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Whole Roasted Chicken with Orange Pepper and Thyme

Enter another Thanksgiving favorite - a juicy, whole roasted chicken, this time with a delicious homemade orange pepper, thyme and butter. It's surprisingly easy to roast a whole chicken, and just like my rosemary turkey breast - perfect for a smaller Thanksgiving or Christmas gathering. 


Whole roasted chicken on a bed of kale and clementines, flatlay.




There aren't many ingredients needed to make a whole roasted chicken delicious. A few spices, some butter and oil and you're pretty much there. I also like to add dry white wine for some acid and more sauciness, but that is completely optional. 


  • Whole chicken
  • Orange juice
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Dry white wine
  • Garlic
  • Orange pepper (see next paragraph)
  • Herbs like thyme and parsley


Whole chicken on a plate with kale and clementines.


Homemade orange pepper


The reason why this roast chicken is the best, is this super easy homemade spice blend. It's just like lemon pepper, just that we swap it for orange for a warmer note, which I think is perfect for the colder months. You can use regular lemon pepper if you don't want to spend an extra hour in drying the spices! 


To make orange pepper, zest three medium oranges and whisk together with ⅓ cup crushed black peppercorn, add to a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake on 120F (50C) for about an hour or maybe two if the zest was really juicy. I left for the gym and when I came back it was dry! This can of course be done the day before. 


Once it's dry, blitz it to fine grounds in a spice grinder or use a pestle and mortar. Mix with 3 tablespoon salt if you want it salty, but this can be omitted if you want to control the salt level when using it in other recipes. It can keep for months in an airtight container. 


Two pictures of the homemade orange pepper.


Tips for roasting a whole bird


There are several tips on how to roast a whole bird, but I'll just cover the most important ones here. If you don't have the same size bird as me (3 ½ lbs or 1.6kg), then a rule of thumb might come in handy.


As a rule, the roasting formula is 20 minutes per 450 grams plus an extra 20 minutes, which means a typical 1.5kg chicken will be perfectly roasted after 1 hour and 20 minutes at 200C. 


I, however, lower the temperature of my oven to ensure that the meat is super juicy. So I prefer to cook it at 325F (160C). This means it will take a little longer to cook, but not drastically different actually. My 3 ½ lbs chicken was done in 1 hour and 30 minutes. And then I broiled it for about 5 more minutes to get the golden skin. 


Whole roasted chicken on a bed of kale, two side dishes in the background.


Another tip to get it super juicy is to baste the chicken halfway through. This means to pour the liquid from the tray on to the chicken. I also do this when the 1.5 hours are up, but before broiling. 


Another tip is to leave the chicken out for about an hour before cooking, so that the chicken cooks evenly and you avoid overcooking it.


And after cooking, it should absolutely rest for 15 minutes, loosely covered, to redistribute the juices back into the chicken making it the juiciest, deliciousest thing. 


You know that a chicken is done when you pierce the meat closest to the thigh bone and see if the juices are clear. 



  • Roasting formula makes a standard 1.5 kg chicken take 1 hr 20 min on 200C
  • However, reducing temp and increasing time results in super juicy meat
  • Basting halfway through = more juiciness
  • Broiling will give you golden, crispy skin
  • Leave the chicken out for an hour before cooking
  • Rest 15 minutes
  • Done when clear juices


How to carve a whole chicken


So the hard thing about roasting a whole chicken is 1) knowing when it is done, and 2) carving it. I am not the person to tell you how to carve it really, as I always tend to butcher it (pun intended).


Anyway, the gist of it is to start running a sharp knife along the chicken thighs and once you feel resistance, bend the thigh outwards so that it cracks out of the joint.


Now it's time for the breast and you should run the knife along the breast cage.


There are also the wings and the wish bone, but that is pretty much impossible to explain with just words. Hence, if you need more help, I can recommend this video of how to carve a chicken


Carved chicken pieces on a serving dish with kale and clementines.


How I serve it for Thanksgiving


I think Thanksgiving and Christmas are all about having a ton of different tasty things on the plate, making it enjoyable to sit at the table for hours. The way I served it here is with roasted fingerling potatoes and this butternut squash kale salad with wilted garlic kale


I roasted the bird and when the bird was done and was resting, I added two sheets of veggies to the oven. One with half of it for cubed butternut squash in a cinnamony maple sauce and the other half for the potatoes. The other sheet with the shredded brussels sprouts and chickpeas. 


Whole roasted chicken on a bed of kale and clementines, backlighting.


I decided I didn't want to serve it as I normally do, where I mix it all. Rather, I added a bed of garlic kale to a serving tray, with the clementines and roasted walnuts, then the rested chicken. 


And as three separate sides: the butternut squash, the brussels sprouts and the potatoes. Everything was so juicy I didn't need any more sauce, but I did serve it with the juices from the chicken baking tray and also the maple mustard dressing from the kale salad. 


There you have a fantastic and relatively healthy Thanksgiving dinner enough for 4-6 people! (Or fewer with delicious leftover mmm). 


Further reading: 


Other sides to serve it with


However, this does not mean that that is the only way to serve this orange pepper chicken. Other dishes that would work really well are: 



You could also just head to my side dish category to get the latest updates!


