5 Ingredients or Fewer

Miso and Honey Butter–Roast Chicken

March  3, 2015
27 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
Author Notes

This is one of the simplest ways to dress up roasted chicken; it's quick enough to put together for a weeknight meal and special enough to serve to impromptu guests. I've used aka (red) miso in this recipe, but feel free to use shiro (white/sweet) or awase (mixed) miso for a mellower flavor. Adapted from userealbutter.com. —Melanie K.

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Melanie K. is a graphic designer currently living in Canada.
WHAT: Simple chicken legs roasted with miso and honey that deserve a spot in your weeknight chicken rotation.
HOW: Cream together miso, honey, and butter, then slide it under the skin of the chicken legs and tuck some garlic between each piece. Bake until the skin is golden brown, mash the roasted garlic into the chicken drippings to make a sauce, take a bite, and wonder why you've never thought to make this before.
WHY WE LOVE IT: This recipe is a quadruple threat: it's simple, fast, visually impressive, and delicious. The butter makes the skin crispy without drying it out and the saltiness of the miso is balanced by the sweetness of the honey for a truly five star recipe.

  • Serves 2 to 4
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons miso
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 chicken legs
  • 8 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • Salt
In This Recipe
  1. Preheat oven to 400º F. Cream the softened butter with a spoon or spatula, and mix with the miso and honey until smooth and well combined.
  2. Place the chicken legs into a baking dish so that they fit snugly and pat dry with paper towels. Carefully run your fingers under the chicken skin to separate it from the meat. Using a butter knife or your hands, take a tablespoon of the miso-honey butter and spread it underneath the skin; smooth down to distribute the butter evenly, and repeat for each leg. Spread the remainder of the mixed butter on top of the skin to cover each leg in an even layer. Tuck unpeeled garlic cloves between the chicken pieces. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
  3. Roast in the oven for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until deeply browned (but not burnt!) and the juices run clear. Remove the chicken to a serving platter.
  4. Remove the garlic from the pan and squeeze out the cloves from their skins. Mash them into the pan drippings to create a sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and consider serving with mashed potatoes or puréed cauliflower.
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51 Reviews

