This classic French dish sounds impressive. But if you can sear chicken and cook up some vegetables, you can make this easy coq au vin recipe, and offer a variation for cooking it in an Instant Pot. The name means simply, “chicken with wine,” and in this version, I’ve removed some of the more laborious steps without sacrificing either the flavor or the final result.
In its original French inception, the coq in coq au vin referred to a rooster, typically mean old birds who wore out their welcome in the hen house. The tough nature of the meat required a long simmering time to soften. Wine was used to help tenderize the meat thanks to its sugar content.
This easy coq au vin dish is great for entertaining, taking to a potluck or when preparing ahead for weekday meals as it taste better reheated. To make it even easier, I have included an Instant Pot variation.
Even though this dish calls for wine, it remains an economical dish. You don’t need an expensive bottle and you only need a cup or so. I’ve made this with $8 table wine and a expensive French red and frankly, it was a struggle to tell the difference.
Given that the odds of finding a rooster at your local supermarket are essentially none, I recommend employing chicken thighs and legs – or better yet, the full hind quarter piece with leg and thigh attached. You can use white meat if you’ve got non-dark meat fans in your posse.
A few ingredient tips for this easy coq au vin
At Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, we made the classic version that includes pearl onions and lardons, diced pieces of salted pork. In this recipe, I use a quality bacon over lardons. It’s easier to find and lends an earthy bit of flavor. I’ve also used diced ham leftover from a holiday meal, too.
Pearl onions do impart a certain sweetness, but they tend to be wickedly expensive and take a woefully long time to peel if you buy them fresh. I’ve come to rely on the frozen variety. They’re already peeled and it just takes a quick bath in butter to make them taste fresh. I’ve made this dish with both pearl onions and classic yellow and it’s good both ways.
It’s not coq au vin without wine…
What kind of wine to use for this easy coq au vin? Choose a wine decent enough that you’d drink it alone. I prefer something a bit hearty, such as a Syrah, a Cabernet Sauvignon or a blend.
Not a red wine fan? Here’s a surprising tip: you can also make this with white wine. It yields a different flavor, but it’s still delicious. Use white wine or an inexpensive sparkling wine in place of red. When Mike and I visited the Chablis region, we ordered coq au vin and lo and behold, it came swimming in the region’s famed white. The end flavor tends to be a bit sweeter and lighter, yet still hearty and savory.
I usually buy two bottles of wine for this dish – one to cook the chicken in, and one to drink with it when it’s done. This dish also calls for brandy or Cognac, and while optional, definitely adds something to the dish, but you don’t buy a big bottle if you don’t have it on hand. I admit that I employ E&J Brandy at such moments; it runs about five bucks for a small bottle.
Paired with noodles or mashed potatoes, this serves six to eight.
– Updated May 5, 2022
Other recipes of interest:
How to make basic chicken stock (video)
How to cut up a whole chicken (video)
Easy Coq Au Vin (Chicken Braised in Red Wine) with Instant Pot option
- Dutch oven or heavy pot with lid
For the braise
- 5 lbs chicken, preferably thighs, legs or quarter pieces
- 3 tablespoons avocado or grapeseed oil
- 8 ounces (250g) bacon, sliced
- 1 large yellow onion chopped (about 2 cups)
- 4 ribs celery chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
- 2 medium carrots about 1 ½ cups
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons brandy or Cognac
- 3 cups (700 ml) chicken stock
- 1/2 bottle dry red wine (about 2 cups)
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 10 sprigs thyme tied together
- or 1 tablespoon of dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
Cooked separately from braise
- 2 cups peeled frozen pearl onions thawed
- 8 ounces (250g) brown mushrooms sliced
- 3 tablespoons parsley chopped
- Mashed potatoes or wide noodles
- Preheat oven to 350°F /180°C. Pat dry with paper towels. Cut off extra fan and excess skin. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. In a heavy Dutch oven, brown in batches in hot oil over high heat. It’s important to get the chicken nice and browned, as shown. Don’t rush this step; properly browned chicken is a key to the final outcome. Once browned, set chicken aside on a plate.
- Turn the heat to medium-low and add the bacon and cook slowly until slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the onions, celery and carrot and stir until tender. Add the brandy (if using), reduce slightly. Sprinkle with flour and stir until coated.
- Return the chicken to the pan. Add the chicken stock, garlic and herbs. Then, add enough wine so the liquid just covers chicken pieces; this could be up to 2 cups. Bring the liquid to a boil, skimming off any foam or fat. Cover tightly and place in oven for about two hours or until meat is very tender.
- Meanwhile, cook the pearl onions and mushrooms in a medium skillet in 2 tablespoons of butter. Before serving, add the mushrooms, onions and chopped parsley to the cooked chicken. Check seasonings, adding salt and pepper until it taste right to you. Serve with noodles or mashed potatoes.
