Christmas Chicken Recipe


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Roast Christmas Chicken is rubbed in an herb butter and baked with cranberries and oranges. It’s truly a one pan meal thanks to the roasted potatoes and vegetables in the roasting pan.

Christmas Chicken

This Christmas Chicken is a beautiful chicken dinner. It’s perfectly festive and special enough for the holidays, but it’s easy and delicious enough that you’d be proud to serve it year round.

The chicken is incredibly juicy with an explosion of flavor from the roasted garlic, the perfect blend of spices, and the heavenly blast of citrus.

Topping it off with the sweet and tart from the cranberries makes this roast chicken dinner truly special. It is a meal you will be so proud to serve for any occasion.

A side image of roasted chicken showing how juicy and plump it is.

This really is the perfect meal for the holidays if you don’t feel like making a traditional Christmas Ham (like this Copycat Honey Baked Ham), or roasting an entire turkey.

Even though it tastes special, it really is so easy to put together and it has a shorter cooking time than a lot of holiday dishes. You’ll have a whole Christmas dinner ready, from start to finish, in only 2 hours.

Christmas chicken with some of the chicken breast carved into slices.


Chicken and Salt: You’ll need a whole chicken for this recipe, and I recommend using an air chilled one. Kosher salt and water are all you need to make a brine to brine your chicken. Brining the chicken adds so much moisture to the chicken, and flavors it from the inside out, so it’s definitely a step I recommend.

Cranberries, Brown Sugar, and Orange: Cranberries, light brown sugar, orange juice, and orange zest will rest together before being added to the baking pan. This allows the skins of the cranberries to macerate, and then it will bake down into a delicious cranberry sauce and glaze while the chicken is in the oven.

Butter and Herbs: Butter, dried thyme leaves, dried parsley, dried rosemary, rubbed sage, and orange zest combine to make a festive seasonal herb butter spread. The herb butter spread allows you to flavor every inch of the chicken, which makes this dish truly special.

Vegetables: The baby potatoes, yellow onions, and carrots lift the chicken off the bottom of the pan to allow it to roast properly. They also infuse with the flavors from the chicken, which makes the side dishes in this one pan Christmas dinner absolutely delicious.

Chicken Broth: Pouring chicken broth over the vegetables is just to make sure that none of the vegetables stick to the bottom of the pan. It also stops the sugar from burning on the bottom of the pan, which allows the cranberries to bake down into a proper sauce.

Aromatics and Citrus: Garlic, orange, and lemon add lots of flavor throughout the chicken and vegetables.

The labeled ingredients for Christmas chicken.

How To Make Roast Christmas Chicken Dinner

Start by trussing the chicken using kitchen twine, then soak the chicken in a kosher salt and water brine. (See the recipe card below for the full printable recipe.)

Making a chicken brine, then brining the chicken in it.

Combine the cranberries, brown sugar, orange zest, and orange zest. Allow that to rest so that the cranberries macerate.

Mixing together the ingredients for cranberry sauce.

Mix together the room temperature butter, dried thyme leaves, dried parsley, dried rosemary, rubbed sage, and orange zest to make the herb butter.

Mixing together the ingredients for herb butter.

Fill the roasting pan with the vegetables and aromatics, and pour the chicken broth over top.

Baby potatoes, vegetables, aromatics, and citrus in a roasting pan.

Dry the chicken, loosen the skin, rub the butter spread on the back half of the chicken.

Loosening the chicken skin and rubbing the chicken with herb butter.

Place the chicken breast side up on the bed of vegetables. Rub the chicken with the butter spread under the skin, over the top of the chicken, and on the sides of the chicken.

Before and after coating the chicken in herb butter.

Sprinkle the cranberry mixture around the edges of the pan, then bake the chicken as instructed until it is golden brown and the chicken is fully cooked through to an internal temperature of 165 F. See the recipe card below for the full written instructions, including ingredient amounts, cooking times, and helpful tips, etc.

Before and after baking Christmas chicken.
A close up of carved chicken breast.

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A Pinterest pin image of roasted Christmas chicken with title text at the top.

Christmas Chicken Recipes

If you’re looking for some other ideas for holiday chicken, try any of these popular chicken recipes for Christmas dinner! They’re all easy, and they all taste special enough to serve for your favorite holiday.

A white baking dish filled with cranberry chicken and roasted baby potatoes.
Baked Cranberry Chicken Thighs make a delicious and easy Christmas dinner.

Christmas Dinner Menu

Try rounding out this roasted chicken with some of our popular side dishes and make ahead casseroles! Some of our family favorites are:

Yield: 4 large or 6 small servings

BEST Christmas Chicken Recipe {Roast Chicken}

The best Christmas chicken recipe.

Roast Christmas Chicken is rubbed in an herb butter and baked with cranberries and oranges. It’s truly a one pan meal thanks to the roasted potatoes and vegetables in the pan.

Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes



  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1 whole chicken (4 pounds)

Cranberry Mixture:

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1/2 an orange)

Herb Butter Spread:

  • 6 Tablespoons butter (room temperature, 85 grams)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage*
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest


  • 1 1/2 pounds baby potatoes
  • 2 medium yellow onions (cut into wedges)
  • 2 large carrots (cut in half, then into into 3” - 4” sticks)
  • 1 garlic bulb (cloves separated with the papery skins removed)
  • 1 orange (cut into 8 pieces)
  • 1/2 lemon (quartered)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth


  1. Truss the chicken using kitchen twine. To do this, start with the chicken breast side up with the neck away from you, and run the center of a 3 foot piece twine under the neck. Bring the string up towards you, tucking the wings as you go. Run the twine along the outside of the legs, with the twine running under the joint of the drumstick so that the legs are held in place. Cross the twine under the “ankles”, then bring the twine together over top of the “ankles” to tie them together. Once it’s tied, cut off any excess twine below the knot.
  2. In a large bowl, dissolve 1/2 cup of kosher salt (or 1/4 cup table salt) in 8 cups of lukewarm water. Cover the bowl and transfer the brine to the refrigerator. Let it rest in the refrigerator until it has fully cooled.
  3. Once the brine is completely cooled, add the chicken to the bowl of brine, cover the bowl, and place it back in the refrigerator. Let the chicken soak for at least 30 minutes - brining the chicken will make for a juicy chicken! (Skip the brining step if you’re using a chicken that has already been brined in a sodium solution.)
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients for the cranberry mixture. Set aside to allow the cranberries to macerate.
  5. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together all of the ingredients for the butter spread. Set aside.
  6. To the center of a roasting pan, add the baby potatoes, onions, carrots, garlic cloves, 6 pieces of orange, and 3 pieces of lemon to make a bed for the chicken. Pour the chicken broth over the bed of vegetables.
  7. Preheat the oven to 425 F (218 C).
  8. After the chicken is finished brining, lift the chicken from the brine and drain off any excess liquid. Dry it thoroughly using paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Once the chicken is dry, gently lift the skin from the chicken using your fingers to loosen the skin, creating a space for some of the butter and herb mixture to go.
  9. Flip the chicken over so that it’s back side up, and rub it with some of the butter mixture. Flip the chicken back over and place it onto the vegetable bed, breast side up. Rub some of the butter spread under the chicken skin (doing your best to evenly distribute it and get it into as many nooks and crannies under the skin as possible). Use the remaining herb butter spread to cover the skin on the top and sides of the chicken. Stuff the chicken cavity with the reserved orange and lemon pieces.
  10. Spoon the cranberry mixture (including the juice) around the vegetable bed, then bake uncovered for 15 minutes at 425 F (218 C)**. After 15 minutes, turn the heat down to 350 F (176 C) and bake for 20 minutes per pound, or until an instant read thermometer reads an internal temperature of 165 F when inserted into the inner thigh area near the breast (but without touching the bone). My chicken was 4 lbs, so I baked it at 350 F for 1 hour and 20 minutes.


*Rubbed sage is lighter, fluffier, and less potent than ground sage. If you’re using ground sage, I’d probably only use half the amount.

**Baking it first at a higher temperature will help give the chicken a nice dark, crispy skin. If you want a lighter skin, cook it at 350 F for 20 minutes per pound plus an additional 15 minutes at the end.

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 937Total Fat: 57.5gCarbohydrates: 46.4gFiber: 4.6gSugar: 19.4gProtein: 59.8g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate. This was calculated assuming 6 servings, and includes all of the ingredients (even though some of the ingredients will be left behind in the pan).


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This is an herb roasted chicken stuffed with citrus and baked with potatoes and cranberries to make a one pan meal. You’ll love this Christmas Chicken!

The best Christmas chicken recipe.

4 thoughts on “Christmas Chicken Recipe”

  1. I don’t typically use a recipe for an event without testing it with just the hubs and I first, but I made this for a pre-Christmas meal with a couple friends and it was a HUGE hit! The only thing I did differently was to pour a out 1c of white cooking wine over the chicken before throwing it in the oven and then basted it once or twice in the last hour. It came out as a beautifully roasted bird with incredible flavours! The juices in the bottom of the pan made a gorgeous gravy by adding just a bit of cornstarch… it was a fantastic meal that was highly approved by everyone, and I am already being asked when I will make it again! Thank you so much!

    • Hi Sarah, I’m so happy to hear that this roasted Christmas chicken was such a hit for your pre-Christmas dinner! Thanks so much for leaving feedback and sharing which adaptations worked for you! -Alexa

    • Hi Amy, Yes, you can definitely replace the baby potatoes with sweet potatoes. I’d recommend cutting them into larger chunks to make sure they don’t get too soft and mushy during the cooking process. A good size to aim for would be about 1 to 1.5 inch cubes or chunks (depending on the size of your chicken, which determines the overall bake time). This should make sure that they cook through but still hold their shape nicely. You can add them to the roasting pan at the same time as you would the baby potatoes in the original recipe. Hope that helps! -Alexa


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