Chicken Thighs Roasted with Five-Spice Powder and Honey

This dish is essentially a highly simplified riff on char siu, the amazing Cantonese barbecue tradition. Whereas char siu preparations often include soy, hoisin, and other additions, here you’ll only use salt, five-spice powder, and an long rest in the refrigerator for most of the heavy lifting, with just a touch of honey and garlic to add some sweetness and give the final product a nice sheen.

I’ve been accused of being addicted to Chinese Five Spice Powder. It might be true. The blend varies a little form producer to producer, but generally it includes cinnamon, cloves, star anise, fennel and either black pepper or szechuan pepper. I use it in a lot of dishes – including many where it seems out of place – subbing in for other spice blends like quatre epice or sweet spice. In this dish, it’s star of the show. These days, you can find Five Spice Powder in many mainstream groceries, but if you aren’t able to track it down, it’s available from Amazon as well.

This dish can be roasted in the oven, or grilled depending on the season and your preference. Grilled preparations will have a smokier, more charbroiled aspect (because of the interplay of honey and direct flame). If you choose to prepare this dish on a grill, you may want to use boneless thighs for quicker cooking. I serve this with steamed rice and quick-cured cucumbers.

Chicken Thighs Roasted with Five-Spice Powder and Honey

Recipe by DrewCourse: MainCuisine: ChineseDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time



Crispy chicken roasted with five spice powder and honey.


  • Five Spice and Honey Roasted Chicken
  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

  • 2 tbsp honey

  • 2 tbsp hot water

  • 2 tsp kosher salt

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 1 tbsp five-spice powder

  • 1 thinly sliced green onion/scallion for garnish

  • Quick Cured Cucumber
  • ½ English cucumber, sliced

  • ½ tsp kosher salt

  • ½ tsp white granulated sugar

  • 1 tsp rice vinegar


  • Chicken
  • At least 4 hours and up to one day before cooking, generously season the chicken pieces with all of the salt and five-spice powder.
  • Mix the honey and hot water, and add the crushed garlic.
  • Place the chicken and the honey/garlic mixture in a plastic storage bag, squeeze out as much air as possible, and seal.
  • Allow the chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, and up to two days.
  • Preheat your oven to 400°.
  • Use a paper towel or clean kitchen towel to blot the chicken pieces dry.
  • Arrange the chicken on a sheet pan with sufficient space between each to facilitate the flow of hot air, and roast until well browned and/or the internal temperature has reached 165°.
  • Garnish with thinly sliced green onion, cilantro leaves, and sliced shallot or red onion.
  • Serve with steamed rice and quick-cured cucumber
  • Quick Cured Cucumber
  • In a non-reactive bowl, sprinkle the cucumber slices with sugar and salt, tossing to combine.
  • Allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • Add rice vinegar, tossing again to combine.
  • Cover, and refrigerate at least 1 hour before use.

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