Potted Chicken with Tarragon, Garlic & Lemon | Moorlands Eater (2024)

Potted Chicken is an easy and delicious way to use up leftover roast chicken. In this recipe I’ve flavoured the chicken with some classic partners. Fresh tarragon, garlic, and lemon zest. But you can swap in your own favourites like chives, thyme, or parsley.

Simply whizz the meat with melted butter and your chosen seasonings, add an optional layer of clarified butter, and you’ll have a wonderful spread for crusty bread, toast, or crackers.

Potted Chicken with Tarragon, Garlic & Lemon | Moorlands Eater (1)

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Potted meats are a very old way of preserving. Originally made by slowly cooking meat in fat, the resulting mixture was pounded and put into pots. Another layer of fat was then poured over with the aim of keeping out the air, thereby stopping the meat going bad.

These days, with more reliable methods of preserving meat, I make potted meats simply because I love them. It’s so easy to whip up a batch, store in the fridge and use within a few days. Although this method makes the layer of fat on top redundant, extra butter does make them even tastier! But you can leave it off if you prefer.

Potted Chicken with Tarragon, Garlic & Lemon | Moorlands Eater (2)

You could cook meat especially for potting, as I do for my Homemade Potted Beef and Potted Game. However, I think potting is also a great way to use up leftovers. I’ve made Potted Hamwith the remains of Christmas Glazed Gammon (although, so good, I sometimes do buy a ham hock specially). You can even use odds and ends from a cheeseboard to make Potted Cheese.

Potted Chicken with Tarragon, Garlic & Lemon | Moorlands Eater (3)

For the Potted Chicken recipe I’m sharing today, I almost always use leftover roast chicken. Easy and delicious, I hope you’ll love it as much as I do.


As there’s just two of us in our house, a roasted chicken will be stretched to make several meals. The legs and wings might be first to go, eaten with potatoes roasted around the bird and, depending on the season, salad or hot vegetables and gravy. The breasts and any remaining carcass meat might end up in a pasty, Italian-style croquettes, a hearty stew, or an unusual white chilli. Bones and trimmings will often go to make chicken stock for the freezer.

For my Potted Chicken you’ll need 250 grams of cooked, boneless chicken. For the batch pictured in this post, I used one breast plus the carcass pickings from a free-range bird that was just over 2 kilos in weight. If you don’t have leftover chicken, then you could gently poach some breasts instead.

Potted Chicken with Tarragon, Garlic & Lemon | Moorlands Eater (4)

You only need a handful more ingredients:
  • Butter. Apart from the chicken, this is the most important ingredient. It’s butter that will give richness and spread-ability. If you want to make a smaller or larger amount of Potted Chicken than that shown in the recipe card at the end, then a good rule of thumb is to use half the weight of butter to chicken. So, for 250 grams of chicken you’ll need 125 grams of butter.
  • Tarragon.This faintly aniseedy herb is a classic partner to chicken, But if you don’t like or can’t get it, you could swap in another herb like chives, parsley or a small amount of thyme leaves.
  • Garlic.Just one clove is sufficient to give a subtle rather than overpowering garlic flavour.
  • Lemon zest. This gives a nice acidic lift to the rich mix.
  • Salt & Pepper. Obviously!
For the optional topping:

You’ll need extra butter, plus more tarragon and black pepper if liked. Traditionally, the butter layer on potted meats would be clarified as it keeps for longer. Although that’s not relevant to my version, I still recommend clarified butter for the topping for an improved appearance. As we’ll see, it’s easy to make. However, it does involve a little wastage so it’s up to you whether to clarify or not.


I reckon it takes less than 10 minutes to mix up Potted Chicken with Tarragon, Garlic & Lemon. I’m assuming here that you have a food processor. Mixing by hand will take a little longer, but not much. I’ve given instructions for both in the recipe card. Jump to Recipe here.

Start by putting the roughly chopped or torn chicken in a food processor. Whizz it very briefly just to start breaking it down. Then, in a small saucepan heat together the butter, garlic and lemon zest. Just until the butter melts. This takes the raw edge off the flavourings without really cooking them. Pour the butter into the processor, season with a little salt and pepper, then whizz to combine. It’s up to you whether you go for a completely smooth or slightly chunky texture.

Potted Chicken with Tarragon, Garlic & Lemon | Moorlands Eater (5)

Because I think it looks much nicer with the fresh herbs still discernible, I transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the chopped tarragon leaves. Then I check the seasoning, adding more salt and/or pepper if needed.

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Your Potted Chicken is now ready to pot up. I find it’s just right for filling three of my cute little 125 ml Kilner jars. But you could divide it into however many portions (4 – 6) you want to serve it as. For these, individual small ramekins or other little pots are great. Or you could put it all in a small (450 ml / 1lb) loaf tin. Whichever you choose, if you want to be able to turn it out later then line the containers with cling film first.

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Smooth the tops and, if you’re going to be adding the butter topping, make sure you don’t fill the pots right up to the rim.


