Roast Chicken in a Clay Baker
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Roast Chicken in a Clay Baker

Roast Chicken in a Clay Baker. That was my mission.

A couple of weeks ago, while perusing the isles of my local thrift store, I scored this amazing Romertopf Clay Baker

I knew at that moment my first dish baked in this vessel would be Roast Chicken

As I’ve commented on in the past we cook a whole chicken almost every week.  We change up our recipes and cooking methods and it’s always delicious.

Roast Chicken in a Clay Baker with fresh herbs
Romertopf Clay Baker
Romertopf Clay Baker

After doing suitable research on cooking in a clay baker we decided our first chicken should be kept simple so that our ‘success measure’ was judged based on the cooking method.

One word.  MOIST.  Okay maybe two words.  MOIST & JUICY.  The clay baker delivered as promised.  And the presentation was beautiful as well.

First rule with a clay baker is to completely submerge the top and bottom in water and soak for 30 minutes prior to cooking.  We then layered the bottom with onion, garlic, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and fresh herbs.  Sage, Rosemary, Lemony Thyme, and Oregano Sprigs.

Roast Chicken in a Clay Baker with root vegetables

I love when I’m able to photograph dishes in outdoor natural lighting.  And I love my backyard this thyme of year.

We allowed our washed and dried chicken to come to room temperature before placing in baker on top of veggies and herbs. 

This can take an hour or so and will insure even cooking.  Sprinkled with salt & pepper and covered.  Placed baker in a cold oven and then turned temp. to 450 degrees.  Baked covered for 1 1/2 hours or until skin was browned and chicken was done. 

As always let stand at least 15 minutes before carving (or picking).  Wonderfully moist and juicy Roast Chicken one pot meal.  We’re going to turn up the spice for our next Romertopf Clay Baker dinner….any suggestions?

Roast Chicken in a Clay Baker1

This Roast Chicken in a Clay Baker is my #1 viewed recipe for a reason. It comes out perfectly juicy with crispy skin every time! If you’re fortunate enough to own one of these clay bakers I hope you’ll give this recipe a try.

Don’t forget to follow us @LemonyThyme on Instagram and Facebook! And check out our latest TikTok videos and Pinterest boards too!

All my best,
xo Libby

Romertopf Clay Baker

Roast Chicken in a Clay Baker

Libby with Lemony Thyme
Wonderfully moist and juicy Roast Chicken one pot meal.
4.15 from 14 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 4


  • 1 4-5 lb. whole chicken
  • 6-8 small potatoes cut in half
  • 4-6 garlic cloves peeled and left whole
  • 10 + baby carrots
  • 1 lg. onion cut into 1/8ths
  • 8-10 mushroom caps
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh lemony thyme
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh sage
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh oregano
  • salt & pepper


  • Completely submerge the top and bottom in water and soak for 30 minutes prior to cooking.
  • Wash and dry chicken. Allow to come to room temperature (or about 70 degrees) before placing in oven, about 1 1/2 hours.
  • Put veggies and herbs in baker and place chicken on top. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.
  • Place baker in a cold oven and then turn temp. to 450 degrees. Bake covered for 1 1/2 hours or until skin is browned and chicken is done.
  • Let stand for 15 minutes before carving.


Avoid drastic temperature changes with a clay baker. Always presoak baker for 30 minutes and always allow to cool before cleaning. Never use soap, only warm water and baking soda if necessary.
Based on reader feedback, I have adjusted the cooking temperature to 450 degrees.


  • John C

    5 stars
    This was a yummy recipe. I love cooking in the Romertopf, I’ve had 2 and what I have now is an Ikea knock-off. It works just as well, it has a glazed bottom. I’ve also seen Alton Brown use a large ceramic planting pot from any garden store with a tray used as a lid. It works well cause it’s a great shape to cook a chicken standing up.

