Dutch Oven Chicken Marbella

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Sweet, savory, crispy and saucy, this Dutch oven recipe for Chicken Marbella delivers a “gourmet” campfire experience but without any of the work.

Chicken Marbella in a Dutch oven

What separates a good camping meal from a great one? We’ve all had our share of middle-of-the-road meals while camping: perfectly adequate at the time, but entirely forgettable in hindsight.

But we’ve also had a handful of dinners that have completely knocked our socks off. So, what’s the difference?

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The truth is nobody cares how good dinner tastes if it takes three hours to prepare. It simply can’t live up to expectations.

A great meal in the outdoors, therefore, delivers big “production value” with a minimal amount of time and effort. And that is exactly what this one-pot dish does.

Michael lifting the lid off of a Dutch oven in a campfire

It’s called Chicken Marbella and the recipe originally appeared in the Silver Palate Cookbook in 1983. This Mediterranean themed baked chicken dish uses chopped prunes and olives to produce a sweet and savory combination that’s absolutely irresistible. However, every version calls for a piece of equipment unavailable to most campers: an oven. So after a bit of tinkering, we came up with a way to make it in a Dutch oven.

Michael and adding ingredients to a Dutch ovenChicken Marbella in a Dutch oven over a campfire

What makes this meal so extraordinary is how easy it is to prepare. The only secret ingredient is foresight. At home, combine the ingredients in a large freezer bag and then toss it in your cooler. Not only does this cut down on the supplies you need to bring, but it lets the flavors marinate and build.

To get the skin crispy, the original recipe calls for you to bake the chicken. But that type of dry heat isn’t really possible in a Dutch oven, so instead, you’re going to brown the skin with a little oil. Then you’ll add the marinade into the pot, which won’t cover the chicken entirely but be just enough to braise it.

The result is a crispy-skinned chicken dish with a super-flavorful sauce that takes less than 45 minutes to cook. Serve with couscous, and you have the makings of campfire meal worth remembering!

Why It Works for Camping

‣  Big gourmet flavors from an easy-to-make one pot meal.
‣  Aside from browning the skin, there is practically no active cooking time.
‣  No onsite prep work. This marinade can and should be made ahead of time.

A Dutch oven with coals on the lid

Mastering the Technique

‣  Could be made with any type of dark meat, but we suggest thighs: bone in, skin on.
‣  It’s OK for the chicken to be crowded in the Dutch Oven, just don’t submerge any pieces. You’re going for braised, not boiled chicken.
‣  You’re looking to heat your Dutch oven to about 425° F. For a 4 qt (10 inch) Dutch oven, you will need to use 18 coals on top and 9 coals on the bottom. If you’re using wood embers from your campfire, you’ll have to approximate.

Ingredient Notes

‣ It might seem superfluous, but using white wine in the marinade is essential. We tried a version without it and it was definitely missed. Pack the rest of the bottle along in the cooler and enjoy it with dinner!

Chicken Marbella in a Dutch oven
Chicken Marbella in a Dutch oven over a campfire

Dutch Oven Chicken Marbella

5 from 24 ratings
Pin Rate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
4 pieces


  • 1 cup chopped prunes
  • 1 cup olives, pitted & halved
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup capers
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 chicken thighs, skin on
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons brown sugar


  • MARINATE THE CHICKEN: Place all ingredients except for the oil and brown sugar in a freezer bag to marinate. Place in your ice chest for at least 6 hours and up to 48 hours.
  • PREP YOUR CAMPFIRE: Prepare 27 coals. You can use wood embers if you must, but you’ll have to guestimate the proper heat ratio (you’re aiming for 425F). Once all the coals are ready, knock them into a flat pile and place dutch oven on top of all of them. This will produce the high heat required for browning.
  • BROWN THE CHICKEN: Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the Dutch oven. The oil is hot and ready when a drop of water instantly sizzles when it hits the pan. Remove the chicken from the marinade, and dust 1 teaspoon brown sugar over the skin side of each thigh. Brown the thighs skin side down over high heat until the skin is crispy and deep golden brown, about 6-8 minutes. Flip to brown the other side, 2 minutes.
  • BAKE: Remove Dutch oven from heat. Add the marinade (liquid, prunes, olive, capers and all!) to the dutch oven and cover. Evenly distribute 18 coals on the lid and set the Dutch oven on a bed of 9 coals. Bake for 30 minutes, until the thighs are cooked through and their juices run clear when pierced with a knife.
  • SERVE & ENJOY: Serve over couscous, rice, or pilaf with some of the sauce spooned over the top.

