If you've got an itch to get engaged, your proposal might be one dinner away — that is, if you cook up the engagement chicken recipe. Legend has it that if you cook up crispy-yet-juicy whole chicken stuffed with lemons, your significant other will get down on one knee and pop the question you've been dying for them to ask.
Whether or not it actually leads to a proposal, cooking up a delicious delicious, special meal for the person you love should make them feel all tingly inside (and hopefully not because you undercooked the bird). That's how the idea began back in the '80s, when a Glamour magazine fashion editor Kim Bonnell gave the recipe to her assistant, Kathy Suder, who was trying to figure out what to cook her boyfriend for dinner.
Shortly after the dinner, her boyfriend proposed — and they couldn't help but wondering if the mouthwatering dinner she'd prepared had anything to do with it. Suder's chicken-fueled proposal quickly led to other Glamour staffers trying out the recipe and, coincidence or not, several more women became engaged.
"With an eerie predictability, women became engaged to the men for whom they prepared this chicken," said Bonnell.
Accordingly, the dish was dubbed "engagement chicken." Glamour published the recipe, and more than 70 women wrote to the magazine about their success stories after whipping up the mythical bird.
Whether you're hoping for a ring or not, the recipe itself is gold — any guy or gal who knows how to operate an oven could whip this up for romantic dinner in. Or maybe this is the recipe you make the first time you partner's family comes by for dinner. Or maybe it has nothing to do with romance at all, and it's the main dish at your first dinner party!
Engagement Chicken Recipe
You can whip up an engagement chicken in six simple steps. The beauty of this bird is the crisp skin courtesy of brushed-on butter, and the juiciness of the meat, which comes from the pricked citrus stuffed inside.
- 1 chicken
- 3 lemons
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon kosher or coarse sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 4 rosemary sprigs
- 1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley
- 4 sage sprigs
- 8 thyme sprigs
1. Preheat Oven and Prepare the Chicken for Cooking
Preheat your oven to 400°F. As the oven heats up, remove the chicken giblets and wash the chick with cold water (inside and out!). Drain the water from the chicken by placing it upside down in a colander for two minutes.
2. Dry the Chicken and Season with Lemon, Salt and Pepper
Using paper towels, pat the chicken dry. Place the chicken in a medium roasting pan with the chicken breast facing down. Take your half cup of lemon juice and pour liberally all over the bird, as well as inside the bird. Top it off with salt and pepper, again both outside and inside the chicken.
3. Add Whole Lemons
Take two of the whole lemons and roll the on the counter with your palm to get juices flowing inside. Then, prick them three or four times with a fork. Now they're ready to place in the cavity of the chicken. Place the whole lemons inside — depending on the size of the chicken, one of the lemons may stick out partially. That's totally fine.
4. Roast the Chicken
Place the chicken in the oven and lower the temperature to 350°F. Leave it to roast for 15 minutes.
5. Flip the Chicken
After 15 minutes, remove the pan and carefully flip the chicken so that the breast-side is facing up, using wooden spoons or tongs. (This strategic flip is the key to keeping the meat delectably moist.) The chicken is ready when your meat thermometer reads 180°F and juice runs clear if you prick the chicken thigh with a fork. Depending on the exact size of the bird and your oven, your cooking time will vary, so keep a close eye on the bird and check it with a meat thermometer. Place the roasting pan back into the oven for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes.
6. Garnish with Herbs and Lemon Slices
After you take the chicken out of the oven, let it rest ten minutes. Place it on a serving dish, and then pour the flavorful juice from the pan all over the chicken. The juice is the secret ingredient that takes this recipe from just another chicken to engagement chicken. For the final touch, garnish the chicken with lemon slices, rosemary sprigs, sage sprigs, thyme sprigs and parsley.
The only thing left to do is carve it! To carve the chicken with ease, use a sharp carving knife, and start by slicing the chicken breasts. Then, remove the chicken wings and legs using your carving knife or kitchen shears.
Engagement Chicken Success Stories
Here's the real truth about engagement chicken: whoever cooks it likely won't get a ring that same night — and whoever eats it hopefully has a million and one non-poultry-related reasons for proposing.
What's most important here is the act of lovingly cooking a special meal for your partner. Here are three stories of engagement chickens that led to proposals, starting with the most famous one of all: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
A Royal Engagement Chicken
While Prince Harry probably took into account Meghan Markle’s other impressive qualities before proposing, her skills in the kitchen couldn’t have hurt. In Harry and Markle’s first joint interview with BBC News, the couple revealed the engagement went down during a quiet night at home while they whipped up a roast chicken.
“Congratulations to Prince Harry and Meghan! I always knew roast chicken had magic powers!! I’m so happy for both of you!,” celebrity chef Ina Garten tweeted after the engagement story was announced in November 2018.
Garten told People that the magic lies in making a simple, nourishing meal that you cook together. “It wasn’t some fancy meal,” Garten said of the royal question-pop. “He did it over a home-cooked meal and a simple roast chicken, which is frankly what everybody wants.”
First Meal Sealed the Deal
In an exclusive interview with Brides, Ayesha Curry revealed she, too, had made a roast chicken for Stephen Curry before he proposed. The couple met in their teens at chruch in Charlotte, North Carolina. When Ayesha was 19, her parents let her have Stephen over and she made him a roast chicken.
It wasn't the exact engagement chicken recipe outlined above, but it was still a roast chicken seasoned to perfection and made with love.
"I was 19. I was a baby. It was at my home. My parents were gone and surprisingly let me have him over, which was a big deal for me—to have a boy over. I did chicken with this seasoning that his dad used all the time at his house. Since this was my first time cooking for him, I was like, 'Whoa, I better draw on a staple. If he likes his dad’s food, then I’ll use this on mine.' So it’s this stuff called 'Southern seasoning' and I still use it to this day. On the label it says like, 'salt, garlic, pepper, charcoal, and "other spices."' They don’t give the secrets away. But I just basically smothered the chicken in butter and that seasoning and roasted it off."
Steph loved it (there were no leftovers) and sure enough, Steph ended up proposing down the line. Who's to say it wasn't the chicken that sealed the deal?
Even Vegetarians Will Make Engagement Chicken
Meg Josephson, a psychotherapist based in New York City, cooked up her chicken in February 2017 and had an engagement ring on her finger within two months.
"As a true blue vegetarian, I think my current husband was always concerned about my ability to feed him, and eventually our future children," said Josephson. "We'd both been living in the city since undergrad at New York University, and we probably ate out five to six times a week. While that worked for us and our lifestyle, I think there was a certain certain expectation that at some point that would change."
"As a former magazine staffer, I was fully aware of the elusive engagement chicken and its rumored effect on men considering proposing. So as I started to itch to get engaged, it seemed like a natural move to give it a try. What did I have to lose? At the very worst, I'd mess it up and we'd order in again," she said.
"I was pleased to realize I could follow the engagement chicken recipe quite well and he was over the moon with my efforts. Never in my life has anyone been so happy and excited to consume something I made! Not only was he thrilled, but I felt extremely capable. Specifically as a vegetarian (now) married to the ultimate carnivore, I think he appreciated that I was going out of my comfort zone to prepare meat solely because I knew he would love it," Josephson explained.
"While I don't think that making the chicken actually made him propose, I think it was a good opportunity to showcase my domestic side and show that I was willing to get my hands dirty to make him a beautiful, traditional meal," said Josephson.