Clay baked chicken-header

Clay baked chicken

Forget the BBQ, you’re gonna freestyle with this clay baked chicken! 

With an adventurous attitude you too can turn a whole chicken and a hunk of clay into an amazing freestyle bbq dish: clay baked chicken! By wrapping the chicken in leaves and clay, you don’t need a grill, bbq, or smoker. Useful for when you’re on a trek and didn’t bring your bbq gear. Is your backyard not at all like a jungle? Then rake aside the weeds and flowers, put a heat shield on your wooden fence and fire away!


For the flavours we’re going North African with ras el hanout and za’atar, spice mixtures you can easily get at the store these days. Your grocer might not carry clay, but any hobby shop will. Do mention what you’re using the clay for, the look on the hobby store clerk’s face is priceless.

The ingredients:

(serves 4) 

  • 2 whole chickens (high quality birds)
  • coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 bulbs garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 4 tbsp ras el hanout
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cucumber, very finely grated
  • 10½ oz (300g) Greek yoghurt
  • 4 tbsp za’atar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp mint leaves, finely chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 small naan breads


  • Campfire
  • Banana or cabbage leaves
  • Butcher’s string
  • 11 lbs (5kg) modeling clay
  • Tin foil (backup)
  • Core thermometer
  • An adventurous attitude and a BBQ buddy

How to make:

Duration:  prep 1 hour

Cooking about: 1 hour


Make a large campfire and make sure the bed of coals is at least 2 feet in diameter. While the fire is burning, generously season the chickens with salt and freshly ground black pepper, on both the outside and the inside, and stuff them with the garlic cloves. Rub the outside of the chickens with ras el hanout.

Briefly steam your banana or cabbage leaves over a large bowl of boiling water; this makes the leaves pliable and prevents tearing while wrapping the chickens.


Then wrap both chickens with the leaves and use butcher’s string to wrap each chicken tightly, making sure they’re completely enclosed. This is where you want your BBQ to hold the leaves while you wrap them.

Next, shape the clay into discs slightly less than half an inch (1cm) thick and fold around the chicken. Make sure the edges of the disc fit snugly and the chicken is covered completely. Double check the seams to prevent tearing. You don’t want to let any steam out.


Once the chickens have been wrapped:

Subsequently place the wrapped chickens on the bed of coals, shovel some more hot coals around and on it, and cook for about 1 hour. The trick is to not let the fire get hot enough to crack the clay.


Meanwhile, prepare the tzatziki by simply mixing together all ingredients and briefly roast the naan breads.


When you think the chicken is done, use the back of a knife to break open the clay just a little bit and check the thickest part of the thigh with a core thermometer. You want the temp to be 72 °C (162 °F).

Is the chicken cooked at the right temp? Then you can break open the clay and serve your chicken with the fresh tzatziki and naan.

If the chicken has not yet reached the desired temperature, wrap again in foil this time and continue cooking until the needed temperature has been achieved.

Items used for this recipe

Smokey premium charcoal
Smokey's Premium
Blend Charcoal
SmokeyGoodness 3 - Bigger Better BBQ Boek
Smokey Goodness
Bigger, better BBQ boek
Leren BBQ Schort
Smokey Goodness
BBQ Schort
Vuurkruiden - by Smokey Goodness
Smokey Goodness
Thermapen One
Thermapen One
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