  • Bill in Oregon

    5 stars
    Finally decided to use my $5 thrift shop Romertopf after looking at it for about 5 years. Won’t be that long before using again, I can attest to that! It was new and unglazed so both pieces got the 30 minute soak and I lined the bottom with foil as one poster suggested. Onion, carrots, quartered yellow potatoes and turnip were the base, topped with 4 seasoned chicken thighs. Into a cold 450 degree oven for 75 minutes after which I removed the lid for the last 15 minutes. Even the wife, not a huge fan of thighs, commented on how crispy the skin was along with the juicy thigh meat. The taters cut like butter & were delicious. Turnip was mine to devour and buttered up were also delicious as were the carrots. I saved the juice to add to soups or chili fixings. Outstanding meal….many thanks for your informative posting!

    • Libby Zappala

      Reading your comments makes my mouth water for a clay baker chicken dinner! Thank you so much for sharing!!

    • C Brown

      I know it’s over a year late, but my Romertopf had a crack, too. I tried different things I’d found on the internet. The thing that worked best – for awhile – was a flour and water paste in the crack. Sadly, it only lasted a few roastings.
      Eventually the crack grew so large that I had to throw it away.

  • john tillman

    My question is can I use A metal rack to keep
    the chicken out all the grease when cooking.

    • Niko Kurkcu

      You can use a silicone rack on anything under 500F or 260C. There are metal racks designed for Römertopfs however. Newer Römertopfs have a glazed bottom so shouldn’t need one. You only have to soak the lid on those.

      • Shelley Seguin

        5 stars
        What an easy and great way to cook a chicken! I’m having just 3 people for Thanksgiving dinner so I’m cooking a chicken in this Romertopf and it smells and looks great

  • Eugene

    Nice article, thanks for sharing!

    I just bought my Maxi Romertopf on sale here in Germany for 24.95 euros, which included a cookbook and two potholders. Just finished the first meal (chicken thighs with vegies and spices). Very delicious, vegies are suffused with a subtle chicken taste that is quite unique!

    Per the cookbook instructions, I roasted potato pieces and chicken first in a pan with olive oil for a few minutes until lightly browned, then placed in covered Romertopf with carrot pieces, garlic, spices (no extra liquid) in oven for an hour at 220 deg Celsius, plus 15 mins uncovered. Also per cookbook, added warm chicken broth at half-hour intervals to keep everything moist.

    Regarding use of a gas-fired range, the cookbook says that they spool up temp much faster than an electric range. So, instead of turning dial to 4 (or 5, whatever) immediately, start off slowly with a 2 and increment in 5-min intervals to prevent cracking. Cheers!

  • Caroline

    I cook Lamb Tagine and came out superb

    soak clay pot for 15-30 minutes

    3- 4 Lamb Shank whole or have butcher cut in half
    1 large sliced onion drizzle in 2- 3 tablespoon olive oil
    mixed 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon saffron powder or tumeric, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon ground ginger powder or fresh, 1 teaspoon ras el hanout (optional),salt and pepper in a bowl and sprinkle on the shank evenly.
    1 cup pitted prunes
    1/2 cup slivered almonds
    1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds.1-2 cup water
    2 clove crush garlic
    place onion on the bottom then shanks, prunes, garlic ,water, place in cold oven bake at 400 for 1 1/2 hour then add almonds and sesame and bake for another 1 1/2 _ 2 hour.

  • Jon

    Several people have mentioned their clay pot breaking when they take it out of the oven. The best way to prevent this is by putting it on a wooden board (like a bread board) when it comes out of the oven. Don’t put it on a cold surface like metal or marble/stone. I have 3 of different sizes, the oldest of which is 20 years old. It has the odd chip but is still serviceable.

