Cardamom Honey Chicken

If a recipe calls for ground cardamom, it is best to start with whole pods. Break open the pods to release the tiny brown and black cardamom seeds. Use a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to grind the seeds.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Marinating time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4



  • 4 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp sherry
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds, ground
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns, ground


  • 4 chicken breasts, skin-on, bone-in (cut in half if large), or one whole chicken, cut into parts
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper


1 Marinate the chicken: Warm the honey slightly (in microwave or on stovetop), stir in the sherry, cardamom and peppercorns.

Place marinade and chicken in a large bowl, coat chicken with marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2 Preheat oven to 390°F (200°C).

3 Sear the chicken pieces: Heat olive oil in a large frying pan at medium heat. Sear the chicken for 20 to 30 seconds, skin side down, until golden. Watch carefully, since the chicken skin goes from browned to charred quickly.

4 Bake in oven: Place lemon slices in a roasting pan. Lay the chicken pieces on top. Brush with the marinade. Season generously with salt and pepper. Cover loosely with foil.

Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer or until a thermometer registers 165°F (75°C) when inserted into the thickest part of the chicken.

Check often. If the chicken starts to get too dark (this can happen when using honey), tent with foil.

5 Let rest: Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Pour out drippings from the pan into a gravy boat for gravy.

6 Serve with rice, mashed potatoes, or couscous.

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  • Cindy lau

    If one uses ground cardamom, how much would you suggest?

  • Donna

    Made this tonight – liked everything except the lemon, it gave a distinct “pledge” flavour, was disappointed. Will try without the lemon next time. A

  • Cherie Harper

    Made this last night with a very few modifications. I used 1Tb apple juice & 1 Tb apple cider vinegar since I didn’t have Sherry, and I used 1/2tsp ground cardamom. Will try with whole cardamom some time, I’m sure the flavor is even better! Also I tried what a few users had & used sliced oranges in place of the lemons, and had no bitterness issues. I served it with an orange & spinach couscous (just simmered orange zest with broth, and added froz spinach with the couscous), and an apple spiced bread. Family happy!

  • Autumn

    I made this for some guests in my home recently along with your yukon gold goat cheese and sage mashed potatoes. Both were divine!

  • Sarah V.

    The sherry called for – is it okay to use cooking sherry? I’ve read elsewhere that you should buy quality sherry for cooking, from a liquor store… I wondered whether cooking sherry would be okay for this, or if it would ruin it?

    Cooking sherry should be fine, though in the future you should just use good sherry for cooking. My recommendation is to only use liquour in recipes that you would be willing to drink. ~Elise

    • Alexandra

      I would add that you should use less salt than you would normally since cooking sherry, all cooking wines really, are high in sodium.

  • Mary-Beth

    I grew up in NZ and have been to this bee cafe – great place and lots of delish menu items and beauty products using the local honey. I recently got some wild Arizona desert honey and couldn’t wait to try this recipe. I used legs and thighs (just pan seared the thighs and left it at that) and served with baby potatoes and a salad, having the sliced thighs a couple of days later with papaya and arugula for lunch. Love, love the use of cardamom with chicken. Looking forward to making this again. Great site, thanks!

  • Linda

    Dang it! that was good. I had a package of 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, started following the full recipe, ooops! wrong amounts. So I ended up with 1 tsp cardamom and black pepper, (realization) about 3 tbsp honey, no sherry, cooked on sliced orange instead of lemon, since that’s what I had. Followed the rest of the recipe. Served the sliced chicken on a green salad, using rice vinegar and the drippings for the dressing. My husband says there is nowhere in town that cooks as good as his wife. Love your recipes.

  • xta

    This was fantastic. I did as someone above did-just put it into a 400 degree oven without searing the meat. The chicken browned perfectly. Also I put sliced oranges in the roasting pan instead of lemons. It was delicious and the drippings were amazing. Thanks!

