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Coq au Vin

Hearty and comforting, Coq au Vin is a French chicken stew slowly braised in red wine, pancetta (Italian bacon), mushrooms, onions and much more.

Coq au vin might sound fancy but it’s easy enough to make for a Sunday dinner and decadent enough for a Christmas or Valentine’s Day dinner. This dish will surely impress friends and family with its fancy name, interesting origins and delicious, layered, rich flavors.

Pot of Coq Au Vin

What is Coq au Vin?

Coq au vin is a hearty French chicken stew braised in red wine and garnished with mushrooms, onions, pancetta (Italian bacon) and much more. Its preparation is similar to Beef Bourguignon and the beauty of this dish lies in its simplicity.

Coq au Vin literally means “cock (rooster) with wine” in French, and was traditionally made from a whole cut-up old rooster to make the tougher meat edible. The stew started out as a peasant dish that originated in the Burgundy region of France. It was made with simple, inexpensive ingredients, that over time, evolved into more refined versions. Coq au Vin is pronounced cohk oh vah(n).

Coq au Vin Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make this stew:

  • Chicken: Traditional Coq au Vin recipes call for a whole cut-up rooster but this recipe uses drumsticks and thighs. The dark meat enhances the flavor while the meat remains tender and succulent.
  • Coarse Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper: The salt enhances flavor while the pepper adds flavor.
  • Chicken Stock: The stock adds a richer flavor than chicken broth.
  • Red Wine: Traditionally this dish is made with Burgundy or Pinot Noir but any light or medium bodied red wine will work. Other popular choices include merlot, zinfandel, shiraz, côtes du rhône or beaujolais. You don’t need to use an expensive bottle but rather focus on a wine varietal you enjoy drinking.
  • Brandy: Brandy aids in the braising process while adding fruity flavors and oaky notes.
  • Bay Leaf: The bay leaf enhances the flavor of the sauce.
  • Pancetta: Pancetta is Italian bacon where it cured instead of smoked. Bacon absolutely works too. The Pancetta or bacon should be cut into lardons (fancy word for slices). About ¼-inch thick to 1-inch long, the thicker the better.
  • Mushrooms: This recipe uses Cremini aka baby bellas but you also use button, portobello, shitake or your favorite wild mushroom.
  • Yellow Onion: These onions have a mild sweet flavor that add to the sauce.
  • Carrots: Cut them into bite sized pieces or leave them out, if you prefer.
  • Garlic Cloves: Garlic just makes everything better.
  • Tomato Paste: Tomato paste makes the sauce thicker, adds flavor and helps balance the bitterness from the red wine.
  • All-purpose Flour: This is what thickens the sauce.
  • Fresh Thyme: More for garnish, if desired. Fresh parsley works well too.
  • Pearl Onions:  These onions add a savory, sweet, and slightly less pungent flavor than larger onions.

(Scroll down to the bottom for the printable recipe card with exact measurements and recipe instructions.)

How to Make Coq au Vin

Braising & Marinating

  1. Marinate Chicken: Marinate the chicken at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours. For the best flavor marinate overnight.
  2. Dry Chicken, Save Wine: Pat the chicken dry while reserving the wine.
  3. Cook Pancetta & Sear Chicken: Cook the pancetta and then sear the chicken on both sides until golden brown.

Coq au Vin Stew

Coq au vin is best cooked in a Dutch oven or cast iron braising dish.

  1. Sauté Mushrooms: Sauté the ingredients separately starting with the mushrooms in the bacon fat
  2. Onions, Carrots, Garlic: Add the onions, carrots and garlic.
  3. Tomato Paste & Flour: Enhance the flavor with the tomato paste and thicken the sauce with the flour.
  4. Reserve Marinade: Slowly stir in the marinade and bring to boil.
  5. Chicken, Thyme, Pancetta: Reduce the heat and bring to simmer while adding the remaining ingredients.
  6. Pearl Onions: Uncover the pot and add the pearl onions after an hour of simmering.
Best Coq Au Vin

Variations & Cooking Tips

  • Substitute chicken broth or stock for half of the wine for a milder flavor or if you simply prefer less wine.
  • Although not as flavorful but more convenient and quicker, substitute skinless/boneless thighs by adjusting the cooking time to about half as boneless chicken does not take as long to cook.
  • Garnish with bread croutons.
  • Coq au Vin Blanc or Poulet au Vin Blanc: If you prefer white wine you can make this dish with a white wine. A dry white wine is best such as a Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, or Pinot Blanc. This Coq au Riesling recipe is delicious as well.
  • Turkey au Vin: Perfect for Thanksgiving substitute chicken for turkey with this dish.

