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Sweet & Spicy Roast Chicken with Carrots, Dates & Pistachios

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This sheet-pan roast chicken dinner is the perfect no-fuss dish for company. Everything can be prepared and assembled a day in advance, so all that’s left to do at dinnertime is pop it in the oven.

Plate of sweet and spicy roast chicken with carrots, dates, and pistachios.

Don’t you just love discovering new “keeper” recipes? The first time I made Melissa Clark’s fabulous sweet and spicy roast chicken recipe from The New York Times, I knew it’d be a family favorite for years to come. The chicken is immersed in a honey, citrus, and chili-infused marinade, and then roasted on a sheet pan with carrots and dates.

Before serving, herbs, scallions, and pistachios are added for freshness, color, and crunch. Not only is it delicious, but it’s also the perfect no-fuss dish for company. Everything can be prepared and assembled a day in advance, so all that’s left to do at dinnertime is pop it in the oven. Serve with couscous and a green vegetable and dinner is done!

“I told the family I would clear up after dinner so I could have a quiet moment alone with the leftovers. Such a delicious dish!”

Kate

What You’ll Need To Make Sweet & Spicy Roast Chicken

Chicken ingredients including honey, lemon, and onion.

The original recipe is wonderful as printed but, as with any recipe, each time I’ve made it, I’ve tweaked it to suit my style and my family’s taste. What follows is the version I make today.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Whisk in a bowl of marinade.

Begin by making the marinade: whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, orange zest, orange juice, olive oil, mustard, honey, red pepper flakes, garlic, thyme, and salt.

Place the chicken, carrots, onions, and dates in a large sealable plastic bag. Add the marinade and seal shut. Massage to make sure everything is evenly coated with the marinade, then marinate in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Chicken and vegetables in a bag with marinade.

Transfer all ingredients from the bag, including the marinade, to a rimmed sheet pan. Turn the chicken skin side up.

Marinaded chicken and vegetables on a baking sheet.

Roast until chicken is lightly browned and cooked through, 40 to 45 minutes. Turn on broiler (leave pan on middle rack), and cook a few minutes more, or until the skin is golden brown and crispy. Watch very carefully: the honey in the marinade can cause the skin to burn quickly!

Baking sheet of sweet and spicy roast chicken with carrots, dates, and pistachios.

Transfer the chicken, carrots, onions and dates onto a platter, along with the sauce in the pan. Sprinkle the parsley, scallions and pistachio nuts over top and serve.

Plate of sweet and spicy roast chicken with carrots, dates, and pistachios.

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Sweet & Spicy Roast Chicken with Carrots, Dates & Pistachios

This sheet-pan roast chicken dinner is the perfect no-fuss dish for company. Everything can be prepared and assembled a day in advance, so all that’s left to do at dinnertime is pop it in the oven.

Servings: 4-6
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes, plus at least 6 hours marinating time

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 1 large lemon
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice, from 2 oranges
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 6 tablespoons honey
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 2½ teaspoons salt
  • 4 pounds bone-in chicken pieces (thighs, drumsticks and breasts)
  • 3 cups ¼-inch sliced carrots
  • 1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup thinly sliced dried dates
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley, for garnish
  • 2 scallions, light and dark green parts, thinly sliced, for garnish
  • ¼ cup chopped salted pistachios, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Make the marinade: In a medium bowl whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, orange zest, orange juice, olive oil, mustard, honey, red pepper flakes, garlic, thyme, and salt.
  2. Place the chicken, carrots, onions, and dates in a large sealable plastic bag. Add the marinade and seal shut. Massage to make sure everything is evenly coated with the marinade. Place the bag on a rimmed sheet pan to protect against leakage and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 425°F and set an oven rack in the middle position.
  4. Transfer all ingredients from the bag, including the marinade, to a rimmed sheet pan (do not line the pan with foil). Turn the chicken skin side up. Roast until chicken is lightly browned and cooked through, 40 to 45 minutes. About halfway through cooking, stir the carrots so that they don’t burn around the edges of the pan.
  5. Turn on broiler (leave pan on middle rack), and cook 1 to 3 minutes more, or until skin is golden brown and crispy. Watch carefully: the honey in the marinade can cause the skin to burn quickly.
  6. Transfer the chicken, carrots, onions and dates onto a platter, along with the sauce in the pan. Sprinkle the parsley, scallions and pistachio nuts over top and serve.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 1,022
  • Fat: 62g
  • Saturated fat: 15g
  • Carbohydrates: 59g
  • Sugar: 49g
  • Fiber: 6g
  • Protein: 60g
  • Sodium: 1306mg
  • Cholesterol: 227mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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Comments

  • Why is it not OK to line the pans with aluminum foil?

