Serves 8.

If you plan to serve the chicken later on the same day that you cook it, refrigerate it immediately after it has cooled, then let it come back to room temperature before serving. On the breast pieces, we use toothpicks to secure the skin, which otherwise shrinks considerably in the oven, leaving the meat exposed and prone to drying out. We think the extra effort is justified, but you can omit this step. This recipe halves easily.


  • 5├é┬ápounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (breasts, thighs, drumsticks, or a mix with breasts cut into 3 pieces or halved if small), trimmed of excess fat and skin
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. Following illustrations below, use sharp knife to make 2 or 3 short slashes in skin of each piece of chicken, taking care not to cut into meat.
  2. Combine salt, sugar, and spices in small bowl and mix thoroughly. Coat chicken pieces with spices, gently lifting skin to distribute spice rub underneath but leaving it attached to chicken.
  3. Transfer chicken skin side up to wire rack set over rimmed foil-lined baking sheet, lightly tent with foil, and refrigerate 6 to 24 hours.
  4. Secure skin of each breast piece with 2 or 3 toothpicks placed near edges of skin.
  5. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 425 degrees.
  6. Roast chicken until thickest part of smallest piece registers 140 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees and continue roasting until chicken is browned and crisp and thickest parts of breast pieces register 160 degrees, 5 to 8 minutes longer, removing pieces from oven and transferring to clean wire rack as they finish cooking.
  8. Continue to roast thighs and/or drumsticks, if using, until thickest part of meat registers 170 to 175 degrees, about 5 minutes longer.
  9. Remove from oven; transfer chicken to rack and let cool completely before refrigerating or serving.

Getting Chicken into Make-Ahead Shape:

When chicken is eaten at room temperature or cooler, a fowl’s usual flaws become magnified. For this recipe, we found that a modicum of extra prep work kept the flavor, texture, and appearance from suffering.

SCORE: Scoring the skin (but not the meat) provided outlets for melting fat, yielding more fully rendered, paper-thin skin.

RUB: Applying a salty spice rub both on the skin and beneath it ensured that neither exterior nor interior came out bland.

CHILL OUT: Air-drying the rubbed parts on a rack in the refrigerator overnight gave the flavors time to penetrate while also drying out the skin.

PIN DOWN: Securing the skin with toothpicks just before roasting kept the skin from shrinking up into an unattractive bundle.

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