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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
Combine the cranberries, brown sugar, orange zest, and orange zest. Allow that to rest so that the cranberries macerate.
Mix together the room temperature butter, dried thyme leaves, dried parsley, dried rosemary, rubbed sage, and orange zest to make the herb butter.
Fill the roasting pan with the vegetables and aromatics, and pour the chicken broth over top.
Dry the chicken, loosen the skin, rub the butter spread on the back half of the chicken.
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.
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.
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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.
- Cranberry Chicken
- Baked Panko Chicken
- Marry Me Chicken
- Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts
- Melt In Your Mouth Chicken
- French Onion Chicken
Christmas Dinner Menu
- Crockpot Mac and Cheese
- Sweet Potato Casserole
- Jiffy Creamed Corn Cornbread
- Crockpot Green Beans
- Green Bean Casserole with Bacon
- Jiffy Corn Casserole
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1 whole chicken (4 pounds)
- 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
- 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.
- In a large bowl, dissolve 1/2 cup of kosher salt (or 1/4 cup table salt) in 8 cups of lukewarm water. Let the chicken soak for at least 30 minutes (brining the chicken will make for a juicy chicken!). If you’re going to brine the chicken for longer than 30 minutes, you’ll need to make space in the fridge to place the chicken in the brine bowl in the refrigerator. (Skip the brining step if you’re using a chicken that has already been brined in a sodium solution.)
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients for the cranberry mixture. Set aside to allow the cranberries to macerate.
- In a medium mixing bowl, mix together all of the ingredients for the butter spread. Set aside.
- 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.
- Preheat the oven to 425 F (218 C).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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).
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!