    • — Barrie on September 25, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Barrie, When I tested this recipe I tried it with foil and had a problem with it sticking, so decided to go without it. Also, you’ll get a bit better caramelization without the foil. Hope that clarifies and that you enjoy if you make it!

      • — Jenn on September 26, 2022
      • Reply
  • I made the marinade yesterday so I could marinate the chicken overnight this would be my Rosh Hashanah dinner. I tasted the marinade after I poured it over my chicken and it was way too salty. 2 1/2 teaspoons of salt was too much. Then I noticed the original recipe called for 2 1/2 teaspoons of salt in water to blanch the lemons not to put in the marinade. I had to start over and I was not happy

    • — Olivia on September 25, 2022
    • Reply
    • Guess reading the recipe thoroughly is best.
      I always read it 2-3 times and the. Double check each step until I’ve made it several times and have a real feel for the recipe.

      • — Kathy K on November 6, 2022
      • Reply
    • Hi Olivia – I am making this for my first time tonight for guests (did the marinade last night) and saw your comment about too much salt. I read the recipe through several times and it doesn’t talk about blanching the lemons. Was there a different version of the recipe at one time? Anyway I did use the 2 1/2 tsp salt in the marinade so keeping fingers crossed it won’t be too salty.

      • — Kim Furzer on May 17, 2023
      • Reply
      • Hi Kim, I’m weighing in too late to help but this recipe was adapted from a recipe in the New York Times, and in that recipe, they blanched the lemons. Hope the chicken came out OK for you!

        • — Jenn on May 19, 2023
        • Reply
  • Hi again. Is it ok to marinade the chicken for almost a whole 24 hours? Just want to make sure before I put it together.

    Thanks

    • — Suzanne Sitrin on September 24, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sure, that should be fine — enjoy!

      • — Jenn on September 26, 2022
      • Reply
  • It was delicious, and so easy to have all prepared.
    I stuck to the recipe exactly and it was perfect. Thank you ♡

    • — Kim Bergman on August 14, 2022
    • Reply
  • Do you think this recipe would work grilling the chicken instead of baking?

    • — Diane on June 14, 2022
    • Reply
    • Unfortunately not. Sorry!

      • — Jenn on June 15, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen,

    We have a family member with a carrot allergy, what would be a good substitute?

    Much thanks,

    Lisa

    • — Lisa Ferries on May 23, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Lisa, parsnips would work nicely in place of the carrots. 🙂

      • — Jenn on May 23, 2022
      • Reply
  • Easy. Delicious. Guest worthy. Served it with sides of mashed potatoes (for the gluten free crowd), couscous, and green beans. Followed it with your warm lemon pudding cakes. Amazing meal.

  • This chicken dish was a huge hit at our Passover seder last night. It was so easy to have the pan ready to go into the oven at the right moment and the chicken was truly delicious served over quinoa. Our guests asked for the recipe. One member of our group cannot eat dates, so I separately marinated and cooked one chicken breast for her and substituted figs for the dates. Everyone was happy. We’ll definitely make this again!

  • Hi Jen. Is it ok to marinate for two nights or is that too much?

    • Sure, you can get away with 2 nights but I wouldn’t push it beyond that.

  • Hi Jenn. I am making this recipe for the first time and Im excited to try it! I am bringing this to my in-laws house for Passover.. Can I cook it at home first and finish it by broiling it there? Should I transport it in the sheet pan or can I travel with it in a big serving dish?

    • Hi Karen, assuming you have a quick drive to your in-laws, it would be fine to do the baking part at home and finish it off under the broiler once you get there. And I’m sure it will be easier to travel with it in a serving dish, so I would go that route. Hope everyone enjoys!

  • Hi Jen! I want to make this recipe for Passover and I have a lot of people coming over to my house to celebrate. Do you think this dish will be okay to bake, then keep heated in a chaffing dish? I don’t want the chicken to become soggy, so this is my only concern.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Linda, I think that will work. The chicken won’t become soggy; the skin just won’t be as crispy. It will still be very tasty though!

  • Hi Jen,
    Can I double this recipe as is? I need for 12 people? Also can it be made a day before ?
    Thanks

    • Sure, Barbara, you can double the recipe (and use 2 sheet pans). I think this is best right out of the oven, but everything can be prepared and assembled ahead, so all you need do when ready to serve is pop it in the oven. Hope that helps!