Nutrition (Per Serving)

Calories: 475kcal

*Nutrition is an estimate based on information provided by a third-party nutrition calculator

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  1. This was fantastic! Super easy! Packed full of flavor – chicken fell off the bone. I did omit the tsp of salt and the brown sugar. Served over brown rice and quinoa (Costco packets). This one is a keeper and will be a camping favorite! Thank you and plan to see what other gems you may have on here.

    1. Fresh Off the Grid says:

      If it works, it works. Glad to hear you enjoyed it!

  2. Could you adapt this recipe using thigh fillets for a large group

    1. Fresh Off the Grid says:

      You could definitely scale it up for larger groups. You will probably want either a large Dutch oven or possible a second Dutch oven so the chicken doesn’t overcrowd. Braised chicken is wonderful, boiled chicken is less so.

    2. Fresh Off the Grid says:

      I would imagine that you could. You’ll need to size up to a 12″ (6 qt) Dutch oven so that the chicken sits in one layer. Using a larger oven means you’ll also need more coals/embers (start with ~21 on top, ~10 on bottom).

  3. This was our first Dutch oven dinner and it turned out fantastic! My husband keeps raving about how wonderfully it turned out saying it’s the best home-cooked chicken he’s ever had. Since we were at home, we did do the searing portion on the stove in a cast iron skillet and then transferred the food to a foil lined Dutch oven.5 stars

    1. Fresh Off the Grid says:

      Glad to hear that you and your husband enjoyed this! Thanks for sharing your tips about cooking it at home 🙂

  4. Leslie Raffin says:

    The recipe was awesome and cooking it was one pot simmer/enjoy, with leftovers for next day. The only downside is the PRUNES lol while CAMPING!! Hahahaaaa we laughed every time we made another trip to the loo:)5 stars

    1. Fresh Off the Grid says:

      You know, we just want to make sure people have a healthy and active digestive tract. ????

  5. Wow. I have looked at a good dozen of your recipes in planning for an upcoming family kayak camping trip. I’m the chef in the family and the “organizer dude”…and I am into this! I cannot wait to cook the Chicken Marbella!

    You guys are fantastic. The choices of dishes you make, the backstory, the narratives about technique, ingredient notes and suggestions…all make this really top notch. Oh, did I mention the fantastic photography? The blend of gourmet attention to detail, quality and ingredients and the ease and simplicity on the trail is really unique. Hats off to you both…great job. I’ve seen blogs from “expert” outdoor adventurers about ther “best” meal they cook….granola with snickers bar? canned spaghetti? Tuna casserole??? We’re in a different zone here…and it’s a zone I like! These recipes will be in my rotation at camp AND at home!

    Now I just have to convince my son that its super cool to be the chosen one that carries the dutch oven.

    1. Fresh Off the Grid says:

      Thank you so much for the incredibly kind and encouraging comment Blackdog! It’s great to hear that you and your family have been enjoying the recipes – that’s exactly why we do what we do 🙂


    2. Fresh Off the Grid says:

      Thank you so much! Words of support like this completely make our day! It’s just the two of us working on Fresh Off The Grid and sometimes we feel like we’re going insane trying to keep all the balls up in the air. So words like this go a long way. Thanks for the support! It means the world to us.

