Baked Turmeric Chicken (Ayam Bakar Kunyit)

by Jackie Miao

Long before turmeric became a popular health food supplement, it was an ingredient that I have grown up eating liberally in Malaysian, Indonesian and Indian food. From curries to Nasi Kuning, Ayam Goreng Berempah to Gulai Sayur, turmeric is an essential ingredient in so many dishes from my region of origin.

For this reason the bright-yellow spice acts as a comfort spice to me. I tend to find excuses to add more of it to my cooking, because it is evidently really good for you.

Here’s one of those go-to recipes that marries a classic roast chicken with Malaysian inspiration. I do this when I don’t have brain cells to think of something new. The reason I like it is because it’s so versatile.

It’s gluten-free, paleo, and keto.

You can use it as sandwich filling, eat it with American sides, or pair it with trendy healthy whole foods. You can also go ethnic with it, by adding any kind of sambal from sambal ijo to sambah matah, sambal belacan to sambal udang. All you need to have is some steamed rice ready and salad greens on the side.

Even if non of these make any sense to you, it doesn’t matter. You could just eat it with mashed potatoes and boiled veggies. That’s what I like about this recipe. It’s so versatile, and delicious!

ENJOY and let me know how you like this one in the comments below.

P.s. There is an almost identical recipe for chicken wings here, which draws from a different inspiration. The chicken wing recipe is more intense, because it uses 2x the turmeric, with added chilly powder, for 1/2 the amount of chicken (in pieces). The recipe below has a subtler note. If after the first time, you feel like you could do it with more punch, just add more turmeric and garlic powder the next time you make this recipe.

Baked Whole Turmeric Chicken (Ayam Bakar Kunyit)

A nouveau Malaysian-American baked whole chicken recipe.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Malaysian-American
Keyword: Malaysian
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Resting Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Author: Jackie Miao
Cost: $10-15


  • 1 whole chicken 4 lb
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt for cleaning the chicken

Spice Rub

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper ground
  • 1 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt add more to taste


  • To make the spice rub, add the turmeric powder, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and kosher salt into a small bowl and mix it evenly. Set aside.
  • Clean the chicken thouroughly, by removing excess fat around and waste in and around the cavity. Use 1 tbsp of salt, and sprinkle it liberally all over the surface of the chicken. Rub vigorously, making sure to rub off the film, debris, and feathers from the chicken.
  • Leave the chicken to dry-brine for about 10-15 minutes in a mixing bowl, or make a quick brine for a juicier (higher sodium) result. After that rinse the bird and pat it dry.
  • Preheat your oven to 350F.
  • Add half spice rub onto the chicken, and drizzle half of the olive oil on the breast side of the chicken. Rub the spices in. Then flip the chicken and add the other half of the spice rub and olive oil to the other side. Continue massaging all of the spices onto the skin and cavity of the bird. If you have a string, truss the chicken. If not, it's not a big deal.
  • Use a roasting pan, lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper. This is for ease of clean up, as the lining will catch all the drippings. Place the poultry on a roaster rack, breast side up.
  • When the oven reaches 350F temperature, move the roasting pan into the oven, and bake for 1 hour. Half way through, baste the chicken in the drippings to prevent the skin from drying out.
  • At the 1 hour mark, remove the tray, baste the chicken with a brush, and flip the chicken so that the back side faces up. Increase the temperature to 375F and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the bird reaches 165F.
  • Remove the bird from the oven, and rest for 20 minutes before carving.


Use this as you would with rotisserie chicken.
If you are using a high-efficiency convection gas oven, lower the temperature 10F down.

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