Easy Roasted Five-Spice Chicken


platter of roasted chicken legs

Seriously, I don’t know how I like this better: Hot, the night it’s made—or cold, the next day.

I’m definitely a cold chicken lover.

Case in point: Remember that Purdue commercial from a thousand years ago? You know the one I’m talking about:


It’s kind of like that at The Mouse House when the fridge is full of cooked chicken.

Much like my Oven-Baked BBQ Chicken, this is an easy (borderline lazy) way to get dinner on the table. Sure, it would be easier to order takeout, but just by a little.

In my book, that makes this a good candidate for a weeknight dinner for the family—as well as a casual weekend get-together for a bunch of friends. It’s also really easy to scale it up to feed a crowd.

Because it’s roasted bone-in with the skin on, the chicken is moist and really flavorful. The skin gets wonderfully crispy and fragrant with spices. Depending on your oven, the raw garlic *might* burn a wee bit. If you see it starting to get too dark, just toss a sheet of aluminum foil over the chicken in the last minutes of roasting.

five spice roasted chicken up close

I like to marinate the chicken overnight to let the flavor really penetrate the chicken. That way, all I have to do is preheat my oven, slap the chicken on a pan and stick it in, and make the rest of our dinner while it’s roasting.

I usually wind up with time to spare to crack open a bottle of wine and sit and shoot the breeze while I wait for the timer to go off.

I love chicken leg quarters because they’re so flavorful, and they’re usually really cheap.

raw chicken leg quarter

This recipe will work with a whole, cut-up chicken, as well. If you do that, just keep an eye on the breasts if you wind up with a really plump chicken. They may need a little more time in the oven.

What is five-spice powder?

Good question. Five-spice powder is one of my favorite Asian seasonings. (Try my Rustic 5-Spice Potato Chips.)

Typically composed of cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and szechuan peppercorns, five-spice powder is used extensively in Chinese cooking, and is a great way to add spicy, earthy flavor to both savory and sweet dishes. Sometimes it includes ginger, or other spices.

You can find it in the spice aisle of most major grocery stores, at Asian markets, or online at Penzey’s (my favorite spice shop).

five spice powder

How to make your own five-spice powder

If you don’t have five spice powder, but you do have all its components stashed away in your cupboard, try making your own.

Combine equal parts of cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and szechuan peppercorns in a spice (a.k.a. coffee) grinder, or a mortar and pestle, if you’re feeling like giving your arms a good workout.

Grind to a powder. Give it a taste to see if you’re happy with the blend. Adjust as necessary. (You may want to add more of one spice, depending on your particular taste.)

When you’re done, store it in a bottle or jar with a tight-fitting lid.

Garlic: To press or not to press

Now, I know some folks are super particular about how they prep their garlic.

Here’s the deal with garlic, at least according to the fabulous Harold McGee (if you haven’t read his book On Food and Cooking, I highly recommend it): The more you smash it up, the more of that pungent, garlicky flavor you release.

garlic cloves

Personally, I love garlic, so when I’m in a rush, I’ll use a garlic press. I know, call me a heathen. It’s OK. (I’ve also been known to thinly slice it, or mince it to a paste with salt and my big knife).

Check out this article for an interesting (and very entertaining) take on garlic presses. In the end, prep the garlic however you like.

The short version of this recipe goes like this

Mix up the marinade, toss the chicken in it, let it sit overnight (or not), then roast for 50 minutes at 425 degrees.

Read on for details of what that looks like.