    3. Annemarie says:

      I’m a longtime fan of Chicken Marbella and seeing this version for outdoor cooking was a godsend. I skipped the “brown in the pot” stage and sprinkled the sugar and wine in the pieces like the original recipe for more ease of prep. The pieces weren’t browned but still amazing. My brothers working on a shed on a cool day (no stove available) absolutely loved it. THANK YOU!!!5 stars

  6. Scott Marron says:

    Any suggestions for how to modify recipe to cook 8 thighs?

    1. Fresh Off the Grid says:

      For 8 thighs, I’m thinking you will either need a pick up another 10″ Dutch oven or get a 12″ Dutch oven. You definitely want to avoid overcrowding in the pan. So find the right size Dutch oven(s) that will allow for all the chicken cover the bottom evenly, but without stacking.

    2. Fresh Off the Grid says:

      You can double the ingredients, and you’d need to size up to a 12″ (6 qt) Dutch oven so that the chicken sits in one layer. Using a larger oven means you’ll also need more coals/embers (start with ~21 on top, ~10 on bottom). Let us know how it goes!

  7. we tried this last week – it was absolutely, unbelievably delicious! best meal I’ve ever made while camping – and SO EASY! thank you for sharing!

    1. Fresh Off the Grid says:

      So happy to hear this was a hit!!

  8. Andy Ellis says:

    Have you ever browned the chicken then added rice to bottom of the Dutch oven topped with the chicken marinade and water for the rice and cooked a one pot meal? Also what vegetable paring would you recommend? I was thinking Broccoli and Aspargus

    1. Fresh Off the Grid says:

      We used couscous in this recipe because of how quickly it fluffs up. While rice would take a bit longer and require a bit more water, it would definitely be possible. Unfortunately, we haven’t tested it with rice, so we can’t give any advice other than to follow the liquid ratio that comes with the rice – typically 1:2. Also, broccoli and/or asparagus sounds great!

  9. I really like the sound of this recipe and would like to make it on our next camping trip but I don’t have a real dutch oven. I have a large pot with a lid and a camping cook stove (propane). I’m hoping I could make this as a simmered-on-the-burner dish. Any advice along those lines?

    1. Fresh Off The Grid says:

      Yes, you can cook the whole recipe as written. But since you won’t have heat coming from the top (as you would with a Dutch oven), you’ll need to make sure you’re trapping the steam inside to finish cooking the chicken. But, theoretically, it should all work just the same.

  10. If I made this at home in an enameled dutch oven, would I put it in the oven at the same temperature for the same amount of time, 425 for 30 minutes?

    1. Fresh Off The Grid says:

      When we make this at home, you may just want to use the original Silver Palate version. We use a shallow roasting pan or sometimes a sheet pan if we’re making a lot. As for temperature, go with the original 350 F for 50-60 minutes.

  11. Jennifer Morris says:

    Thank you for this amazing recipe! It was the highlight of our camping trip. Our friends keep asking us when we will make it again! I doubled it in my 14” Dutch oven (I had 10 chicken thighs), and ended up having to use a lot more coals than I initially calculated. Our fire pit had a metal grill that we put the coals on top of. I think the extra air circulation made them burn more quickly. Next time I’ll try placing the coals on the ground.5 stars

  12. Annemarie says:

    I’m a longtime fan of Chicken Marbella and seeing this version for outdoor cooking was a godsend. I skipped the “brown in the pot” stage and sprinkled the sugar and wine in the pieces like the original recipe for more ease of prep. The pieces weren’t browned but still amazing. My brothers working on a shed on a cool day (no stove available) absolutely loved it. THANK YOU!!!

  13. Jackie Vick says:

    Excited to give this a try on our next horse trip. Any concerns with freezing over 48 hours? I would prep up to a week ahead of time. Thanks so much for sharing.5 stars

    1. Fresh Off The Grid says:

      Nope, you could definitely freeze it for over 48 hours — up to a month or two and it should still be good!