Simple roast chicken (on rock salt!) has never been more delicious thanks to a homemade BBQ seasoning that comes straight from pantry staples + a little drizzle of honey!

Honey BBQ Rock Salt Roast Chicken

I can’t really officially begin this post without asking if you’ve made the best-ever rock salt roast chicken I posted almost five years ago. Have you?

I mean, no pressure, but I’d kind of like to know.

It’s divine. One of the most amazing ways to roast chicken in the comfort of your own home (along with this faux-roasted Instant Pot method).

Because we love the original rock salt roast chicken version so much, I decided it wouldn’t hurt the world if I elevated it from its rather delicious plainness to a more exciting flavor. In this case: BBQ (I say BBQ, you say barbecue). Actually, BBQ with a little drizzle of honey.

Honey BBQ Rock Salt Roast Chicken

It is absolutely glorious.

I can’t tell you all the scientific reasons behind using rock salt as a bed for roasting this chicken…but I can tell you that the result is irresistibly juicy meat packed with flavor thanks to the aforementioned rock salt + that simple, homemade BBQ seasoning (pulled from pantry staples).

The thing with roast chicken is that not only is it surprisingly simple and economical, it makes a fabulous dinner (serve it with these cheesy potatoes, homemade biscuits, skillet green beans, and my favorite romaine salad, and honestly, we’ll need to have a serious talk if you don’t invite me over).

But, because we are all human and may not have it built in to our current coping skills to make up all the side dishes above, the flavorful, juicy, BBQ chicken is fantastic served warm (or even cold!) with rolls (no guilt over storebought, friends) and fresh fruit or vegetables.

Take it one step further, and you can simply roast it, let it rest (don’t skip this part!), pull the meat off the bones, and use/freeze for a future meal.

Honey BBQ Rock Salt Roast Chicken

The deliciously tender chicken from this rock salt BBQ chicken is a shoo-in for any meal that calls for cooked chicken. I love having a stash of cooked chicken in the freezer for meals like that. Makes the dinner hour a million times easier (especially if you are like me and want to scream when you start making your specially chosen dinner recipe only to find out the dang chicken was supposed to be cooked first).

Because this roast chicken had me laser-focused on cooked chicken, I went through and compiled some of my favorite recipes that call for cooked, chopped (or shredded) chicken. Click the link below for the full list (happens to include some of my favorite meals of all time).

–> Recipes that Call for Cooked Chicken <–

Honey BBQ Rock Salt Roast Chicken

I certainly hope if you haven’t ventured into the land of rock salt roasted chicken yet that this recipe might be the thing to give you that little, friendly push.

As I note in the recipe below, there has been some discussion about using rock salt in the comment thread of the original rock salt roast chicken recipe; I have tried substituting coarse, kosher salt, and personally, I prefer to use rock salt (also called ice cream salt) for this chicken recipe.

There have even been some readers comment that they’ve converted the rock salt recipe to work in a slow cooker. Pretty darn brilliant (and a little bit fun), if you ask me. I haven’t tried it myself, but if you are looking for an even more hands-off approach, you might want to give it a go.

I’d say there are worse things than starting off Monday with a deliciously versatile variation on a popular roast chicken recipe.

Honey BBQ Rock Salt Roast Chicken

One Year Ago: Pressure Cooker Dulce de Leche {Stovetop vs. InstantPot}
Two Years Ago: Whole Wheat Make-Ahead Pancake Mix
Three Years Ago: Vanilla Bean White Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake

Rock Salt Roast BBQ Honey Chicken

Yield: Makes 1 whole chicken

Rock Salt Roast BBQ Honey Chicken

There has been some discussion about using rock salt in the comment thread of the original rock salt roast chicken; I have tried substituting coarse, kosher salt, and personally, I prefer to use rock salt (also called ice cream salt) for this chicken recipe.

If you don't want to mess with flipping the chicken halfway, you can try roasting it breast side UP or breast side DOWN the entire time (but I find it's juicier if you can manage the flipping; I use a large, flat, metal spatula, along with a few prayers, to help flip).


