into your roast (or bird) and it will constantly report the internal temp as it cooks. The suggestion is to stop cooking meat when the thermometer reads ten degrees less than your target temp (so if you set it to go off when it reads 160* the chicken will continue to cook for about ten minutes after you remove it from the oven and it will reach the desired 165-170f).

Some of the probe thermometers have preset target temps, so you just choose pork, beef, turkey, etc... mine lets me set the exact temp I am wanting and I think that is more practical. Just read the fine print when you shop for one. Mine is the "Pyrex Digital Probe Oven Thermometer/ Timer"

For some reason Amazon wants $69 for it now, but I noticed there is a seller listing it for $25 new in the sealed package on Amazon as well, so you just need to look around a bit for a good deal. I think mine came from Bed, Bath and Beyond.

I'm including a link to the exact thermometer/timer I have, as well as a generic cooking temperature chart I just googled for various types of meat. I have read that our safety guidelines for meats such as pork and poultry have changed in recent years, so you should do your own research and decide what you are comfortable with. Remember to set the thermometer to go off at 10 degrees less than target.

Meat Internal Temp. Centigrade
Fresh ground beef, veal, lamb, pork 160°F 71°C
Beef, veal, lamb roasts, steaks, chops: medium rare 145°F 63°C
Beef, veal, lamb roasts, steaks, chops: medium 160°F 71°C
Beef, veal, lamb roasts, steaks, chops: well done 170°F 77°C
Fresh pork roasts, steaks, chops: medium 160°F 71°C
Fresh pork roasts, steaks, chops: well done 170°F 77°C
Ham: cooked before eating 160°F 71°C
Ham: fully cooked, to reheat 140°F 60°C
Ground chicken/turkey 165° F 74°C
Whole chicken/turkey 180° F 82°C
Poultry breasts, roasts 170° F 77°C

Good luck!


matthewabel (author)rupamagic2010-03-02

 I second the probe thermometer.  Best investment I ever made for cooking poultry.  Never under, never over.

Of course, sometimes you can have a bird still frozen in the middle - always a good idea to give it a little extra thaw time.

Solderguy (author)rupamagic2008-09-13

The oven the person used was like 80 years old. I thing you would need to make a few recipe alterations to take that into account. Great instructable !!5/5

ha3rvey (author)2008-02-08

The best way I've found to prevent crying while chopping onions is to set up a fan to blow the sulfur-rich gases away from you. Someone (Alton Brown?) said the gas actually forms a weak sulfuric acid when it mixes with the tears in your eyes.

I would assume a gas mask would help the running nose problem, but I don't think it would help the tearing.

Also, I've worked as a prep cook at a couple restaurants, and I *never* got used to the fumes. I've chopped 40+ lbs. of onions a day for weeks at a time, and it always messed me up.

matthewabel (author)ha3rvey2010-03-02

 I wear goggles.  Swim goggles.

Dragontrap (author)ha3rvey2008-07-14

Also sticking them in the freezer for 20 minutes before cutting them takes care of the tearing problem they cause

donna477 (author)Dragontrap2009-05-15

When I was a cook, as soon as I started tearing up, I'd run into the walk-in freezer, it would stop and I cold come back out and finish up, so at home I open my freezer and lean in. Since I wasn't a prep cook that was do-able, but a prep cook cutting 40lbs at a time would be running in and out..

Jmae (author)2009-07-20

If you chew gum while chopping onions it doesn't make you cry!

vandal1138 (author)2009-07-04

What you have here is an inexpensive tandoor. I give you props friend. Side note, If you soak it then plug the hole in the top, add liquid to the inside, its like supercharging a crockpot.

vandal1138 (author)2009-07-04

A gas mask would work perfectly fine. The only thing the charcoal canisters have trouble filtering is chlorine gas. Learned that one in Iraq...

linuxwitch (author)2009-05-24

Just wear contacts. I can chop up the hottest onion wearing them without issue. If I wear glasses, it's all over. ;) Of course, if your vision is less than perfect, the gas mask will work in a pinch.

hishealer (author)2009-04-17

You had me at cheese... ;p~

Akiro (author)2009-04-12

great recipe i wanna try it

isaac.stewart (author)2008-11-10

Using a very sharp straight edge knife is the best way to not tear when cutting onions. A dull knife will burst the cells, releasing irritants, while a sharp knife slices through the cells without disrupting them.

