While a whole roast chicken is a wonderful thing, it does involve post-cooking cutting it up, which can be a little daunting. Buying chicken already cut into parts allows you to pick the pieces or assortment of pieces your family likes, takes less cooking time, and cuts out that pesky carving step. Yet you still get the wonderful qualities of roasting: the juiciness, the moistness, the tenderness, the flavor. You’ll need to buy skin-on, bone-in chicken; that’s the key. You can rub the chicken with any of the rubs a day ahead; this allows the seasonings to permeate the meat.

What the Kids Can Do Note: They can help measure the ingredients for any of the rubs, and if your kids aren’t grossed out by the prospect, they can coat the chicken with the rub. Remind them to follow this with (yet another) lengthy hand washing in warm, soapy water.–Katie Workman

Three spiced roast chicken thighs, with warm spice, cajun, and spiced curry coatings.

Spiced Roast Chicken

5 / 2 votes
This spiced roast chicken is like a choose-your-own-adventure in weeknight cooking. Choose your favorite rub—spiced curry, Cajun, or warm spice–slather it on chicken pieces (breasts, thighs, drumsticks, they all work well!), and roast until tender.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories420 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour


For the Cajun rub

For the warm spice rub

For the spiced curry rub

For the chicken

  • One (4-pound) whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces, or about 4 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken parts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the baking sheet (optional)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, (optional)


Make a rub

  • Combine all the ingredients for the rub(s) of your choice in a small bowl.

Make the chicken

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C) and adjust the oven rack to the lower third of the oven. Lightly coat a large rimmed baking sheet with olive oil.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: This recipe calls for a higher heat than you may usually use, but that’s how to get that ridiculously superlative crisped skin (which you can pull off, if you wish, you model of self-restraint you, but if you insist on this sacrilege, do it after the chicken is cooked to keep the meat juicy).

  • Place the chicken in a large bowl, drizzle with the olive oil, and rub each piece, using your hands to ensure each piece is coated evenly. Sprinkle the chicken with the salt and pepper, if desired, and a rub and again rub with your hands to coat each piece evenly. (You can cover and refrigerate the chicken pieces for up to 24 hours.) Arrange the chicken pieces on the baking sheet, skin side up, spacing them an inch or so apart.
  • Roast the chicken until cooked through and the juices run clear when you cut into a piece with the tip of a sharp knife, 35 to 50 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pieces. Dark meat will take longer to cook than white meat. If you want to test the chicken for doneness using an instant-read thermometer, an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) for both chicken breasts and dark meat is recommended. Remember, though, that the chicken will continue to cook slightly more after it is removed from the oven, particularly if it sits on the baking sheet. If the skin needs more crisping to be to your liking, simply run the chicken under the broiler for a few minutes.
  • Let the chicken rest for at least 5 minutes before serving. The chicken is quite nice whether served hot, warm, or cold.
The Mom 100 Cookbook

Adapted From

The Mom 100 Cookbook

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 420 kcalCarbohydrates: 2 gProtein: 31 gFat: 32 gSaturated Fat: 8 gMonounsaturated Fat: 15 gTrans Fat: 0.2 gCholesterol: 122 mgSodium: 126 mgFiber: 0.4 gSugar: 0.1 g

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

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2012 Katie Workman. Photo © 2012 Todd Coleman. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This is a great roast chicken recipe. The chicken is easy to put together, with the added bonus of being able to do it a day ahead. It sizzles and smokes a bit while baking, but emerges from the oven after 37 minutes or so with crisp skin and moist meat.

We tried the Warm Spice Rub and the Cajun Rub. I thought the Cajun would be my favorite, but we all really enjoyed the Warm Spice Rub. It tasted “warm” like fall, but not overpoweringly of cinnamon and ginger. While the Cajun Rub made the cooked chicken looked spiced and golden, the Warm Spice Rub produced a deep brown chicken. Both rubs produced an eye-catching dish.

Truly delicious.