  • 4 to 5 pound whole chicken
  • 4 pound box rock salt (also called ice cream salt)
  • 1 lemon
  • 3-4 sprigs parsley
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • BBQ Seasoning:
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika (can use regular paprika in a pinch)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2-3 tablespoons honey, warmed slightly, if needed so it's brushable


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Line a 9X13-inch pan with foil for easy cleanup and pour the rock salt into the pan, evening it into a thick, smooth layer.
  3. Remove and discard anything (like neck, gizzards, etc.) from inside the chicken, if needed.
  4. With a fork, poke holes all over the lemon. Put the lemon, parsley and garlic into the cavity of the chicken.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, paprika, kosher salt, black pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne pepper (if using). Rub the homemade BBQ seasoning liberally all over the chicken and underneath the skin.
  6. Place the chicken breast-side DOWN on the bed of salt.
  7. Roast for 40 minutes.
  8. Carefully flip the chicken over so it is breast-side UP and bake for another 40-50 minutes until cooked through (the chicken should register 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer in the meaty part of a leg - avoiding the bone).
  9. Immediately out of the oven, brush the honey all over the chicken.
  10. Let the chicken rest for 20 minutes before carving and serving.

Recipe Source: adapted from my original rock salt roast chicken (BBQ version inspired by this recipe a reader, Crystal, sent me)

81 Responses to Rock Salt Roast BBQ Honey Chicken

  1. Ashley says:

    We made this tonight and smoked it on our Traeger and it was delicious!!! Just wondering what the salt does to the chicken? We loved the flavor but we did think it was too saltly and only used 1/4 box of the salt.

  2. Anna says:

    I made this roast chicken when you posted it and it was the best roast chicken ever! I stashed the bones in my freezer and used them for chicken noodle soup this week as everyone in my house had a cold. These bones made the best chicken broth and soup ever. Thank you!

  3. mangomama says:

    Has anyone tried putting potatoes in the pan with the chicken? Thanks!

  4. JaNae says:

    I made this last night for dinner, and my entire family loved it! It was so tender and moist, and the flavor was amazing! I’ve never cooked a whole chicken, and I was so proud it turned out so well! 🙂

  5. Emily says:

    Rock salt chicken is definitely rock star status. Amazing!

  6. Lindsay says:

    I have this in the oven right now and am counting down the minutes till we can dig in…it smells amazing! And actually, I took your advice and also made your cheesy potatoes, homemade biscuits, skillet green beans, and your favorite romaine salad to go with it! So…do you want to come over for dinner? 😉 I actually do wish I could have you over for dinner as a little thank you!!! All of my best recipes and feelings of kitchen rockstar-ness come from you! So thank you again and again!

  7. Robin K. says:

    Made this chicken tonight (actually for the 2nd time this week). We started with the bbq version Tuesday and used regular paprika since smoked paprika wasn’t a thing in our house. My hubby is the official bird carver (and this time I was standing right beside him just eagerly waiting to try). What a hit! So moist & juicy! And the crispy skin adorning the top! YUM! I still had another chicken in my fridge & decided that we needed to do this again but really wanted to see what difference the smoked paprika would make. My blue heaven! How on earth did we get along this long without it?? What a fantastic addition to lend a nice smokiness to the chicken (but I’m also imagining all kinds of different applications like a dry rub for pork roast, ribs etc) Thanks for the great technique of salt roasted chicken & the intro, at least at our house, to smoked paprika. We actually have leftovers *gasp!* which I think will make their way into your Southwest chicken wraps tomorrow. So grateful for the reliability of the recipes you post.

  8. emily says:

    Ooh thanks Mel I’m excited to try this. Have you ever heard of Jamie Oliver’s Milk Chicken recipe? It is to die for: read this post over at the kitchn where the author talks about her adaptation of cooking it with the lid on half the time and the lid off for the remainder:

  9. Holly says:

    My husband made this for us last night, and it was to die for! Best chicken we’ve ever made. The strange thing is that I had tried your other rock salt chicken recipe before, and it wasn’t as fall-off-the-bone as I would’ve liked, but this one was. No idea why! Thanks for the recipe!

  10. Carley says:

    Um. HOLY COW! That was so darn good! My husband and I were in awe at:
    1) How good it made our house smell – basically heaven, but if you ask me tomorrow what heaven smells like, I’ll probably say a diaper-free house.
    2) How yummy it looked
    3) How delicious and moist it was
    4) How rock-star level it made us feel!
    Definitely a keeper. And it was a good thing I had already planned on using some of the leftover chicken in meals this week otherwise we would have eaten the whole thing then and there. #gluttonsforlife
    Thank you for sharing!

  11. Doreen Curtis says:

    This was amazing. I bought two whole chickens and did both in a roasting pan. I didn’t double the salt, I just spread it around evenly. I worked out perfect. My husband asked me where I got this recipe because it is a definite keeper. I told him Mel and his response “I love Mel, she has the best recipes.” I’m eating from the leftovers today for lunch and can’t believe how juicy this is even two days later. I have a great picture of it.