  • Very flavorful and delicious! I like the sweet and tangy taste!

  • This recipe is a gem. It doesn’t get much better than a delicious dinner requiring no effort and only one pan. I had to sub molasses for the honey and added parsnips with the carrots. The veggies and chicken were done at the same time and both were beautifully caramelized. A keeper!

  • My guests don’t like chicken thighs or drumsticks so I need to make this with just chicken breasts. Problem is, the ones I can buy at local stores are huge. Any tips on how to use giant chicken breasts in this recipe? Can you cut them somehow before marinating? After cooking? And in a way that doesn’t make them look strange?

    • Hi Lin, It’s fine to use large chicken breasts here and cut them in half. You’ll just need a very sharp knife in order to get through the bones as well. And I would cut them before marinating. Hope that helps and that everyone enjoys!

  • HI-
    I’m allergic to oranges. Can this be made without the OJ? Thanks!

    • Hi Allison, You’ll need the sweetness that the OJ adds so if you can’t use OJ, I’d replace it with apple juice. Hope that helps!

      • I used grapefruit juice (it’s what I had on hand) and it was amazing…

  • This was delicious! Just from the smell coming out of the oven at the halfway through, I knew it was going to be a winner!! I only purchased chicken thighs and legs as we all seem to want the dark meat in my household and everything cooked well. The only adaptation I made is that after 2 minutes of broiling, I transferred the drumsticks to another pan and flipped them over and broiled for another 2 minutes so that the skin could crisp up on all sides. I was dreading the wash of the pan since recipe said not to line with foil and knew that marinade had honey and the dates but trusted your recipe. There was enough juicy goodness to pour over chicken and rice and the pan was a breeze to clean. This one is a keeper!!

  • Holy Moly Jenn…you have out done yourself lady! This is one of the best tasting dishes I have ever eaten and amazingly easy to make! It took all my self restraint to not lick my plate…seriously the sauce is that good and the chicken is so moist and flavorful! I followed the recipe exactly except only used thighs and drums equaling 4 lbs. Beyond any chicken I have eaten at any restaurant! And don’t forget the scallion and pistachio garnish! Bravo Jenn…10 stars!

  • Hi Jen,
    Was wanting to try this recipe, but first wanted to confirm marinating chicken in citris juice is o.k.? I’ve read that acidic ingredients do not tenderize but do the opposite. Please inform. Thank you.
    Diane

    • Hi Diane, using acidic ingredients in marinades for boneless, skinless chicken breasts is problematic and will make them more tough, but it’s fine with the chicken pieces you’ll be using here. Hope you enjoy!

  • Made this for Thanksgiving. Its just the 2 of us and my husband is confined to bed so I wanted to make something festive but not fussy. I cut down a bit on the oil but otherwise followed the recipe as written with the exception of the boiling step as the chicken was well browned after 45 minutes. It was a bit of work to make the marinade but done the day before which made last evening’s meal easy. We both enjoyed it and cleanup was a breeze. No need for foil to line the baking sheet. Looking forward to enjoying the leftovers.

  • Hi, Jenn. I’ve done this recipe twice before and loved it. Today, I am short on time and wondered if marination for 2 hours may be sufficient. Thanks, Julie

    • Sure, it may not be quite as flavorful, but should still be good. Enjoy!

  • Only two words necessary: ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!

  • Honestly, the best roast chicken recipe I have ever tried. My family (including one very picky teen) devoured the meal.

  • This was delicious! Why did you say not to line the pan though? I put heavy duty foil and sprayed with cooking spray and it turned out great. What would not lining the pan do differently?

    • Hi David, glad you enjoyed it! When I tested this recipe I tried it with foil and had a problem with sticking so decided to go without it. Also, you’ll get a bit better caramelization without the foil. Hope that clarifies!

    • So delicious. Something you would be served in a fine restaurant. This is a must try recipe.

  • Made this for guests this week and it was amazing. Once you get the marinade together and everything cut up, it’s a snap. I didn’t put it under the broiler as it got crispy just roasting with the honey in the marinade. Since I have a convection oven and used only thighs, I cooked it all about 35 mins and it was perfect!

  • I was looking for a recipe for Rosh Hashanah that was delicious but not too much work. I made this for the first time for a large Rosh Hashanah dinner and it was fabulous. Easy to make and extremely flavorful. Everyone raved about it. This one is a keeper.

  • Would this work well in a large Pyrex dish rather than a sheet pan?

    • — Sarah Rosenblum
    • Reply
    • Hi Sarah, As long as the dish is large enough to hold everything in a single layer, I think it should work. Please LMK how it turns out!

