There is nothing more satisfying to enjoy the perfect Chinese roast chicken with super crispy skin.

I know there is nothing simpler than roast chicken. However, you do need to know certain tricks if you want a have crispy skin and tender meat underneath.

And it can be more satisfying to roast a Chinese flavor chicken with crispy golden brown skin, gleaming and juicy.


“I had posted the Chinese roasted chicken recipe two years ago. I spent the last few days in the kitchen to revisit the recipe and completely rewrote this article.
To my readers who have tried my recipe, I hope the tips help to bring your roast chicken skill to the next level.
To the first-timer, I will be extremely thrilled if you inform me that you have picked up some technique and happy with the result.”

Chinese roast chicken

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info. I may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

The criteria for the best Chinese roast chicken

This Chinese-style roast chicken recipe is developed based on two other famous Chinese dishes, crispy fried chicken (琵琶鸡) which is a favorite Cantonese recipe and Peking duck (北京鸭).

The skin is so crispy that it resemble crackers when it is fresh from the oven. The aroma that perfume the kitchen will make everyone wanting for more.

The setback is, you need to know how the inside tricks. I have revealed all these tricks here so that you can enjoy making this Chinese roast chicken at home.

What is the roast chicken standard that you need to measure up?

1. How to let the flavor penetrate to the deepest part beneath the skin

Drip dry by placing it vertically
Drip dry by placing it vertically

No matter what marinade you use, you must marinate the chicken for at least half a day, or 24 hours if you have sufficient time. The long marinating time will allow the flavor penetrate to the deepest part of the meat beneath the skin.

The original Cantonese recipes include maltose, but honey is equally good. It is also readily available in any part of the world. Both ingredients add flavor to the meat and help to develop a golden color skin through caramelization.

Szechuan peppercorn has a unique flavor. You can use black pepper if you wish. Use a blender or mortar and pestle to grind the Szechuan peppercorn until it becomes a fine powder. Toast it in a pan for a while and cool it before using it.

Tips: Leave the chicken in the refrigerator overnight to get the best result.

2. How to create the crispy skin

Separate the skin from the breast

This this the most challenging part of the recipe

The moisture of the chicken must be driven off to create the crispy skin. It ‘s hard to crisp the skin by relying on the high temperature to brown it.

The best way to achieve this is to marinate it with a little liquid, which in this case is only soy sauce and honey with no water is added. That is why we marinade the chicken in an upright position, uncovered and refrigerated it for at least 12 hours. the longer you do this, the crispier the skin will be when roasting.

Secondly, the fat beneath the skin must render and drain. That is why we separate the skin from the meat. By doing so, the fat will render and drip off from the skin and leave the skin dry and crisp during roasting. Carefully insert a small knife of use your fingers under the skin of the breasts and slowly working your way up to separate it from the breast. Be careful not to tear the skin.

Apply some additional salt and baking powder to the skin right before roasting. The extra salt is required because part of the salt from the marinade will not adhere to the chicken. Baking powder weakens peptide bonds in the skin, and help create ultra crisp and crackly skin.

The traditional method to roast chicken and duck is to roast it while hanging vertically in a wood-fired brick oven. The oil in between the skin and meat will render and drip out from the chicken. The skin will be crispy and crackly. This method is of course hard to replicate at home.

I did the following to replicate as close to the restaurant way with the limitation of the most home kitchen:

  • Keep the chicken as dry as possible. That is why I use minimum liquid (no water) to constitute the marinade.
  • Keep it vertically during marinating in the refrigerator to drip off any excess water. (I insert a can into the chicken cavity so that it stand vertically during marination.)
  • Blow dry by using a fan before roasting. (Note: I am living in a country of high humidity, it is OK as long as the skin is dry and feel like leather when touching). I find it helpful to leave the bird in front of an air conditioner vent. The airflow will help dry the bird faster.
  • Drain off the excess juice before turning the chicken over to roast the other side.

Tips 1: Marinade the chicken in an upright position, uncovered and refrigerated it for at least 12 hours.
Tips 2: Carefully separate skin from breast meat by inserting fingers of a small knife

Chinese roast chicken recipe

3. How to ensure the chicken is juicy and tender

Making a simple but perfect roast chicken is a technique that should be in every home cook’s arsenal. But the reality is that perfection is difficult to achieve.