    • Mel says:

      Thanks for checking in on doubling the recipe for two chickens, Doreen – glad it worked out! And tell your husband he made my day. 🙂

  12. Trish Pines says:

    I made this yesterday for the Falcon’s game. It turned out perfect and was so moist and flavorful! Thanks a lot!!!

  13. Kara says:

    This chicken is AWESOME! Incredible flavor and so tender! We finished eating hours ago, but my husband is still commenting on how good it was! I’ll definitely be making this again soon. Thank you!

  14. Shannon says:

    Can I use canning salt in place of rock salt?

  15. Jessica Glover says:

    Absolutely amazing Mel! This is my new favorite recipe!

  16. Annette says:

    I made this recipe the same day you posted it. I went to two stores and couldn’t find the rock salt, so I coated the entire pan with kosher salt. The chicken was so tender and delicious, I don’t see how it could have been any better. My husband loved the flavor as did I. My favorite type of recipe, easy and full of flavor. Thanks so much Mel!

  17. shalynn says:

    I have made the rock salt chicken and it was great, but looking forward to this version because it looks more flavor filled. Making a whole chicken always makes me feel like I have progressed in the cooking world, past the lone chicken breast phase.

  18. Melanie says:

    Have you ever made this spatchcocked? Just wondering if it world work and save some time.

  19. Renae Elgersma says:

    LOOKS AWESOME! I’m a big fan of yours and have made the rock salt chicken several times. I’m excited to try this new version! Thank you!

  20. Patricia says:

    Made this tonight! Turned out so juicy and delicious! Thanks for the recipe 🙂

  21. Kendra says:

    Mel this looks fantastic and we will try it. Wanted to let you know I just made your pocketless pita flatbread but modified it for the bread machine. Actually, very little modification was needed, I just changed the order of ingredients. Liquids went in first, then sugar,salt,flour, and last, yeast. I ended up using 2 3/4 C bread flour. After the mix and rise in the machine, I followed your directions to the letter. They are cooling right now, and I will put them in the freezer. One got buttered and popped right into my mouth and they are excellent! Thank you so much. I was wondering how you freeze them? I was thinking just stacked with waxed paper between them, and then in a freezer bag?Thanks for another great recipe!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Kendra – I bake them, let them cool and then stack them in freezer ziploc bags and press out all the air. Seems to work really well!

  22. Lisa Rose says:

    This was awesome! My family loved it! No leftovers for us:) I also made your chantilly potatoes to go with it (first time I’ve ever made them) and oh my word they are divine! Thanks for all your work and wonderful recipes!!

  23. Erika says:

    Hi Mel– couldn’t find rock salt anywhere. Can I use kosher salt instead? Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Erika – coarse, kosher salt can be used in a pinch. I don’t like it quite as much but if you can’t find rock salt, I’ve used coarse, kosher salt before and it should be an ok substitute.

  24. Diana says:

    Looks amazing!! Will have to try!

  25. Laura says:

    How did you know I was going to make your rock salt chicken tonight? A special request from my son, I must add. But BBQ honey rock salt chicken?!? That will blow his socks off! Thanks for the timely recipe. I would invite you for dinner, but as I live in Australia, it might be a bit of a long trip for you. 😉
    BTW, if you ever want to visit, my door is always open! <3

  26. Emily says:

    Hi! Trying this fabulous looking recipe tonight, and noticed mention of cayenne pepper in the directions, but not the ingredient list? Could you help clarify? Thank you!!

  27. Sarah says:

    Could you make this in a pressure cooker?

  28. Loretta says:

    I just made this Rock Salt Chicken tonight for dinner and it was wonderful!!!! I will start using this recipe to roast my chicken from now on! My family loved the BBQ seasoning!
    Thanks Mel!

  29. Jodi says:

    Hi Mel
    Have you tried this with only chicken breast? Nobody in my family eats dark meat, and it seemed like a lot of work to produce only a little meat? I don’t have experience with cooking whole chickens. We love your blog, and have enjoyed so many of your recipes!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Jodi, I haven’t tried it with chicken breasts, but if you were to try, I’d suggest using bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts for better flavor/tenderness.

  30. Pat Corcoran says:

    Yes I have made the roasted rock salt chicken many times. I have shared your recipe with my children and my friends. I can’t wait to try the barbeque version.

