I do not say this lightly: this is one of the best chicken dishes I have ever had. I have cooked and eaten a lot of chicken. I love buffalo chicken, teriyaki chicken, lemon chicken. But this knocked me off my feet.

The spice blend has your mouth watering before the chicken is out of the oven, and the honey citrus sauce is a perfect second layer of flavor.

This recipe is again inspired by one from South Africa’s House and Leisure. Have I mentioned this magazine is excellent?

Start by making a paste to slather the chicken in. It consists of a small diced onion, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, and paprika. I’ve been really into turmeric lately.

Put it all into the food processor with some olive oil and blend until mostly smooth. Mine’s still a little chunky, as you can see, but there should be no big onion chunks.

Wash and trim all the chicken. I used bone-in, skin-on thighs and drumsticks and they worked wonderfully. Toss with the chicken with the onion spice paste. Lift the skin of the chicken and get the paste under there, too. If you want, you can let this marinade for a bit, but I only let it sit as long as it took me to do this round of dishes.

Arrange the chicken on a roasting rack and season with salt and pepper. I don’t have a roasting rack because we’re working on our minimalism, here. Or something like that. So for me, lining a cookie sheet with tin foil and putting a cooling rack on top works just as well. Throw it in the oven at 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) for 45 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, cut off the rind of and juice two oranges and a lemon. I’m using a lemon, I promise. The lemons here are greener than the ones in the US. On one of our first days in South Africa, I was watching a cooking show on TV and they instructed to use only “the green” of the lemon, not the white and I had to do a double take. Rest assured, still tastes like a lemon.

In a small pot, bring chicken stock and honey to a boil. Add the rinds, and let simmer for about ten minutes. Once the rinds are soft, remove from heat and add the juices from the orange and lemon and stir together.

After the chicken has cooked for 45 minutes, remove it from the oven and pour the citrus juice over the chicken.

Cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the chicken is pretty and golden brown. Before serving, baste with a little of the sauce and juices at the bottom of the roasting pan.

I served this with basmati rice cooked in a chicken stock, turmeric, paprika, and a little salt. We also had some broccoli, but that was just for good measure.

Again, I cannot emphasize enough how delicious this chicken was. I was expecting good, but I didn’t think it would be quite this spectacular. I devoured the leftovers (very little leftovers) for breakfast the next morning because why would I eat anything else when this was in the fridge?

If you’re doing a stricter diet, this will likely follow just about any of ’em if you omit the honey, which wouldn’t be a huge loss. What really makes this chicken is the onion and spice paste. Make it. Now. Because I need others to experience its glory with me.

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Citrus Spiced Chicken

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Yield: 4 -6 Servings


  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken drumsticks
  • 1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Rind and juice of 2 oranges
  • Rind and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp honey


  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Wash, trim, and dry all the chicken.
  • In a food processor, blend the onion, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, paprika, and olive oil until relatively smooth. Toss the onion spice mixture with the chicken and rub it under the skin of the chicken.
  • Arrange the chicken on a roasting pan and season with salt and pepper. Roast in preheated oven for 45 minutes.
  • While the chicken is roasting, bring the chicken stock and honey to a simmer. Add the fruit rinds and let simmer for ten minutes or until the rinds are soft. Remove from heat and add the citrus juices. When the chicken has roasted for 45 minutes, remove from oven and pour citrus sauce over the chicken. Return to the oven for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken is golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and baste with the sauce and juices at the bottom of the roasting pan. Serve with rice and roasted veggies.
Course: Dinner
Author: Chelsea Cole
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