Baked Chicken with Cinnamon Butter

This baked chicken with cinnamon butter is an incredibly easy dish made by rubbing a whole hen with with a cinnamon, garlic, and peppercorn compound butter and roasting until tender.

Plate of slices of baked chicken drizzled with cinnamon butter, green salad, and lemon wedge

Ground coriander, cumin and/or ginger can be combined with the cinnamon or used in place of it, and the proportions can be increased or diminished according to taste. Make the cinnamon butter in larger quantities and store in the freezer, keeping a small jar in the refrigerator for current consumption. A simple green salad with a very light dressing is the best accompaniment.

The butter also works well with pheasant. (For a young bird of about 1 3/4 pounds, the timing and temperature are as for the chicken, but the pheasant should be wrapped in well-buttered parchment paper or foil.)–Elizabeth David

LC Subtle Is As Subtle Does Note

Sometimes something subtle can have just as strong an effect as something that slams you in the face. Take this baked chicken, which relies on a simple yet nonetheless enthralling spice-infused butter for its–you guessed it–subtle fragrance and flavor. Subtle is as subtle does…or something like that.

Baked Chicken with Cinnamon Butter

  • Quick Glance
  • (4)
  • 10 M
  • 1 H, 45 M
  • Serves 4
5/5 - 4 reviews
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  • For the cinnamon butter
  • For the chicken


Make the cinnamon butter

Take a mortar and pestle or the flat side of a chef’s knife and crush the peppercorns, if using, garlic, and cinnamon until well combined. Work the butter into the mixture and, when thoroughly mashed together, work in the salt. Store in a small covered jar in the refrigerator.

Prepare the chicken

Lift the skin of the chicken and rub the salt and then most of the cinnamon butter all over the flesh, making a few gashes with a small sharp knife in the drumsticks and thick part of the legs so that the spices will penetrate. Put a little more of the butter inside the chicken. If possible, leave the hen at room temperature for an hour or two before cooking.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C) and adjust the rack to the center position.

Bake the chicken

Place the chicken and bay leaves in a shallow baking dish into which it will just fit. [Editor’s Note: We find that a large cast-iron skillet or a 9-inch baking dish works just fine.]

Roast the chicken, uncovered, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, basting occasionally with the juices. At the end of the cooking time the skin should be beautifully golden and crisp. Let the chicken rest at room temperature for at least 10 minutes.

Serve the chicken

Carve the chicken and serve it alongside the salad. Pour the buttery pan juices, minus the bay leaves, into a little sauceboat and place it on the table with the lemon wedges, both of which are lovely on the chicken as well as the salad.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

WOW! This chicken was wonderful in an odd way, almost too hard to put into words. I should start by saying I did chicken breast without the skin. I basted both sides of the chicken with the butter mixture (which I made in my little hand chopper — the kind you can use to take out your frustrations). I was so sure this odd combination was going to be poorly received by my family that I had a back-up dinner plan and made an extra side dish. When the chicken was ready, I served each plate and waited for someone to say something, but the dinner table was silent and the chicken was disappearing faster than I could have imagined. My husband called it “savory cinnamon toast chicken,” and I guess that is as close as I can put into words. It is savory, but with a definite cinnamon flavor. It was like no other chicken dish I have ever made before, but so easy and so good. I did not add the optional cumin, coriander or ginger because I was not sure what the chicken would taste like alone, but I am tempted to try some other variations soon. A great recipe for something very different, but amazing.

This is perhaps one of the nicest ways I’ve prepared chicken in a while. The hardest part was finding the green peppercorns. That involved a trip to a couple of stores before I was able to locate them. After that, it really was a breeze. I used the chicken I had on hand, which was two whole chicken breasts, bone in and skin on. Using a mini chopper, I put the two teaspoons of drained peppercorns and one half of a garlic clove into the bowl and gave them a whiz to roughly chop. I added in the cinnamon and whizzed again to a puree. I put the three tablespoons of butter into a small bowl and mixed the contents of the mini chop bowl in. Since I used a salted butter, I didn’t add any additional salt to the chicken flesh, however, I did give a dusting of freshly ground salt and pepper to the skin before putting into the oven. I put two bay leaves under each breast. I allowed the roast chicken to rest while I finished preparing a simple salad. This chicken was flavorful, juicy and tender, a real achievement since the breasts can get dry and stringy with roasting. I will happily make this again. Next time, I might change the cinnamon for five-spice powder and add some ginger in addition to the garlic. Cilantro, ginger, garlic and lemon zest might be good too.


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    1. nakedbeet, what i’d like to suggest is that you use skin-on breasts and simply remove the skin prior to plating or, if the skin thing is a personal preference, prior to eating. that way the skin can act as a buffer to the heat, keeping the easily dried-out white meat beneath moist and tender. if you already have skinless chicken breasts and you don’t mind a toughened outer layer, i’d roast it as the recipe recommends, basting the chicken quite frequently and sliding a large baking dish with a little water in it on the bottom oven rack to help humidify the oven environment. if you’d rather a moist, supple chicken breast through and through, perhaps you could instead poach the chicken and then simply slather the compound butter over the chicken just prior to serving? the flavor won’t permeate the meat quite as much, but will still be palpable. let us know how it goes…

  1. Yesterday I cooked a small pork roast this way with garlic, a sweet onion, and sweet potatoes all coated with the butter and cinnamon. I didn’t have the peppercorns handy. Next time! It was the best pork roast ever.

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