Roasting Chinese chicken
Roasting at 220 Celsius than 160 Celcius

Here are my tips to roast a tender and juicy chicken.

  • Truss the chicken. Trusting the chicken means to tie the legs and wings close to the body. It helps to have a more even cooking as the extended legs and wings tend to cook faster and turn dry. It also results in a more attractive appearance. You can also wrap the tips of the chicken wings with aluminum foil to prevent over roasting.
  • Roast the chicken at 220°C for the first 20 minutes to brown the chicken skin. Reduce the temperature to 160°C for another 90 minutes.
  • Flip over the chicken at least once for even roasting.
  • Baste the chicken with oil help to preserve the moisture of the chicken.
  • Let the chicken cool down before cutting into pieces. Be sure that the chopping board is dry. Turn the skin side on top and not sticking to the chopping board, as it may affect the crispiness of the skin as well as its appearance if it is the other way.

Crispy Chinese Roast Chicken Recipe

Yield: 1 chicken

Roast Chicken Recipe - Chinese Style

Roast Chicken Recipe - Chinese Style

This recipe used the traditional method to prepare the traditional Chinese roast chicken.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes


Marinade for the chicken skin

Marinade for the chicken cavity

Marinade for skin after drying

Szechuan peppercorn salt

  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorn


  1. Slaughter the chicken. Dress, eviscerate, and rinse. Pat dry and keep it vertical to drain off the water in the cavity. Let it stands for two hours.
  2. Carefully separate skin from breast meat by inserting the fingers or a small knife in between the skin and the breasts.
  3. Combine the salt, honey, light soy sauce and applied to the entire surface of the chicken.
  4. Apply the salt and Szechuan peppercorn mixture to the cavity of the chicken.
  5. Refrigerate the chicken in an upright position. Leave it uncovered for at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours until the surface is completely dry.
  6. Apply additional salt plus some baking powder to the surface. Hang the chicken upright and allow the chicken to drip dry for an hour.
  7. Truss the chicken.
  8. Place the chicken on an oven rack. Rub some oil on the surface. Roast in the preheat oven at 220 degree Celsius for 20 minutes.
  9. Hold the chicken carefully to drain off any juice on the skin and inside the cavity.
  10. Reduce the heat to 160 degree Celsius for another one and a half hours.
  11. Cut the chicken into pieces and served with Szechuan peppercorn salt 椒盐.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

4 servings

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1183Total Fat: 66gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 41gCholesterol: 470mgSodium: 6079mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 2gSugar: 13gProtein: 122g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 5/28/2019

Three simple steps to prepare the Szechuan peppercorn salt

  1. Toast the peppercorns lightly over low heat in a pan for about ten minutes. Remove from the pan when it becomes totally dry, and the color turns darker slightly.
  2. Place the Szechuan peppercorn and salt in a food processor or mortar and pestle.
  3. Blend it until it becomes powdery. Sieve the salt and peppercorn mixture to remove the husk.

How is the original Cantonese crispy fried chicken prepared in restaurants?

Chinese roast chicken
Chinese roast chicken at restaurant

This style of dish is a favorite, and it differs from the typical convenient and quick method of cooking many Chinese dishes. The quick method used in restaurants and many Chinese cooks first involves boiling chicken in water and spices. These could include cinnamon, anise, pepper, and scallions and other herbs and spices. After cooking, the chicken is dried, coated with a syrupy sauce of maltose, honey, and vinegar, and then deep fried after the skin has been completely dry.
Lifting the bird will improve the air circulation around it and help it cook a bit more evenly

The origin of southern Chinese (Cantonese) cuisine

Chinese food
Pao (包) is the favorite Cantonese food for breakfast among the Chinese

Pao (包) is the favorite Cantonese food for breakfast among the Chinese
Southern Chinese or Cantonese cuisine comes from the Guangdong province of China. It is one of eight culinary traditions of Chinese cooking, and many immigrants from this area spread the culture outside its home country. In fact, when many Americans think about Chinese food, they are thinking of Cantonese cuisine.

This province, Guangdong, is a busy trading port. Because of this, Cantonese cuisines incorporates both local and essential ingredients. Pork, chicken, and beef are common types of meat, but other examples include snakes, ducks, and snails. It is not likely that many Americans will find the snake on the menu at a local Cantonese restaurant.

