Garlic Chicken with White Wine Sauce

Chicken browned first in olive oil, then braised in white wine sauce with 40 cloves of garlic, thyme and tarragon.

You can of course peel the garlic if you want.

  • Yield: Serves 4-6.


  • 1 4-pound whole chicken, cut into eight parts
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-3 whole heads of garlic, cloves separated (40 cloves) but not peeled
  • Olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cup dry white wine, such as a Sauvignon Blanc
  • 3 large sprigs of fresh tarragon
  • 3 large sprigs of fresh thyme


1 Lightly smash the garlic cloves with the side of a heavy chef's knife, just enough to break the cloves. Leave peel on.

2 Trim the chicken pieces of excess fat. Pat them dry and sprinkle pieces generously with salt and pepper. Heat 3 Tbsp olive oil in a Dutch oven (or a large thick-bottom pan with a tight fitting cover) on medium high. Working in batches, brown the chicken pieces on all sides. Lay the chicken pieces on the hot oil, do not move until browned, then turn over to other side using tongs. Remove from pan when browned.

braised-chicken-garlic-1.jpg braised-chicken-garlic-2.jpg

3 Add a little more olive oil to the pan if necessary. Add the garlic and sauté until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add the wine and the herbs. Bring to a boil. Add the chicken pieces. Reduce the heat to medium low. Cover the pan and simmer until the chicken is cooked through. Move the chicken pieces from top to bottom every 5 minutes for about 20 minutes. Chicken is done when a meat thermometer inserted into thickest part reads 180°F for thighs and 170°F for breasts.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer chicken pieces to a platter; spoon garlic sauce over the chicken.

Serve alone (low carb option) or with rice, noodles, baked or mashed potatoes.

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  1. Tiffany

    Can’t wait to try this out! We’re big garlic fans here and although that is a WHOLE lot of garlic, it can never be too much ;) Thanks to you and Annie M. for sharing!

  2. Amy

    This looks delicious! It is definitely going on the weekend menu for dinner!

  3. Brad

    I’ve seen this recipe done on Food Network (Ina Garten did it. So did AB on Good Eats.) a couple times. Been wanting to give it a try. Think I will now. :)

  4. Kelly from Almost Frugal

    This is a classic French recipe, and so delicious. When my (French) mother in law makes this, she serves it with creamy Gratin Dauphinois (like scalloped potatoes and steamed green beans. I love this recipe, however, even if the garlic does mellow out, you have to be a garlic fan to make it.

  5. S Roy

    This looks absolutely delicious can’t wait to try it. I am have question though- do you cook the garlic cloves with the peel and remove them before serving? I imagine the peels would get burned rather quickly, i.e. before the garlic is done!

    You can remove them if you want. We removed them on our plates, the way one would remove shrimp shells, just a lot easier. ~Elise

  6. jonathan

    40 cloves? That’s it? Perhaps it was Annie M’s turn for a typo? ;-)

    I’m thinking maybe a Listerine Sorbet for dessert following this meal would be apropos.

    MORE GARLIC. Please. :-)

  7. Bob

    This looks great. Of course, I love garlic/wine sauce with chicken. When you serve the sauce do you leave the unpeeled cloves in?

    We did. You can remove them if you want; it’s a lot of work if you try to get all of them. I just removed them on my plate, put them with the bones. ~Elise

  8. Angela

    I pretty much only cook with chicken breasts instead of a whole chicken. How would you adapt this recipe for a pound & a half to two pounds package of chicken breasts? Would you half all the other ingredients?

  9. restcat

    Chicken breasts are too dry for this. You need the rest of the chicken… with skin better than without!

  10. Elise

    To Angela and M&M,
    I’m kinda with restcat on this one. Better with all the chicken parts. But if you want to use breasts only, let us know how it turns out for you. I would use the same amount (weight) of chicken and keep all of the other ingredients the same. Maybe a bit more wine because breast meat may need more sauce.

  11. Laurie

    Can’t wait to try this recipe! The hubby loves dishes with chicken cooked on the bone and he loves garlic, so it’s sure to be a winner with him.