What to Serve with Coq au Vin

Coq au vin is traditionally served with mashed potatoes and is delicious with anything that can soak up all the delicious sauce.

Coq Au Vin in a Pan

Storage & Freezer Tips

Leftovers can be refrigerated and stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days or you can freeze for up to 3 months. If frozen, defrost overnight in the fridge before reheating.

How to Reheat

Optionally, before reheating, spoon off any solidified fat on the surface.

Coq au Vin can be reheated on a stove over a medium-low heat, stirring occasionally and adding more stock or wine, as needed. The stew can also be reheated in an oven at 350ºF, until heated through (about 30 minutes).

Although the results won’t be as good, a microwave can also be used in a pinch. This method is best for small or individual servings. Place the stew in a covered microwave-safe bowl and heat in 30 second bursts, stirring in between.

Coq Au Vin in a Pan

Coq au Vin

Yield: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Additional Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 10 minutes

Coq au Vin has a rich sauce with loads of flavor. This isn't a recipe for a weeknight as it needs to spend a good amount of time marinating then simmering on the stove. It is, however, quite simple to make and is perfect for a Sunday dinner or an elegant-yet-easy dinner party. Serve over mashed potatoes.


  • 3 lb chicken legs and thighs
  • 1 1/2 tsp coarse salt, divided
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2 1/2 cups red wine
  • 2 tbsp brandy
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4-6 oz pancetta, lardons (or bacon)
  • 1 lb cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme (more for garnish, if desired)
  • 8 oz frozen pearl onions, thawed
  • more salt and pepper to season, if necessary


  1. Place the chicken in a large bowl and season it with the salt and the pepper. Add the chicken stock, wine, brandy, and the bay leaf to the bowl, then combine it all gently with clean hands. Cover the bowl and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
  2. Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat it dry, reserving the marinade.
  3. Preheat a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until it's well-browned. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and set it aside.
  4. Turn the heat up to medium-high. Place the chicken pieces skin-side down into the pot and cook until it's nicely browned, about 5 minutes. Flip to brown the other side and cook about another 3 minutes. (Do this in batches if necessary). Remove the chicken and set it aside, then drain all but 3 tbsp of the fat from the pot.
  5. Add the mushrooms to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until all their liquid has released and evaporated and the mushrooms are starting to brown, about 5-6 minutes.
  6. Turn the heat back down to medium. Add the chopped onion and carrots to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are just starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic to the pot and cook, stirring frequently, about 1 more minute.
  7. Add the tomato paste and flour to the pot and cook for another minute, stirring frequently.
  8. Pour about a cup of the reserved marinade into the pot and stir to scrape up any browned bits at the bottom. Add the remaining marinade. Bring it to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes, or until it's reduced by almost half.
  9. Reduce the heat to low. Add the chicken, thyme sprigs, and reserved pancetta to the pot, submerging it as much as possible in the sauce. Cover the pot and simmer for an hour.
  10. Uncover the pot and add the pearl onions. Cook uncovered for about another 30 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.


The Pancetta or bacon should be cut into lardons (fancy word for slices). About ¼-inch thick to 1-inch long.

Feel free to simmer this much longer in the final step if you have more time before dinner. I've simmered it as long as 2 hours (once the sauce is at the perfect stage, cover it so it doesn't reduce more). It's perfectly delicious at just 30 minutes, however!

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1209Total Fat: 84gSaturated Fat: 28gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 49gCholesterol: 398mgSodium: 977mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 2gSugar: 6gProtein: 74g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.

Kristy Bernardo
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Saturday 3rd of March 2012

Excellent timing on your post! I just picked up a few fryers at the grocery store (the sale was too good to pass up) and now I know what they were meant for!


Saturday 3rd of March 2012

I know the internet is superior for a lot of reasons, but I'm still sad to see print media finally admitting defeat. There's got to be some way to keep it around?

the wicked noodle

Saturday 3rd of March 2012

My prediction is that print media will be around for some time yet. I hope so, anyway!


Saturday 3rd of March 2012

This looks like a really fun recipe to make, thanks for posting it!

the wicked noodle

Saturday 3rd of March 2012

Anytime, Harley!


Saturday 3rd of March 2012

I'm really sad Gourmet stopped printing, it was one of my favorites.

the wicked noodle

Saturday 3rd of March 2012

I hear you. Happy they're still around though, even if it's not every month!


Saturday 3rd of March 2012

This looks like a great dish for this time of year I've put Riesling and creme fraiche on my shopping list for this week...

the wicked noodle

Saturday 3rd of March 2012

Thanks, Tammy!

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