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Roast Chicken Recipe

Alita Oliva’s Roast Chicken

Alita Oliva’s Roast Chicken Recipe takes you step by step, so that you can make one of the world’s greatest comfort foods. This Roast Chicken is going to be an instant classic. Roast Chicken is just the quintessential comfort meal. A perfectly cooked roast chicken, could solve a lot of problems, even if it’s just for a blissful bite.

Beginner at home cooks, tend to shy away from making something like a Whole Roasted Chicken, kind of the way people do with a Roast Turkey at Thanksgiving. We get it. It is intimidating. However we are here to tell you, that it is possible. This recipe packs so many big flavors, that your chicken will be delicious. What you need to watch out for is how long you cook it, but we will give you all the instructions you need on that front.

What we need from you is just to try. You will be a Chicken Master, in no time.

This Roast Chicken Recipe gets its flavor from a punchy marinade. While not traditionally Cuban, it is the perfect example of how so many of our families came to America, and began to try new flavors and use what they had access to.

My Alita Oliva’s roasted chicken was a staple in her kitchen. She served it religiously with white rice and papas fritas. I remember picking at the chicken as she carved it and dragging it through the garlicky and savory “salsita” at the bottom of the pan and sandwiching it with the freshly fried papitas. It was the perfect bite.  

I love this recipe because it shows how fascinated my grandmother was with new products when she got to this country. And how unafraid she was to use them. Dale’s steak seasoning or soy sauce serve as the base for the marinade. It gives the chicken a very distinct umami flavor and helps give the skin a beautiful color. 


This Roast Chicken Recipe is roasted on a bed of sliced onions that become dark and sweet in the oven. However if you are looking to add some other things, you can also add potatoes, carrots, or other vegetables to the bottom of the pan while roasting. 

Our Tips for Making the Perfect Roast Chicken

  • If you have the time, you can prep the chicken by marinating overnight to absorb the seasonings. You also can just buy your chicken right now, pour the marinade over it and roast it right away. It’s up to you. The marinade is so flavorful and has all the right acidic notes to help penetrate the chicken quickly. 
  • Before marinating, you must clean the chicken. Do not skip this step, it helps rid the chicken of any residue from it’s juices. You also must pat dry it completely. Making sure the skin is dry will help make sure the skin gets crispy.
  • You do not need to douse the chicken in olive oil or butter to get the perfect brown skin. The oil we use in the marinade is enough to keep the bird moist and crisp the skin just how you like it. 
  • How to Know if it’s Done! The chicken is ready once the skin is golden brown and the juices run completely clear when you cut with a knife. If you are using a meat thermometer it should read 160 degrees between the breast and thigh area.
    • We love THIS Meat Thermometer and it’s Wirecutter’s Top Pick!
  • YOU MUST LET IT REST! The chicken must rest for at least 20 minutes before you begin to slice it. Trust us, this makes a world of difference. Just gently cover it with foil, and let it take a little nap.
  • If roasting a whole chicken still feels too intimidating, you can roast chicken pieces instead. You can use the same recipe for two bone-in breasts, two thighs and two drumsticks. Once you drop the oven to 350 degrees just roast the chicken pieces for 30 more minutes. It’s the same great flavor in a little less time. 

Almost any side works with roast chicken but we love it with The Perfect White Rice and Classic Black Beans but it could also be perfect with a Chopped Salad, or do as our Abuelas would do and serve with Freshly Fried Papitas

Let’s Cook!

Alita Oliva’s Roast Chicken

Recipe by Abuelas Cuban CounterCourse: EntreeCuisine: Cuban, AmericanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time








  • 1 – 3 pound whole roaster chicken 

  • 4 yellow onions, peeled and sliced thinly

  • 1 onion, left whole 

  • 2 teaspoons of garlic powder

  • 1/4 cup of soy sauce or dale’s marinade seasoning

  •  Juice of 1 lime

  •  Juice of 1 orange

  • 1/3 cup olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground mustard

  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon of paprika

  • salt and black pepper

  • 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar


  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Spread the bottom of your roasting pan with the sliced onions. Season the onions with 2 tablespoons of oil and salt and pepper. 
  • Time to Prep the Chicken: Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out under cold water. Pat the outside dry and put it in a roasting pan. 
  • Whisk all the ingredients into the olive oil until emulsified. 
  • Sprinkle the chicken with a generous amount of salt and pepper on all sides. Season liberally. You even want to add some salt to the cavity of the chicken. Don’t be afraid. 
  • Add the whole onion to the inside of the cavity. You can also add fresh herbs or bay leaves to the cavity. 
  • Pour the marinade over the chicken. Marinate it overnight in the fridge or just for a few minutes.   
  • Roast the chicken for 30 minutes at 425 degrees then add ¼ cup of water to the bottom of the pan to be sure the onions don’t get too much color and drop the temperature to 350 degrees. 
  • Roast for another 50-60 minutes. The chicken will roast for a about 90 minutes total.  
  • The chicken is ready once the skin is golden brown and the juices run completely clear when you cut with a knife. If you are using a meat thermometer it should read 160 degrees between the breast and thigh area. Once you pull the chicken out of the oven let it rest for 15 minutes then carve and serve.