  • edna lewis

    Regarding the oven temperature: I don’t know why ovens have temperatures in 10 degree increments when all recipes call for a temperature in 25 degree segments. Except this one — 390 degrees??!!

    Amy asked above (and I didn’t see a response): should the oven be preheated to 350 or 400? Or, is 390 degrees correct?

    This recipe was adapted from one in Celsius. Thus the odd number. 390 is correct. ~Elise

  • Hilly

    My boyfriend and I prepared this for dinner last week, praise from the entire family. It will certainly be a regular dish for us now, thanks for sharing it.

  • Yoko

    Made a quick pan-fry version of this with tenderloins tonight. I added a few slices of apple to counter the bitterness from the lemon :) really yummy over jasmine rice, although I guess basmati would be even better?

  • Jason

    I replaced the lemon with a orange, and the cooking sherry with Jack Daniels. To me the lemon was over powering the taste and the jack was just something different worked out very well.

  • Nikki

    The marinade started off great but, as mentioned above, the lemon made it unpalatably bitter. My suggestion, omit or cut the amount of lemon. However, I did manage to salvage the meat with extra honey and salt. YUM!

  • Melisa

    This turned out great! My husband is not a huge fan of chicken, but he liked the flavor. However, it took me twice as long in the oven to cook until done?

    Chickens vary a lot in size, so if you had relatively big pieces, they would take longer. Also every time you open an oven door enough heat escapes that it can lengthen the cooking time. ~Elise

  • Cadi

    Just made this and it was superb. I used clementines instead of lemons since that’s what was on hand and it came out great, they added some extra sweetness.

  • Melly

    I made this and it was AMAZING.
    I am not what you would call an experienced cook, and don’t enjoy complicated recipes that stress me out in the kitchen. This is so simple and delicious. Added bonus – my apartment smelled like cardamom and honey for a couple days. Yum!

  • Darlene

    Love the sweet, earthy and lemon flavor. Needed to double the sauce.

  • Lakeisha

    I really liked this recipe. It was much much simpler to make than I expected. The only problem I had was it turned out bitter and I can’t figure out where I went wrong. I did use lemons. I would like to make it again. Any suggestions?

  • Bronwyn

    Hi Elise
    I’ve lived in New Zealand all my life & it’s kind of funny coming across a Kiwi recipe on an American Site!! All the seasonal advice is upside down & there’s so much stuff you get easily that just isn’t available here but this site is one of the most friendly US sites for non US foodies that I’ve found. Love it :)

    Made this cardamom chicken recipe tonight. No sherry but I ground 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds with the cardamom & pepper & added a dash of wine vinegar. Used the syrupy liquid off the chicken to flavour the couscous. mmmmm


  • pamela omoso

    I wonder if there could be a substitute for cardimom? Can you suggest any, its seems so hard to find it here.

    I would just find a different chicken recipe. There are so many wonderful ways to cook chicken. ~Elise

  • Elise Lafosse

    I think I will make this this weekend. Looks good. However can you get cardomon pods in the supermarket? Or is it ok to use ground cardomon. And how much? And I see from the comments you recommend adding a little coriander and cumin as well…about how much? or I guess just use my judgement? Elise

  • Ancaruci

    Great recipe! I think the lemon gives too much citrus flavor, I will use the next time only 1/2 lemon. I also added coriander, garlic powder and curry to the marinade, worked perfectly . Thanks!

  • Mariko

    I made this last night (along with your lemon-mint-carrot-onion rice, which was a nice complement) and it was a hit! I substituted orange juice for sherry since I didn’t have any on hand and also halved the number of chicken breasts I used. The chicken came out perfectly done and moist, and it was so easy! I’m sure I’ll be making this one again.

  • Zoe

    Someone asked me for this recipe not too long ago and I could not remember where I got it! This is such a great recipe – out of the ordinary – and so easy. Nice. My friend (who asked for the recipe) sometimes uses OJ and sometimes adds pom seeds. Thank you Elise!