I love how easy this recipe is. Yes, roasting a full chicken is simple also, but this literally pulls together in a flash and the skin was deliciously crispy.

I used the Indian Style Curry Rub. It was fantastic and used spices that most cooks have on hand, so pulling this together for an easy weeknight dinner, Sunday supper, or impromptu dinner party is a breeze.

Loved it. I will add this to my repertoire of favorites.

I’ve always loved trying to mix different spices together when roasting or grilling chicken, as it fully incorporates the flavors of the spices as it’s being cooked.

I did all three versions, and the Cajun was everyone’s favorite here. Now these rub recipes do make quite a bit, so make sure not to overspice the chicken pieces. A little bit goes a long way. If using dark meat chicken with skin, try adding some of the rub under the skin, too, as it will give that much more flavor to the chicken.

In my mind, the olive oil was not needed for the pan, as each chicken piece is already covered in oil, plus it has its own fat as it cooks.

I needed a meat to go with our supper I was planning on cooking at my mom and dad’s on my day off, and was thrilled that I had all the ingredients on hand to make this recipe along with the Cajun Spice Rub.

I used bone-in skin-on thighs and breasts. I didn’t have time for the rub to sit on overnight, but I let it sit for about 4 1/2 hours. The chicken was a hit. We loved the crispness of the skin and the taste of the Cajun rub. This one will be made here again. This rub was great on the bone-in skin-on chicken breasts and thighs. This is one I think would also be great on pork and fish.

It will definitely be added to my recipe box. It went well with the fresh-picked kale, mustard, and turnip that my cousin picked for us. I also cooked some black eyed peas, potatoes, and cornbread to round out our meal.

This recipe is easy to prepare and it works. The house smelled so good it had everyone asking “What’s for dinner?”

I chose to use the Warm Spice Rub for my first try. I rubbed down the chicken pieces the night before and cooked them the next evening. I used only chicken breasts, and they took 40 minutes to cook. They turned out beautifully with a nice crispy skin. My family wasn’t a big fan of the cinnamon flavor, but agreed that the recipe still worked. I will use this method again using different rub recipes.

Considering that the cost of bone-in chicken pieces are much cheaper than the boneless ones, it will help save money and I can always use the bones to make a stock to put in the freezer.

I, too, do not relish roasting a whole chicken, simply because carving adds just a bit more cleanup time then I like after enjoying the warm comfort of a roasted chicken dinner (i.e. feeling fat and happy and a bit lazy). Sometimes you need a reminder that there’s an easier way to tackle a task and this recipe does just that.

I prepared the Spiced Curry Rub on chicken breasts and legs. It was delicious and cleanup was a snap.

Great for a simple family dinner and so easy for a busy night. I made this twice, each time using chicken breasts, once with the Cajun Rub and once with the Warm Spice Rub. Both times the chicken came out perfect. So moist and tender.

I put the rub on the chicken about an hour prior to cooking both times, but I wish I had remembered to put it on earlier. We liked the Cajun Rub much better, but more than the rub, I really liked this method of roasting chicken parts—same great taste as roasting a whole chicken but easier to serve, simple to make the chicken parts my family likes best, and a reduced cooking time.

I wanted finger food that could also be dinner so I used 4 pounds of chicken drumsticks for this recipe. I tried the Spiced Curry Rub on half of the drumsticks and the Warm Spice Rub on the rest. They were great with super-crisp skin and moist and juicy meat.

I left the rubbed drumsticks overnight in the refrigerator and roasted them for 40 minutes. The Indian Curry rub was a clear winner, and we agreed that it would be good on other things you can stick in the oven: shrimp, fish, potato wedges, etc. I shredded the meat from the leftover chicken, added a bit of mayo, and made spiced chicken salad for lunch—wow.

Wonderful taste and very easy to make. I used chicken thighs and it was wonderful–an unusual treatment for chicken.

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. Omgoodness. I thought dark meat cooked faster than white. I don’t know why I thought that.
    I had no idea as I only like dark meat (it’s less dry), lol. Thanks for the tip!