Since this province of China is near the sea, seafood is also a big part of the cuisine. Chefs prefer very fresh seafood, and some restaurants even keep tanks on the premises to keep fish and shellfish alive until right before they are ready to be cooked. This tradition continues in the West, but many Chinese restaurants just keep it with beautiful aquariums and not livestock tanks.

Restaurant dishes and street food

Southern China is one part of the world that made street food famous. Very commonly, street food dishes are noodle dishes. However, noodles are also served in homes and restaurants.

In Cantonese cuisine, noodles might either be boiled in soup or fried. Toppings for noodle dishes could include fish balls, shrimp balls, or slices of meat.

Chow mein is one of the most commonly recognized noodle dishes from Cantonese cooking. Typically, Hong Kong style chow mein is made with crispy deep fried noodles, but other restaurants use soft noodles.

The roast chicken recipe can be found in most restaurant menu instead, as it involves a longer preparation time that is inconvenient for most hawkers.

How is Cantonese food usually prepared?

Typical additional ingredients in dishes include sesame oil, soy sauce, salt, sugar, and rice wine. More sparingly used are Chinese five-spice powder, hot peppers, star anise, and black pepper. You may notice that I use some of these ingredients in my Chinese Roast Chicken recipe.

Typical cooking methods include stir-frying and steaming. These methods are usually quick and convenient. However, some dishes from this region are sauteed (shallow fried), deep fried, or braised. Most Chinese restaurants serve roast chicken and duck. Because of the significant number of ingredients and methods of cooking used in this style of cuisine, menus at Cantonese restaurants might be very diverse. Conservative Cantonese chefs use spices, but they strive to produce very balanced dishes. They do not believe in adding too many spices that might overwhelm the flavor of the basic dishes. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule with dishes that make liberal use of garlic.

You can find another Chinese chicken recipe here, which is of sweet and sour flavor. Enjoy!

    53 replies to "How to make the best Chinese roast chicken with super crispy skin"

    • Frances

      Thank you for the wonderful tips on how to prep the chicken prior to roasting. Recipe looks awesome and I am definitely going to try it tomorrow!!

      • kwankp

        Hi Frances,

        It is my pleasure to share and look forward to hearing from you about your successful cooking session.

        KP Kwan

    • Paul

      Hi Kwan,

      Gong Xi Fa Cai!

      Just my 2 cents, actually, after roasting, let the chicken cool a while, then pour hot oil on the chicken skin.

      It will be even crispier.

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Paul,
        Thanks for your input. Will certainly try your method next time when making roast chicken.
        KP Kwan

      • Glenda

        Helllo there,,I am actually cooking it now,,lets see afterwards if i did it well..thanks for the recipe its really smells good..

        • KP Kwan

          HI Glenda,
          I hope it will turn out great and you will love it.
          KP Kwan

    • Alex

      Thank you for the in depth recipe. I’m currently cooking the chicken in the oven now, im very excited to see how it goes. Thank you. Good luck

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Alex,

        Hope my recipe and notes make sense to you, and all the success in your cooking.

        KP Kwan

    • Mimi

      Tried the recipe yesterday and it was awesome! The chicken meat was tender and juicy. Will definitely make it again. Thanks for sharing.

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Mimi,

        Knowing that the recipe works and your enjoy it is the greatest satisfaction of sharing the Chinese roast chicken recipe.

        Do try out other recipes that you are interested in.

        KP Kwan

    • KONICHIWA ! OMG DELICIOUS !!!! Just took the chicken out of the oven , it was suposed to be for this evening but that smell was tempting me so I couldn’t resist and just tasted it , I am really trying to leave it in the fridge but it is difficult as I so want a second bite of it ! can not wait for tonight ! My daughter is going to enjoy this dish too !
      Thank you very much for the recipe !!
      Oh Nota Bene : I had some difficulties with a damaged skin ? My hen was getting old and had a wound in her tigh so when she was plucked we noticed here a lot of damage to the skin ,
      just a random tip anyone could use in any situation to make it more easy and fast ?
      I used a syringe with an unsharp needle and injected the marinade under the pieces of skin that were still fine ! Great kitchentool 😀
      Greetings from Belgium !!!

      • KP Kwan

        Thank you and glad you like it.
        I do learn from you about the syringe with blunt needle. Great tool. Thanks for sharing.

    • Arthur Quek

      Hi Kwan,

      Greetings from NYC!

