In 2011, I visited my friend Charmian for the first time. It was a great afternoon filled with fun, food and fantastic talk!  My boys had such a lovely time and could not get enough of Charmian’s lovely cilantro chicken dish. And rightly so: this simple roasted chicken literally falls off the bone when cooked and is so rich and deep with the wonderful flavor of cilantro. For those who say cilantro taste like soap, leave now. This dish will not change your mind as I believe it has been proved that if you find the herb soapy, it is, literally, in your genes!

But if you dont, then read on. This is really a terrific way to introduce cilantro to your kiddos. Get them involved now in planting some cilantro seeds and you will have a pot of this lovely, fragrant herb in no time at all!

Many, many thanks to Charmian again for a wonderful afternoon and this really great recipe.

Cilantro Chicken
Recipe adapted from

1 garlic head
1 lemon
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
1 whole roasting chicken (6 lbs or 7 pounds)
freshly ground black pepper
4 cups chicken stock, divided

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Remove one clove of garlic from the head and put it into a food processor or blender. Cut the rest of the head in half and set aside.

Zest the lemon and cut it in half. Juice half the lemon. Put the zest and juice in the food processor and set the unsqueezed half aside.

Put the onion, jalapeno pepper, cilantro leaves, oil, ground coriander, honey and salt into a food processor and grind until you have a smooth paste.

Sprinkle the inside of the chicken with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the half lemon and head of garlic.

Loosen the skin on the chicken’s breast and thighs by gently sliding your fingers between the meat and the skin. Pour or spoon the cilantro paste between the skin and the meat. Use your hands to distribute the paste under the chicken skin as much as you can.

Rub the chicken any remaining cilantro sauce and season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken in a roasting pan, add 3 cups of stock and cook, uncovered, basting every 30 minutes. When basting the chicken, check the color since the sauce will cause the skin to darken quickly. When the skin gets dark, cover the chicken with a lid or tin foil, and continue cooking until done. (1 1/2 to 2 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 180°F when inserted into the thigh.)

When the chicken is done, remove the lemon and garlic from inside and let the bird rest, covered. Meanwhile, make a sauce with the pan juices by skimming off the fat and adding 1 cup of stock. Bring the pan juices and stock to a boil right in the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes. Season with salt and pepper if needed, then strain before serving.

The gorgeous photos of the chicken are taken by the terrific food blogger and photographer Soma Rathore and I am very grateful.

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  1. Soma captured this dish beautifully. I’m afraid mine always falls apart as I remove it from the pan.

    And you can bet I’ll be planting lots of cilantro this summer!

  2. Fantastic recipe! I’m definitely going to try this.

  3. I have never heard the “soap like taste” comment for cilantro but I have to admit, I had very hard time getting used to cilantro and celery stalks when I arrived in the USA. Now, these two are always in my fridge after 11 years 🙂

  4. Gorgeous chicken! I’ve grown to really like cilantro, too, over the last few years. I probably use less than the cilantro fanatics, but I still enjoy it. I’ll definitely try this out.


  5. This really looks wonderful. My husband and I can never get enough cilantro, so I know that we’d both adore this!

  6. I cannot wait to try this! It sounds wonderful.

  7. I noticed on the Rouxbe site that Charmian wrote the following: A winner
    I made this tonight and my husband loved it. His only complaint was he wanted more of the cilantro sauce. I cooked a bigger than average chicken that took ALL the sauce, so there was nothing left.
    Next time, I think I’ll try this with chicken thighs to up the ratio of sauce to meat. My butcher sells chicken thighs so big they take about 75 minutes to cook. I think the sauce will have enough time to work it’s magic. Do you?”

    Several questions. Charmian have you ever made the recipe with chicken thighs and how did it turn out? If you did, what changes to the whole chicken recipe did you make? Also would you recommend using all the cilantro paste so you get more sauce or do you have another recommendation for getting more sauce? Thanks.

    1. Sigrid, I’m so glad you liked the chicken as much as I do. And yes, I have used the recipe with chicken thighs. Our butcher also sells huge thighs and the paste works well on them.It turned out nicely, although there isn’t as much pan juice as from a whole bird.

      I would certainly use ALL the cilantro paste. I often do since I love the flavour. Use all the paste and add maybe 1 1/2 cups stock. You can always add a bit of fresh lemon juice if you like for added flavour. Don’t be afraid to play with the sauce. Let your palate guide you. And take notes on what does and doesn’t work with your variations. If you’re like me, you’ll hit on the perfect fix and not be able to remember it.

      Hope this helps!

  8. Looks Gorgeous Monica. Am definitely trying this soon 🙂

  9. A fantastic recipe, sure to try it .. i like the idea of pouring the cilantro paste between skin and meat..

  10. Tomorrows Dinner for sure.Am replacing cilantro with coriander.Will keep you posted .Thinking out loud,how about a touch of nutmeg.

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