Chicken Bouillabaisse (Bouillabaisse de Poulet)

4.53 from 19 votes
1 hour
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Chicken Bouillabaisse is a twist on the classic seafood stew that’s a bit more budget-friendly.  It’s so lush and luxurious, it’s elegant enough to serve to guests!

Photo of Chicken Bouillabaisse in white bowl with bread resting on the back of the bowl garnished with fresh thyme.

So, it’s not cooling off here as quickly as I’d like.  It’s November and the temperature is still in the high 80’s but I’m craving comfort food!

I am passionate about classic French-inspired chicken dishes and Chicken Bouillabaisse is the perfect “light” comfort food.

If you’ve never made Chicken Bouillabaisse (Bouillabaisse de Poulet) before, you’re going to wonder why you haven’t!

Photo of Chicken Bouillabaisse in Dutch oven.

What is bouillabaisse?

No doubt you’ve heard of the seafood version of bouillabaisse which is Marseille’s signature dish.  The seafood version is typically prepared for a large number of people with a minimum of three different types of seafood.  Because of the seafood, it can be pricey.

The flavorings of the classic seafood version work well with budget-friendly chicken in this Chicken Bouillabaisse and it’s less fussy to prepare.  Think of it as a French chicken stew.

This version is inspired by Julia Child’s recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume #2.  Oh, Julia, where would we all be without you?

I had the amazing opportunity to meet Julia Child twice and I cherish those memories.  Miss you, Julia, but your culinary influence lives on in all of us.

Close-up photo of Chicken Bouillabaisse in red Dutch oven with soup ladle.

How to make Chicken Bouillabaisse:

  • Chicken Bouillabaisse is generally made with a whole chicken cut into pieces or a combination of pieces such as the thigh, drumstick or breast.  Because it’s what I had in the freezer, I used two large “split” chicken breasts (or chicken breasts that are still on the bone with the skin).
  • After cooking the breasts thoroughly in the broth, I then pulled the meat in large pieces from the bone and placed it back in the rich, sexy broth.  It’s much easier to eat that way.
  • Throw in some buttery Yukon Gold potatoes toward the end.  Crusty bread to soak up the rich, luxurious broth is also a must!
  • A bouillabaisse is always served with a rouille, which translates to “rust” because of the color.  It’s a thick, garlicky sauce that often includes breadcrumbs and some type of chili pepper.  However, there does not seem to be a definitive recipe from what I’ve been able to find.  The one included here is from which is easy and tasty.
Photo of rouille being spooned onto the finished dish with a spoon.

Make this.  Soon.

Your chicken soup life will never be the same again!

Photo of Chicken Bouillabaisse in white bowl with bread resting on the bowl.

For more French-inspired chicken recipes, be sure to try my:

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Chicken Bouillabaisse in white bowl with bread.

Chicken Bouillabaisse (Bouillabaisse de Poulet)

4.53 from 19 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
Chicken Bouillabaisse is a French-inspired rustic chicken stew that’s lush and luxurious and elegant enough to serve to guests!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Soups and Stews
Cuisine French
Servings 4
Calories 1063 kcal



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil - or as needed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large split chicken breasts - on the bone, with the skin
  • 1 medium onion - finely chopped
  • 3 stalks celery - finely chopped
  • 1 small fennel bulb - finely chopped
  • 4 medium tomatoes - seeded and chopped –OR– 1 can (15-ounce) petite diced tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic - chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 pinch saffron threads
  • 1 piece (2-inch) orange peel
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes - or to taste
  • 8 baby Yukon Gold potatoes - sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • Chopped fresh parsley - for garnish


  • 1 pinch saffron threads
  • 2 tablespoons hot cooking liquid from pot
  • 2 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
  • Cayenne pepper - to taste
  • Salt - to taste



  • Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season chicken generously with salt and black pepper. Place in the hot oil, reduce heat to medium and brown well on the skin side, approximately 6-7 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  • Add the onion, celery and fennel to the oil (adding more if needed) and cook 8-10 minutes or until very soft. Add the tomatoes and garlic and cook 2 minutes.
  • Add the wine, chicken broth, bay leaves, thyme, saffron, orange peel and crushed red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil.
  • Place the chicken back in the broth. Cover and cook 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked through to at least 165 degrees. (Chicken should be able to be removed easily from bone.)
  • Add the potatoes and cook gently 10 more minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  • With a fork, remove skin and shred chicken into large chunks. Place back in broth. Add chopped fresh parsley.


  • ROUILLE: Place saffron threads in a small bowl. Remove 2 tablespoons of the hot cooking liquid and allow saffron to soften a bit. Add remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth.
  • Serve in shallow bowls with crusty bread, topped with a dollop of the rouille.


MAKE AHEAD:  Both the bouillabaisse and rouille can be made 1-2 days ahead of time.  Reheat on the stovetop.
FREEZER-FRIENDLY:  The bouillabaisse is freezer-friendly.  Store in airtight containers in amounts desired.  Thaw in the refrigerator or in the microwave.  Reheat on the stovetop.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 1063kcal | Carbohydrates: 82g | Protein: 50g | Fat: 56g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 45g | Cholesterol: 127mg | Sodium: 2069mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 12g

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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4.53 from 19 votes (18 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Made it over an afternoon with a little one running between my legs – if you take your time with it, it’s a super easy recipe to follow, and is very forgiving if you add a little too much or too little of one thing or another. I don’t even like fennel, and I loved this!

  2. Just found your site and I am enjoying. Is there a substitute for fennel here? I am not a fennel, tarragon or anything licorice-like. Thanks for your reply.

    1. Hi, PattiAnn, Thanks so much for your question and for finding my site! If you’re not into fennel, I would just use extra celery. I’ve done that when I was going to make this for a client and was unable to get fennel. Thanks again and hope you stick around!

      1. Thanks. Great idea. I love celery and never thought to use that as a replacement for fennel. I just would avoid any recipe that called for fennel. Glad I found your site. I will subscribe.

      2. Thanks so much, PattiAnn! As a personal chef, I have to make substitutions for my clients all the time and you’re not alone in not liking certain things. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

    1. Hi, Agness, Great question! Yes, you could just use water or broth. You could also add a little apple cider vinegar and lemon juice to it for an even better non-alcoholic wine substitute. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

  3. This sounds lovely. Back in the day, a chicken breast meant both halves of the breast of a single chicken. These days the definition seems more fluid. Does this recipe call for the breast of a single chicken or the breasts of 2 birds?

    1. Hi, Jennifer! Thanks for your great question. I used one whole breast of a single chicken or two halves. Thanks again and let me know how it worked for you.

    1. Hey, Eutraveller, Yes, I’m certainly aware that bouillabaisse is traditionally made with fish. I’ve made it for my personal chef clients and one said my version was better than what she had in Marseilles. Even Julia Child (whose recipe for chicken bouillabaisse this is based on) had a little fun with the traditional dish. Jacques Pepin, who is a world-renowned chef of French origin, also has a version of “chicken bouillabaisse.” Love that these two famous chefs thought outside the box! Thanks for your comment!