New Favorite Weeknight Chicken

I know. I’m prone to saying that — “my new favorite” — but here’s the thing, I mean it every time! Truth be told, it’s easy to abuse the phrase when we’re talking chicken, because I, like the rest of America, am always grateful for a simple new way to get my family’s favorite protein on the table fast. This one I picked up from Diana Henry’s awesome chicken bible, A Bird in the Hand (which I picked as one of the best spring cookbooks last May in The Book Reviewif you want more details). You smear the simplest mustardy-herby-butter on chicken thighs, press in some breadcrumbs right before baking, and 35 minutes later — enough time to put together your sides — you have a proper family meal. Her recipe calls for tarragon, but I’ve done it with dill, chives, basil, or whatever herb I’ve paid $1.99 for and is about to turn to black liquid in the “crisper.” Bonus: Any leftover mustard butter can be frozen, which might just make this my new favorite make ahead meal.

Baked Chicken with Herbs and Dijon Mustard
From A Bird in the Hand, by Diana Henry

1/2 cup Dijon mustard
chopped leaves from 6 springs of tarragon (or dill or chives or basil)
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
8 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs (I’ve also used boneless and it’s fine)
salt and pepper
1/4 cup breadcrumbs (or panko breadcrumbs)

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Mash the Dijon mustard with the tarragon and butter until combined. Put the chicken into a roasting pan (or a baking dish) and brush or spoon the mustard mixture onto the chicken. Season, then press on the bread crumbs.

Roast in the oven for 35 minutes. The top should be a lovely golden color. Serve immediately with the cooking juices that have gathered around the chicken, some boiled new potatoes and a green salad or green snap beans.

Click here for an updated version of this recipe using panko and carrots.

Recipe reprinted with the permission of Mitchell Beazley.

Another winner from the book: Chicken Piri Piri (before it went in the oven) a tangy roast chicken recipe from Portugal.

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Ha! I finally got round to buying this book after reading your review and this was the first recipe I made – it really is good. Made the pomegranate/honey kebabs recently – very good, worth a try if you haven’t made them yet.


You were awesome on Radio Times–I was so mad I was driving and couldn’t call in to personally thank you for the nights of good meals for my family and great encouragement for me!


Aw, thanks MemeGRL — nice to see your name again and you are of course very welcome! I had so much fun on that show, glad you were listening.

Karen Capucilli

What would I do without this blog and your cookbooks? Just when I thought I was getting bored with chicken, you come out with THIS. I love mustard. Ill be trying it soon, with chicken breasts – we are white meat folks. THANKS!


I made this but used about a 1/4 cup of parsley that was on its last leg and boneless thighs. It was delicious! I also roasted some cubed potatoes and carrots (tossed in a little yellow curry powder and smoked paprika) at the same time the chicken was cooking and then spooned some of the chicken pan juices over the veggies when serving. Amazing and so easy!

Jenn Warren

Would it work with thyme? That’s all that’s left in my garden. Bought basil but it went bad in the fridge.


Never refrigerate fresh basil. Just treat them like flowers in a glass of water on your counter. Change the water every day or two and snip the bottom of stems. Works great, and it will last a long time.


Made this last night for two families. So easy and quick to come together on a weeknight, yet it felt fancy enough to serve to company. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped chives because that’s what I had on hand, and served with rice pilaf, green beans and salad. Took about 40 minutes of baking time in our somewhat untrustworthy oven. A hit with the adults and kids! Thanks for the great recipe.

Ashley L

I have dried tarragon from a long ago cream sauce recipe. I’d love to use it up. Would a teaspoon instead of fresh work or just a pinch? I know the dried stuff can be more potent.