Skip to main content
Recipes

What Is Cornell Chicken?

This bright, herby recipe was developed by a college professor.

There are some meals out there that make you think “this recipe is scientifically perfect.” Well, whether it’s perfect or not is up for debate, but this New York favorite chicken dish was developed by a college professor.

But what exactly is Cornell Chicken? Here’s everything you need to know about this delicious dish and the fascinating man behind it.

Sign up for the Cook's Country Dinner Tonight newsletter

10 ingredients. 45 minutes. Quick, easy, and fresh weeknight recipes.

Who Created Cornell Chicken?

Cornell Chicken was developed in the 1940s by Dr. Robert Baker, a professor at Cornell University in New York. If that name sounds familiar, it’s probably because he was also the creator of the chicken nugget as we know it today. He actually patented the technique of binding breading to chicken and co-invented the machine responsible for deboning chicken. We can also thank him for the existence of chicken and turkey hot dogs.

Yep, we owe this man a lot. 

When it came to Cornell Chicken, the doctor had set out on a simple task to help local chicken farms sell more birds and thought that creating a recipe to grill smaller, younger chickens would help. The resulting recipe was actually innovated during his time as a scholar at Penn State University but only gained recognition while he was working at Cornell University, where it earned its name. The recipe subsequently garnered a huge amount of attention at the New York State Fair and has been a local favorite in the state ever since.

How Do You Make Cornell Chicken?

Cornell Chicken is made by grilling two deeply seasoned split chickens over gentle heat. To achieve perfectly crispy skin without burning, Cook’s Country’s recipe for Cornell Chicken has you start the chicken skin side up to render the fat slowly and then directs you to flip the meat skin side down to brown and crisp.

What makes Cornell Chicken such a crowd-pleaser, though, is its tangy sauce. Marrying Dijon mustard, sage, and thyme with the acidity of cider vinegar and a glug of creamy olive oil, this cheek-puckering, flavorful accompaniment is an absolute must.