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Salt-Roasted Chicken with Cilantro

Roasting chickens packed in salt yields moist, delectably savory meat. The skin on this chicken gets very salty, so remove it before serving.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 4

Photography: Frederic Lagrange

Source: Martha Stewart Living, August 2012


  • 4 1/2 cups coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime zest, plus 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 large bunch cilantro
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds)


  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees, or set up grill for indirect cooking. (If using a gas grill, preheat to high; if using charcoal, preheat to high and have extra briquettes on hand to keep grill hot 1 hour.)

  2. Mix together salt and lime zest. Puree lime juice, cilantro (leaves and stems), and oil in a food processor until a paste forms (you should have about 1/4 cup).

  3. Spread a 1/2-inch layer of salt mixture in the bottom of a roasting pan, and pack down. Rub cilantro paste under and over chicken skin. Tie legs closed with kitchen twine, and tuck wings under. Place on top of salt, breast side up. Cover chicken with remaining salt mixture, packing down to encase.

  4. Roast in oven or on grill, covered, until thickest part of the thigh reaches 160 degrees, 45 to 50 minutes. Let rest 15 minutes. Crack open salt crust, and use a pastry brush to remove excess. Lift chicken from pan, and carve.

Reviews Add a comment

  • MS11030246
    18 JUN, 2016
    I have not tried this technique but I couldn't help noticing a potential problem. I do not see what there is about a combination of salt & lime zest that yields a mixture that can be packed onto a chicken sealing it in, which I presume is the agenda. It seems that something is needed to form a paste or at least moisten the salt. I'm tempted to try this but wary @ the same time. Please explain how dry salt is going to work in this recipe.