Caribbean Spiced Roast Chicken

Several years ago, while traveling in New Orleans, Rebecca and I heard about a local chef who made a traditional roast every weekend for a family dinner. Inspired, we began our own tradition of a weekly roast, sometimes meat, other times vegetarian. Our frequent favorite was a classic roast chicken with butter, garlic, and lemon. Adapting this dish to our new home in Haiti, we created a Caribbean Spiced Roast Chicken, drawing on the sweet, spicy, and tangy flavors found across the Caribbean basin. This combination of spices is reminiscent of Jamaica's famous jerks and Haiti's vibrant marinades, and the crispy skin will have you coming back for more.

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Yield: 1 roast chicken, serves 4 as a main


  • 1 medium whole chicken (4-5 pounds)

   Spiced Butter Rub:

  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (can reduce for milder spice)

  Cooking Liquid:

  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Prepare the chicken by removing extra bits (gizzard, heart, neck, etc. that are often stuffed inside the chicken), rinse with cold water, and pat dry. Using your fingers (or a flexible silicone spatula), carefully work loose the connective tissue between the skin and meat on the breasts and legs. This is best achieved by slowly working your hand or the spatula blade between skin and meat, starting at the base of the breasts and working up toward the neck.
  3. Set the prepared chicken onto a roasting pan or thick bottomed pot or pan. Use a pan that is only slightly larger than the chicken to reduce the chance of the drippings burning.
  4. In a small bowl thoroughly mix together the spiced butter rub ingredients (butter, onion powder, salt, thyme, brown sugar, allspice, black pepper, garlic powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cayenne) to form a thick paste.
  5. In small amounts, use your fingers to carefully spread the spiced butter paste under the chicken skin covering the breasts and legs. You can knead the bits of butter through the skin to evenly distribute. Try not to rip the skin. Any leftover paste can be rubbed on the outside of the chicken skin.
  6. Poor the cooking liquid ingredients (cider vinegar and soy sauce) over the chicken, allowing it to run down onto the base of the roasting pan.
  7. Set the pan on the oven's middle rack and roast at 350 for 1 hour 45 minutes. 
  8. Remove from the oven and test for doneness, and allow to rest for 30 minutes before carving and serving. While the chicken is resting, prepare the drippings into a gravy if desired.
  9. Leftover meat can be removed from the chicken frame and saved for up to a week in the refrigerator. This makes excellent chicken salad!