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.–Renee Schettler

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.

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

Spicy Roast Chicken

5 / 6 votes
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?
David Leite
Servings4 to 5 servings
Calories170 kcal
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Resting Time15 minutes
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 heaping tablespoon)
  • Salt
  • One (3-to 4-pound) chicken
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • 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 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.
Soul Food Love Cookbook

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Soul Food Love

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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 170 kcalCarbohydrates: 2 gProtein: 0.4 gFat: 18 gSaturated Fat: 3 gMonounsaturated Fat: 13 gSodium: 1 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 0.3 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Recipe © 2015 Alice Randall | Caroline Randall Williams. Photo © 2015 Penny De Los Santos. All rights reserved.

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.

Ever since I first heard of Nashville Hot Chicken, I’ve been curious about it. This spicy roast chicken recipe piqued my curiosity further. I don’t know if I’d find the original overpoweringly spicy or not, but this version hits the heat level just right for me. Quite spicy but not painful. It was also relatively uncomplicated to make. I was a little clumsy brushing the spice mixture between the skin and meat and broke some of the skin, but it didn’t seem to be a problem. Okay, it could have looked a little prettier, but there was no impact beyond that. When it seemed like I had brushed as much as possible on the chicken flesh but there was a little cayenne oil left, I brushed it on the outside of the chicken.

I often use the carcass of a chicken to make broth for something else. It seemed like the heavy spicing would make that not a good idea here, but I went ahead with it and realized it would be perfect for a tortilla soup. I didn’t need to add extra heat. The pre-peppered broth did the heavy lifting.

Terrific and, yes, very spicy chicken! I was a bit hesitant about the amount of cayenne called for—I am fairly certain I have never measured out 1 tablespoon cayenne before, certainly not 2 tablespoons for a single recipe. But I put this in perspective when I did a little research and found that Nashville-style chicken calls for even MORE cayenne (up to 6 tablespoons), so I figured that if it was entirely too hot, I would just not eat the skin. Hah! While this does definitely deliver a “happy mouth” sensation, it was just great. I guess you need to consider your audience, but it’s worth trying as written. The spice mixture comes together quickly. The easiest way to get the spice mixture under the skin was gently lifting and separating the skin from the meat with gloved hands, using a silicone brush and spatula to add a bit and then massaging it down as far as I could, including onto the legs, etc. The wings got a more cursory coating on the outside. I did turn the pan at about 30 minutes, as one side was reading a little hotter, and I tented it loosely with foil to stop it from over-browning. I left the foil tent on while it rested. The chicken was very moist, even the breast meat, and made for a delicious meal served with a salad. I made a pasta dish using some of the chicken from this recipe—mostly white meat and no skin—but the lovely spice and heat came through well. It had infused the moist white meat beautifully and provided plenty of desired heat other than a bit of black pepper for a pasta dish for two. The remaining carcass will be used to make a spicy stock for soup.

I always love a nice roast chicken, and this spicy roast chicken was no exception. The recipe produced a roast chicken that was very moist and had an abundance of flavor. It calls for 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper, which, at first glance, may seem exorbitant but produced a nice mellow burn that was not at all extreme. I mixed my oil, garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper in a measuring cup with a spout so I could simply pour the mixture between the skin and the meat and massage it over the entire chicken. When you pull the skin away from the meat, pull at the throat with one hand and gently slide your other hand down, separating the skin down the front and sides down to the legs. I find this approach easier than coming up from the other end to loosen the skin from the legs. After prep and baking, it took less than an hour and a half.

You say spicy roast chicken, I say bring it on. I was excited to make this recipe. Roast chicken is a staple in my kitchen, and I just love trying different recipes, not only in terms of flavors, but it seems that everyone has a specific way to cook a whole chicken. Some leave the oven at a constant temperature the entire time, others (like this recipe) start at a higher heat and then reduce it to finish off the dish. I think I prefer the recipes like this one that start high to get the skin nice and toasty first, then lower the heat for the remaining time, as it produces a very moist chicken. In terms of the recipe itself, I think the combo of garlic with the cayenne pepper was super tasty. Spicy, yes—but not overwhelmingly so. My only suggestions are that I think you should brush the oil mixture onto the chicken first before seasoning the outside of the chicken well with salt and pepper. I found that once you dried the chicken off, then seasoned it, then tried to brush the hot oil under the skin, that the seasonings fell off. Also, it was a bit hard to brush the oil underneath the skin. This process works very well with a butter-based rub, but I found it hard to reach the brush under the entire chicken skin without breaking the skin. The breast area was easy to do, but the rest more difficult. I did what I could this way and then used the rest of the hot oil on the surface of the chicken itself. Overall, we adored this recipe! Very moist and flavorful roast chicken. Be sure and have some yummy bread to serve with the chicken to sop up those spicy juices!

If you like spice and crisp chicken skin, this spicy roast chicken is a great recipe. It was relatively easy to come together, although getting the spice and garlic mixture under the skin of the thighs was a bit difficult. Because of the fat in the skin, that was where the heat was concentrated, while the meat underneath had a nice mellow spice level to it. When putting the marinade under the skin, I tried to massage it as much as I could into the meat. I had to make sure I got some garlic on each part of the bird as it tended to just fall to the bottom of the measuring cup. I then poured the last bit of the marinade all over the top of the chicken. Next time I would try injecting some of the spice mixture into the meat itself to see if that would help the flavor to permeate the meat instead of mostly sitting on the skin. It was delicious served with sour cream mashed potatoes, which nicely complemented the pepperiness of the chicken.

Moist, tender, juicy, spicy, addictive spicy roast chicken. From the moment I read the description of this recipe and saw the beautiful picture, I knew I wanted to attempt making it. And it did not disappoint! The only slight hesitation I had was using the full 2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper for fear it would be too spicy, but I dove in and tried it and I am so glad that I did! I could definitely taste the spicy heat and felt it on my tongue and lips afterward. If you like spicy food, you will love this dish. I used just shy of 1/3 cup oil, which still worked great. I decided to remove the back bone (truth be told, I had my butcher do the work) and roast the chicken flat in a roasting pan because I love this method of roasting. The tip to start at the skin of the neck and work the cayenne garlic oil under the sin with gloves was very helpful, this technique worked perfectly and I was able to get under the skin of even the legs using this technique which was a first for me, no brush needed. From start to finish the chicken was done in 45 minutes. I roasted my chicken with sweet potatoes and garlic around the outside edges of the pan. I used 3 medium-size sweet potatoes cut into 2-inch cubes and a few extra whole peeled garlic cloves for a little sweetness to go with the heat and it was the perfect pairing! I tossed the veggies together with just a tablespoon or so of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. After the first 20 minutes roasting to crisp the skin, I gently tossed the potatoes and garlic around so they would cook evenly. The roasted potatoes soaked up a little of the cayenne-infused garlic oil and the whole dish was truly addictive and much better than I even imagined! Another winner of a recipe!

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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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.