      I made this yesterday. The skin was crispy and 5e meat tender, juicy and flavorful. I used convection oven mode and had the bird upright, same as it was during the drying stage. I have a stand used for such method (often use for Beer Butt Chicken Roast). Result was delicious!

      Thank you very much for your recipe! Will try out your other recipes!


      • KP Kwan

        Hi Arthur,
        Thank you for trying out the Chinese roast chicken recipe.
        It is a plus point to have a larger oven that you can roast it upright. Fantastic! The same concept applied (to keep it dry) and glad that you like it.

        KP Kwan

    • su

      I tried this recipe today. Everyone loved it. The chicken was juicy, tender and the marinate penetrated the chicken very well. We made chicken rice to go with it.
      However, I could not get the chicken to brown evenly even after turning a few times and on the sides too. I wonder how I could get more even browning.

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Su,
        First of all, thank you for trying out the Chinese roast chicken recipe, and it is amazing that everyone loved it.
        The question of uneven browning is tricky if you use a small oven. Since the heating elements of the small oven are relatively close to the chicken, it will heat up the part of the chicken close to it much more than the other parts. It also depends on the shape of the elements, be it a U-shape type of a one-line element.
        You may want to place a piece of aluminum foil at the part of the chicken near to the elements once the color turns brown so that further roasting will darken other parts but not affecting the parts that are covered.
        Commercial over will not have this problem since the elements are usually concealed under a metal plate.


        KP Kwan

    • […] How to make the best Chinese roast chicken with super crispy skin […]

    • […] How to make the best Chinese roast chicken with super crispy skin […]

    • […] How to make the best Chinese roast chicken with super crispy skin […]

    • Caleb

      Great recipe, the chicken turn out great, I had the chicken stood up in the beer can during cooking as well, most of fats are drain during cooking. Very crispy.

      • KP Kwan

        Great to know that. Enjoy your roast chicken with a can of beer 🙂

    • Fabian Chin

      My 2nd time trying this recipe…its awesome skin was crispy and meat was tender and juicy.Thank you

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Fabian,
        You are welcome. Glad to know that the roast chicken is crispy and tender.
        KP Kwan

    • barbara wafkowski

      I think you made a mistake on the nutrition chart, I am sure 1540 mg is the sodium content and 19 mg would be the cholesterol content. 19 mg would never be correct for all that soy sauce and 1540 mg cholesterol would kill someone! I’m sure you reversed it, please check so you don’t scare all the readers out there. Just saying..

      • KP Kwan

        I just check the nutrition value:
        American Heart Association recommends the daily requirement of sodium to be no more than 2,300 milligrams.
        The recommended daily intake of dietary cholesterol for the average healthy person is about 300 mg per day, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.
        The amount stated in the recipe is for the whole chicken that I cook, sorry for the not making it clear :).
        It is indeed a high cholesterol dish.

    • Ace

      I tried this once, it was a hit…so its my go to for chinese sunday at my house. Everyone loves it, so now I have to try every recipe on your site, as I love chinese food. Thanks for making it simple.

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Ace,
        Great to know the Chinese roast chicken is the hit among your family.
        Please try other recipes, let me know if you have any questions.
        KP Kwan

    • Tan

      Tried this receipe and it was successful. Wish to try your other receipes when I hv time. Tks, u give a lot of important tips and very detailed explanations.

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Tan,
        Thank you so much for trying out the roast chicken recipe.
        Do try other recipes too in my blog.
        Wish you all the success.
        KP Kwan

    • Peter

      Can I cook the chicken on rotassere in an convection

      • KP Kwan

        Sure you can. In fact, that is even better for the roast chicken.

    • Jamaican Peeper

      In Jamaica this type of chicken is always running out in the restaurants, sometimes the lines are soooo LONG, where customers are actually waiting for up to one (1) hour, to get their “Chinese roast chicken” lol

      I am trying this next week myself. thanks for sharing

      • KP Kwan

        I am amazed with how much people love this Chinese roast chicken at where you are. Hope my recipe is useful to you.

    • Ryan

      Hi Kwan,

      This dish looked awesome. Can I use a turbo broiler for this recipe? if yes, do i need to adjust the cooking time or still the same? thanks in advance

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Ryan
        I have not tried to use turbo broiler for this recipe. I do know that many people have done that before.
        Since the source of heat is different, remember to turn the chicken upside down at least once so that the heat received on both sides of the chicken is even.
        The same temperature applies for this roast chicken recipe.