Rlaguerre February 7, 2021
Excellent recipe. Three words-Mike’s Hot Honey...
C F. June 7, 2020
This is a new go-to. Used chicken breasts instead of legs and definitely will use a darker miso next time. We used white miso and it was a little on the sweet side. Excited to try again and experiment with miso!
Bella H. April 6, 2020
solid and easy weeknight meal - this can be thrown together in a few minutes and it always turns out. I have also used confit garlic in place of the unpeeled garlic cloves and it tasted great!
Darlene December 2, 2019
Really easy, a perfect week night meal. It came out looking exactly like the picture, nice and richly browned. I used white miso. I will definitely be making this again. Delicious!
Kinsey January 6, 2019
This recipe essentially is the same as Sam Sifton published in the New YorkTimes in September 2015. Sifton’s version, which has 1.5 TB more miso and 1 TB rice vinegar but no garlic cloves, is delicious and easy (a.k.a., terrific). I imagine this one is too.
Francisco J. December 1, 2017
For me, the different colors of miso have different flavors. Dark-colored misos have a deeper flavor, perhaps comparable to a beef-like flavor, while the flavor of light-colored misos reminds me of chicken. I keep this in mind when I want to match the right miso with other ingredients & to select the correct one to use as a soup broth base or to make salad dressings.
caninechef October 5, 2017
I bought miso for the first time ever over the weekend and this was my first experiment with it. Excellent! Wonderful flavor, easy and after a few minutes work and it took care of itself in the oven until dinner time.
ktr June 9, 2016
This has become my new go to chicken recipe. I made a whole spatchcocked chicken with this miso butter the other night and it was wonderful! I used brown miso because it was the only kind I could find and just shy of 2 tbsp honey.
Author Comment
Melanie K. June 17, 2016
Thanks for the feedback! Glad you enjoyed it.
Marc C. May 20, 2016
I am pumped to try this recipe. I will be roasting a whole chicken so I will of course be adjusting the miso-honey-butter accordingly. I will also be bold and will use Mugi miso (brown).
Erika L. May 21, 2016
I have used only red miso(same as brown?) It is SO good.
Marc C. May 21, 2016
I've got a vegetarian in my party tonight and I wonder how this would taste on baked Cauliflower?
Erika L. May 21, 2016
Good question. If you do cauliflower, I'd suggest yellow Miso which is supposedly lighter. However, I think green beans would really do well with these flavors. Just an opinion. Thanks for honoring your guests!
Author Comment
Melanie K. May 22, 2016
Hi Marc, I think the miso-butter would work well on roasted cauliflower, either cut into "steaks" or maybe even roasting the whole head. You may have to half-bake the cauliflower first so it doesn't burn. I'm going to try it this week. Thanks for the idea!
Marc C. June 1, 2016
The recipe worked well with the Cauliflower but I made a few variations - namely using olive oil instead of butter. The Chicken was excellent. I was surprised how mellow the Miso flavour was after cooking. Also, I cooked the bird a little differently than was is usually recommended. I cook it in a cast iron pan uncovered for about 45 min. Then I cover it with foil once it starts to brown - and cook it covered for the rest of the time. Usually recipes call for you to uncover at the end. I always find this works better.
Megumi April 25, 2016
I only have skinless thighs. Do you think this recipe would adapt??
Author Comment
Melanie K. May 2, 2016
Sorry for the late reply! That might be tricky, since the miso mixture won't be contained under the skin and it may just melt off during cooking. I wouldn't say you shouldn't try, though; just make sure the surface of the chicken is very dry before you spread on the miso butter. It might also be best to use a smaller pan so the thighs are closer together and the miso butter remains on top.
BrettyJax April 4, 2016
Awesome recipe!! Used white miso and decreased the honey by half tablespoon to balance the sweetness. My boyfriend said it was one of the best yet. So delicious! Thank you!!
Author Comment
Melanie K. April 7, 2016
You're welcome! Thank you for the comment. :-)
Pam S. March 31, 2016
Oh, my goodness, I cannot WAIT to try this with chicken thighs. And how did you know that tub of miso has been waving at me every time I open the fridge?
Author Comment
Melanie K. April 7, 2016
Chicken thighs are the best! If you're looking to use up your miso quicker, butter + miso tossed with pasta is also an amazing combo. Thanks for the comment. :-)
Erika L. May 21, 2016
Thank you! Great idea.
Leslie S. March 25, 2016
My boyfriend made this for us the other night and it was DELICIOUS! Practically drank the pan drippings :) Already can't wait to make it again!
Author Comment
Melanie K. April 7, 2016
Thanks so much for the comment! Glad you liked the recipe. :-)
epicharis March 21, 2016
God damn this is good. My only suggestion would be to baste the chicken as it bakes to make the skin a bit crispier. This should absolutely be served with champagne and goat cheese on a salad....or waffle fries.
Author Comment
Melanie K. April 7, 2016
Yes to basting, and YES to champagne! Thanks for the feedback. :-)
CanadaDan March 4, 2016
Just made this tonight. Holy lord it's good. I cooked them in a cast iron pan in the oven, then used a cup a chicken stock to make a sauce out of the pan drippings (simmered until reduced by half) and mashed up garlic while the chicken rested. My wife and I both agreed the sauce tasted like a delicious onion soup for some reason. Whatever this was absolutely perfect. Thanks so much.
Author Comment
Melanie K. March 6, 2016
I'm happy to hear it turned out so well! Thanks for the comment.
Avonlm June 26, 2015
Made this tonight and we loved it. Used only chicken thighs and would try some bone in chicken breast and use a whole head of garlic next time. Thank you so much for sharing!
Author Comment
Melanie K. July 7, 2015
Thanks for the comment! I might try it again with a head of garlic as you suggested and use the extra cloves in another recipe like hummus. Good idea!
Erika L. June 25, 2015
For Me, personally, this recipe as I tasted went from Good, to Better, to One of the Best. I was drinking Champagne so maybe it balanced things; I don't know, but I Will make it Again, and I seldom do with most recipes I've tried. It's simple, Yummy, and Flavorful.
Author Comment
Melanie K. July 7, 2015
Thanks so much for the feedback! I'm so glad you liked it. :-)
Lisa D. April 18, 2015
I did not care for this. I followed the recipe, but it was SO greasy!!
Author Comment
Melanie K. April 18, 2015
Oh no! That's too bad. I would definitely advise spooning off excess fat once it comes out of the oven. I'll make a note in the recipe now, thanks for the comment.
Candice C. April 20, 2015
I soaked up all that flavor with quinoa! It was superb!!! My boyfriend loved it and it's so easy. So perfect!
Author Comment
Melanie K. April 20, 2015
Thanks, Candice! Glad it worked out so well. :•)
Renee April 5, 2015
And thanks for your reply :)
Am making it tomorrow for one of my personal chef clients!
Author Comment
Melanie K. April 8, 2015
Hope it turned out great! :•)
Renee April 5, 2015
oops, now I see the note on miso, thanks!