  • Patti

    Cardamon Honey Chicken is wonderful!

  • zelie

    Do you think garlic added to the marinade would be too overpowering? I am ready to make this tonight but the thought of chicken without garlic is so foreign to me.

    Personally I wouldn’t. But if you do, let us know how it works out for you. ~Elise

  • Laine

    I was browsing for something different to do with chicken tonight and this looks great. I think I’ll try it with the whole chicken, butterflied. And thanks to Carmen for the idea of serving it with lemon risotto.
    In response to comments about cardamom as a seasoning for chicken, try these:
    –add a couple cardamom pods to the pot when you make chicken soup
    –add ground cardamom to the seasoned flour for fried chicken. This is my secret weapon for fried chicken (not so secret anymore…)

  • candy

    I had people for dinner tonight and had no time to putz with searing the chicken first. I just baked it (legs and thighs) at 400 for an hour or so (basting and turning once) and it came out golden like your photo. Didn’t change anything else. Served it with savory roasted sweet potatoes (a la Martha Stewart)which worked out great since you roast them at 400, too. Great recipe. Thanks!


  • Paul

    I just made this recipe last night and it came out great. I cook for myself so I had left overs. I’m thinking about doing what others did here which is make a gravy out of the drippings and serving it over mashed potatoes this evening. It looks as if there were plenty of drippings and won’t need extra to make the gravy. I also used sesame seed oil when frying it instead of olive oil. Sesame seed oil is often used in Indian cooking and it complemented the cardamom nicely.

  • Rachel

    I am a private chef and I made this dish last night for the family I cook for. I ended up making a nice thick gravy by adding the drippings plus some extra chicken stock to a blonde roux and serving it over mashed potatoes. It was just delightful. Thanks so much for a great twist on baked chicken! Yum, yum!

  • Wendy

    I love the smell of cardamom, I made this for my boyfriend last night – his first reaction was chicken again!! But to his surprise he really liked it. I will definitely make it again. Only thing is the lemon slices left a little bit of a bitter taste…how do you prevent this?

  • Amanda

    I have made this recipe twice, since you posted it. I made one minor change. I did not have any lemons, so I used orange slices instead. It was fabulous.

  • Mikey

    I thought low-carb meant not eating potato, rice etc.

    If you are eating low-carb, then don’t serve with potatoes or rice. ~Elise

  • carmen


    I made this tonight for the first time and it was so delicious;and served it with lemon rissoto and salad. My in-laws are coming for Christmas and I think I’ll serve this the first night they are here. Can’t wait to have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Thanks for such an interesting and unique recipe. I love your web-site!

  • Elise Bauer

    Hi Mary,

    The reason that I’ve labeled this low carb is that I do believe the carbs from the honey and sherry that you end up eating in this dish are low relative to the protein and fat from the skin-on chicken. Assuming that only half of the marinade ends up actually being consumed, that’s a scant 1 teaspoon of honey and half a teaspoon of sherry, for an entire chicken breast with skin serving. To me that’s low. Perhaps not low enough for you?

  • Mary


    I have just discovered your wonderful site and I am so thrilled. Even better, you are flagging low carb recipes, which I need for medical reasons.

    However, I think this particular recipe, which uses honey and sherry, should not be labelled low carb. Nothing with this much added sugar could possibly qualify. I assume this is a mistake :-)

  • Amy

    I made this tonight and it was fantastic! I’m so happy that I found this recipe. I am definitely going to make it again! I made it with mashed potatoes and carrots. Check out the recipe here..
    It goes perfectly with the chicken. Thanks again!

  • Grace

    My mom asked me yesterday what I wanted for dinner like she sometimes does, and usually I don’t have an answer, but ever since I found your site about a week ago I’ve been sending her links like crazy! She made this for dinner today, and the flavors were so interesting. Sweet with a kind of spicy, herb-y bite. Will def have again! Thanks!