  31. Jolene P says:

    Yes!! I’ve made your rock salt chicken & it was deliciously moist & tender! I couldn’t find rock salt anywhere in my city here in Canada, so I ended up using the salt for my water softener system, and it worked just fine. Not sure if it’s food grade, but it’s 99% salt, so I figured it would be ok 🙂 Looking forward to trying this version!

  32. Paige says:

    This chicken looks amazing! You’ve out done yourself!


  33. Robin says:

    Mel, you talk about freezing chicken to use later. Usually when I thaw out frozen chicken it is no longer tender. It comes out of the freezer pretty tough. Do you or any readers have any tips on how to prevent this?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Robin, sometimes I’ll drizzle a little chicken broth over it before freezing – also, take care that it doesn’t form ice crystals (wait for it to cool before freezing and press all the air out of the bag or use foodsaver bags/machine).

    • Liz says:

      I’ve noticed a big difference in thawed chicken and turkey (better taste and texture) after starting to use a vacuum sealer. I bought a foodsaver about 4 months ago.

      I cool overnight in broth and seal/freeze with a small bit of broth.

  34. Amy W. says:

    I LOVE the rock salt roast chicken you posted a few years back- it is a hands down a favorite!! Can’t wait to try this- it looks SO GOOD!!! Thanks, Mel! Love ya!

  35. Heidi says:

    Can we use large chicken breasts instead of a full chicken?!?

  36. Donna Hamburgur says:

    I have made the rock salt chicken and it is wonderful. Recently, I saw your post about the Instant Pot, and thought I should have one; the 8 quart was on sale at Amazon so bought that one. I used your recipe for making chicken in that pot and really, really loved the chicken, but no leftovers. I do want to try your recipe for the “Chicken Stew” next time I use the Instant Pot and do have some leftovers. Thanks for all your great recipes.

  37. Deb Krygeris says:

    Mel, this sounds fabulous! I just ordered the rock salt (ice cream salt) and smoked paprika from Amazon. Can’t wait to make it! Thanks for sharing such fabulous recipes!

  38. Wendy says:

    Could you get by with half a box of salt?

  39. Chris says:

    This is on my short list to make; it sound fabulous. In the interest of economy, do you think the rock salt could be used twice? I am thinking that after the first chicken is done I could pop a second chicken into the oven using the same pan. Thoughts? Thanks for great recipes!

    • Mel says:

      Absolutely! I wouldn’t save the rock salt to be used later (like days or weeks later) but definitely it could be used the same day to cook a 2nd chicken.

  40. Sharaun says:

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! for the “cooked chicken” category! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten chicken breasts out of the freezer that are wonky sized, or misshapen, and just inappropriate for a recipe calling for whole chicken breasts, and then wondered what I can do with them!

  41. Jone says:

    As someone who has to watch my sodium intake, does this make the chicken high in sodium?

  42. Evelyn says:

    Like you, I have a big family to feed (7 of us). Does one chicken feed all of you?

  43. julie carlson says:

    YES! I have made your Aunts salt roasted chicken many times! It is the only way I roast chicken! Just delicious! Will be making this version tonight! thx

    • julie carlson says:

      Hey Mel made this updated version of your aunts salt roasted chicken tonight with the BBQ seasoning. This really is a recipe that Was not broke and did not need to be fixed! Sorry, make aunt Marilyns weekly and was thrilled to see a new spin on it. Not at all for us! If it aint broken..dont fix it…just sayin

      • Mel says:

        Hey Julie – sorry you didn’t love it! This BBQ version wasn’t meant to fix the original (the original rock salt roast chicken really is the best ever) – I was just giving another flavor profile. 🙂

  44. Helen says:

    Oh Mel !!! We love Rock Salt Roast Chicken!! It was my husband’s birthday last Thursday and the only thing he requested I make, besides cake, was Rock Salt Roast Chicken!! We always eat the whole chicken… like never any leftovers (granted there are 8 people living in our household and 3 of them are teenagers) but we LOVE it! The nice thing about this showing up now is that I bought a 2 pack of whole chickens at Sam’s so I can make this new recipe this week!!! … I have another whole chicken in my freezer just calling out to be roasted on rock salt.

    PS. I made him your “unbelievable carrot cake” and it was, without a doubt, the most elegant and delicious looking birthday CAKE I have ever made him…. I’ve been debating all weekend about sending you a picture of it because It looked and tasted so AMAZING!! (maybe I still will) Thanks for making my food life ‘ROCK’ 🙂 !!

  45. Aurelia says:

    So I’m curious, would this work with a turkey too? Could I just double the ingredients because a turkey would be about double the size?

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