The Secret Ingredient to the Most Flavorful Baked Chicken Ever|Recipes Spots

  • on September 8, 2023
The Secret Ingredient to the Most Flavorful Baked Chicken Ever

French's Mustard Chicken on a platter with one piece lifted on a spoon, and next to the platter, a bottle of French's Yellow Classic mustard
Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

One of my favorite chicken recipes calls for mustard—the standard bright yellow stuff in a squeeze bottle associated more with hot dogs than with fine dining. 

I discovered this simple mustard-herb chicken recipe years ago when I found myself with half a bottle of yellow mustard leftover from Fourth of July hot dogs, some chicken, and not much else in my kitchen. I Googled “yellow mustard chicken” and came across the Tangy Mustard-Herb Roasted Chicken on French’s website. In addition to the chicken and yellow mustard, it called for olive oil, garlic, dried thyme, dried rosemary, salt, and pepper.

The dish was not only incredibly easy, it was also totally delicious. The chicken was juicy and perfectly seasoned with just the right tanginess from the mustard and bright flavors from the herbs and garlic. I was shocked by how good it was, but I really shouldn’t have been.

Yellow Mustard Is a Smart Ingredient to Flavor Chicken

I’ve always known Dijon mustard for its role in fancying all sorts of recipes, including vinaigrettes, vegetables, and dinnertime stalwart chicken. It turns out that the ingredients in Dijon and yellow mustard are not that different.

The primary ingredients in both are mustard seeds, distilled vinegar, salt, and water. French’s Classic Yellow Mustard also contains turmeric, paprika, and garlic powder, along with somewhat mysterious—but not scary—”spice” and “natural flavor.”

I believe the label when it says “no artificial flavor,” and as for that unnatural-seeming fluorescent yellow color? It’s actually from turmeric—a natural ingredient and what gives curry powder its color. So it’s not a surprise that yellow mustard is a smart way to flavor chicken.

Mustard-herb chicken on a platter
Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

How I Make French’s Mustard-Herb Roasted Chicken

For four servings, I use:

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, patted dry
  • 1/3 cup yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt or 1 teaspoon kosher salt such as Diamond Crystal or Morton’s
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or more to taste 

Preheat the oven to 400°F. 

In a small bowl, combine the mustard, olive oil, garlic, dried thyme, dried rosemary, salt, and pepper. 

Place the chicken on a sheet pan or in a baking dish. Use a spoon or silicone brush to cover the chicken pieces with the mustard mixture.

Bake the chicken for about 20 minutes. An instant-read thermometer should measure 165°F at the thickest part of the thigh.

Tips For Making the French’s Baked Chicken

Use different chicken parts: While the original recipe calls for bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces, it’s also great with boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I like it best with boneless, skinless chicken thighs—they’re juicy, fuss-free, and cook quickly, so they’re perfect for fast and easy dinners. I also increased the temperature a bit from the French’s recipe, from 375°F to 425°F just so the chicken cooks faster. 

Flexible measurements: I upp the amount of rosemary and pepper a bit and I measure the garlic by cloves rather than teaspoons because having a little more or less garlic than called for in the recipe isn’t a big deal, while actually measuring out minced garlic is too much of a hassle for this lazy cook.

Don’t have thyme or rosemary? Use whichever one you have, swap for another herb in your spice drawer, or skip it altogether.

Out of fresh garlic? Swap in garlic powder or some minced onion or shallots.

Use any kind of mustard: You can even swap the yellow mustard for any other type of mustard—indeed, it’s great with Dijon. 

5 Ways to Turn This Mustardy Baked Chicken Into a Meal

This chicken is super versatile. Here are some of my favorite ways to round out my dinner plate when I make it. 

  • Roast cubed potatoes and chopped broccoli at the same time as the chicken and serve them on the side. 
  • Serve the chicken over rice, quinoa, or another grain with roasted vegetables and chickpeas. Garnish with fresh dill, cilantro, or parsley if you have any on hand. 
  • Slice the chicken and serve it over a salad with lots of herbs and a mustard vinaigrette (yes, more mustard!).
  • Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and add it to whole-grain pasta with halved cherry tomatoes and sliced fresh basil. 
  • Chop the chicken and stir in mayo, mustard, and diced celery. Serve the chicken salad on a bed of greens or sandwiched in multigrain or sourdough bread.
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