  • Noro

    I tried this recipe tonight and it was good but slightly bitter due to the lime (I didn’t have any lemon on hand). I also added cumin and coriander seeds along with the cardamom. I definitely made it again but next time I will use only lemon juice.

  • Sunni

    Long-time reader, first time commenting. I just tried this recipe, and the sauce turned out quite bitter. Is the temperature supposed to be 350°F, rather than 390? I used 400°F, and I suspect the lime slices that I substituted for lemon overcooked at that temperature.

  • Amy

    I made this tonight and it was wonderful. I used chicken thighs. I did not have any sherry so I used some Reisling and it turned out just fine. Another great one, Elise! Thanks so much!


  • amber

    This was very good. I found the cardamom a little perfume-y tasting, but my fiance LOVED it. I will try this again on the grill…

  • Anna

    This is a total staple at my home! :) We use orange juice though, instead of sherry; it’s great! :) I heart your site Elise! Thanks! I check this site daily, and always find something that I’m interested in cooking! Yay! :)

  • Teri S.

    This is an excellent recipe. I modified the recipe for grilling by adding the oil to the marinade, as well as using boneless, skinless breasts (anathema to some, I know). I basted the chicken occasionally while grilling. I also grilled lemons and squeezed the juice over the chicken at serving time. Thanks for sharing such a yummy recipe.

  • Amy

    You could also sub verjus (unsweetened grape juice from young, not totally ripe grapes, basically) for sherry and wine in recipes. A combo of white wine vinegar and grape juice can also work, as can chicken stock.

    For this recipe, as it’s a marinade, I’d use some white grape juice and some white wine vinegar (no alcohol in that).

  • Elise Bauer

    Some people, for a variety of valid reasons, do not keep any alcohol in their house. So looking for a substitute for wine or sherry would be expected. You can probably substitute white grape juice or orange juice for the sherry, but note that it will change the flavor of the dish. In a case like this cardamom chicken, where there are so few ingredients, I would skip the sherry or juice all together and just add more seasonings, like cumin and corriander. You would still get a very flavorful chicken.

  • Rob

    Surprisingly, alcohol remains in food even after cooking, and it is never entirely eliminated.

    How much is retained?

    I am decidedly not a teetotaler myself, and I am well aware that no one is going to get crocked off of two tablespoons of sherry, but those with medical issues should be aware of this phenomenon.

  • Ken

    Alcohol boils at 140F, and so there will be none left after the searing and baking.

  • Kyleen

    I know the preference is for fresh cardamom seeds and peppercorns, but if one were to use pre-ground spices, what would the measurements be?

  • Rob

    Many flavor components are alcohol soluble, but not water soluble. Thus when alcoholic beverages are used in cooking, it is as often for the flavors they release as much as for the flavors they impart.

    Two tablespoons of sherry–used to marinate an entire chicken, which is then cooked–are not going to leave even a suggestion of alcohol on the palate (I’d be willing to bet that a ripe banana would contain a much greater amount.)

    This is not to imply that trace amounts will not remain in the dish, so if you have medical reasons to omit alchol in your diet, by all means skip the sherry (which is acidic and woody, *not at all* sweet like pineapple or citrus juice.) But I think even teetotalers would appreciate the judicious use of wine in cooking.

    As for religious constraints, I plead total ignorance. Do those whose faiths prohibit alcohol cook with it? Would such a thing be considered a serious transgression?

  • Jackie

    A lot of times for sherry I’ll sub in some orange or pineapple juice.

  • Harriet

    Do you have any non-alcoholic suggestions to replace the sherry? My whole family are teetotalers, so I have no idea what I could use to get a similar (or even acceptable) flavor. This recipe sounds very good.

  • Elise Bauer

    Hi Carey-Ann and Guillaume – you could use a white wine instead of sherry.

    Hi Shalva – some cumin and coriander I think would work really well as additions to the marinade, to give it more depth of flavor. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Carey-Ann

    Hi Elise,

    This sounds very yummy. Can you use anything other than sherry? Any suggestions?