  12. Kelly

    I generally cook with chicken breasts too, for preference and health reasons. For recipes like this, I buy the breast that is on the bone with the skin on. This adds moisture and flavor but I usually remove the skin before eating. This looks great and I am inspired to cook dinner tonight!

  13. Angela

    Ok, I’ll give it a try this weekend & let you know how it turns out!

  14. Marchel

    I make this dish on fairly regular basis. I lived in Spain for two years in the early eighties and this is considered a typical Spanish dish, however they also use lemon slices. You are correct, the worst part about the 40 cloves is counting them, the flavor they impart to the chicken is amazing and the garlic cloves squeezed onto a nice crusty bread is soooo wonderful. I usually make a rice and vegetable pilaf or zinfandel broccoli pasta to accompany.

    Cutting up a whole chicken is actually very easy and it is so economical. Give it a try!

  15. Melissa

    Great recipe. I just added it to the list of recipes to make for this coming month. Thanks!

  16. Lisa

    I am surprised that no one has heard of this recipe. I am not saying this in a “superior” way at all, it is just that I have seen this recipe (or slight modifications thereto) on many Web sites, listed under various names such as “Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic,” “Chicken with Garlic and Garlic and Garlic,” “Death-by-Garlic Chicken,” “Garlic with Chicken” (where chicken appears to be just an afterthought to the garlic), and others that I can’t remember. I do seem to remember, as two other posters indicated, that it is European — one person says it’s classic in Spain, the other that it’s classic in France — wherever it originated, thank God for that nameless genius! I have made it more or less according to this recipe, and it’s one of the most amazing-flavored dishes I’ve ever had. The garlic gets all caramelized and beautifully oozy, with a melting flavor and none of the sharpness of raw garlic. Oh, dear, now I’ve done it. Nothing else will do, I must make this dish this very weekend! So glad I peeked in today, Elise and all!

    Cheers and happy garlic breath! Maybe instead of Listerine Sorbet (that was SO funny, LOL!), one could serve Peppermint Sorbet to the diners?

  17. Brian

    This sounds great! Would it be possible to brown the chicken and make the sauce in a pan, and then add it all to a baking dish covered with foil, to finish cooking in the oven? Any ideas how i could accomplish that? Was thinking about cooking this for about 8 people, and dont have a big enough pan!

  18. Solaera

    I cannot abide the flavor of tarragon, what might be good subsitute? Perhaps rosemary or sage?

    The original recipe only used thyme. I added tarragon because I have a ton of it growing in my garden and I love the way tarragon works with chicken. So, I would just leave it out if you don’t like it. The recipe would also work with rosemary or sage or even poultry seasoning. ~Elise

  19. Melissa

    Yes! I have seen “40 Garlic Clove Chicken” before, a few times. Bittman has it in his How To… book and I have seen other versions of it around.

    Yea you realize, of course, that I am taking “yours.” I think I’m going for some kind of record with how many recipes I can make from your page. This will be… number 10 or so?

    But you know I always credit you.


  20. Paula

    I’m looking forward to trying this ASAP. It reminds me of one of my favorite Emeril recipes from the Food Network – Free Range Chicken in Vinegar, Lyon Style. Obviously there are some significant differences (no vinegar here) but in many ways the basic recipe is the same. It’s one of my all time favorite chicken recipes. I made it just the other night for my husband and myself and we polished off the entire dish in one sitting (in truth I cut the proportions down a bit). Don’t be skittish about the garlic. Elise is right when she says it’s mellow – and oh-so delicious!

  21. Liz

    Sounds awesome!! LOVE the garlic and not afraid of 40 cloves (I’m from Gilroy, Garlic Capital of the World!!!) Curious though… can I substitute something for the wine?? Vegetable broth perhaps???

  22. Sunny

    I would prefer to use chicken thighs with skin and bones. But do I use perhaps two pounds of thighs or a bit less? I always used to use the breasts when cooking parts but I do find that they dry out. Some of the chicken breasts lately have been a bit stringy and tough even with marinating them.I might just try chicken breasts at Whole Foods and see if theirs is better. And no, I didn’t over cook them. So now I just use the thighs and or wings. Looking forward to trying this receipe. Who can resist garlic.