GorillazMiko (author)2008-02-07

Yum! The baby is very cute too! Post some pictures of him with the chicken! :-)

LinuxH4x0r (author)GorillazMiko2008-02-08

Somehow that sounded a little creepy GM eats babies!

bnutmeg (author)LinuxH4x0r2008-05-29

When I first saw this posted on the side panel of another instructable, with the picture of the kid next to the kid-sized flowerpot, I read the title as "Flowerpot Children", and thought it was perhaps directions on growing children from seed. Then I opened it and saw the oven, and worried it was perhaps a bit Jonathan Swift-esque.

LinuxH4x0r (author)bnutmeg2008-05-29


maker12 (author)LinuxH4x0r2008-04-08


GorillazMiko (author)LinuxH4x0r2008-02-09

Maybe I do.
Just kidding.
I love babies, but not eating love. :P

Bubbler (author)2008-05-29

I suggest a Google search for Bread Baked in Flowerpot. I just did it, and there are plenty of these recipes, and good info on how to do it. Too many to list here. Winter is about to set in here where I am, and my two granddaughters would love to be in on this one, so I'm off to a nursery to buy some new flowerpots of the terracotta type ;-).

rainbowkisses (author)2008-03-26

What a fantastic idea!! My friend gave me one of those expensive dishes when she was moving she had never used it herself the instructions were there and it never mentioned to have the oven cold as you advised. I used it a couple of times soaking it but never preheating the oven as you do when baking something, and it got a big crack in it. "AHHH not happy Jan". I went to price a new one and the size I had was over $130 to buy. The dish is now a water bowl for the pets and the lid is a bird bath so I was able to recycle them, but I do get abit miffed when I see the birds having a splash in the bath 'that's an expensive birdbath guys'. But now I can start cooking again with the favourite recipes I found on google, and just in time for winter. Yah many thanks :)

fentanyl3 (author)2008-03-09

Not trying to rain on the parade or anything, but you can be reasonably sure that clay sold as cooking clay is safe to use, but can you be reasonably sure that the garden store pot is just as safe, was the clay contaminated with lead or other unusually high concentrations of heavy metals before it was fired? You'll most likely be perfectly safe, just try to make sure the pots were manufactured in the US or other nations with a better track record of manufacturing practices.

rupamagic (author)fentanyl32008-03-09

Actually you can't be reasonably sure that anything sold for cooking (or for children to play with) is going to be safe. A person always has to be aware and responsible. Someone expressed that concern earlier. All that said, I have no doubt that my pots from Italy are safe, and I'd bet most Italian, American and Mexican UNGLAZED pots are going to be safe. The material is about the oldest cooking material known to man. But sure, I wouldn't use a flowerpot from any of the known lead exporting countries. ;-)

fentanyl3 (author)rupamagic2008-03-10

Dern good point, didn't really take the recent rash of recalls into mind while I made this comment

FireFairy-Jessica (author)2008-03-08

Neat idea. The baby is cute too.

Yes he is, isn't he? That's my nephew, Dominic, but we call him Bubba.

ha3rvey (author)2008-02-08

I have one of those fancy overpriced clay chicken cookers at home (wedding gift, don't ask). I may have to try this recipe out next weekend when the in-laws are in town.

rupamagic (author)ha3rvey2008-02-08

My mom has one of those, they are excellent for chicken, but very expensive. If you already have one use it! I'll post an actual recipe from the first time I used this thing on the last page of my instructable. It's slightly different from this one, just in the veggies, but the process was the same. Let me know how your dinner turns out!

gog (author)2008-02-08

I'd worry about using a pot that was not specifically made for cooking. Lead and other hazardous chemicals may be present in a pot you would buy to put flowers in.

rupamagic (author)gog2008-02-08

Nahh, not if you buy UNGLAZED terra cotta. Mine were made in Italy a long time ago since I found them in my dad's back shed and he NEVER buys anything. Terra cotta has been used for cooking for centuries in many cultures. It is a very simple low-fire clay.

worldhq101 (author)2008-02-08

I want this right now and it's only 6:45 am. I guess I'll be making a trip to the garden shop and the grocery store today. The photography is great too !

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