This roast chicken with sweet potatoes and dates–a take on the classic chicken Marbella–is ideal for the Jewish high holidays yet ecumenical enough for Sunday suppers everywhere. It’s a mitzvah!
This sweetly savory one-pan chicken dinner is indeed worthy of a celebration. It’s easy to make, feeds a crowd, and the combination of roast chicken, sweet potatoes, and dates is truly irresistible. It’s loosely based on that classic, Chicken Marbella from The Silver Palate Cookbook. Trust us when we say your guests will be asking and perhaps even pleading for the recipe.–Angie Zoobkoff
Roast Chicken FAQs
Can I use all breast meat for this recipe?
You can, but we’d caution you to use bone-in breasts. Boneless breasts may cook faster than your sweet potatoes, leaving you with unappetizing, dried-up meat in your main course. You’ll need roughly 8 pounds of bone-in breasts for this recipe.
What is the best way to pit a date?
It’s simpler than it sounds, but just use a knife to carefully slice the date lengthwise. You should gently hit the pit but not cut through the whole date. Pry the sides open with your thumbs while pushing the back of the date with your index fingers. This will push the pit out to a point where you can grab it to remove it completely. Need a quicker option? Just buy pitted dates.
How small should I cut my sweet potatoes?
The recipe calls for bite-size pieces. That’s pretty small – but it’s an important note. Sweet potatoes are dense and hard, and take a substantial amount of baking time to break down and get to that sweetly soft perfection. The smaller you cut your pieces, the more likely you’ll have finished potatoes along with your chicken. If you’re looking for a specific “bite-size” measurement – cut your sweet potatoes into about 1-inch cubes.
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Roast Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Dates
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup water
- 8 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- Two (3- to 4-pound) chickens each cut into 10 pieces (2 wings, 2 legs, 2 thighs, and 2 breasts cut in half across the bone), backbone discarded (or saved for another use, like stock), at room temperature
- 3 large sweet potatoes unpeeled, scrubbed and cut into bite-size pieces
- 12 large dried dates preferably Medjool, halved and pitted
- A small handful of chopped fresh soft herbs such as cilantro, parsley, dill, or chives
- Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C).
- In a roasting pan large enough to hold all the chicken pieces in a single layer, whisk the vinegar, olive oil, water, garlic, salt, and pepper together. Add the chicken pieces, sweet potatoes, and dates.
- Use your hands to mix everything together and get the mixture on all of the chicken, sweet potatoes, and dates. Move everything around so the sweet potatoes and dates are in a single layer at the bottom of the pan and the chicken is in a single layer on top, skin side up.
- Roast until the sweet potatoes are tender and the chicken pieces are firm to the touch and their exposed skin is nicely browned, about 1 hour. Let the chicken rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before serving.
- Serve the chicken straight from the roasting pan, including a spoon so you can spoon some pan juices over the top, or transfer the chicken, sweet potatoes, and dates to a platter and pour the cooking juices over the top. Sprinkle with the herbs and serve warm.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This roast chicken and sweet potatoes is a one-pan dinner that’s a touch sweet, a touch savory, and easy to put together, especially if you’re using chickens that are already broken down. The flavor of this dish improves with age and has a comforting well-balanced flavor. True to its name, this would be a great dish for any celebration.
The pan I roasted everything in was 13-by-17-by-4 inches. This ended up being a little big but not by much. An 11-by-17-inch pan probably would have been fine here.
After roasting for 55 minutes, the chicken was perfectly cooked but my sweet potatoes were a little underdone. I may have cut them a bit too large but they were not cumbersome to eat in a single bite.
I thought the dish was nice at first but after it rested for a few hours it really started to come together as something lovely! The chicken was tender and moist with a nice spot of velvetiness from the stock and dates mixed with the sweet potatoes.
The herbs gave a beautiful color and the parsley was a good addition without being overpowering or taking away from the sauce. The garlic was a lot more subtle than I thought it would be. I can’t wait to eat this tomorrow for lunch because I can only imagine how it’s improved from lunch today!
This was really nice! I would say it serves 8 to 10 people depending on how hungry they are but there aren’t enough sweet potatoes for 8 to 10 of my people so it’s more like 6 with a little leftover chicken.
This roast chicken with dates was delicious! I admit, I was a bit skeptical. I thought it was going to be too sweet with both the dates and sweet potatoes, but it wasn’t!
I’ve made the famous Chicken Marbella that is mentioned in the intro, and I will say, this recipe definitely compares—equally tasty but even simpler to prepare. I cut the recipe in half because I was only cooking for 2 and I used only chicken thighs and drumsticks because those are the pieces we tend to fight over in our house.
When preparing the chicken, I found it easier to add the liquid ingredients to a bowl, and mix the veg and chicken in the bowl first, then I dumped it all onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. It took exactly 1 hour to cook and it was perfectly browned. To prevent the dates from burning, I would suggest tucking them under the sweet potatoes or chicken because the ones that were sitting on top were quite caramelized.
Do ensure you have some bread to soak up the sauce that is left in the pan, because it is heavenly! I served this dish with some steamed swiss chard and we drizzled some of the sauce on top of that, too! This was a great dish!
The headnotes alone gave me the inspiration I needed to cook this roast chicken with sweet potatoes and dates. Looking for something new to make for the holiday and secretly not loving the ever-popular Chicken Marbella, this was perfect.
The things I dislike from Marbella are the olives and capers and they aren’t in this one. Also, I hate the way the skin gets flabby after a swim in the marinade and this does not require marinating.
I cut the recipe in half as it was a mid-week meal for two of us, and I think I found the perfect recipe to make for the upcoming holiday.
I used a 10-by-13-inch baking dish. I assume this would work well in a sheet pan when I make a full recipe. (I love sheet pan meals!) One hour gave me perfectly cooked chicken along with tender potatoes.
Next time I will cut the dates smaller so that they would actually dissolve more and their delicious sweetness would flavor more bites.
Also, sometimes when I prepare chicken for company I like to separate the white meat from the dark by putting them at different ends of the pan. Then if the white meat is done faster I can just pull it out. It also it makes it easier to serve a crowd when people can easily identify which is the dark meat and which is the white meat. I separate it when I put it on my serving platters.
The skin on this one was brown and crispy, something that I was rarely able to achieve when I used chicken that had been marinated. The few ingredients combined gave the chicken a delicious flavor. This will definitely be a welcome addition to my holiday table.
I cut the recipe in half, as there are just two of us, my husband and myself, and our fridge is already so crowded with food.
The marinade was easy to mix together and smelled very good. I mixed the ingredients all together and spread them evenly around the dish, placing the sweet potatoes and dates on the bottom and the chicken pieces atop the vegetables. I used an 11-by-14-inch nonstick metal dish. The chicken and sweet potatoes fit in it nicely. The dish roasted for the recommended 1 hour. The chicken pieces got a little darker in color than the ones in the picture but still looked very appetizing. The vegetables were done just right.
Chives sprinkled over the top added a nice touch. I’m a sweet potato lover and would love to have had about half again as many sweet potatoes in the recipe.
Originally published September 8, 2018