Spring Chicken: Spicy Roast Chicken with Carrots, Olives and Lemon

This is the part of spring where the weather gets a little schizophrenic.  After a brief flirtation with almost-summer, we’re back to our regularly scheduled cool spring temperatures, complete with the occasional dive below 0C and some drizzly mornings.

Spicy Roast Chicken
Despite the odd warm day here and there, I’ve been finding myself craving one last fling with my usual cool-weather comfort food favourites. I want buttery-soft roasted potatoes, herb-rubbed pork roasts studded with garlic cloves, crispy-skinned roast chicken stuffed with whole lemons, and thick slices of rare roast beef crusted with mustard.

I’m sure I’m just subconsciously trying to get my fix of all things oven-roasted before summer rolls around, bringing with it the heat and humidity that makes it impossible to turn on the oven for any amount of time.

Spices and Olives

Out of all my recent adventures in roasting, this is my absolute favourite.  It’s a ridiculously simple sort of dish, made by tumbling all of the ingredients together in one big roasting pan, shaking everything around to coat thoroughly with spices, and then throwing the lot into the oven to roast. Strictly a set-it-and-forget-it sort of affair.

While the preparation is straightforward, the flavour is anything but. The combination of smoked paprika and harissa turns ordinary meat and potatoes into something rather extraordinary, giving a pleasant tongue-tingling heat to the crispy golden-brown chicken skin and lending a bright, sunny Mediterranean flavour to the jumble of roasted vegetables punctuated by sour lemon and salty olives.

Spicy Roast Chicken

All that’s needed to turn this into a complete meal is a simple green salad, since everything else you need is in that one roasting pan.

And did I mention that chicken drumsticks and thighs bake up in far less time than a whole bird? I get my roast chicken fix in under an hour, which makes it perfect even on a busy weeknight.

Spicy Roast Chicken

Best of all, the only thing left to wash up at the end is the roasting pan. Perfect.

I used a store-bought harissa spice mix to make this recipe (President’s Choice Black Label brand, to be specific), but don’t panic if you can’t find it in your local supermarket – here’s a recipe for a homemade harissa paste you can use instead.


Roast Chicken Legs with Olives and Lemon
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
Roast chicken on a weeknight? It's possible when you use chicken thighs and drumsticks, which roast in a fraction of the time it takes to cook a whole bird.
  • 6 chicken leg quarters, cut into thighs and drumsticks
  • 1 lb carrots, cut on the diagonal into 2" lengths
  • 1 lb baby potatoes, cut in half
  • 1 large red onion, cut into thin wedges
  • ½ cup oil-cured black olives (pref pitted)
  • 1 lemon, cut into thin slices
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp harissa spice blend
  • Fresh thyme sprigs
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. In a large roasting pan, toss the carrots, potatoes, onion, olives, lemon slices and olive oil until vegetables are evenly coated. Spread out into an even layer, and sprinkle with some salt and pepper.
  3. Pat the chicken pieces dry. Season generously with salt and pepper, then dust on both sides with smoked paprika and harissa spice.
  4. Arrange the chicken on top of the vegetables, making sure the thighs are skin side up, and top off with a few sprigs of thyme (be as generous or as skimpy as you like, depending on how much you like thyme - it's really up to you)
  5. Roast in preheated oven for 50-55 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are tender. Serve immediately.




  1. says

    Yep. You’ve just helped me decide what to do for dinner tonight. I’ve got a whole chicken waiting to be deconstructed and turned into this!

  2. Geraldine Saucier says

    The Roast Chicken sound and looks delicious:) I am going to make this for dinner next week:)

    • Isabelle says

      Great idea, Candice! I haven’t tested it that way, but I don’t see any reason as to why it wouldn’t work.
      Another option for those of us who aren’t very good at planning in advance (certainly one of my challenges!) would be to rub some of the spice blend under the skin, so that it’s in direct contact with the meat… I often do that when I’m roasting whole birds.

  3. says

    Absolutely gorgeous photos! And the recipe sounds so tasty that it’s making me wish my new kitchen wasn’t full of boxes and that I could find my roasting pan! I fell in love with harissa on fried chicken a few months ago, so I’m sure adding it to roast chicken will only deepen the romance. I’ll let you know how it turns out when I’m unpacked in a week or two! :)

  4. Kiri W. says

    Mmmm, this looks amazing – I love olives so much, what an interesting combination with carrots! I want this for dinner. Darn.

Crumb Divider