    • alex ho

      good day. may i know or is there any video on how to roast the chicken using the commercial oven? had tried using a home oven. it’s marvelous

    • alex ho

      hi. had tried it and its marvelous. may i know how or is there any video on roast the chicken with a commercial oven?

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Alex,
        I do not have any video on roasting chicken with a commercial oven. We do use it to roast chicken and it is similar to use the home oven. The only major difference is the temperature is more even for the commercial oven. So take note that not all the temperature indicator of the ovens are reliable. Sometimes you have to try it out to get the best temperature setting.

    • TK Tan

      I followed your recipe but the skin was not crispy after cutting the chicken even resting it for 10mins
      Perhaps I should used only the bottom heating elements instead of top and bottom heat source in my oven

      • KP Kwan

        Dear Tan,
        I suggest the followings:
        1. Make sure the skin is very dry before roasting. (which I think most likely you have done so).
        2. Adjust the temperature of your oven. Unfortunately, most of the temperature control of ovens are not that accurate. I have two identical ovens (the same model, purchased at the same time) and one is about 5-10 degrees higher than the other. I found out when I decided to test with an external oven thermometer.

        Thanks for trying the recipe and hope it turns out well for the next roasting.

        KP Kwan

    • Jacquie Atkinson

      Hello, beautiful recipe! I am thinking how we can make a small amount of sauce from the chicken to go on steamed rice. Do you have any good ideas for this please?

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Jacquie,
        I do not have a specific sauce, but the following sauce for Peking duck should be good for chicken too:

        1 tablespoon cornstarch mix with 1 tablespoon of water
        6 tablespoons hoisin sauce
        6 tablespoons sugar
        2 tablespoons sesame oil
        1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

        Just mix all the above and heat up until it starts to boil. Done!

        Not that complicated and you can give it a try.
        KP Kwan

    • Jim

      good day, my previous post may have not been posted….apologies for the repeat.
      I love this recipe! But ran into 2 issues

      first one I used kosher salt and the salt did not dissolve in the honey mixture, resulting in salty bits! should I be using table salt?

      second – the baking powder salt mixture (table salt this time) stuck to the skin.

      these two thing made for an incredibly salty experience! any advice on what I did wrong?


      • KP Kwan

        Hi Jim,
        Here are my suggestions:
        1. Please use table salt of fine salt. I did not mention in the text. My apology!
        2. If you do not like too salty, reduce the amount of salt in the cavity from 15g to 10g. We usually use 10g of salt for every 1kg of chicken. If you have a 2kg chicken, then use 20g of salt in total.

        Just recalculate the salt content base on the above percentage, and I hope it turns out well.

        KP Kwan

        • Jim

          Just made it again!

          It turned out amazing! The skin was crispy and flavour was there! Table salt and drying it out properly were the key to success!

          Could you achieve the same level of crispiness for the skin with less salt in the baking powder mix? Or add less salt to the honey mixture? (I find the skin a little too salty)


          • KP Kwan

            Hi Jim,
            You can reduce the salt on the skin but keep the same amount of baking powder. Salt does not affect the crispiness that much.
            Good to know that it worked well 🙂
            KP Kwan

    • Chris

      Fantastic recipe! Used on a 4.5lb hen I raised & butchered-and very fatty. After tasting my first Cantonese roasted duck I searched for a way to do this with a chicken & I found it with this recipe! I didn’t get the skin as crispy, but with practice maybe. FYI: I roasted this sitting upright in a buddy cake pan, works great
      I pulled all the meat off the carcass then tossed it with the drippings and it’s simply delicious! Thank you.

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Chris,
        So glad this recipe works well. And I like the idea of using the cake pan 🙂

        KP Kwan

    • Carl

      Hi KP Kwan,
      Thank you – This looks like an interesting recipe, im going to try it over Christmas..

      There are western style dishes that use similar methods of separating, seasoning and drying to make the skin crispy.
      But i woud like to ask – Is there any reason you marinated the chicken first before loosening the skin ? and not the other way round ?

      • KP Kwan

        You are welcome. Merry Christmas!

    • YASUA

      Delicious recipe

      • KP Kwan

        Thank you 🙂

    • YASUA

      Amazing website and Delicious recipe

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