  23. Wendy

    I made this tonight and it was delicious! I used the rest of the chicken to make a broth that I then used for the butternut squash soup, also taken from your website. We served the dinner with mashed yukon gold potatoes and it was a big hit, even with our small kids. The flavor of the garlic was very good and not at all overwhelming. Great dish!!

  24. Maria

    Why NOT eat the garlic?!

    I do eat the garlic, don’t you? Just without the outer peel. That part is hard to eat. ~Elise

  25. robin @ caviar and codfish

    Chicken with lots of garlic mellowed by white wine (esp. a Sauv Blanc) is my most recent favorite thing to eat. Thanks for reminding me to put it on this week’s menu, Elise!

  26. Aissa Galoso

    Wow, 40 cloves of garlic? Sounds divine.

  27. Kathy

    I had a whole chicken, never having cooked one before, and I tried this recipe for dinner. This was amazing! The instructions how to cut up a chicken by the Chow website which were posted by another user were very helpful, and I made the recipe exactly as is. The garlic was delicious; I didn’t peel it, and it is very easy to peel once cooked. Really, you just squeeze it out of the skin – no real peeling involved. Highly recommended! I will be making this again, over and over.

  28. [eatingclub] vancouver || js

    This is an attractive dish made more attractive by the fact I don’t have to peel the garlic. Hooray! I have to try this soon.

  29. Teresita in Puerto Rico

    No, leaving the skin on garlic is not a Spanish tradition… for people who don’t like the garlic aftertaste there is parsley. Parsley neutralizes the garlicky aftertaste without neutralizing flavor. Add a bit to the recipe.

  30. Maria

    I am so glad that I stumbled across your site a few months ago. You are now my first choice when trying to find a recipe. Everything that I have tried has come out superb! This Garlic chicken was a HUGE hit! Thanks!

  31. Sondra

    Made this yesterday and it was yummy! The only changes I made were cooking the garlic completely, adding the wine and herbs and reducing the sauce a bit before adding browned boneless, skinless chicken breasts. If I had cooked the chicken as directed it would have been like shoe leather. It was tender and tasty the way I did it — will probably become a frequent dinner for my family. THANKS!

  32. Diana @ AppetiteforChina

    Oh, I need to make this. 7-ingredient (or fewer) dishes come in handy when I’m on vacation and don’t have a stocked pantry.

  33. Jen

    Is there an acceptable substitute for the white wine (non-alcoholic)? Grape juice doesn’t seem dry enough.

  34. Jen

    I made it this weekend! Used bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (about 2-3 lbs) started on the stove. Transferred breasts and pan sauce w/ garlic to crock pot and let it go for several hours on a busy Saturday afternoon. We came home to a wonderful aroma and THE most delish dinner.

  35. S Roy

    I finally tried this recipe this weekend (with great expectations!) and it was good but somehow not as good as the real spanish one. Could be the cooking wine was not good enough- any suggestions about that? Even with 40 cloves of garlic the flavor of garlic was everywhere but not in the chicken (I mean did not infuse in)! I did fry the chicken well -should it be like lightly sauted- may be smalled pieces? Or may be marinate the chicken in garlic and olive oil overnight. I am thinking of doing this for a party this month and might go with a few variations- roasting 1/2 the garlic cloves (unpeeled) and then pureeing the roasted garlic (removing peels)with olive oil and lemon juice and using it as a marinade. Food for thought… uhuh? Let me know your suggestions pls.

  36. tastyeatsathome

    This dish was SO delicious. I loved the sauce. I served it with rice pilaf (from your site) and some steamed broccoli, and a little french bread on the side. And I subsequently used my bread to sop up as much of that sauce as possible. I’m sure I had garlic breath, but who cares, it was SO yummy. Thanks Elise!

  37. Lindsay

    Love the crockpot idea, Jen! I will have to do that next time. This was delicious! It is more efficient to do switch the order of #1 & 2.
    That way, you can also peel off the garlic. Otherwise (as usual with Elise’s recipes), my very picky husband devoured it and my 15 month old enjoyed the chicken too!

