Chinese roast chicken with fennel and apples is a sheet pan meal that cooks in under an hour. Make this recipe for a flavorful Asian meal!
Oven roasted chicken is a fantastic meal, but cooking a whole chicken can take at least 2 hours. With all of the prep work included, it can take 3 hours or more to put the meal together.
Instead of a whole chicken, this recipe calls for bone-in chicken thighs, so it’s perfect for times when your schedule is busy but you still want a juicy roasted chicken dinner.
Even better, the thighs cook together on a sheet pan with fennel, sweet potatoes and apples. With a side dish cooking alongside the meat, you’ll save time there, too!
Asian-spiced, juicy roasted chicken thighs with crispy skin, a short cook time, and easy clean up. What could be better than this flavorful, healthy recipe?
Chinese Roast Chicken
The mild flavor of chicken is the perfect canvas for seasoning with Chinese five spice!
Difficulty: Easy 🥄
Oven roasted chicken thighs with fennel, red onion, apples and sweet potatoes, seasoned with a basting sauce of sweet honey, soy sauce, and five spice blend.
Ingredient notes + substitutions
- Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs- Dark meat tends to be juicier, and the smaller size of thighs means it takes less time to cook. If you want to use bone-in breast meat instead, you’ll need to add another 8-10 minutes of cook time noted in the Chinese roast chicken recipe.
- Sweet potatoes- A sweet potato is very dense, so it typically takes a long time to cook. To shorten the cook time, cut the potatoes into slices. If you'd rather use regular potatoes, I recommend using Yukon Gold.
- Apples- If you live in the United States, look for Honeycrisp apples. They are juicy, sweet apples with a firm flesh, so they hold up well to roasting and baking. Other good options are Fuji, Jonagold, and Pink Lady.
- Fennel bulb- The peak season for fennel is from late fall to early spring. Choose bulbs with tightly packed layers. Most often, the inedible stalks will have already been removed, but if they're still attached, they should be firm. Avoid bulbs with very loose outer layers, as well as any that look bruised or split on the outside.
There are instructions for cutting fennel in the recipe card below, but The Cookful has some great step-by-step photos showing how to cut fennel.
- Chinese five spice- This is a blend of cinnamon, fennel seeds, sichuan peppercorns, cloves and anise. My recipe for 5-spice is very simple to make, or, a premade blend is fine too. Look for it in the ethnic foods aisle of the grocery store, or at an Asian specialty market.
Tips for making Chinese roast chicken
Creating chicken with crispy skin
The trick to crispy skin on baked or roast chicken is to be sure that the skin is completely dry before it goes into the oven. Use paper toweling to remove any excess moisture.
Another trick is to line the baking pan with aluminum foil, which retains heat really well. You’ll be roasting the chicken thighs at 425°F. That high heat combined with the hot aluminum foil will create golden brown, crispy skin.
How long to cook chicken thighs at 425°F
Bone-in chicken takes longer to cook than boneless, and the size of the pieces will affect the cook time as well. On average, bone-in chicken thighs take 30 to 40 minutes to cook at 425. The best and safest way to determine when the chicken is properly cooked is to use a food thermometer.
Boneless thighs cook quickly. Roast until the chicken has an internal temperature of 165°F, about 20 minutes (so add chicken after 15 minutes of roasting the vegetables).
Chinese Roast Chicken
- 1 ½ lbs chicken thighs bone-in, skin-on (See Note 1)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 fennel bulb (with feathery stalks)
- 1 sweet potato peeled and cut into ¼" slices
- 1 red onion cut lengthwise into ¼" slices
- 2 Honey Crisp apples (See Note 2)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- pinch red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup chicken stock
- 2 tbsp butter melted
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 ½ tsp Chinese Five Spice powder
- ¼ tsp soy sauce
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. In a small bowl, combine chicken stock, butter, honey, Chinese Five Spice powder, soy sauce.
- Cut off fennel stalks and reserve feathery leaves for garnish. Trim base of bulb and tough outer layers. Halve bulb lengthwise, cut out core in a V, and cut bulb lengthwise into ¼" wedges.
- In a bowl toss the fennel, sweet potato, red onion and apple with oil. Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet and sprinkle with salt, black and red pepper flakes.
- Arrange chicken on top, skin side up. Brush half of sauce on chicken. Roast 15 minutes, then baste again with sauce and any pan juices (use a bulb baster or wide spoon). Continue to roast until chicken is nicely browned and no longer pink at bone (cut to test or 165°F), 15 to 20 minutes more. Baste everything again and scatter reserved fennel leaves on top prior to serving.
- Bone-in chicken takes longer to cook than boneless, and the size of the pieces will affect the cook time as well. On average, bone-in chicken thighs take 30 to 40 minutes to cook at 425. The best and safest way to determine when the chicken is properly cooked is to use a food thermometer. Boneless thighs cook quickly. Roast until the chicken has an internal temperature of 165°F, about 20 minutes (so add chicken after 15 minutes of roasting the vegetables).
- Honey Crisp or other firm/tart apples, unpeeled, cored, sliced into ¼-inch wedges.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.