The $3 Food Stylist Trick for Golden-Brown Chicken

updated Mar 27, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

If you’re a frequent reader of The Kitchn, you’ve seen my work. I’m the food stylist responsible for a lot of the food you see on the site. I help translate recipes into photos and try my hardest to make the food look as beautiful as it possibly can. Sometimes this means garnishing a recipe with chopped fresh herbs, but I have a few special tricks and tools up my sleeve. One of those secret ingredients I lean on all the time? Kitchen Bouquet.

Credit: Jesse Szewczyk

What is Kitchen Bouquet?

Kitchen Bouquet is a browning and seasoning sauce. The primary ingredient is caramel color, giving it a super-saturated brown color and somewhat thick texture. You can find it in the vinegar and oil section of most well-stocked grocery stores — typically on the bottom shelf. If you’re not looking closely it’s easy to miss! It has a subtle savory flavor that tastes like concentrated vegetable stock. A small bottle of the stuff costs less than three dollars and lasts a very long time.

Credit: Jesse Szewczyk

How to Use Kitchen Bouquet

Kitchen Bouquet can be added to sauces and stews, brushed on steaks or pork chops, or sprayed onto roasted poultry out of a small misting bottle. Because it is a natural caramel color (meaning it comes from burnt sugar and not food dye), the brown color it lends foods looks very real (and very yummy!). It gives stews a rich color that makes them look like they’ve cooked all day, and it gives chicken breasts a wonderful caramelized color. It’s especially great for brushing onto whole roast chicken to give it a wonderful rotisserie look.

The thing to know about Kitchen Bouquet is that a little goes a long way. Just a drop of the stuff can add a ton of color to a dish. The best way to learn how to work with Kitchen Bouquet is to simply play around with it. It doesn’t have a strong flavor, so you can add it to various recipes until you get the hang of it. The next time you roast a chicken try brushing a bit onto the skin before you pop it into the oven. It’ll give you a rich, deep golden brown color that’s worthy of being photographed.

Welcome to Pretty Delicious, a series where our in-house food stylist shares his favorite tips, tricks, and hacks that you can use in your own kitchen. With just a little bit of food-styling know-how, you can make food that’s as pretty as it is delicious.