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Chinese Roast Chicken

Chinese Roast Chicken


Chinese-style Roast Chicken

1 chicken, about 2 1/2 – 3 lbs
4 garlic, lightly pounded
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced


3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon Chinese rose wine (or Shaoxing wine)
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 dashes white pepper

Skin Coating:

1 tablespoon oil
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon honey


Clean the chicken with water and pat dry inside and out. Truss the chicken. (I did only the legs part and not whole body.)

Mix the Marinade ingredients well in a small bowl and rub it generously on the skin of the chicken and also the cavity. Insert the garlic and ginger inside the cavity and then transfer it into a Ziploc bag. Pour the remaining Marinade into the bag and marinate the chicken overnight. You can turn the plastic bag to make sure that the chicken is evenly marinated.

Take the chicken out of the plastic bag, discard the garlic and ginger in the cavity. Air dry the chicken for about 30 minutes at room temperature or until the skin surface is no longer wet. You can turn on a fan. Mix the Skin Coating ingredients well in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat up the oven to 400 Degrees F. Place the chicken in a roasting pan (at the lower rack) and roast for about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the other side of the chicken and roast for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven after 1 hour and brush the entire chicken with the Skin Coating mixture. Continue to roast the chicken for about 10 minutes on each side, or until both sides of the chicken become a golden-hued brown. Remove from the oven, let cool, chop up and serve immediately. Save the juice from the chicken and serve with steamed rice.

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65 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. Julie

    I love Chinese/Cantonese roast chicken, much better than the regular roast chicken for sure! Thanks for sharing the recipe. Happy new year!!!

    • I hope so but I am a one-man show, no one to take the video for me when I cook. Not to mention I have a baby boy who loves to hang out in the kitchen when I cook. It’s hard enough to cook and shoot. ;)

      • anne

        Love, love, love your website! For this chicken, does it really roast for 45 minutes at 400 degrees? It seems like it would burn. Another question is when it is airing dry, does it just sit on the counter for 3 hours or does it air dry in the fridge? Thanks.

      • Matthew Bullock

        When you say “Save the juice from the chicken and serve with steamed rice” Do you mean mix the juice in with the rice?

          • Matthew Bullock

            Hi, Thanks for the reply. Yes, my wife is Thai and they have a dish called ‘khao man gai’ where they actually use the chicken juice and fat to cook the rice instead of plain water. It’s very nice and this recipe reminded me of that. Thanks

  2. HL Tay via Facebook

    Good tip abt scalding the chicken with hot boiling water to remove the marinade on the chicken skin :) CNY is less than a mth away. R u traveling soon?

  3. cherie

    Ooooh – excited to try this one in the new year – as I always love your recipes! I bought two of your books as Christmas gifts for food loving friends – I can’t tell enough people how very pleased I am with your work!

  4. I lover your blog. Best wishes for the New Year to you and yours. I also love salt baked chicken. I have no recipe, I have only eaten it at a Chinese restaurant and this dish rocks too!!

  5. This looks delicious! We just had something this for new years day lunch at a really nice Chinese restaurant here…LOVE! All the best for 2012 to you Bee!

  6. Peter Pantry Raider

    You got two Sichuan Roasted Chicken captions for the photos and the bottom picture is most probably boiled or steamed chicken judging by the looks of the skin.

    Have a very HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR back home in Penang with your family.

  7. Jacca

    Happy New Year!!! I was wondering if you know of any online chinese stores that sells Bamboo in chilli oil? The one in a jar.

  8. Jeanie Man Ching-Kwan Stone via Facebook

    Thanks for starting the count down. It gives me sometime to practice and prepare.

  9. feiwan

    Hi Bee,

    I made this today and the chicken is very delicious. But unfortunately, the skin came off and didnt look as crispy as yours. I roasted the chicken in a tray and when I turned it over, the skin got stuck on the tray. Also as the juices and rendered fat came out as the roasting continued, the underside of the chicken was sort of ‘soaked’ in the juices. I air dried the chicken for four hours

    • Did you use a roasting tray with rack at the bottom? That way the juice will not soak the chicken but in the tray. Sorry that the chicken got stuck, next time you can grease your tray.

      • wfeiwan

        now i know where went wrong, i didn’t use the rack! thanks much, i’m sure my second attempt will be better! happy chinese new year! xie xie

  10. Lynn C.

    I just made tonight and it is tasty! only suggestion though; I had it uncovered for the first 20 minutes or so of roasting and it seem to brown too fast so I covered it lightly with aluminum for the rest of the time and uncovered it for the last 15 minutes or so. It was delicious! do you normally keep it uncovered the entire time and it doesn’t burn? I had it on the lowest rack too.

    • Hi Lynn, thanks for your comment and great suggestion. I used one of those oven that is made specially for roasting chicken (rotating thingy inside). I will put in a note in my recipe to cover the chicken. It’s a great idea.

  11. dvagfuzzy

    OMG! The chicken was very moist and delicious. The family was impressed on my first attempt to make a Chinese style roast chicken. My only problem was that the skin was blotchy black. It didn’t look as nice as your picture or what you would get at a BBQ store. What did I do wrong? Happy Chinese New Year.

  12. Jadeco

    Hi, everytime i roast the chicken in one of the oven that the chicken rice shop used, the round thing like a beer can shape oven, my chicken always end up with botch of black. Is it because that my chicken is not air-dry enough? And also, when u used the hot boiling water to drain away the skin, then the marinade will also be drain right after you have marinated the whole night? And also, do you marinade behind the breast skin into the meat?

  13. Jadeco

    And by the way, i couldnt cover my chicken with the aluminium foil coz it is hanging with the s-shape in one of the beer-can oven, so any advice i can make my chicken look evenly roast on the skin?

  14. Please can you explain this process what effect does it have when hot scolding water is poured on to the chicken?

    Also does seasoning not get washed off?

      • Lee

        I made this chicken tonight, it turned out very moist and delicious. Thanks for the recipe. I will probably cut down on the amount of honey for the skin the next time round. The skin was turning dark much faster than it could turn crispy although I only removed the foil for the last 15 mins. This if of course no fault of the recipe, just the difference in the grilling methods, i am using a normal oven. :-)

  15. Joanna

    I’m about to use this recipe again and I notice that the part about scalding the chicken with boiling water is no longer there. Is that intentional? Thanks!

  16. Hello Rasa,
    When you say turn the chicken to the other side do you mean turn the chicken onto its breast for only 15 minutes and then turn back and continue to cook for 1 hou?

  17. Catherine

    Hi Bee,

    Thanks for your recipe. Did I my first attempt today and everyone loved. My hubby was so happy with it and said tasted authentic :)

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