In all circ*mstances, I think Potted Chicken is best left for a little while to allow the flavours to meld. For safety reasons, do this in the fridge. If you’re going to add the butter topping, then you must chill it for 30 minutes. Otherwise, especially in warm weather, the top and bottom layers could merge. Longer than half an hour is fine too if that’s more convenient.

To make the clarified butter, all you do is gently melt 75 grams in a small saucepan then take it off the heat. After a few minutes you should see that the white milk solids have sunk to the bottom.

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Pour off the golden liquid into a little jug or similar, discarding the milk solids. Originally, this would be because the solids go off more quickly. But I do it because it looks more appetizing. To avoid waste, just melt the butter without clarifying it, but accept you’ll get little white specks over the top.

Pour the butter, clarified or not, over the chilled Potted Chicken. This is where you discover whether you smoothed the tops evenly! Before putting it back in the fridge to set, I sprinkle over a little more chopped tarragon and a grind of black pepper.

Potted Chicken with Tarragon, Garlic & Lemon | Moorlands Eater (9)


Potted Chicken will taste much nicer and be easier to spread if you take it out of the fridge a little while before you want to eat it. Depending on room temperature, say 20 – 30 minutes in advance. Covered, it should be fine in the fridge for 2 – 3 days. Although I haven’t tried freezing it, feedback on my other potted meats suggests it should be fine frozen.

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To serve, all you need is good bread, toasted or not, or perhaps some crackers like my Easy Homemade Crackers or Scottish Oatcakes. In this post, you see it served on my Dark Rye Bread and also toasted no-knead Bloomer Bread. Add some crunchy veg or pickles alongside if you like.

Potted Chicken with Tarragon, Garlic & Lemon | Moorlands Eater (11)

However you eat it, I hope you’ll love the subtle garlic, lemon and herb flavours coming through the buttery chicken spread. With such simple ingredients, and the herbs adaptable to your own taste, you might be surprised at just how good easy Potted Chicken can be.

Potted Chicken with Tarragon, Garlic & Lemon | Moorlands Eater (12)


Potted Chicken with Tarragon, Garlic & Lemon | Moorlands Eater (13)

5 from 1 vote


Although you can use fresh cooked chicken, Potted Chicken is a great way to use leftovers from a roasted bird.

Transform it into a delicious spread for crusty bread, toast, or crackers by simply whizzing or stirring with a few seasonings, chill, then top with clarified butter.

Fresh tarragon, garlic, and lemon pair well with chicken, or swap in your own favourites like chives, thyme, or parsley.

CourseAppetizer, Starter, Lunch, Light Meal

CuisineBritish, European

Keywordpreserves, leftovers, potted meat

Prep Time 15 minutes

Cook Time 5 minutes

Total Time 20 minutes

Servings 4 - 6

Author Moorlands Eater


  • 250gcooked boneless, skinless chickene.g. 1 breast plus carcass pickings from a roasted chicken
  • 125gbutter
  • 1medium clovegarlicfinely grated
  • 1lemon, zest onlyfinely grated
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1tbspchopped tarragon

Optional: clarified butter topping

  • 75gbutterif using lots of small pots, you may need a little more
  • chopped tarragon
  • black pepper


  1. Roughly chop or tear the chicken and put in a food processor. Whizz very briefly to start to break it down a little.

    Note: if you don't have a food processor, chop the chicken finely then mix in the other ingredients by hand.

    Put the butter in a small saucepan along with the grated garlic and lemon zest. Gently heat until the butter melts.

    Pour the butter and seasonings into the food processor. Add a pinch of salt and ¼ tsp of black pepper.

    Switch on the processor and blend, scraping down the sides as necessary, until your preferred smoothness is reached.

    Scrape into a bowl and stir in the chopped tarragon.

    Taste and add more seasoning if necessary.

  2. Divide the potted chicken between the required number of small jars, pots, ramekins, or a small 450 ml/1lb loaf tin.

    - If you're going to add the clarified butter topping, don't fill right to the rim.

    - If you want to be able to turn out the potted chicken, line the pots/tin etc. with cling film.

    Can be eaten straight away, but is better left for the flavours to meld. If adding the butter topping then you must chill in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Clarified butter topping

  1. Gently melt the butter in a small saucepan.

    Take off the heat and wait a few minutes for the white milk solids to fall to the bottom. Pour the top, golden layer into a small jug or similar, discard the white solids.

    Pour a layer of clarified butter over the chilled potted chicken. Sprinkle with a little chopped tarragon and black pepper.

    Return to the fridge to set the topping.

Serving and storing

  1. Depending on room temperature, remove the Potted Chicken from the fridge 20 - 30 minutes before serving spread on bread, toast, or crackers.

    Should keep for 2 - 3 days in the fridge or can be frozen.


