Light, savory, inexpensive, and oh-so-easy, it’s the perfect weeknight meal.

Sure, sheet pan suppers are all the rage, and rightfully so. But sometimes you want a dish that is even easier and even more hands-off. Which for me, means a Dutch oven dinner. With a quick amount of prep and then a long slow cook in the oven, a one-pot dinner like this is practically foolproof, and very forgiving on timing.

My favorite this spring (and one that is in nearly constant rotation in our house), is a simple French-inspired dish of beans and chicken in an intense aromatic broth. The best part is that it is a technique that is easily adaptable, so once you know how, you can change up some of the ingredients or aromatics to make the flavor profile different. Start with the basic, and then feel free to play.

Woman with Cooking Pot
Credit: Getty / Neustockimages

The Best One-pot Spring Chicken Recipe

The ingredients couldn't be simpler (or more inexpensive):

  • 1 cup small beans, preferably dried (I like flageolets, white beans, pinto beans, black-eyed peas)
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1-2 small leeks
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 package each of fresh thyme and sage
  • 2 bay leaves (preferably fresh)
  • 6-8 large bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
  • 8 cups chicken stock (homemade or low-sodium store-bought)

And the recipe is as easy as it gets!

1. Soak the dried beans overnight in water. It is worth using dried here instead of canned, since canned are likely to break down a bit too much during the cooking. I love flageolets in this—their small size is perfect and the flavor is mild—but any small bean will work. (Consider stocking some beans from Rancho Gordo in your pantry this season; they carry the flageolets and other extraordinary heirloom varieties that will improve all your bean cooking.)

2. Preheat oven to 350°.

3. Chop the carrots, onion, the white and pale green part of the leeks, and mince the garlic. Sweat vegetables in ¼ cup olive oil in a large Dutch oven with the lid on for about 10-15 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring every few minutes, until they are softened but not browned. Season well with salt and pepper.

4. Drain the soaked beans and mix into the vegetables. Tie the thyme and sage with cotton twine into a large bouquet garnis and nestle with bay leaves into the mixture.

5. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper, then place on top of the vegetables skin side up. Add enough chicken stock to leave about a half-inch of chicken poking up out of the liquid (reserve extra stock in case you need it).  

6. Cover and bring to a boil on the stovetop, then transfer to your oven for about 2 ½ hours.

7. To finish after cooking, remove the lid and remove the skin from thighs and with a pair of tongs, slide the bones out of the thighs (they should slip out easily). Remove the bay leaves and herb bundle. Give the pot a good stir which will naturally break up the chicken meat into large chunks (not shredded). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

If you want the broth to thicken a bit to more of a glaze, put the pot back on the stove over high heat until it reduces. But I like it with the broth (all the better for dunking hearty bread into). Serve with a light green salad as is, or over rustic skin-on mashed potatoes, rice, or polenta.

Delicious variations on the basic recipe

Once you have made this recipe once, you will find endless ways to enhance it. Try these fun variations!

  • Add strips of lemon or orange zest or switch up the herbs.
  • Toss in a whole serrano or habanero pepper for some heat or swap out the garlic for ginger or lemongrass or both.
  • Replace 1 cup of the chicken stock with 1 cup of white wine.
  • Want it creamier? Stir in a couple tablespoons of butter or crème fraiche at the end of cooking. Want it punchier? Stir in a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, a pepper puree like aji amarillo, or an herb sauce like salsa verde or chimichurri.
  • Prefer white meat? Use 4 large split breast halves.
  • Not in the mood for chicken? Try it with cubes of pork shoulder, veal osso buco, or lamb shank. Garnish if you are feeling fancy with chopped parsley, toasted buttered bread croutons, or gremolata.