Chinese Five Spice Chicken

This recipe for five spice chicken makes a one pan meal featuring succulent roast chicken, sweet potatoes, fresh fennel, and crisp apples that cooks in under an hour!

crispy roasted chicken thighs on baking sheet with slices of fennel, sweet potatoes and red apple

Five spice chicken, also called Chinese roast chicken, is simple to make, easy to clean up, and always a crowd-pleaser. Seasoned with five spice powder, a famous Chinese spice blend, this chicken has a complex yet balanced profile that is simply to die for. Get ready for juicy roasted chicken, thin crispy skin, and layers of savory, salty, sweet, and aromatic flavor.

If you are new to Asian cooking, this Chinese five spice chicken recipe is an excellent place to start. You’ll get to experiment with some new spices while working with familiar ingredients like sweet potatoes and chicken. This dish is hearty and comforting, with just the right amount of exotic flavor. Make five spice chicken for an easy Asian meal! 

overhead: chinese five spice chicken with vegetables on baking sheet

For more Chinese-inspired recipes, check out my Sticky Chicken, Honey Garlic Shrimp, and Chinese BBQ Pork.

detailed map of china and surrounding countries

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Chicken – I prefer dark meat for its flavor and juiciness, but any chicken you choose is fine. Adjust cooking times as needed. 
  • Chinese Five SpiceLook for it at your local Asian market or try your hand at my easy DIY recipe. 
  • Fennel – When shopping, look for fennel bulbs with tightly packed outer layers and avoid any that are bruised, split, or loose in appearance. 
  • Sweet Potato To cut down on cooking time, I like to cut the sweet potatoes into thinner slices. If you prefer to use regular potatoes, I recommend Yukon Gold.
  • Honeycrisp Apples Pick Honeycrisp or another tart, firm apple like Jonagold, Granny Smith, or Pink Lady.

Tip From Kevin

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.

chinese roast chicken and vegetables cooking on sheet pan

How to Make Five Spice Chicken

  1. Prepare the Oven. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare a rimmed baking pan by lining it with foil, then spraying with nonstick spray. 
  2. Mix the Sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the chicken stock, butter, honey, soy sauce, and Chinese five spice powder. 
  3. Trim the Fennel. Chop the stalks off the fennel, reserving the frilly leaves for garnish. Trim the base of the bulb and remove the tough outer layers. Then, cutting lengthwise, cut the bulb in half. Cut out the core using a v-shaped cut, then cut lengthwise to get the bulb into ¼ inch-sized wedges. 
  4. Season the Vegetables. Add the fennel, sweet potato, apples, and red onion to a bowl. Toss with oil, then arrange on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and the red pepper flakes. 
  5. Season the Chicken. Place the chicken pieces, skin side up, on top of the vegetables and brush with half of the sauce. Roast the chicken for 15 minutes, then baste with more sauce and juices from the pan. A wooden spoon or a bulb baster works great. 
  6. Roast & Baste. Return the pan to the oven and roast for another 15-20 minutes, basting again and again throughout. Chinese roast chicken should be nicely browned with no pink at the bone and have an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. 
  7. Garnish & Serve. Sprinkle the reserved fennel leaves over the top of the dish before serving.

Recommended Tools

  • Rimmed baking pan
  • Bulb baster or wooden spoon
  • Meat thermometer

Storing and Reheating 

Store any leftover five spice chicken in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven for about 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees F.

pieces of crispy skinned roast chicken and roasted vegetables on baking sheet

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Chinese 5 Spice made of?

Chinese five spice is a traditional spice blend usually made from cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, star anise, and Sichuan peppercorns. Some versions of the spice blend might also include orange peel, ginger, cardamom, or other spices. 

The blend was created to include each of the five culinary flavors (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami) with respect to the five elements in traditional Chinese medicine (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water). 

What dishes go well with Chinese five spice chicken?

This five spice chicken recipe, complete with roasted vegetables, is hearty enough to be served as a complete meal. It also pairs beautifully with a wide variety of side dishes. Here are a few ideas for adding to your menu:

Serve with Basmati, Jasmine, Jeera, or any rice of your choice. 
Pair with a quinoa or couscous dish like this Moroccan Couscous
Enjoy with a fresh salad like this Chinese Cucumber Salad or Lebanese Fattoush
Add another vegetable like brussels sprouts, broccoli, or Bok Choy.

How can I tell if my Chinese roast chicken is done?

The amount of time your Chinese five spice chicken needs to cook will vary depending on the type and size of pieces you choose. For example, bone-in chicken thighs take between 30-40 minutes to roast at 425 degrees F, while boneless thighs will cook in around 20 minutes. 

The safest way to make sure your Chinese roast chicken is done is to use a meat thermometer. Insert into the thickest part of the chicken — you should get a reading of at least 165 degrees F. Checking a few different pieces is always a good practice as well. 

Cooked chicken will be white and fully opaque in appearance, with no pink parts, and clear juices when cut. 

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crispy roasted chicken thighs on baking sheet with slices of fennel, sweet potatoes and red apple

Chinese Five Spice Chicken

Chinese Five Spice Chicken is a chicken, apple, fennel sheet pan meal that cooks in under an hour that bastes with a savory five spice sauce.
Servings: 4
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 55 minutes

Ingredients 

Basting sauce

Instructions 

  • 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 1/4" 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.

Notes

  1. 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). 
  2. Honey Crisp or other firm/tart apples, unpeeled, cored, sliced into 1/4-inch wedges.

Nutrition

Calories: 467kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 177mg | Sodium: 889mg | Potassium: 1033mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 8366IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 86mg | Iron: 3mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: main dishes
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese
Author: Kevin
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image of chinese 5 spice chicken with roasted vegetables

Kevin

I was bitten by the cooking bug as a kid cooking and baking along side my mom. After an ROP restaurant course in high school, I went to work in restaurants and catering. My love of travel and food has led me across the world and I love to share those foods with family and friends.

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