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Five-Spice Chicken with Roasted Plum Sauce

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 12 reviews
  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 40
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4-5 1x
  • Category: Chicken, Dinner recipe
  • Method: roasted, pan-seared
  • Cuisine: Chinese
  • Diet: Gluten Free


Flavorful Pan-seared, Five-Spice Chicken with Roasted Plum Sauce- infused with ginger and garlic. A delicious Chinese-inspired dinner highlighting juicy red plums.


Units Scale

Five Spice Rub:

  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon five-spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Roasted Plum Sauce:

  • 1 red onion sliced into 1/2 inch rings
  • 1 lb plums (red-fleshed, soft and juicy!) cut into 1/2 inch thick wedges (4 extra-large plums, 6 medium or 8 tiny plums)
  • 46 cloves garlic
  • 3 thin slices ginger, about the size of a quarter, the peel is OK.
  • 23 tablespoons olive oil

2- 2 1/2 lbs chicken thighs– bone-in, skin-on (5-6 thighs). or see notes for substitutions.

Plum Sauce Seasonings:

Garnish: chives, scallions, or cilantro


  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Make the Five-Spice Spice rub. Mix the ground five-spice, salt, granulated garlic and pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Roast the plums: Slice the onion and plums and place in a 9 x13 inch baking dish or edged sheet-pan. Add the whole garlic cloves and slices of ginger and drizzle with oil generously to coat. Toss well and place in the hot oven. Check at 15 minutes, (set a timer) toss, lowering the heat to 4ooF.
  4. Prep the chicken: While the plums are roasting, cook the chicken. Pat dry the chicken and coat all sides generously with the Five-Spice Rub seasoning.
  5. Pan-sear Chicken: Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and once hot, pan sear the chicken skin-side-down until golden and slightly crispy, about 8-10 minutes, checking heat and lowering if browning too fast. Turn over and sear the other side 3-4 minutes.
  6. Nestle the chicken over the roasting plums. (See note below) If the plums look especially ready to come out ( juicy, roasted with tender garlic and very tender onions), feel free to lower the heat even further, down to 375. Basically, it all depends on how fast you cook your chicken. 🙂 If it takes a while to get the chicken seared, your plums may already be done and ready to come out. Use your best judgment here. The chicken will need 15-20 minutes of roasting time. You can of course finish cooking the chicken separately if the timing is off and plums look done.
  7. When the chicken is cooked through (165-170F), remove it from the oven and set the chicken aside, covered. Let the chicken rest 5-10 minutes while you blend the Plum Sauce.
  8. Roasted Plum Sauce: scrape out the plums, onions, and all the juices and browned bits from the pan into a blender. Add the soy sauce and pepper. Blend until silky smooth. Add a little water to loosen the sauce -1 to 3 tablespoons or more. Blend again. Taste. Add honey and vinegar to taste. All plums have different levels of sweetness and tartness. For example, I added 1 tablespoon honey and 1 teaspoon vinegar. If your sauce is too sweet, add more vinegar, if too tangy add honey. If too salty, add more water. For a bit of a kick add chili flakes or cayenne.
  9. Place the Roasted Plum Sauce in a saucepan and gently warm over low heat until ready to serve.
  10. Ladle some roasted plum sauce on a plate, top with the chicken, and garnish with scallions, chives, or cilantro.


At step 6, I’ll sometimes add a splash of Chinese cooking wine to the plums right before nestling the chicken. This is optional. You could sub red wine or white wine. Just 2-3 tablespoons.

Plums: Try to use red-fleshed plums for the prettiest presentation. Soft and juicy make the best sauce.

SWEETENER: Instead of honey, soak one to two prunes in hot water until softened, drain and add to the blender. 

Chicken: Feel free to use skinless, boneless thighs, decreasing searing, and roasting time.

Substitutions: Use pork loin instead of the chicken and coat with rub and either pan sear or grill. Same with lamb chops. Or try tofu filets– cut about an inch thick (pat dry, coat with 5-spice rub and pan sear until crispy and warmed though, no need to finish in the oven.)


  • Serving Size: One skin-on thigh
  • Calories: 612
  • Sugar: 14.9 g
  • Sodium: 806.3 mg
  • Fat: 38.5 g
  • Saturated Fat: 9.7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 32.7 g
  • Fiber: 4.7 g
  • Protein: 35.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 189.1 mg