  • Hi! My sister hates dates, would this recipe work with apricots instead?

  • Thank you for this absolutely scrumptious recipe, Jenn! The flavors are just incredible! I halved the recipe for a “test run” tonight before next week’s Rosh Hashanah family dinner. I am excited to make it and share the yumminess, but did have a little trouble at the end. At 40 minutes, I turned the broiler on for just 2 minutes and, sadly, much of the amazing dates, carrots and onions were quite burnt. I did stir them around half-way through. I was able to salvage lots of delicious caramelized bits, but wondering if you have suggestions for when I prepare in next week so we don’t lose any of those amazing pieces.
    I saw that someone recommended placing tin foil and turning the oven down to 400. Any suggestions are welcome. Despite the bit of charring, the chicken was moist and delicious! I did love the chopped salted pistachios on top. Thank you so much!!

    • Hi Alyson, Sorry to hear some of the pieces got burnt. Was the oven rack in the middle position? Also, there’s a range for the broiling time – 1 to 3 minutes. Did you keep a close eye on it and/or broil it for longer than 1 minute?

      • I appreciate your help, Jenn! It was on the middle rack. I set the timer, but it was definitely about 2 minutes, so maybe that is the key? When I stirred up the yummy, gooey carrots and dates, a little earlier on, though, there was still some burning. Would adding more liquid help, or do you think I need to move my rack down a notch?

        • I think halving the recipe was likely the biggest issue – with less food/juices in the pan, the food is much quicker to brown/burn. I think you’ll be fine with the full recipe; I would just keep a close eye on it at the end to be sure. Hope that helps!

          • I will! I’m already craving the flavors! Thank you for all of your incredible recipes! Happy, healthy new year!

            • — Alyson
  • Are there any substitutes for the mustard in this recipe?

    • Hi Alison, You can just omit it. (I like the flavor that the mustard adds to the marinade, but one or two readers have commented that they’ve cut back on or omitted the mustard and have been happy with the results.) Hope that helps!

  • Can this dish be made in advance and frozen?

    • Hi Judy, I haven’t done it myself, but do think you could freeze it.

  • Jenn,
    I hope nobody else has asked this question within the other 352 reviews!
    But can the chicken be boneless and skinless, or do you recommend bones because of the flavour they impart? It’s just so much easier to eat without those bones!
    Thank you. I’ve been asked to make it AGAIN for the Sunday Lunch in the Park.
    Joy

    • Hi Joy, Unfortunately, this isn’t the best recipe for boneless breasts – sorry! If you feel strongly about using boneless breasts, here are all of my recipes that call for them.

      • Even though I only use thighs, and never breasts?

        • Because thighs are dark meat, they are more moist. I’d be concerned that the breasts would be dry.

          • Thank you! You’re the best!

            • — Joy
  • Jenn, Realize this may sound odd to you and your accomplished followers, but I really need some advice. I’m new to cooking meat (30 years a vegan) and this recipe and any kind of roasting makes me very nervous. Real quick question: When one cooks sheet pan dinners that people seem to love so much—do these make a mess of your oven? My absolute pet peeve is having to spend hours in my oven cleaning up a mess after all the guests have left and I’m already exhausted from all the work, you know? I’m worried it will splatter all over the place. Someone told me once that when they make roast chicken this happens and they absolutely hate it, so I had to ask. I would love to make this recipe, the Marbella and the Peruvian Chx but have to be honest and say I’m too nervous w/o asking this first. THANKS!!!

    • Hi Diane, None of these recipes should make a mess of your oven. For this recipe, the baking sheet will get pretty dirty, but if you’d like to avoid scrubbing it after dinner, cover it with non-stick foil before putting the ingredients on. Hope that helps!

    • Whenever I roast chicken I use a rack in the pan and add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan but not the rack. It really cuts down on the oven mess. Also turning down the temperature a bit and cooking a little longer reduces splattering. This recipe has enough liquid already.

  • Good evening can I freeze this recipe? By the way enjoy all your recipes and love the cookbook. Linda

    • Glad you like the recipes! Yes, I do think you could freeze this. 🙂

  • Easy to follow recipe and came out tasty. I used chicken legs,thighs and breasts. Next time I will stick with legs and thighs. Also I did not have dates so I used prunes. Next time I will use twice as many prunes as it is called for. Their sweetness is a great addition.I wanted every bite to have a piece of prune. Enjoyed by all!!

