Sweet and Spicy Roast Chicken Recipe (2024)

By Melissa Clark

Updated Nov. 30, 2023

Sweet and Spicy Roast Chicken Recipe (1)

Total Time
1 hour 15 minutes, plus at least 30 minutes’ marinating
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A chile-flecked, honey-imbued marinade spiked with fresh citrus juice gives this chicken its fiery, syrupy character. Dates and carrots give the sauce texture and additional sweetness while a garnish of fresh herbs and pistachio nuts lends freshness and crunch. It’s dinner party food at its most flavorful and convenient; its honey marinade makes it a particularly wonderful main course for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. The ingredients can be assembled up to 24 hours in advance, then all you need to do is pop it in the oven just before your guests arrive, and garnish it at the last minute. Serve it with couscous, polenta, rice or another soft grain to soak up the sauce.

Featured in: For a Holiday, Sweet Kisses Spice

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Yield:4 to 6 servings

  • 1lemon, plus 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • teaspoons kosher salt, more for pot
  • 3tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 4tablespoons olive oil
  • tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 3tablespoons honey
  • 1bay leaf
  • ½ to 1teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 14-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 3cups sliced carrots (¼-inch thick)
  • 1onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • cup sliced dates
  • 1tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • ¼cup chopped cilantro or parsley, for garnish
  • 2scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
  • ¼cup chopped toasted pistachio nuts, for garnish

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (6 servings)

703 calories; 43 grams fat; 10 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 21 grams monounsaturated fat; 8 grams polyunsaturated fat; 41 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams dietary fiber; 31 grams sugars; 41 grams protein; 1017 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Sweet and Spicy Roast Chicken Recipe (2)


Make the recipe with us

  1. Step


    Quarter the lemon lengthwise, removing any seeds. Thinly slice crosswise into small wedges and add to small pot of boiling, salted water. Blanch for 2 minutes and drain. Reserve slices.

  2. In a saucepan, whisk together lemon juice, orange juice, oil, mustard, honey, salt, bay leaf, red pepper flakes and black pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool.

  3. Step


    Put chicken in a bowl and add honey mixture. Add carrots, onion, dates, thyme and blanched lemon slices. Turn mixture several times to coat. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature, but preferably overnight in the refrigerator.

  4. Step


    Heat oven to 425 degrees. Transfer all ingredients, including marinade, to a sheet pan with a rim. Chicken should be skin side up. Roast until chicken is browned and cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes for breasts and 30 to 40 for legs and wings (remove the pieces as they are done cooking). When the chicken is done, give the carrot mixture in the pan a stir; if the pan looks dry add 2 to 3 tablespoons water. Continue roasting the carrots until they are tender, about 7 to 12 minutes longer.

  5. Step


    Spoon carrots over chicken and top with cilantro, scallions and pistachio nuts.



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Cooking Notes


For an additional
layer of protection against a gunked baking dish, I spray my pan with cooking spray BEFORE I add foil ~ just in case juices seep through. No scrubbing in my kitchen!


This recipe was delicious. I made this Sat. night for guests, and they loved it. I added extra carrots, and I used 18 chicken thighs. I let it marinate overnight in ziplock bags. (doubled the marinade) It's a keeper, and it's easy to make. Yum!!!


I doubled the sauce amount, because it's great over rice or noodles. Also, when I took the chicken out of the pan to simmer the gravy, I seared it skin side down in a cast iron skillet to crisp the skin. Made all the difference.


I made this last night with skin-on, bone-in breasts. It was excellent. I threw in the zest of a whole lemon and a whole orange as someone suggested, and used most of a package of dried diced dates, but otherwise stuck to the recipe. Next time (and there will be a next time), especially if I am making dinner for a crowd, I will buy liners for my sheet pans because the clean-up does require some elbow grease.


Easy, delicious and special enough for company. I used the "convection roast" setting on the oven and the chicken came out beautifully burnished and bronzed. I would double the marinade next time, use bone in thighs, and add more whole dates and carrots. Do not skip the lemons, the toasted nuts or the fresh herb garnish. They all contribute to the complexity of the dish. Perfect!


I made this twice in 10 days. We loved it and made it for guests. The second time, I used skinless bone-in chicken and doubled all the ingredients except chicken. Using chicken with skin made it pretty greasy.

Barbara Wheeler

Made this and thought it was very good, before this site had ratings. Froze the leftovers. Reheated and served over rice, they were absolutely delicious, and then I couldn't find what recipe they came from. Glad I've rediscovered it so that I can give it five stars. In the future, I will make this ahead and gently reheat. The melded flavors are fantastic.

Arlene P

I chose it because it sounded both tasty and easy. Did the marinade after services on Erve of Rosh Hashana. Added extra carrots. My audience loves veggies. Also used ordinary raisins because it's what I had. I was fearful about the heat from the pepper flakes but decided to live dangerously and add full amount. Glad I did. I also reduced the marinade after, not before marinating overnight. I poured over chicken before roasting. Got rave reviews from picky eaters. I would definitely make again.