  38. Libby

    Hi! I’ve made this before with a small change–I cook the garlic in about 4 T of oil first until browned, then remove the garlic and brown the chicken in the garlic-flavored oil. Then add the garlic back into the pot with herbs and wine, cover, and cook on the stove or in the oven until done. Tasty!

  39. Garrett

    It was pretty good, I had skip the searing part though as my pan wasn’t thick enough and the chicken just stuck to and ripped apart on my pot. Still, it came out okee in the end. It had all my fav flavors, so it’s a winner in my book.

  40. Steve McG

    I’ve made this in a similar fashion before. I’m not a big fan of tarragon, so I used a small bunch of fresh sage leaves, coursely chopped. Everyone loved it! I made this using six chickens at once in large roasting pans for a dinner party and also roasted whole birds with this recipe, too. Still came out great.

  41. Mike

    This looks good, w/the addition of thyme and tarragon. I have a similar recipe for ‘Mistral’s Chicken’ from a French Bistro book; it goes 1/2 & 1/2, wine & stock, and 1/2 & 1/2 olive oil & butter–no herbs. I get the impression this might be an original Escoffier.

  42. Nate

    We’ve done the braised chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. It’s a tasty recipe! We like to squeeze the soft garlic onto baguette slices – like buttah!

  43. Lauren

    I make a very similar dish to this, but I peel the cloves before browning/braising. Then when its all done, I remove the chicken to the side, take about half of the garlic and puree it, then add it back into the sauce and simmer it to thicken it. I usually serve it over cous cous with shallots and herbs.

  44. Tyleen

    This recipe is older than I am and that’s old. My sister-in-law’s Grandmother made this. She was given the recipe by a butcher at Petrini’s Market in San Mateo, California back in the 1940’s. It’s still in business. Great recipe!

  45. Rachel

    This recipe was amazing… so simple, so delicious… and even better the next day! I loved eating the garlic pieces in the sauce. I’ll definitely make this again!

  46. Dee

    I just found this site, but I admit to having it on my iGoogle page for some time, I just hadn’t ever taken the time to look at it. But “garlic” and “white wine” snared me. I’ve been a fan of broiled garlic for years, so light and delicate and unexpected. Now you can count on me coming back, not just for the recipes, but your photography deserves a thumbs up.

    I’m a vegetarian, but I’ll get eco-chicken for my friends and use Quorn for myself, should be just as good with a lighter pasta or brown rice with a small amount of wild mixed in. I look forward to this one.

    Keep up the good work, ladies and gentlemen!

  47. maggie

    Can this be made in a crock pot? If so, what is the cooking time?

  48. katesillyfreak

    I’ve been lurking around for over a year and this is the first recipe of yours I’ve made. Holy cow, is it good! I was a little leery of not peeling the cloves but it’s not noticeable at all. Can’t wait to make it again!!!!!

  49. Mary

    I tried this recipe this evening; it is really terrific. I didn’t have white wine so I used red. After it was done the garlic sections that were large enough were spread on lightly toasted french bread with Feta Cheese.

  50. Happy

    For the non-alcoholics; I tried this first with wine to get a taste. Then again with white cranberry juice. Still tastes good but lacks the tummy warming of alcohol even with a pinch of cayenne. Also tried with white grape juice tastes just as good as the cranberry juice. When cooking for toddlers remove the garlic peel and put into a cheese cloth bag then stew the bag. Squeeze out every last drop of flavor from the bag when removing. Hope this helps. :)

  51. Lindsey

    I made this for the first time last night. It was a resounding success. I used boneless skinless chicken breasts, sherry, dried tarragon and thyme. It was absolutely wonderful. Only complaint is having to pick all the garlic peels out of the food, I might remove them next time and see how it goes.

  52. Gretchen

    I’ve made a variant of this before, but I really liked the look of this version. I made the following changes based on what I had on hand:

    I substituted vermouth and broth for the white wine, because I didn’t have any wine and the herbal aroma of the vermouth seemed to complement the garlic and chicken.

