Spicy Roast Chicken

This spicy roast chicken recipe is like Nashville Hot Chicken except it’s baked rather than fried. But like the real deal from Nashville, it’s slathered with cayenne pepper for a warm, invigorating heat that’ll have you and guests coming back for more.

A whole spicy roast chicken on a rack set inside a baking dish with a brush lying beside the chicken.

This spicy roast chicken recipe is modeled after the famous Nashville Hot Chicken from Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack. Except, of course, this spicy chicken is roasted, not fried. But it’s still crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside and warmly spiced through and through with cayenne pepper. As the authors say, “Prince’s chicken is so hot, it can make a body see things. Speak in tongues. Change lives. This chicken is also fried chicken—it’s a bad boyfriend you’ve just got to give up. But this hot chicken here? You can eat my chicken whenever you like, and it’s a friend you keep around. You feel me?”–Renee Schettler Rossi

How To Make Spicy Roast Chicken Stock

You know that nifty and thrifty trick where you can toss what remains of a roast chicken supper—namely the bones and any meat left clinging to them—into a pot along with some vegetables and water and you’ll end up with a damn fine stock, yes? You can do that with this chicken, too. Just be mindful that the cayenne will come through in the resulting stock, making it not so swell for chicken noodle soup for the kiddos but perfect for tortilla soup for the grown-ups.

Spicy Roast Chicken

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 10 M
  • 1 H, 15 M
  • Serves 4 to 5
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Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).

Mix the cayenne pepper, oil, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl.

Remove the giblets, neck, and liver packet—anything stuffed in the interior of the chicken—and discard them or reserve them for another use. Pat the chicken completely dry inside and out with paper towels. Plonk the chicken in a baking dish or roasting pan with low sides. Season the chicken generously inside and out with salt and black pepper to your heart’s desire. Starting at the neck of the chicken, slip your fingers beneath the skin and gently loosen it from the underlying meat. Using a brush, dab the cayenne mixture beneath the skin as best you can to cover it completely. (This will feel sorta awkward to do this with a brush, and you may break the skin in a place or two, and that’s okay. An alternative is to slip on a thin disposable latex glove and then slather the cayenne mixture under the skin by hand. Just be certain not to use your hands unless you’re wearing gloves, otherwise the cayenne will linger on your fingertips and next time you rub your eyes…ouch!) You want the chicken to be evenly coated and to appear reddish. If you have any leftover cayenne mixture, simply dribble it over the hen. If desired, tie the legs together with kitchen string to ensure even cooking.

Roast the chicken for 20 minutes to crisp the skin. Then reduce the heat to 400°F (200°C) and continue to roast the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F (70°C) and the juices run clear and colorless when you pierce a thigh with the tip of a paring knife. This can take anywhere from 25 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken.

Remove the pan from the oven and let the chicken rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

I must admit I was a little wary of trying this spicy roast chicken recipe. 2 tablespoons cayenne seemed like a lot, so I was expecting a blow-your-head-off kind of heat. What we got was a moist chicken with a warming heat. Simple ingredients that come together quickly and easily so that in about an hour you have dinner on the table. I found trying to use a brush to apply the rub under the skin awkward. I ended up using my hands in a pair of latex gloves to apply it. Doing it that way also allowed me to get further under the skin and get the rub on almost the whole chicken.

This spicy roast chicken recipe delivers much more than the sum of its parts and is a great fix if you feel like you're in a rut with your usual roast chicken. My main comment is don't worry about the heat. The cayenne pepper mellows in the oven, and the result is just a notch or two above mild (the skin-to-meat ratio helps with this). My fellow tester generally cannot handle spice, and he loved this. So don't skimp on the spice blend! The amount in the recipe coated the chicken completely with nothing left over and very little pan runoff. I used 1 teaspoon salt to season the chicken, and with the 1/2 teaspoon in the spice mix it came out perfectly seasoned. My chicken came out quite red—almost tandoori looking.


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    1. Mr. G, I’d say yes. Long and low cooking is great for fatty cuts of meat or cuts that need time for collagen to breakdown. I find chicken, which isn’t fatty, does best at a higher temperature.

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