How to make it


Take the chicken out of the fridge an hour before cooking. Remove any excess fat and any remaining feathers. If the cavity is filled with the neck, discard of it. Place it on a baking tray or baking dish and pat dry (1). Pre-heat oven to 325F (163C). 


Mix the orange juice, white wine, oil and melted butter together in a small bowl and pour it over the chicken (2), inside the cavity and in-between the skin and the meat (3). You may have to separate the skin from the meat by running your hand underneath the skin. Sprinkle with orange pepper (4), fresh herbs and garlic and give it a good rub on both sides of the chicken (5)


Steps to prepare the chicken.


Fill the cavity with the juiced orange half, the two halves of a garlic bulb and fresh thyme (6). Tie the legs together with a kitchen string (7).


Roast for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until a thermometer shows 165 F (74 C) when inserted in towards the thigh (but not touching the bone). Halfway through cooking, take it out and baste the chicken with its juices. You should also do this when the chicken is done. 


Steps to fill and rub the chicken.


Once the 1 ½ hour is up, baste again (8) switch the oven to the broiler and put the chicken back in for 2-3 minutes or until golden. Take it out and cover with aluminum foil and let it rest for 15 minutes (or longer) while you prepare the sides.


Carve as mentioned above and serve with the prepared sides. Enjoy! 


For a little different, much quicker and easier, Christmas dinner - I recommend checking out this Norwegian halibut recipe next. Perfect for small and large gatherings.


Whole roasted chicken on a bed of kale, two side dishes in the background.


Did you like this recipe? Here are more Thanksgiving recipes I think you would enjoy:



I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below or tag me @thegingerwithspice on Instagram. And don’t forget to Pin it for later! To make sure you’re never missing another recipe, please feel free to subscribe to my newsletter. As a thanks you will receive a free e-cookbook Travels Through the Seasons, with many delicious recipes from around the world that suit different seasons of the year. 


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📖 Recipe

Whole roasted chicken on a bed of kale and clementines, flatlay.

Whole Roasted Chicken with Orange Pepper and Thyme

Yield: 5
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes

Juicy, whole roasted chicken with a delicious homemade orange pepper, thyme and butter. And it's surprisingly easy to roast a whole chicken!


Orange Pepper

  • 3 tablespoons orange zest (from 3 medium oranges)
  • ⅓ cup crushed black pepper (50 grams)
  • 3 tablespoons salt (optional)

Whole Roasted Chicken

  • 3 ½ pounds whole chicken (1.6 kilo)
  • ¼ cup melted butter (4 tablespoons)
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup dry white wine (4 tablespoons)
  • ½ orange
  • 1 ½ tablespoons orange pepper (see above)
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme + 3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)
  • 1 head of garlic, roughly peeled and cut in half horizontally


Orange Pepper

  1. Zest the oranges. Whisk together with crushed peppercorns and place on a parchment lined baking sheet and let it dry out in the oven on 120 fahrenheit (50 celcius) for about an hour or until completely dry. Once dry, add to a spice grinder and blitz until fine. Mix in salt if desired*.

Whole Roasted Chicken

  1. Preheat oven to 325 fahrenheit (163 celcius). Place the chicken on a baking tray, remove any excess fat and feathers (and the neck from the cavity if it's there). Pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. In a small bowl, combine melted butter, olive oil, white white and the juice of half an orange. Pour the mixture over the chicken, inside the cavity, and in under the skin. Separate the skin from the meat by running your hand underneath the skin.
  3. Sprinkle generously with orange pepper*, garlic and herbs on both sides of the chicken, rub it well.
  4. In the cavity, add the juiced orange halve, the two halves of the garlic head and 3 fresh thyme sprigs. Tie the legs together with a kitchen string.
  5. Make sure the breast side is up, roast for 1 hour 30 minutes on the middle rack. After 45 minutes, baste the chicken with the juices from the tray (i.e., pour the juices back on top of the chicken). Continue cooking until the juices run clear (about 1 hour 30 minutes total, but this will depend on the size of your chicken). This is also when the chicken is 165 fahrenheit (74 celcius) in the thickest part of the thigh.
  6. Baste again and put the broiler on and broil for another 3-5 minutes, or until skin is golden.
  7. Remove from oven, cover with foil and allow to stand for 15 minutes before serving.**
  8. Serve with the juices from the baking tray, orange wedges and the sides you prefer. I love to serve it with roasted fingerling potatoes and this butternut squash kale salad - perfect for a smaller Thanksgiving!


* If the orange pepper is unsalted, remember to sprinkle the chicken generously with salt as well.

** Read blog post if you want instructions on how to carve the chicken.

In the blog post I also explain how I serve the butternut squash kale salad with this chicken.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size:
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 473Total Fat: 23.6gSaturated Fat: 8.7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 45gCholesterol: 173mgSodium: 189mgCarbohydrates: 5.2gFiber: 1.4gSugar: 1.9gProtein: 56.4g

Nutrition information isn't always accurate, estimate for informational purposes only. Based on that 60% of the chicken is meat.

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