Posted by: Sarah | May 27, 2011

Testing Testing: Brown-Bag Chicken

Recently on Twitter, I was introduced to the Brown-Bag Chicken recipe via @atrandom@FostersMarket and @themarthashow. A handful of sweet reader friends were curious as to the combustibility factor of a brown paper bag in a gas oven. Well, I happen to have a gas oven, a brown paper bag, and a somewhat fearless approach (propelled by naiveté) to trying new cooking methods. 

So I announced that I’d be the guinea pig. I’d make the brown-bag chicken in my gas oven and let everyone know if, indeed, it went the way of the biblical Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (nonflammable). The brown-bag bake is an intriguing concept considering if I strike a match anywhere near the same material, poof! Inferno. However, I am instructed to place it into a 400-degree oven for 1 1/2 hours and it’s supposed to be right as rain. 

I’ve posted the recipe from Martha Stewart’s website via Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen below. But I’ll quickly tell you what I did:

First off, I tested this recipe midday so that if anything went amiss, my boys at the El Paso firehouse two blocks away would be there to rescue. (I took them Thanksgiving dinner once and have been in their good graces ever since.) I preheated the oven to 400 degrees. 

I used a brown-paper lunch bag. The old school kind that my momma used to draw pictures on so they didn’t look so plain next to my friends’ Star Wars and Rainbow Bright lunch boxes.

On a chicken breast, I sprinkled dried rosemary, sea salt, black pepper, and paprika. I put the seasoned breast into the bag with a quartered shallot and folded the bag up tight, placing the seam-side down on a small baking sheet. I baked 32 minutes at 400 degrees, checking every ten minutes to see if my bag was catching aflame.

True to @atrandom@FostersMarketand @themarthashow‘s word, the bag did not burn a smidgen. Not even a toasty edge! Impressive.

Result: DELICIOUS, moist chicken. I am absolutely going to use this cooking method again with chicken breasts and a whole chicken, as the recipe originally suggests.

I was able to take photos of the unscathed bag after 32 minutes in the über-hot oven, but when I tried to capture the chicken, the steam fogged up my camera lens, and my stomach wouldn’t let me wait for vanity’s sake. I gobbled it down in five minutes, but I promise when I make it again, I’ll be more patient and snap a few of the goodies within. 

So go ahead and brown-bag bake, my friends! It’s safe and scrumptious! 

Yours truly, Sarah 

Recipe off Martha Stewart’s website:

Brown-Bag Chicken 

  • Serves 4


  • 1 (3- to 3 1/2-pound) chicken
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon ground hot Hungarian paprika


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Rinse chicken, pat dry, and remove any excess fat. Generously sprinkle chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. Place onion and rosemary inside cavity; rub skin with paprika.
  3. Lay a standard-side brown paper grocery bag on its side; place chicken inside bag and tie bag with kitchen twine to enclose. Place bagged chicken on a rimmed baking sheet; transfer to lower third of oven, making sure there is plenty of room between the bag and the top of the oven. Roast chicken for 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Remove chicken from oven and carefully open bag to release steam. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh should reach 165 degrees and juices should run clear when thigh is pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Let stand for 10 minutes before carving; serve warm.


  1. So glad it works and was delicious, and I can’t wait to try it! (I have an electric oven, so I wasn’t worried about the gas, but it’s good to know the bag didn’t burn.) Thanks for posting and being the guinea pig! 🙂

  2. I’m so glad you were willing to be the guinea pig! Even more glad that it was such a success! I’ve got all the ingredients together and ready to go so I can make this over the weekend. And, with this technique, changing up the herbs & spices should be a cinch whenever you feel the need for new flavorings. My husband will be thrilled to have chicken done a different way 🙂

    Thank you for testing and sharing!

  3. This sounds absolutely divine. I’m going to have to try it. Thank you for sharing.

  4. I think I’ll try this sometime. There’s a business in my area that is known for their apple pies baked in a brown paper bag. I don’t know the baking details but I’ve tasted the pie and it’s amazing!

  5. God, that looks good. We are roaster-holics. Can’t get enough, always looking out for a new twist. I’m sharing this with Ian. Thanks, doll!

  6. thanks so much and am so excited to try this for sunday dinner!!1

  7. Delicious. My grandmother use to make this all the time

  8. We have been using a variation of this recipe for years. We take a whole chicken and brush it with melted butter. We sprinkle dried rosemary all over the skin (fresh rosemary takes over the flavor of the chicken). The last thing we do is fork an orange and place it in the cavity and close the cavity using 3 toothpicks. We slide a rack in the brown grocery bag and place the chicken in the bag. Fold up the end of the bag and tuck it under when you put the chicken on a baking sheet.
    We place the chicken in a cold oven and turn it on to 350. After 60 minutes we change the temp to 450 and roast another 60 minutes.
    The result? A moist, delicious chicken every time!

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