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Honey Orange Roasted Chicken Recipe

Kymberly loves to cook, bake, and preserve. She enjoys experimenting in the kitchen and coming up with delicious (healthy) recipes!

I love roasts—they are so quick and easy to prepare.

Simply prepare the meat, chop the veggies, put everything in the oven, and in an hour or two, a delicious meal is ready with almost no effort!

Unfortunately, many roasts are rather fattening, with recipes calling for a lot of extra oil or butter, in addition to the fat contained within the meat and skin.

This orange roast chicken uses a tiny amount of butter to bind the flavorings together, and a thin film of oil to stop the chicken from sticking to the pan. Much healthier than normal recipes!

The honey and juice from the orange caramelizes and crisps the chicken skin and leaves the chicken meat amazingly moist and citrusy.

Plus, the veggies roasted with the chicken have a subtle but delicious orange flavor.

Orange roast chicken ingredients, with orange blossom honey, thyme and ginger.

Orange roast chicken ingredients, with orange blossom honey, thyme and ginger.

Summary of instructions

  1. Finely grate orange zest from both oranges. Chop ginger and thyme. Combine ginger, thyme, orange zest and butter with a fork until well mixed, then add honey.
  2. Loosen the skin from the chicken, especially over the breasts and thighs.
  3. Place teaspoonfuls of the butter mixture under the skin of the chicken and massage to distribute it evenly. Cut a few slices of one orange and push under the skin of the chicken breast and near the thighs.
  4. Chop the orange into quarters, and stuff the chicken cavity with them. Tie the chicken legs together.
  5. Place in roasting dish, season with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and any additional herbs. Cover with a layer of aluminium foil.
  6. Roast at 200C (400F) for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180C (350F).
  7. Add chopped vegetables under the chicken, and roast for another 1 hour, or until the chicken and vegetables are cooked. Remove the foil for the last 15-20 minutes.
  8. Remove the chicken from the over. Cover with the foil again and rest for 10 minutes before cutting into portions and serving.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

20 min

1 hour 40 min

2 hours

4-6 seervings as a main dish


  • whole roasting chicken
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 tablespoons honey, (orange blossom honey is ideal)
  • 2-3cm piece ginger
  • handful fresh thyme, (or another herb)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • vegetables for roasting

Quality ingredients

Free-range chickens and eggs have been reported to contain more healthy nutrients than traditional battery farmed animals. Plus, the improved living conditions of most free-range farms result in healthier, happier chickens.

Pesticides can remain on fruits and vegetables, even after washing, and can get into chicken meat via the residue in their feed. If you want to minimize pesticide residue in your meals, organic produce is a better option.

Local and pastured organic birds are best.

Of course, fresh home-grown organic produce is the best, but not everyone can have a productive garden!

Detailed Instructions

1, Preheat the oven to 200C (400C). Wash and dry the oranges. Using a fine microplane grater or zester, grate the zest from both oranges into a small bowl.

2. Chop or grate the peeled ginger finely, and add to the orange zest.

3. Strip the thyme leaves from the stem by gripping lightly and pulling from the tip to the base of each stem. Add to the orange and ginger.

4. Mash a tablespoon of butter into the thyme, ginger and orange zest with a fork, until evenly mixed.

5. Mash 2 tablespoons of honey into the mixture. It will look a little strange, as if the butter has curdled, but it's perfectly fine.

6. Loosen the skin of the chicken carefully. Slide a finger or a spoon between the skin and the meat, gradually pulling the skin away. The skin can easily rip, so do this slowly and carefully.

Ginger - Did You Know?

  • Ginger can help reduce inflammation[1] and may help ease exercise-induced muscle pain.
  • The word ginger comes from Tamil: 'inji ver'
  • Ginger reduces nausea, especially due to pregnancy.[2]
  • Ginger can be used as a food preservative.[3]
  • Ginger can interact with medications, such as warfarin.
  • Ginger is related to tumeric, cardamom and galangal.

7. Use a teaspoon and your fingers to push the butter-herb-zest mixture under the skin. Massage the skin to evenly spread the flavorings over the chicken meat. Try to get some of the mixture onto the thigh meat and all over the breast meat.

Tip: Flavorings placed beneath the skin of the chicken permeate the meat, making it much juicier and more fragrant.

8. Slice one of the oranges thinly through the middle, and carefully push slices under the skin. This helps to caramelize the skin, protects the meat from drying out and looks fantastic.

9. Cut the oranges into quarters, and push these quarters into the cavity of the chicken. The juice in the oranges will seep into the meat and keep it moist while cooking.

10. Tie the legs of the chicken together with chicken twine.

11. Drizzle a little olive oil in a baking tray, so the chicken doesn't stick while cooking, then place the chicken, breast side up. Sprinkle over any extra herbs and season with salt and pepper.

12. Cover chicken with a layer of aluminium foil and roast at 200C (400F) for 30 minutes.

13. Chop vegetables into roasting-sized pieces. Place these in a bowl with herbs and garlic, drizzle with a tiny amount of oil (or use 1-2 tablespoons of the juices from the roast chicken), then season with salt and pepper and mix to coat the vegetables with the flavorings.

14. After 30 minutes, remove from the oven, lift the chicken and tip the vegetables into the hot roasting dish. Put the chicken back on the bed of vegetables, and cover with the aluminium foil.
Roast for another 60 minutes at 180C (350F), until vegetables and chicken are cooked.

Tip: For an extra crispy, caramelized skin, take the aluminium foil off the chicken after 40 minutes or so.

15. Remove the chicken from the pan and wrap in the aluminium foil. Allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes while covered - this will make the meat juicy and tender.

16. Cut into serving portions with poultry scissors—so much easier than using a knife! Serve with the roasted vegetables.

Roast orange chicken.

Inflammation Fighters

Many foods have compounds that can fight the inflammation of joint pain, rheumatoid arthritis, sciatica, and other painful diseases. Simple changes to your diet can boost your body's inflammation fighting capabilities.


  1. Anti-inflammatory effects of [6]-shogaol: potential roles of HDAC inhibition and HSP70 induction, S. Shim,, Food Chemical Toxicology, November 2011, 49(11):2734-40
  2. Ginger: an overview, B. White, American Family Physician, June 2007, 75(11):1689-91

More Variations!

  • Fruit: This recipe works equally well with lemons and limes, although the meat will be less sweet because the juice is more acidic. For a sweeter variation, use mandarins.
  • Stuffing: You can use different vegetables to stuff the chicken for a different flavor. Onions, garlic and fennel work well. If making a stuffing with breadcrumbs, include the zest of an extra orange.
  • Herbs: Oregano, marjoram, rosemary and basil can be substituted for the thyme.
  • Spices: Paprika sprinkled over the skin will result in a darker color. Nutmeg, tumeric, cumin, cardamon and ginger can add some interesting flavors. Using a curry spice mix works well with the ginger and garlic.

A Delicious Salad

When cool, the orange-y chicken is great when added to a green salad and crumbled feta cheese, drizzled with a citrus-vinaigrette dressing—perfect for summer!

The cold meat also pairs perfectly with a tomato-mint salad and a good quality, fresh, crusty baguette to make a light meal.

Thrifty tip: Save the cooked bones in the freezer, and when you have about three birds worth, make your own stock!

What's Your Favorite?

What are your favorite vegetables, herbs and spices to use when cooking roast chicken?

Let us know in the comments below!