  • Bill Halliwell

    5 stars
    Hi, Libby, I’ve been using a Romertopf or a Schlemmertopf, off and on for about 40 years. They are a fantastic way to retain natural flavours, juices and nutrients in foods.
    Conductive heat from the oven creates a slow, constant steaming effect. Some people make the mistake of considering these clay pots as ‘slow cookers’, quite the opposite. A temperature range from, say 180 deg C to 220 deg C will do the trick, slightly quicker than covered roasting/braising in some other kind of casserole dish. The 180 deg C end of the range is best for fish, that don’t need as much time. But any large lumps of meat with or without bones really needs the 220+ deg C temp.
    Stews, casseroles, ragus, curries and goulash style dishes are great in clay pots. So convenient too. If you’ve got a timer on your oven that turns the oven on automatically, you can assemble all the ingredients in the pot, with the needed liquid, give it all a stir and pop it in the oven before you go to work, or out for a day’s shopping. The oven will come on, heating the clay pot from cold and, hey presto, when you get home dinner will be cooked. I’ve found through long experience that if you like spicy foods, like curries, chilli con carne etc. you need to put in more of the spices that have a kick. The steaming process inside a clay pot seems to diminish the ‘kick’ out of spicy, hot additives so you need just a little more than you would normally use for your level of ‘hotness’. Same really for all seasonings in a clay pot process; you need slightly more salt and pepper, cayenne and even garlic, if that’s your main flavour. If the sauce in the bottom of your clay pot tastes a little ‘flat’ then I add a little lemon or lime juice, or balsamic vinegar. Again, the steaming process is great but it tends to ‘dull’ the more acidic end of the taste spectrum.
    Anyway, sorry for the long post. It’s great to see more people rediscovering clay pot cooking.

    • Hazel

      Thank you! I just bought my firstRomertopf and I appreciate your advice. Do you have any particular recipes that you would recommend?

  • Norma Jean

    5 stars
    I read some of the posts and I am amazed to read that you were able to find a reston Lloyd romertopf clay pot cooker for such a small amount of money ! I paid 80. for my large one that I use for meals and 60. for my medium sized one that I use for bread baking.
    I appreciate the recipe and will try it. I have heard about one where one uses 40 cloves of garlic. hmmm not sure whether or not to try it as it may be overwhelming.

    • Linda Smith

      1 star
      Not overwhelming at all and produces a lovely juice …My friend makes a pot pie with her leftovers ..I use mine at dinner to put over rice . We have it with broccoli and white rice and make toast crouts under the broiler for the roasted garlic. The steaming tames the garlic so it is delicious. My friend and I had this for the first time while our husbands were away and we ate like pigs having 8 cloves of garlic left when we were done. The chicken was just wonderful….we have it this way a lot .

  • Pat Pirrie

    Mine too came from a thrift store…six bucks. I roast beets in it, and they are amazing. Load up the pot, put about one inch of water, sprinkle the whole beets with a little salt, cover and roast at 425 degrees for an hour. To remove the skins, hold the beet under running cool water. I use the little bath scrubbing gloves and the skins just slide off. Roasted beets are like dark red sweet rubies., nothing like boiling and pouring all the nutrients and color down the drain. You can roast them individually in foil like potatoes, but they are fab in the clay cooker. Those little gloves are great for scrubbing veggies without having to peel them.

  • Sandy Whitehead

    5 stars
    How funny! I, too, bought mine at a local thrift store for $2.02 probably 15 years ago. Saw this today while “boning up” on roasting a chicken as I haven’t used my clay baker for probably 5 years. (That’s what happens in a tiny kitchen where you have to store things in faraway places.) LOL.

  • Barbara Lehr

    5 stars
    I just took a side of Pork Ribs out of the oven and they are falling off the bone… A little BBQ sauce and they are ready to eat… I have had two Clay Baker’s the first one had a GLAZE on the inside of the bottom half… I recommend that if you are looking into buying one.. (lasted about 15 yrs).. the second one – a friend gave me and it doesn’t have a glaze…so I always put a piece of tin foil in the bottom… shiny side up… I love roast Chicken – pork roast and ribs… they all come out tender – juicy and golden brown – ready for the table… (this one I had for almost 20 yrs now…) love my Clay Baker and get so many compliments on the food… GREAT GIFT IDEA too… Enjoy…

  • Barbie crowley

    Never use a clay pot again. Spent new years day in hospital. My electric cooker blew up and I got an electric shock. Then I took the clay pot out with a thick towel to put on the side so it would not break and the lid slid and I burnt my stomach it blistered and the nurses dressed it. ,got to have another dressing tommorow. Must say I enjoyed my dinner. I’m going to plant some herbs in them. Be careful.

