Chinese Roast Chicken Recipe

This Chinese roast chicken recipe takes its intoxicating aroma from its fragrant spice rub of star anise, cinnamon, fennel, cardamom, and ginger. 

Chinese Roast Chicken Recipe

Yes, Chinese roast chicken. It’s for those nights when you want the ease and comfort of roast chicken without the same old predictability of your usual roast chicken.–Renee Schettler Rossi

Chinese Roast Chicken Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Serves 4


  • For the roast chicken
  • 1 teaspoon (2 g) ground fennel
  • 1 teaspoon (1 g) ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon (2 g) ground Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon (2 g) ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon (2 g) ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon (2 g) ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon (3 g) ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon (2 g) five-spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon (1 g) ground star anise (about 2 1/2 star anise)
  • 1 teaspoon (6 g) sea salt
  • 1 whole chicken, preferably a smallish hen that’s only 3 to 4 pounds (1.4 to 1.8 kg)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) extra-virgin olive oil


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 400°F  (205°C).
  • Make the roast chicken
  • 2. Mix all the spices together in a bowl. (You can cover and keep the spice rub at room temperature for up to several months.)
  • 3. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and then rub it all over with the oil. Sprinkle the spice mixture evenly over the chicken and place in a roasting pan. (If you’re using a small hen—around 3 pounds—you may not all the spice rub.) Roast the chicken until the juices run clear and the breast meat registers 165°F (74°C) on an instant-read thermometer, 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the size of your chicken. Let the chicken rest in the pan on the stovetop for at least 10 minutes.
  • 4. Carve the chicken into pieces and serve.
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Recipe Testers Reviews

Recipe Testers Reviews
Testers Choice
Gene C.

Jun 14, 2016

I very rarely rate a recipe a "10" unless there are absolutely no flaws. This roast chicken recipe is perfect. This is one of those recipes that takes a turn on the traditional roasted chicken. Y'all know the drill. The spices blend well, the cooking times are spot on, and the skin crisps up nicely. My chicken was an organic one and weighed in at 3.25 pounds—not one of those super chickens that are chemically altered and can go as high as 6 pounds. (My personal opinion on conventional chicken is that it has a rubbery texture because of the additives, it is not like the chicken i remember, so that is why I only use natural. The texture is so much better. Besides, I have never seen a chicken in the wild or at a farm that could push the scale much over 3 pounds.) Therefore, because I used a smaller bird, I only used half the rub and am saving the other half for a repeat. The meat was perfect—tender and juicy with just the right amount of flavor from the rub. There are only two of us and we ate it all except a leg and the wings, our dog was a happy camper that night. I would highly recommend using two small birds to serve 4 rather than a single big one and any leftovers can always be put to good use. I tested this as weeknight dinner and it is well suited to that. I made a stir fry as a side using bok choy and some green onion. (My personal opinion on chicken today is that it has a rubbery texture because of the additives, it is not like the chicken i remember so that is why I only use natural, the texture is so much better. Besides I have never seen a chicken in the wild or at a farm that could push the scale much over three pounds, just my opinion).
This Chinese roast chicken recipe is for sure going in my rotation.

Testers Choice
Anna Scott

Jun 14, 2016

We were so impressed with the flavor of this lovely roast chicken! I have to admit that when I was making the dry rub mixture, I was a bit concerned that there might be a little too much going on at one time. All of the spices involved are strong in flavor on their own, so I wondered if it might all combine to be too much in terms of taste? But no! The flavors all combined wonderfully and the results were a moist roast chicken with a crispy, super flavorful skin. I used a rather large bird—a 6-pound roaster. Because my chicken was on the larger side, I actually ended up cooking my chicken for 1 hour and 45 minutes; it was at 165 at this point with a crispy, beautifully spiced skin and the meat was very moist. The only thing I would add here is that I like to tie the legs of the chicken together with twine so that they cook evenly in the oven. Overall, we were severely impressed with the flavor and moist texture of this fabulous chicken!

Testers Choice
Martha T.

Jun 14, 2016

We definitely liked this Chinese roast chicken. The recipe works and we can't imagine any way to improve it. The roast chicken was flavorful and juicy throughout.

Testers Choice
Angie Z.

Jun 14, 2016

At first bite, I wasn't completely convinced about this chicken as the combination of spices is quite potent and a little overwhelming. But as I ate, I could taste the different spices and somehow they all magically worked together. Spices aside, this also yielded a perfectly cooked, moist chicken. The skin was very nice and crisp! I served it with some roasted potatoes and broccoli.

Testers Choice
Larry Noak

Jun 14, 2016

I made a nearly 4-pound roast chicken as specified in the recipe. It took no more than 90 minutes from prep to finish. I tasted it shortly after removing it from the oven and, although it was good, I wouldn't have said that it was great. My wife was working late so I cooled the chicken and wrapped it with foil and put it in the refrigerator until the next evening. As I removed the chicken from the fridge, I decided to simply cut the bird in half and heat it in a preheated 400°F oven. I removed the backbone by cutting through the center of the breast and then on either side of the backbone. A sharp chef's knife or kitchen shears will make light work of this. I laid the halves, bone side down, in a cast iron skillet and roasted it for about 20 minutes. The result was a super moist, crisp-skinned chicken whose flavors had deepened and improved dramatically overnight. I will most certainly relive this Chinese roast chicken recipe again and again.

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