The warm, traditional Christmas spice flavours and brown sugar marinade makes this glazed Christmas Chicken extra moist and flavourful, as well as making it ultra sticky. It is in fact a variation of my popular and traditional ham glaze – only used on chicken!
Sticky Glazed Christmas Chicken
Everybody loves the glaze on a Christmas ham. So one year, I tried using one version on chicken and people went mad over it!
Easier and cheaper than ham, with a much higher ratio of glaze to meat, this is so good I’ve actually had people tell me they love this chicken more than Christmas ham!!
It’s ultra-sticky on the outside, and just smells and tastes like Christmas. The flesh of the chicken is super tender and infused with flavours from an overnight marinade!
This is a great alternative to turkey for a Christmas main dish. That sticky holiday season glaze is finger lickin’ good!
What goes in Sticky Glazed Christmas Chicken
Basically everything you put into a Brown Sugar Ham Glaze is used for this Christmas Chicken marinade – it’s loaded with Christmas flavours!
Chicken – Use bone-in, skin on thighs and drumsticks. We need the skin to make the chicken sticky in the oven, and the bone helps keep the meat juicy (and giving the cute impression of a “mini-ham”!!) If you insist on using skinless, boneless thighs or breast, see recipes notes for how to make it (it involves simmering the glaze to reduce it then basting);
Oranges – We use the zest and juice in the marinade for a subtle hint of citrus flavour – more holiday nuances! Don’t skip the zest by using bottled orange juice instead. Zest really brings an extra-special fresh touch to this dish;
Spices – Cinnamon, allspice, ginger and whole star anise – four common holiday spices;
Brown sugar – For wonderful caramel flavours, this is what makes the chicken sticky;
Dijon Mustard and vinegar – These provide the tang in the marinade to balance the sweetness. The mustard also thickens the glaze slightly so it clings to the chicken better; and
Olive oil – For a touch of richness to the glaze. Though any type of (reasonably neutral) oil will do the job fine here.
How to make Christmas Chicken
The making part involves a 24 hour marinade to really get all those wonderful Christmas flavours infused into the flesh before roasting in the oven until it becomes sticky and golden.
Make marinade: Mix the marinade together in a jug or bowl. Don’t shortcut it in the ziplock bag; you really need a whisk to dissolve everything properly (as I learnt!);
Marinate chicken – Pour marinade over the chicken in a ziplock bag. Yes, I acknowledge ziplock bags aren’t environmentally friendly and I really try to minimise their use, eg. wash and re-use when I can. But for marinades, they are undisputedly the best way to get the flavour fully infused all around and through the chicken (with less marinade wastage). If you’re really averse to the use of ziplock bags, then scale the marinade up by 50% and use a non reactive bowl or container, and toss the chicken a couple of times while marinating;
Marinate 24 hours for best results. Up to 48 hours is fine, bare minimum is 3 hours. The glaze is so fabulous, it’s still ok even if it hasn’t had time to fully penetrate all through the flesh;
Roast 50 minutes – Divide the chicken and all the marinade between two trays. Make sure to line with foil AND then parchment/baking paper – you’ll thank me later, when you don’t have to scrub furiously with a scourer! Then bake for 50 minutes;
Baste, baste, baste! Basting is the key to that sticky golden surface! Start basting at 30 minutes. At first, the pan juices will be watery but towards the end of the cook time will reduce and thicken. This is when you can really get a nice thick glaze on the chicken!
Glaze adjustment: The trick with any glazed or sticky chicken is getting the timing right, so the pan juices reduce and become syrupy in the time it takes for the chicken to cook through inside. There’s a lot of variables that affect this – oven strength, chicken size, tray size, and also economical chicken can be pumped with brine which makes then leech more liquid = more water to evaporate before it becomes a glaze.
The good news is, the fix is easy! The chicken will be cooked at 50 minutes. If the tray juices are still too thin, just take the chicken off the tray then pop the empty tray back in. The tray juices will take minutes to reduce into a syrup. Once it does, baste, baste, baste!
The flavour of this Christmas Chicken really is reminiscent of a glazed ham! Except, well, you know. Chicken, instead of ham. 😂 😂 But WAY more sticky glaze to go around than the sliver you get on each slice of ham (if any at all!).
What to serve with Christmas Chicken
I’m sharing this with Christmas time in mind, but I really do think this is a great one for all year round! Because the glaze is quite intensely flavoured, try it with a light, refreshing side salad, such as a Spring Salad (asparagus, peas, snow peas, lettuce), a French Bistro Salad or for something a little more substantial, this Bean Tabbouleh Salad.
For proper Christmas menu suggestions as well as my best Christmas side dishes, take a guided tour through my collection in my Christmas Recipes & Menus post. Otherwise, browse through my Christmas Recipes Collection at your leisure, newly organised by category to make it nice and easy for you to get your Christmas event planned and pulled-off!
I’d love to know what you think if you give this a try! Does it remind YOU of Christmas ham?? 🙂 – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Sticky Glazed Christmas Chicken
- 1.2 kg / 2.4 lb chicken thighs, skin on, bone in (Note 1)
- 800g / 1.6 lb chicken drumsticks , or more thighs (Note 1)
- 5 tsp orange zest (2 oranges)
- 1/2 cup orange juice (from the zested oranges)
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar (sub white wine, sherry or champagne vinegar)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar , lightly packed
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 2 whole star anise
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
Serving and garnishes
- 2 oranges , cut into wedges or halved then sliced
- good value leafy greens – like endive, watercress, for the bed
- orange zest curls (Note 3)
- Mix Marinade ingredients in a jug. Pour over chicken in a large ziplock bag (Note 2). Massage to coat, then marinate chicken for ideally 24 hours (bare minimum is 3 hrs, 12 hrs is ok).
- Preheat oven to 200°C/390°F (180°C fan).
- Line 2 trays with foil then parchment/baking paper (you'll thank me later).
- Distribute chicken on trays, then pour the marinade over. Roast 30 minutes.
- Roast for a further 20 minutes, basting with pan juices 2 or 3 more times until the chicken is deep golden and sticky. At first, the juices will be watery but in the final 10 minutes or so, they will thicken and darken. Once this happens, baste more frequently and heavily. (Note 4)
- When the top tray is almost ready, switch the tray positions (ie move bottom tray up and put the top tray undenerath) so they finish at the same time. GOAL: Deep golden and sticky chicken!
- Before plating up, baste again with the sticky juices.
- Serving suggestion: Spread leafy greens on a platter, pile on sticky chicken. Decorate with orange slices or wedges.
- Pound breast to 2cm / 0.8″ even thickness;
- Marinate thighs / breast per recipe, then remove chicken. Simmer reserved marinade in a saucepan until it thickens into a thick glaze – about 5 minutes on medium. Use the glaze for basting;
- Cook chicken:
- Oven – 20 minutes at 180°C/350°F (or until internal temperature registers 65°C/149°F for breast and 75°C/165°F for thighs). Baste at 15 minutes, 18 minutes then just before serving.
- BBQ & stove – cook breast 6 minutes on medium high, basting regularly. Cook thighs on medium for 8 minutes.
Life of Dozer
More photos from the weekend when our local dog photographer (Kevin from Unleashed Northern Beaches) was down at the dog beach doing Christmas photos! He brought some props down including this little green hat. So first, he got this photo….then…..
…. Dozer lost the hat in deep water which required a rescue mission by yours truly, so THIS happened:
And I wasn’t wearing my swimming costume on that day!! Ba ha ha!