  • Bellbird

    5 stars
    I have used your recipe three times now and each time it has turned out beautifully. I remove the lid for the last 20 mins of cooking to allow the skin to crisp and brown more nicely. For those wanting a celcius temperature just google it, it’s around 230c. The vegetables are soft, not crispy skinned but the flavour is wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

  • joanne

    3 stars
    While beautifully moist, my chicken did not brown. Maybe not hot enough (Celsius please), long enough or should I take the top off for the last 20-30mins?

    • Cathie

      I found that rubbing the skin with a tbsp of molasses creates a nice crisp skin. Remove the vegetables, when the chicken is cooked as well as liquid and place chicken back in oven for further crisping. Use liquid for gravy if you wish

    • libby

      Hi Caroline. Yes, you can reheat in it. When we reheat chicken, we usually go low and slow (200-250 degrees) so that you don’t dry out the meat. I’m not sure reheating in your baker vs. a foil covered pan will differ.

  • Skye Enter

    Preventing cracking of your cooker.

    It’s simple. Clay is a porous material, it’s nothing more than a clay pot that you use in you garden. Even with a glaze on it it’s fragile. The material needs to be treated with proper care and respect.

    If you come in contact with a surface that 400 degrees difference well the structure can’t take the strain of adjusting to that temp and will have areas that will cool faster than the surrounding surface, thus the crack take place.

    The simplest thing to remember about the Romertopf is to maintain a uniform temperature throughout the pot. That means putting a neutral conductor, i.e., potholder, between the extreme surface temps.

    The other simple thing to remember, don’t bang it against anything, including a corner of your counter top. This is a clay pot.

    Good eats to all who discover the joys of the Romertopf.

      • libby

        Hi Neil. Roasting veggies with chicken, no matter the method, will impart the fat and juices. I use a slotted spoon to remove the veggies then reserve those glorious juices. Once chilled the fat can be skimmed off. Thank you for stopping by and sharing.

        • Jim

          5 stars
          Anytime I cook meat in my clay pot, though many will disagree, I cook my veggies separately and use the drippings ng the pot as a gravy base.

    • Skye Enter

      I’ve had a Romertopf for 30 years. When you cook chicken you’re always going to have fat in the bottom.

      Prevent this as much as possible by draining with a turkey baster when you remove the cover after cooking. Also, remove as much fat from the chicken before putting into the pot. That means pulling up the skin and finding it under and between the limbs, as well as around the back, inside and along the neck.

      • libby

        You are so right Skye. We trim as much fat as possible, but accept that it’s part of cooking whole chickens. I so appreciate you sharing your experience. xo

    • libby

      Hi Gail. I’m really not sure. The main thing is to soak the baker for 20-30 minutes in water. Then put it into a cold oven. If your using propane with your grill you would definitely want to use an indirect method to create an oven effect.

    • Skye Enter

      Heat source has nothing to do with temp. Every heat source is measured in BTU’s so your oven temp will register at 450 degrees, whether it was wood, NG, Propane, or charcoal.

  • Debmo

    The chicken was delicious, a little charred and the veggies were rich and fatty in the juices.
    Most disappointing was that the romertopf cracked when I took it from the oven and placed it on the stovetop. Perhaps I should have left it to cool some with the oven off, door open.
    I will still try to use the vessel for baking bread but I am afraid that will be my last roast chicken in the pot. :(

      • Skye Enter

        The clay cooker is just like any other porous container that when it’s hot and it comes in contact with a cold surface, especially a cold surface like your range grates, it will absolutely without a hesitation crack. Why? ‘Cause you creating a 380 degree temp difference on a 1/2″ of surface. The shock is too great for the surrounding clay particles to absorb, thus it will always crack.

        Simple common sense will prevail in these matters. Bet you learned some common sense with you cooker. Extreme hot and extreme cold do not mix. Use that is all your cooking from now on.

  • Tibor J C.

    4 stars
    I just made Saturday night dinner. THis was the first time I have ever used a clay dish to prepare food with.
    I used small sweet potato instead of the small regular potatoes. I fallowed the very simple instructions and after 1.5 hours my “creation” as my wife called it, it was ready.
    It turned out to be Perfect with a capital P. My son was very quiet and just ate and ate till he was full. Magda also was very pleased. She asked me when can we have it again. I said may be next week if you like. She just smiled. Oh a nice German white win was served with the chicken. Make no mistake the win did not pay any part of the acceptance of my dish. My son did not have any wine. I liked it so much, I have to give it a 4 star.