Just finished the leftovers at my desk. This was absolutely delicious! Used full skin-on bone-in legs and thighs. Was generous with the fresh citrus juices and the dates. I also added a touch of the water the lemons were blanched in. (Will definitely do this again when I make it the next time.) Used dried thyme because fresh thyme makes me crazy...


A marvelous dish, and I love that the bulk of the prep can be done a day ahead. I did find the preparation rather time-consuming, in part because I cut up the chicken myself. (I omitted the back bone and cut the breasts in half.) But after it marinates, you just put it on a sheet pan and let the oven do the rest of the work. I made sure to put the chicken pieces on top of the vegetables, which made it easier to remove the meat before it overcooked.

Jeff R

Excellent! Used thigh/leg quarters. Doubled the marinade. Quantity in recipe didn't seem to be enough. Glad I did.


Not 2/3rd cup of dates but nearly 1 pound. I also cut the carrots and onion a bit thicker than this shows and much more, at least half as much more, of the initial baste which I leave the chicken in overnight and into that baste I add the zest of both the lemon and the orange. A larger chicken and about an hour for the entire thing to cook together. This is the recipe my friends ask me for and I am happy to provide.

Mary Ann

Use a jumbo ziplock bag to marinate. It makes it easier to turn. I loved this it was awesome. After cooking I added water to the pan for a delicious sauce. I can't wait to make it again. I used 4 large thighs instead of the whole chicken, and I halved everything except the marinade since I wanted more sauce.

Margo Hutchison

Using the skinless half breasts and thighs, did you cook it any less?
This is exactly how I want to cook this!


Great dish, used all chicken thighs, and skinned them. Very flavorful, took about 40 minutes to cook.


The sauce was incredible.Modification for my equipment:Cooked carrots separately in steamer.Used two huge bone in chicken breasts. Convection oven 350F for 2 hours due to size of breasts. Dates burned but not before adding flavor to sauce. Next time, boneless chicken breasts for shorter cooking time.Add Riesling when sauce needed more liquid. Strain sauce before serving.


In the top 3 for dinner parties. They always ask for the recipe. Yes, double sauce, lots more dates, lemon zest and orange zest. I don’t see the difference with fresh oj vs good bottled, especially if I put in some zest. I like the suggestion of sauteeing it at the end. I usually broil it and that is tricky. Don’t miss the pistachios!! Trader Joe’s frozen Medly Rice is the perfect accompaniment!!


It was amazing, I doubled the carrots and the citrus, other than that I followed the recipe.


Absolutely delicious! Almost exactly 30 minutes of prep. Used eight chicken thighs instead of a whole chicken to save time. Doubled the marinade mixture and made it as the first step so it had time to cool. Marinaded everything for 2 hours. Total bake time of 35-40 minutes and served with couscous. Will definitely make again!


Great recipe, simple and really tasty. For those fretting about clean up you can add white vinegar to pan, add hot water and let sit for 10 minutes. If more elbow grease needed, add a little baking soda to your scrubbing pad.

Mona B

This was delicious! Everyone was raving. I didn’t change a thing!


Day 2 - Ate the leftovers. Where my husband liked it a lot last night and I said: "Tasty". I also thought - too much prep Fast forward. Tonight I thought it was spectacular. Some dishes are just better after continuing to sop up all those juices. Now I might have rethink all the prep. Thanks again, Melissa!


Tasty. Made exactly as directed. Definitely had enough sauce. Thanks, again, Melissa.

Dave Bloch

Every baked chicken recipe I make has to compete with "put in baking dish, smooth on some (homemade) BBQ sauce and bake 1 hour at 350 degrees." This one was pretty good but more work than it was worth. Biggest disappointment was at the end--after removing the chicken and picking out the carrots, what was left was so drenched in fat that it really wasn't usable for anything. I think pouring all that off into a separator cup would have taken too long, so it all went in the trash. :-(


The video says to get the marinade to a syrupy consistency, which is not mentioned in the recipe directions. Is that because it usually happens at 5 minutes or should I continue to boil until it is syrupy? Does it make a difference? Thanks!


My niece made this for my birthday. It is a restaurant-worthy recipe. She served it with couscous that she soaked in chicken stock. Heavenly!!

Judy in Chicago

For all the work involved with prepping the ingredients, the flavor was underwhelming. Maybe I didn't adjust accordingly for tripling the amount of chicken. The chicken was moist and tasty, but I wouldn't make this again.


So…I hacked this, haters don’t respond please. I bought 2 cooked rotisserie chickens from Costco. Cut off the breasts, and legs/thighs. Used preserved lemons instead of slicing and boiling. Doubled the sauce ingredients. Marinated for 2 days. Used plums, not dates. Roasted everything except the chicken because it was already cooked. Added the chicken for the last 20 minutes to heat through it was delicious.

Yael O

Delicious! Followed the recipe exactly and the dish came out juicy and so flavorful. Made this for a party of 40 ppl and ppl kept asking about the chicken. Recommend it!


Made as instructed- loved it.

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Sweet and Spicy Roast Chicken Recipe (2024)
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