Easy Roasted Five-Spice Chicken

4 garlic cloves, minced or put through a press
1 Tbls. kosher salt
2 Tbls. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. five-spice powder
1 Tbls. rice wine vinegar
6 chicken leg quarters, 4 1/2 – 5 lbs.
chili flakes, for garnish
minced parsley and/or sliced scallion, for garnish

Serves about 4

Make the marinade

Grab your garlic. Mash it up and toss it in a large bowl. Throw in the salt.

raw garlic

Add the sesame oil (I love Kadoya brand)…

kadoya sesame oil

make the marinade for the chicken

…and the five-spice powder.

marinade for chicken legs

Toss in the rice wine vinegar. (I like Marukan brand. Rice vinegar comes plain or seasoned with salt and sugar. Use the plain kind for this recipe. The sugar in the seasoned version might burn. Rice vinegar gives the marinade a little acid, which balances the flavors.)

marukan rice wine vinegar

Whisk to combine.

garlicky marinade for chicken

Marinate the chicken

Grab your chicken leg quarters. Give them a quick rinse under cold water, then pat them dry (get them as dry as you can).

Toss each piece of chicken into the bowl and roll it around to coat in marinade. (You can also transfer your marinade to a few gallon-sized, zip-top bags if you prefer to marinate that way.)

chicken leg quarter in bowl of marinade

coat the chicken in marinade

Let the chicken sit (covered, in the fridge) in the marinade for a few hours, or overnight, if you like. If you don’t want to wait, roast away!

bowl of raw chicken

Roast the chicken

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and/or parchment paper (on a weeknight, I’ll double line like this for easy cleanup). Spread the chicken out in a single layer.

chicken leg quarters on roasting pan

Roast the chicken for about 50 minutes, until the skin is golden brown and crisp, and the chicken juices run clear.

(On a meat thermometer, you’re aiming for about 155-160 degrees…be sure you’re not hitting a bone when you take its temp.)

crispy chicken skin

Let the chicken sit, loosely tented under a piece of foil, for about 10 minutes to let the juices settle. Don’t tent it tightly…you want to keep the skin crispy.

Serve and enjoy!

Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Sprinkle with chili flakes and chopped parsley (or sliced scallion).

platter of five spice roasted chicken


crispy asian chicken

roasted chicken leg quarters

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.


  1. Yum! If this is anything like your other recipes I’ve tried, I will love it! Keep ’em coming 🙂
    And thank you so much for all of the pictures! They all look so good and help oh so much.

  2. I remember being so surprised walking into the grocery store and purchasing 4 leg quarters for $2. It’s definitely economical for sure! And it looks great. In fact, there’s a chicken in the fridge right now I’d like to try it on.

  3. This looks so delicious and sounds super easy which is fabulous for me! I’m curious what sides you might suggest to make with this??


  4. I liked the way this recipe was presented. I’m also going to try it with fish! Would probably be good also with skirt steak. Thanks.

  5. This was SO GOOD!! Super easy to do, even at midnight when I finally remembered I was supposed to get the chicken a’marinatin’. And both my kids (ages 2 and 6) LOVED it so much they both asked for seconds. Yum! This is definitely going into my permanent rotation.

  6. I’m a college student short on time and money. I hate eating out and I’m always on the lookout to try something fresh and quick. Thanks for the easy to follow instructions and great pictures! I’ll be sure to try this one sometime soon.

  7. Score another win for the Hungry Mouse! Everything I make off your site wins big rave reviews from my SO. First I did the Duck, which was flipping amazing, and then I did this, and he ate two chicken quarters. He declared it amazing and delicious, and I felt like an awesome cook. So thanks again! Now to find something else to try!

    (btw served it with roasted taters, carrots, and vidalia onion seasoned with herbs du provence – actually went together very nicely!)

  8. Your recipe ingredients list toasted sesame oil, yet there is a picture of 100% sesame seed oil, but I did not see any reference to toasting the sesame seed oil??? I’m not familiar with toasting sesame seed oil, but apparently you just pour some in a pan and heat it a little bit to bring out the flavor and darken the color slightly, is that a fair assessment??? Thanks!!!

  9. This was very yummy (and I must agree with everyone else about how great it made the house smell), however I would double the marinade recipe next time. It just seemed a bit inadequate for the amount of chicken, even though I used less poundage than the recipe called for.

    I served it with saffron rice and sauteed cabbage and onions. Excellent!

  10. I totally agree with Carol that the amount of marinade should be doubled for that amount of chicken. The flavors were balanced and tasted great, but with too little intensity.