    • libby

      Thank you so much Tibor for the support. I love that your whole family enjoyed it. We really love our baker. Just cooked one for a friend and left the top on the entire time. Came out golden brown and gorgeous. I think I may modify our recipe.

  • Judy Denison

    PS Chicken was room temperature. Not dried! Why dry it?
    PPS – Bought Roemertopf in Germany 1968. Hadn’t used it recently so had to look up your recipe to refresh my mind.

  • Judy Denison

    Roemertopf worked great, soaked more than 30 min, 5 lb chicken with stuffing, no vegetables, 2 hours starting with cold oven, set at 450, last half hour 350 because I was cooking other things.

  • Patricia

    I suggest that you change your original recipe to indicate that the oven be turned up to 400 or 450 degrees F. as soon as the pot of chicken is put in the cold oven. Not everyone reads the comments below your recipe. I only read them because I already knew that 350 is too low of a temp for clay pot cooking.

  • doug stanley

    Lot of discussion about time and temperature but the real issue that recipes seldom comment on is the temperature of the chicken when you start. Is it just coming off frozen, just out of the fridge or is it at room temperature. This makes a huge difference.

    • libby

      Thanks Doug. You’re absolutely correct. I’ve modified the recipe to allow the chicken to come up to room temperature before placing in the oven.

  • Mary Kuszewski

    I agree with Rebecca and Tim, temp way to low. No juices and carrots not cooked. had to prolong dinner. Most clay baker recipes I have been looking at call for a 425 oven. Why is your temp so low ?
    Will try this again at the higher temp.

  • Rebecca

    2 stars
    Prepared as directed and ended up baking for 1 hour 50 minutes at 350, yetjuices were still pink. I will try again as I love one-pot meals but will set oven to 400 or 425 as I’ve seen in other recipes.

    • libby

      Hi Rebecca. I’m sorry it took longer than expected. Perhaps the size of your chicken affected the cooking length. We change up our method each time we use our baker. Sometimes covered the entire time, sometimes at a higher temp. as you suggested. I hope you’ll stop back by and share what worked best for you.

    • Tim Bates

      3 stars
      Echoing Rebecca, the temp is too low, as specified in the recipe: Breast just done, but rest of bird pink, carrots under-done. Suggest more like 400-415° F ( 210 °C).

  • Chuck

    Thanks for this recipe! We bought a Romertopf at an American Legion rummage sale in Eastsound, WA, a few years ago – it must have been one of those weird Xmas gifts that was never used. We’ve had great success with it making the Bittman bread recipe. It did a magnificent job with your chicken recipe – many thanks!

    • libby

      Thank you Tiffany I really appreciate the share and finding nine more tasty recipes. And your blog is beautiful. Take care, Libby

  • Melody

    I have two clay pot bakers. I no longer cook chicken anyway but in one of them. I also put whole brussels sprouts into the pot after my chicken bakes for 45 minutes. The point of the clay pot baker is to cook hotter for a shorter amount of time. I always buy large chickens and cook at 425 for an hour and up to a half hour. The cooked chicken is tender and moist and absolutely delish!! Throw any veggie and spice in and you will not be disappointed!

    • libby

      I love my clay baker and we too are a fan of adding brussels sprouts (and other root veggies) in the pot. I’m thinking about cooking a whole fish in it. Still need to do a little research. I’m so glad you stopped by. I’d love to hear from you again.

  • JENN

    I always see odd stoneware like this and thought they were for more decorative uses, but this is wonderful knowing that you can actually cook in them!! Very nice!

    • libby

      Haha….the previous owner used it as a planter. It’s funny how I see things in terms of “can I cook a chicken in that?” Keep an eye open for me!!

    • libby

      You want to bring it up to temperature slowly so it won’t crack. Same thing when you take it out of the oven, you need to be careful not to set it on somethng cold. It’s so pretty isn’t it!!

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