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Botswana Chicken in A Hole Recipe

Botswana Chicken in A Hole Recipe

Chicken in a hole is the Botswana-style of cooking chicken barbecue. A pit is dug to cook a whole chicken covered with cabbage leaves and aluminium foil, hot coals are added to help it cook underground.

Botswana-style chicken in a hole is prepared in traditional fashion. A Botswana host shows a sign of respect and special hospitality if he cooks it for his guests, as it requires to be cooked in a slow-smoking process in a hole in the ground similar to the preparation of Māori Hangi.

It is cooked slowly to make it juicier and more tender. Cooking chicken Botswana-style can also be cooked in a lidded BBQ pit, but not as good and as flavourful as the traditional style of cooking it.

Chicken in a hole

Botswana-Style Chicken in A Hole

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 25 minutes


  • Whole chicken - 1
  • Large garlic cloves, peeled and quartered - 16 pieces
  • Large onion, peeled and studded with 6 whole cloves - 1 piece
  • Cabbage leaves - 12 pieces
  • Chicken stock cube - 1 cube
  • Paprika - 1 tbsp
  • Mixed herbs - 2 tsp
  • Curry powder - 2 tsp
  • Dried chilli - 1 tbsp
  • Salt - 1 tbsp
  • Vinegar (for cleaning the chicken) - 2-3 tbsp


  1. To start, wash the chicken with water mixed with vinegar to ensure it is properly cleaned.
  2. Make sure to pat dry all the cleaned chicken.
  3. Insert and distribute the garlic cloves as evenly as possible between the skin and flesh of the chicken.
  4. Pulverize the dried chillis, salt and all other spices using a mortar and pestle to make a paste.
  5. Rub the paste all over the chicken and coat it evenly inside and outside.
  6. Insert and stuff the peeled onion into the chicken until it reaches its cavity.
  7. After that, get the cabbage leaves and wrap them around the chicken.
  8. Use a cheesecloth or muslin to wrap it, then wrap it again using at least three layers of aluminium foil.
  9. Botswana’s tradition is to cook the Chicken in a real cooking pit.
  10. To do that, you should dig a hole that is about 90 centimetres deep and 30-45 centimetres wide. After that, get pieces of wood slats and cover the hole.
  11. Then put the hot coals at the bottom that has sand sprinkled all over it. It’s now time to put the foil-wrapped chicken on top of the coals.
  12. Make sure to cover the layer of coals with more sand to fill the hole completely and evenly. Before leaving it to cook and slow-roast for 3 hours and 30 minutes to 4 hours, mark the cooking spot using a rock or a stick.
  13. After 3 to 4 hours of slow-roasting the chicken, dig it up and then make sure to shake the sand off.
  14. Carefully unwrap the chicken, and serve it whole on a platter.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 426Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 107mgSodium: 1608mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 8gSugar: 12gProtein: 40g

If you opt to cook using a lidded barbeque pit, all you need to do is to heat the coals, and place the wrapped chicken on a wire rack on top of the hot coals.

Close the lid and make sure to keep the coals at medium heat so the chicken is tender, juicy, and not overcooked. Slow-roasting it will keep the chicken juicy and perfectly cooked.

Chicken in a hole is best served with rice, potatoes and other vegetables depending on your preference.

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