11 Ways to Flavor Roast Chicken

A roast chicken's personality can change drastically depending on how you season it.

Brined Roast Chicken with Olive Bread Panzanella

© John Kernick

Truth: A chicken from the farmers market is more flavorful than your average supermarket bird. Still, a roast chicken's personality can change drastically depending on how you season it. Here are 11 ways to flavor your next roast chicken.

Herbs and lemon

When you buy one of those pricey heritage, heirloom, buzz-word-laden chickens, it's best to keep the ingredients as simple as possible to let the flavor of the high-quality bird shine through. Stuff the cavity with halved garlic cloves, lemon, and herbs (like thyme, sage, and rosemary); rub the chicken with butter or olive oil, and season generously with salt. You're good to go.


For a sweeter, more fragrant take on the Mediterranean-style bird, stuff it with herbs and halved tangerines, and drizzle with white wine, tangerine juice, and honey. Roast with broth in the pan to create a glazed bird and delicious pan juices.


Melt butter with maple syrup and black pepper and brush over chicken during the last 15 minutes of roasting.

Spicy cheese

Make a creamy, mildly spiced poblano cheese dip, then spread it under the skin of the whole bird before it's roasted to get both crispy skin and juicy meat.


Quick-Roasted Chicken with Mustard and Garlic
© Lucy Schaeffer

For a deliciously crusty chicken, toss a cut-up chicken with a mix of mustard, soy sauce, white wine, and garlic, and roast at high heat.

Miso butter

Miso adds an extra savory flavor to roast chicken; blend it with butter, parsley, chiles, and fresh ginger and rub it on the bird before roasting.


For a more sweet-spiced chicken, rub the bird with a butter that's been blended with cumin, coriander, sweet paprika, cayenne, and cinnamon. Add onion, garlic cloves, dates, and dried apricots along with some water to the pan as the chicken roasts to create a chunky gravy.

Port wine

Dried figs poached in port make a luscious Portuguese-inspired sauce to pair with roast chicken for a perfect fall meal. You can use either ruby or tawny port.

Southeast Asian-inspired

Mix softened butter with ginger and garlic to rub all over the chicken. Add onion, garlic cloves, sliced ginger, sliced serrano chiles, and quartered lime to the pan along with some water to create flavorful pan juices. Add some fish sauce to the gravy just before serving.


Rub chicken with a butter flavored with cloves and star anise, then brush with a vinegary soy glaze during the last 15 minutes of roasting.

The works

For an awesome roast chicken that hits a lot of spots on the tongue, rub the bird with a butter that's been blended with garlic, cilantro, mint, ginger, serrano chile, cumin, cloves, black pepper, and lime juice. It won't disappoint.

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