Copycat Kenny Rogers Roasted Chicken

This copycat Kenny Rogers Roasted Chicken recipe will take you back to the 90s and the tender, flavorful, juicy chicken the chain restaurant was famous for. The chicken is dry brined, marinated, and dry rubbed before being roasted and basted to golden perfection.

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Silver platter with a whole  copycat Kenny Rogers Roasted Chicken.

I like to serve the chicken with a creamy broccoli salad, sweet corn fritters, brown sugar and bourbon baked beans, and lemon shortbread cookies for a meal that’s a hit with the whole family.

Kenny Rogers Roasters

Menu for Kenny Rogers Roasters Restaurant.

I was so excited when I first discovered this ‘new’ chicken place right around the corner from my home. It was perfect to pop in after work to grab dinner for my family and not feel guilty for feeding them fast food junk.

The restaurant was formed in 1991 by Kenny Rogers and a former KFC CEO as a healthier fast food alternative. Their fire-roasted chicken and homey sides made the restaurant an instant hit. 

It even became part of pop culture when the restaurant became a Seinfeld storyline. It was one of my favorite episodes!

What Makes The Chicken So Good?

It’s The Wood That Makes It Good“. Even without the wood fire roasters, this chicken recipe is amazing.

This chicken recipe isn’t one you can whip up on a weeknight night. This recipe is a labor of love. It isn’t difficult, just a bit involved.

The chicken is first dry brined with a salt rub and then rested in the refrigerator overnight.

Then the bird is marinated in a citrusy marinade for another 6-8 hours.

As if that isn’t enough love on this chicken, it gets massaged with a savory dry rub before getting roasted and basted to golden perfection.

The result is a tender and juicy chicken that’s full of flavor.

Silver platter with a whole copycat Kenny Rogers Roasted Chicken.

What Is A Dry Brine?

Dry brining is basically salting meat, which adds flavor and changes the structure of the muscle proteins so that they retain more of their own juices.

Contrary to the belief that you shouldn’t salt meat or poultry right before cooking because the salt will draw out the moisture leaving the meat dry and tough, dry brining does just the opposite.

When salt is applied to raw meat, the juices inside the meat come up to the surface, mix with the salt, which creates its own brine and is reabsorbed into the meat fibers. The dry brine process takes at least six hours for a small chicken up to four days for a turkey or large brisket.

Dry brining also allows the surface of the meat to stay dry, thus allowing it to brown and caramelize better – to get…you know…crispy chicken skin. It’s a good thing. Dry brining your chicken will get you crispy skin a lot better than using a wet brine. Besides, who has room in their fridge for a chicken and all of that water?  Not me!

Marinade Safety

This chicken recipe uses a marinade to give even more flavor to the chicken. The same marinade is boiled and used as part of a basting liquid, but is this safe?

Using a marinade is great, but it seems such a shame to waste all that good flavor after you remove the chicken. 

Raw meat, poultry, or fish have bacteria on their surfaces that will contaminate a marinade and cause some pretty nasty foodborne illnesses.

However, you can still use the leftover marinade as long as you take the time to boil it. Bacteria is killed at 165 degrees, so this is the target temperature. Use a meat thermometer to check the temp just to ensure everyone is safe.

Ingredients Needed

  • Whole chicken – look for a roaster chicken, which has a thicker layer of fat under the skin, so that the meat remains moist while roasting.
  • Kosher salt
  • Liquid smoke
  • Dijon mustard – I like using Malle, but any will work.
  • Soy sauce – I used low sodium.
  • Honey
  • Ketchup
  • Chili sauce
  • Olive oil
  • Onion and garlic powder
  • Poultry seasoning, sweet paprika, thyme leaves, and black pepper
  • Chicken fat (schmaltz)
  • Onions, lemons, and limes
Cut up copycat Kenny Rogers Roasted Chicken on a silver platter.

Steps To Make This Recipe

  1. Rub the chicken with salt and chill for 6-12 hours. Rinse and pat dry.
  2. Make the marinade by combining all of the ingredients in a large zip-top bag.
  3. Place chicken in marinade and chill for another 6-8 hours.
  4. Stir together the dry rub and rub all over the chicken. Chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  5. Boil the reserved marinade for 6-8 minutes.
  6. Roast the chicken for four hours, basting with the boiled marinade.
  7. Let the meat rest for 15 minutes.
  8. Slice and serve.

More Chicken Recipes To Consider

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Silver platter with a whole copycat Kenny Rogers Roasted Chicken.

Copycat Kenny Rogers Roasted Chicken

  • Author: Millie Brinkley
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 25 minutes + marinating time
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


This copycat Kenny Rogers Roasted Chicken recipe will take you back to the 90s and the tender, flavorful, juicy chicken the chain restaurant was famous for. The chicken is dry brined, marinated, and dry rubbed before being roasted and basted to golden perfection.



For the dry brine:

  • 1 (3-4 pound) whole roasting chicken (Mine was about 3.5 pounds)
  • 34 teaspoons coarse Kosher salt (1 tablespoon per pound of meat)

For the marinade:

  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup (I used Heinz)
  • 1 tablespoon chili sauce (I used Heinz)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, quartered
  • 1 lemon, quartered

Dry rub:

  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

Basting liquid:

  • Reserved marinade
  • ½ cup chicken fat or oil


Dry Brine The Chicken

Sprinkle the Kosher salt all over the outside and inside of the chicken. 

Place the bird on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours up to 12 hours.

Rinse the salt off of the chicken and pat it completely dry with paper towels.

Make the marinade.

Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a very large zip-top bag.

Add the chicken to the bag and rub the marinade all over the chicken, making sure to get the liquid into the cavity of the bird as well.

Place the chicken back into the refrigerator and allow it to marinate for 6-8 hours.

Make the dry rub by stirring all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl and set aside.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and reserve the marinade.

Dry rub the chicken.

Rub the dry rub all over the outside of the chicken, in the cavity, and under the skin on the breast.

Allow the rub to sit on the chicken for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Meanwhile, pour the reserved marinade into a small saucepan over high heat, and bring the liquid to a full rolling boil. Allow it to boil for at least 6-7 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the chicken fat. Set aside to cool.

Roast the chicken.

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.

Place the chicken breast side up in a roasting pan.

Roast the oven for 4 hours or until the chicken registers 180 degrees on a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast.

Use the basting liquid to baste the chicken every half hour for the first three hours and then every 15 minutes for the last hour.

Remove the chicken from the oven. Lightly tent with aluminum foil and allow the bird to rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • marinating time: 21 hours
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Category: Main Dish – Poultry
  • Method: roast
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: copycat Kenny Rogers Roasted Chicken, roasted chicken recipes, copycat recipes, chicken recipes, comfort food, comfort food recipes

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