Potted Chicken with Tarragon, Garlic & Lemon | Moorlands Eater (2024)


How do you get chicken to absorb spices? ›

Boiling the brine helps draw the flavor from the spices so they can be absorbed by the chicken. Place your chicken in a refrigerator safe container and then dump the cooled brine over it, making sure that the chicken is covered entirely. Cover the chicken and leave it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

What is the rule of thumb for baking chicken? ›

At 350 degrees you should count on 20-25 minutes per pound for a 3 to 8 pound chicken. As with all meats, check the temperature 15-20 minutes before the time it should be done. You never know how accurate your oven is, and you don't want to overcook and dry out the chicken.

Can you freeze potted beef? ›

Keep refrigerated at 5°C or below. Once opened consume within 3 days. Do not exceed use by date. Suitable for home freezing freeze on day of purchase and use within one month.

Can chickens eat tarragon? ›

(Check out this post on why chickens stop laying eggs.) Cilantro, Sage, Spearmint, and Tarragon are great for general health. Alfalfa, Basil and Dandelion greens create orange egg yolks.

What herbs are not good for chickens? ›

Herbs-Unsafe: These herbs/plants are toxic to chickens: Castor Bean, Honeysuckle, Vetch. Moldy Bread: Moldy food should never be given to chickens. Onions: Although onions contain many vitamins and minerals chickens really should not eat them. Large amounts of onions can cause hemolytic anemia.

What spices enhance the flavor of chicken? ›

5 best spice and herbs blends for chicken and meat
  • Paprika and garlic powder. Paprika is a great spice that makes any chicken dish stand out, it comes in many forms sweet, hot, regular and smoky. ...
  • Basil and rosemary. ...
  • Ginger and lemongrass. ...
  • Turmeric and chili. ...
  • Coriander and cumin.

How long does it take for seasoning to penetrate chicken? ›

For dry rub marinades, 30 minutes to 2 hours is how long to marinate chicken to allow the flavors to penetrate enough of the chicken to add flavor. For wet marinades, we know it can be tempting to let them swim for a bit—if a little soaking is good for tender, tasty meat, more must be better, right?

How long does it take for chicken to absorb flavor? ›

You can marinate chicken anywhere from 2 hours up to 24 hours, though marinating chicken for even 15 to 30 minutes can impart flavor and moisture into smaller pieces of meat. Generally, bone-in cuts of chicken, such as wings, drumsticks and breasts, will require a longer marinade time than their boneless counterparts.

Is it better to cover chicken when baking? ›

It delivers mouth-watering results: By using foil to bake chicken, you seal in its juices as it steams. This keeps your chicken moist and wonderfully flavorful. It gives you a complete meal in a packet: While you can bake your chicken alone, using foil allows you to build a delicious, all-in-one meal.

Is it better to bake chicken at 350 or 400? ›

Given the fact that drumsticks and thighs are dark meat and won't dry out as easily as breasts, the range from 350 to 450 degrees is okay for baking them. 350 to 375 is generally best for breasts. The best answer to these questions? Simply check the chicken for doneness using an instant read thermometer.

Should you bring chicken to room temperature before baking? ›

A 15-minute sit at room temperature will make the chicken cook more evenly, helping you avoid a brown outside with a raw, undercooked inside. Solution: When you're gathering all of the ingredients for dinner, go ahead and take the chicken (in the plate or dish where it's stored) out of the fridge.

What is a potted hough made of? ›

Beef (35%), Water, Pepper, Flavour Enhancer (Monosodium Glutamate) Gravy Salt (Salt, Colour E150c, Vegetable Oil), Gelatine.

What is potted heed? ›

Other names for potted hough include potted heid, potted haugh and pottit heid. Heid is the Scots word for head and pottit heid means the head of the cow. In England the equivalent dish would be English Brawn though that is made with pork rather than beef. It is thought that it originates from Glasgow.

Is spam potted meat? ›

A type of canned pork product, Spam first came onto the scene in 1937. Spam is slightly different than other types of potted meat, as it only contains meat from the shoulder of the pig, as well as pork ham, which is sourced from the pig's back legs.

What seasonings are best for chickens? ›

The Best Herbs For Chickens To Eat
  • Oregano for chickens; a natural antibiotic. Oregano is one of the best herbs for chickens to eat and there's a couple reasons why. ...
  • Lavender for calming chickens. ...
  • Sage for chickens. ...
  • Mint to stimulate egg laying in chickens. ...
  • Marigold to repel bugs in your chicken coop.
Nov 8, 2017

What herbs make chicken coop smell better? ›

Here are some of my favorites:
  1. Basil.
  2. Oregano.
  3. Mint.
  4. Lavender.
  5. Chamomile.
  6. Thyme.
  7. Marjoram.
  8. Dill.
Jul 7, 2021

What herbs make chickens lay more eggs? ›

Dried Peppermint

The addition of dried peppermint leaves (Mentha peperita L.)to the feed of older hens increased egg production, overall egg weight and eggshell thickness. The study recommended 20 g of dried peppermint leaves per kilogram of feed.

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