Moroccan-Spiced Roast Chicken

Moroccan-Spiced Roast Chicken Recipe

A quartet of familiar spices lend the striking flavors of Morocco to this complete meal in one. Although it takes a bit longer than other recipes to cook, once you put it in the oven, your work is done.–Kristine Kidd

LC Holy Smoke Alarm Note

It isn’t the heat in this burnished bird’s spice rub that will set off your internal smoke alarm. It’s the drips and dribbles and splotches in your oven that may, in fact, set off your actual smoke alarm. Anytime we crank our less-than-pristine oven to 450 degrees F or higher, it has a tendency to billow smoke from these burnt-on remnants of the apple tart that bubbled over last week, those roast sweet potatoes that couldn’t contain their lusciousness, maybe even that roast duck from last autumn that splattered all over the oven walls. The way we see it, there are two ways around this-either scrub the darn thing until it sparkles or roast the bird at a slightly lower temperature for a little longer. Any other ideas?

Moroccan-Spiced Roast Chicken Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 35 M
  • 1 H, 55 M
  • Serves 4


  • One whole (4 to 5 pounds) chicken
  • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 to 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 smallish lemon
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the baking sheet
  • 2 small (about 3/4 pounds total) orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1 pound cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
  • 1 red onion, cut into 8 wedges


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C). Slick a heavy large rimmed baking sheet–preferably not a roasting pan, but if you do use a roasting pan, make it a big one–with a little oil.
  • 2. Pull out and discard the fat and giblets from the cavity of the chicken. Pat the chicken very dry with paper towels. Starting at the edge of the main cavity, slide a finger under the skin over each breast half, making a pocket between the skin and meat. Rub a total of 1 tablespoon of salt over the chicken skin and toss a little salt inside the cavity. Sprinkle the chicken generously with black pepper.
  • 3. In a small bowl, mix the paprika, cumin, pepper flakes, and cinnamon. Set aside 2 1/2 teaspoons of the spice mixture for the vegetables. The rest is for the chicken. Finely grate the zest from the lemon, cut the lemon into quarters, and mix the zest into the spices for the chicken. Gradually mix in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to make a paste. Spread a little of the paste inside the cavity, slather some of it under the skin over the chicken breasts, and rub the rest of the paste all over the outside of the chicken. Toss the lemon quarters inside the cavity. Tie the legs together, if desired. Place the chicken in the center of the baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it and if it browns too quickly cover it loosely with a sheet of foil.
  • 4. Meanwhile, cut the sweet potatoes in half crosswise, and then quarter each half lengthwise to create wedges. Combine the sweet potatoes, cauliflower, and onion in a bowl. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil and toss to coat. Add the reserved spice mixture, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper, and toss to coat.

  • 5. After the chicken has roasted for 30 minutes, remove it from the oven. Tilt the sheet pan and spoon off most of the fat. Return the chicken to the center of the sheet and spoon the vegetables around it. Return the pan to the oven and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh registers 165°F (74°C), about 40 minutes longer, depending on the size of the bird. (Note: the bird will take longer to roast if the legs have been tied together. It will also take longer if you ended up with a behemoth bird that’s closer to five pounds than four.) If the skin is getting too dark before the meat is done, reduce the oven temperature to 425°F (218°C).

  • 6. Transfer the chicken to a platter and let rest for 10 minutes. Carve the chicken and serve with the vegetables.
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