    I had fresh oregano and lemon thyme, so I used that in place of the tarragon and thyme.

    I cooked it in the oven at 250F instead of the stovetop. After 45 minutes, the thighs were done and the breasts (which I’d put on top) were not, so I cycled the breasts to the bottom for another 20 minutes. I’d either increase cooking liquid and then reduce the sauce at the end (to remove the need to cycle the breasts) or try checking the temperature and cycling if necessary after 35 minutes next time. Or I’ll use the bigger dutch oven and see if I can get everything to fit on one layer.

    My husband is fussy about texture so I pulled the garlic skins out at the end, as well as deboned the chicken. I think it was worth the effort for the extra flavor from the bones and garlic skins, though next time I’d probably just run the sauce through a food mill rather than remove the skins by hand.

  53. Becky

    INSANE!!! I love to cook and this was the easiest recipe for a great dinner I have done in a long time. I served it along side bow-tie pasta with roasted garlic alfredo sauce.

  54. Richard

    Looks amazing! though I actually plan on only making this dish for 2, would you recommend just halving all the ingredients and keeping the cooking time the same? I’m a slight newbie in the kitchen but wanted a romantic gesture for my girlfriend.

    Yes, you can reduce the ingredients, but keep the cooking time the same. You might also just want to cook a whole recipe and keep the extra for leftovers. ~Elise

  55. BC

    This is absolutely one of my most favorite chicken recipes. Very good! We serve egg noodles with the chicken and the sauce. I wonder if it would be good in a slow cooker?

  56. KarenX

    I love this recipe. I found it by accident and I’ve made it a bunch of times. I always use chicken thighs, which I buy in bulk, and they fit nicely in my pan and they cook really well. What I’ve started doing is throwing in sliced white mushrooms about halfway through the saute garlic stage. So delicious. And the ratio of compliments to effort is high.

  57. Stacy M

    This was a great dish. I finished it in the oven instead of the stove top and let it cook until it was “fall off the bone” tender. Delicious, simple and seems very forgiving and adaptable. Will definitely make again. Was nice enough for company – yet simple to make and would allow for plenty of time to entertain guests.

  58. Tim

    This was absolutely delicious! I wasn’t balancing my time between the other dishes very well, so the sauce reduced a bit more than planned. It became a bit salty, but was still delicious. I would add more garlic, myself.

  59. Cindy

    Any recommendations for a non-alcoholic substitute for the wine? (I’m pregnant.)

    You could use chicken stock with a little bit of lemon juice for acidity. ~Elise

  60. Lynne M

    Liked this recipe very much but would advise removing the shells on the garlic. Did not like finding them through the food during the meal.

  61. JoAnn

    Mmmm, Mmmm…made this last night and used chicken thighs, homemade chicken stock, fresh lemon juice with the herbs and the GARLIC!!!
    I did peel the garlic before browning which worked out well because I smashed them into the fabulous sauce…and it was delish poured over the chicken. I did bake it in a 350 degree oven uncovered and basted every 15 minutes which reduced the sauce. I would have used the wine because I love cooking with it but was out. I’m going to try this next time I have a house full of guests because its simple and Simply Delicious…both in smell and taste!!!

  62. lisa

    I am fascinated with recipes that call for a whole chicken cut into parts – do you cut it yourself? What is the benefit of this?

    Great question. We usually have the butcher cut up the chicken for us. Sometimes it’s cheaper to get the whole chicken. If you buy the whole chicken you are getting everything bone-in and skin on, great for flavor and the bones you can freeze and make stock with. If you get a whole chicken that has been “jointed” or cut into parts, you have a variety of parts from which to choose when you eat the chicken. Some people prefer white meat to dark, some dark to white. I love thighs and wings. My mother loves drumsticks. Many older recipes call for a whole chicken because years ago that’s how people generally bought chickens, not pre-packaged in the supermarket. ~Elise

  63. Lisa

    You had me at “40 cloves of garlic.”

    I also can’t wait to try it. I may use a combo of thighs and breasts instead of a cut-up whole chicken, so we’ll see how that works out.