Instant Pot option
- Prepare steps as directed using the saute mode. Pressure cook for 20 minutes, then do a careful quick release. You may need to do a thorough skim of any accumulated fat before adding the pearl onoins and mushrooms. Finish as directed.
Process photos by Kathleen Flinn. Finished dish photo by Brent Hofacker.
Fran @ G'day Souffle' says
Thanks Kathleen for this recipe. This reminds me of the recipe we did in Intermediate Cuisone at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, except we were given the option of using fresh pork blood in the dish- although most students opted out. You may not remember me, but I contacted you before setting out to LCB; I’ve now completed two courses there and will complete Superior Cuisine next year. I encountered one chef there who reduced me to tears, but no more!
Wow, this looks great. And much easier than I would have thought. I am trying to cut my sodium, so could I leave out the bacon or pancetta?
Oh yes, definitely. I’ve made it without for the same reason. It’s still good without it.
Wow, this fantastic. I made this recipe from your first when it came out. The photos are very helpful. I am going to try this one again. It’s getting to be comfort weather already! – Janice
Thanks, I’ve been working on my photography the past couple of years so that means a lot to hear it!
Wow, your site redesign looks great. There is so much content on here, I never realized that. Totally going to try this for a potluck this weekend.
Thanks so much Andrea!
Jed C. says
Looks great. I just made your braised pork, so I will try this one next. The last one was great.
Great. Coq au vin is nice because it also utilizes inexpensive chicken pieces.
I have made this with just stock and no wine with great results. It’s a different dish as the acid and flavor from the wine is what breaks down the protein from the chicken. But if you use a good chicken stock, it will still turn out lovely.
Nusrat Azim says
Lustrous! Insanely inviting! Provocative! How intensely I got goosebumps all over!
One quick question: Is there any substitute for the Wine? 🙂
You can make it without wine and it will still be fabulous it will just have a slightly different flavor.
Ann H. says
This recipe looks great and I look forward to trying it. A bit confused that the recipe calls for boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but the photos show bone in, skin on chicken leg quarters?
It will work for all of those but if you want to cut down on the fat content, use skinless.
My husband (at that time was a date) and I went to mid-Manhattan to a new restaurant and enjoyed the ambiance. We had Coq au Vin for the first time – well this recipe is exactly as I remember it (we’re talking about 52 years ago). Congratulations on a wonderful recipe, which I will try to copy this many years ago.
Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your
blog posts. After all I will be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again very soon!
Marisa Franca @ All Our Way says
I have to say that you are such an inspiration. I have finished reading your book’ The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry and today I got Burnt Toast Makes You Sing and I should be getting The Kitchen Counter Cooking School. I not only love reading your recipes — I love your narrative and how interesting you make the whole cooking experience. You draw me into the story and I feel as if I’m there with you. I love to cook — always have so my kids talked me into starting a blog. I am not spring chicken so it is quite a learning experience, especially with the technical side but I love what I’m doing. Searching for just the right recipe, making it and then writing about it. I am so glad I found you and now I can get periodic updates on what you’re doing. Grazie e buona giornata!
Thank you so much, Marisa! I love hearing from readers! And to have inspired anyone is such an honor, thank you.
Marisa Franca @ All Our Way says
I meant to ask — have you ever made it with white wine as in Nigel Slater’s Coq au Riesling? Would you suggest another wine?
I have made this with a white wine but not a riesling. I used a white bordeaux to vaguely recreate a dish from Julia Child’s The Way to Cook. It was also very good, just different. It felt less heavy and had more of a “chicken soup” kind of feel to it, if that makes any sense? I’m going to take note of that and add it to my recipes to develop. Now thank YOU for inspiring me!
Fran @ G'day Souffle' says
Hi Kathleen, this is Fran Flint again- (I see my comment above from 3/31/2013- time sure does fly by)! When I attended the Intermediate Cuisine class at LCB Paris, we first marinaded the chicken pieces in wine overnight, along with the mirepoix of chopped veggies. We then cooked the chicken in the marinade, including the veggies, then discarded them. It seems a waste to me to discard the veggies (I now leave the veggies in the braising liquid, like you do). I always cook the mushrooms in the braising liquid to give the stew more flavor, rather than adding them at the last minute, like the French do. FYI, I’m still FB friends with Bruno Stril!
You are FB friends with Chef Stril? I love him. I know, I found teaching home cooks that they skipped overnight marinades and it added a level of fussiness so I streamlined it. I have been considering developing a version of this recipe with turkey as a variation for holidays (or just an inexpensive option since turkey tends to be so value priced in November and December). I think turkey always benefits from a marinade, so I might rethink that.