  • Delicious! A few minor changes to just cut down on sugar and fat a tiny bit and to use what I had on hand: I cut the honey and olive oil down to 1/4 cup each. And I swapped in 2 cubed sweet potatoes for the carrots, and used half dried apricots, half dates. I prepped it at lunch and marinated it in a bowl (no need for the plastic bag). Roasted it in a roasting pan (no need for foil or parchment, the pan cleaned really easily). (I didn’t have parsley or pistachios — and forgot to use the scallions I had sliced up earlier!) My husband and I both loved it — looking forward to leftovers. Thanks for yet another wonderful recipe, Jenn!

  • I just reviewed this recipe but think I forgot to rate it.

    I give it 5 stars all the way – 10 stars, if there were that many.

    I hope you can add the stars to my review. Thanks!

    • I just did – thanks! 🙂

  • This is the most delicious and beautiful make ahead meal and hands down the best recipe for company because you don’t have to be slaving over the stove but can enjoy your company instead.
    I suggest making a double batch because leftovers are amazing. I usually make a double batch and freeze all or part of it before cooking in zip lock bags. Just defrost in the fridge and supper’s a breeze. I have tried different types of rice to serve along with the chicken but would recommend Jenn’s suggestion of couscous as the flavour does not compete with the flavours of the chicken and the texture is perfect with the chicken. I cook this recipe as Jenn has written it but feel that you could probably get by using 4 tablespoons of honey instead of six. I also haven’t bothered to turn the broiler on at the end as I find that it browns enough in the oven.

  • This recipe has become a family favorite!
    And is great to serve for an intimate gathering because you make everything the day before! Highly recommend… thank you for sharing with us :)))

  • VERY HAPPY we tried. Loved it! I will definately make part of our regular rotation. Different than most recipes out there. Thanks

  • Thank you Jenn! Your site and recipes have become my favorite go to. I made this for Christmas dinner….so easy as I prepared yesterday and let marinate overnight, popped in the oven for 45 minutes (just as you indicate) and the chicken and carrots were perfectly cooked. Everyone remarked on how good it was. Thank you again.

  • So easy and plenty of flavor. We enjoyed it and loved the carrots. I cut the oil a bit for health reasons and the honey as well. Still a little sweeter than our tastes but we really enjoyed it and I will adjust the seasonings a bit more for a spicier and less sweet dish. I did not used foil and nothing stuck to my sheet pan. I use a USA steel pan so maybe those who have had sticking issues are using a lightweight pan. The chicken browned very nicely so I didn’t need to turn on the boiler element.

    • Exactly my experience and perspective as well. Easy, delicious. Next time I will cut the honey a bit and definitely increase the chili flakes. Clean up surprised me, the sheet pan cleaned easily! Another winner, Jenn!

  • Just realized I only have dijon mustard and not whole grain. Should I use less or do you think I should keep the same amount? Thanks.

    • I would keep the amount the same. It shouldn’t make a huge difference. Enjoy!

  • Made this the other night with just bone-in chicken breasts and it was a huge hit. Threw the leftovers in the freezer. Hope it freezes well. Will definitely make again! Thanks Jenn!

  • Hi Jenn, Do you think this recipe would work with Cornish Hens but with reduced cooking time? I love all of your recipes and I’m eagerly awaiting your next cookbook release 🙂

    • Glad you like the recipes, Sandra! Yes, I think this would work with Cornish game hens. Please LMK how they turn out!

      • This worked out beautifully! My hens were about 1.5 lbs each, and they took just under an hour to cook at 425. Flavours complimented the hens perfectly and everyone loved them. Thanks for another winner recipe Jen.

  • Delicious as are all Jen’s recipes. Made it for friends for Hanukkah and it was a hit!

  • Night 4 Hanukkah dinner. Delish! The chicken was juicy and succulent. No changes to recipe except covering with foil for the last 10 minutes and lowering oven temp to 400 as the skin was getting too dark/black. I did not line pan with foil and have nothing sticking. Enough sauce to use as a lightly over brown rice as I was out of couscous. Thank you Jenn for your wonderful recipes (and tweaks to others like this one).

  • I just made this for a second time – so delicious! I leave the chicken in the marinade for 8-10 hours. This is a keeper recipe!!

  • Hi, Jenn,
    Can I buy the bag of chopped dates? Or does the dish cook better with whole dates that I “slice thinly”? Will the chopped ones burn or something?
    Thanks!
    Elise

    • Hi Elise, Chopped dates should work here. Please LMK how it turns out!

  • Hi Jen,

    This sounds fabulous! My husband does not like thyme. Can I substitute another herb? Would rosemary work?

    • Sure — hope you enjoy!

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