Homemade lechon manok! Juicy, aromatic, and flavorful roasted chicken that is truly Filipino. The best thing about it? It's homemade! No charcoal or rotisserie is needed. That means you can easily make this whenever. You just need your good old trusty oven.
Lechon Manok Key Ingredients
When making a true Filipino roasted chicken, you need to have lemongrass (tanglad), garlic, and shallots (sibuyas tagalog). I would have to say that there is no ideal substitute for the three.
I have tried using yellow or red onion a few times in place of shallots, but much to my surprise the outcome did not have the flavor and smell I was familiar with and looking for. Shallots are sweeter, richer yet more potent compared to onions. They do belong to the same family, allium, but nothing compares to the taste and aroma that it brings to the chicken.
Lechon Manok Marinade
As of this writing, I have already made three versions of this recipe. The first two versions had ginger in them. Both were good but I found ginger to be overpowering that I could no longer smell or taste the other spices. It sort of made the chicken taste like chicken tinola, in my opinion. So in this recent version, I decided to omit it entirely, both from the marinade and the stuffing.
The result was delicious lemony, sweet and garlicky Lechon Manok.
Other great additions to this recipe are pineapple juice and fish sauce. I was only using calamansi juice before but pineapple juice is a great extender especially if calamansi is not in season.
And why have I not thought of adding fish sauce before? I don't know why but it did wonders!
Marinating the chicken for two days was a lucky accident. The meat turned out juicier and flavorful. If you have the space in the fridge and of course the time, I recommend 48 hours of marination. Otherwise, one day is fine. Remember to turn the bag a few times so that all parts of the meat absorb the marinade.
Do you smell Christmas already? This will put you in the mood. Do let me know if this makes it to your Noche Buena table.
Frequently asked questions
You can use lime and key lime as a substitute for calamansi. If not available, lemon can also be used.
Use lime-flavored soda or pineapple-flavored soda as a substitute for pineapple juice.
Watch the Video on How to Make Lechon Manok
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Lechon Manok (Filipino Roasted Chicken)
- 1.2 kg to 1.5 whole chicken (cleaned and excess fat removed)
- 5 bulbs shallots (peeled)
- 2 whole garlic (cloves smashed, divided)
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- 4 stalks lemongrass (cut and bruised, see note 1)
- 1 stalk lemongrass (finely sliced)
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- ¼ cup pure pineapple juice
- ¼ cup calamansi juice (see note 2)
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar (or white)
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- ground black pepper
Day of roasting
- 1 tablespoon oil
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- 2 stalks lemongrass (cut and bruised)
- 5 bulbs shallots (peeled)
- Prepare the spices for the marinade and stuffing first. Remaining onion and lemongrass will be used on the actual day of roasting.
- In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients of the marinade. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
- In another bowl, combine onion, and garlic with salt and pepper for the stuffing. Bruised and cut the lemongrass to bring out the aroma.
- Place chicken in a tray. Season inside of the chicken with salt and pepper. Use a spoon to loosen skin from chicken (see video). Insert half of the pressed garlic cloves under the loosened chicken skin. Stuff the bruised lemongrass and seasoned shallots and garlic inside the chicken.
- Tie drumstick ends tightly with a string. Place chicken in a resealable bag and pour the marinade over. Massage chicken all over. Refrigerate breast side down (initially) for a minimum of 24 hours to 48 hours max. Turn two to three times.
- Take chicken out of the fridge 30 mins before roasting. Pre-heat oven to 200c/400f.
- Place the remaining shallots and lemongrass in a roasting pan. Remove chicken from the marinade and place the chicken on top. Reserve the marinade for basting. Drizzle chicken with oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper.
- Roast chicken for 10 minutes, then adjust the tempreture down to 180c/350f. Roast for 50 minutes. Take out the chicken from the oven after 50 minutes then baste with the marinade and juices from the pan. Roast for another 20 to 30 minutes (see note 3).
- When chicken is cooked, transfer to a board and let it rest for 15 minutes before carving. Serve with the pan juices. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes and Tips:
- To prepare the lemongrass, remove the outer leaves and cut-off the lower bulb. Bruise the stalks using the back of a knife.
- Calamansi juice - can be substituted with lemon juice or lime juice.
- To test the doneness of the chicken, slice the skin between the leg and the breast and peak at the juices. If they run clear, then it is likely done. The meat should also feel firm rather than jiggly or rubbery. Roast a bit longer if the chicken looks undone.
- Note: Dark patches may appear on the chicken because of the sugar in the marinade.
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Hi, I made this recipe today and my husband really loved it! I couldn’t buy lemongrass from groceries near where I live. So, I searched for alternatives: coriander, lemon, basil. But I know lemongrass would have really made this super delicious! Thank you so much!
Coriander, basil, and lemon are good substitutes. Glad you and your husband enjoyed this, Alona 🙂
Can I use a 12 lb. Turkey with this recipe for Thanksgiving. I want a Filipino twist to the usual Roasted Turkey. thanks.
Riverten Kitchen (Mella) says
Hi Lorelie, I haven't personally tried using turkey for this recipe but I don't see any reason why it wouldn't work. I supposed you would need to triple the stuffing and the marinade for that size and marinate for 1 to 2 days.
Tried this recipe today, super yummy.
So happy to hear that! Thanks for the wonderful feedback.
Thank you for sharing this recipe! 5 star for me because it's so good and your instructions are well explained and yes it taste like filipino lechon manok with magic !
You're welcome, Yna! I like that–"Filipino Lechon Manok with magic".
Maria Ruiz says
can i use microwave oven when doing this?
Hi Maria, sorry haven't tried making this in a microwave.
Ethan O says
Hi – did you have to pat the chicken dry before adding salt & pepper and putting it in the oven? Thank you!! I just marinated it and was wondering if you had to do that..
No need, Ethan. Just drain the marinade and drizzle the chicken with oil, salt and pepper.
Thank you so much for your recipe! It reminds me so much of the lechon manok of Cagayan de Oro. I had to make one myself because I couldn’t go home because of Covid. I had to revise the recipe a bit coz I didn’t have pineapple juice so I used Sprite instead and I cooked mine in the air fryer: 10 mins at 200, 20 mins at 170. I’m gonna try your other recipes too! You have no idea how happy I am with your recipe.
Hi Shani, So glad you enjoyed this! Andoks lechon manok is actually my inspiration behind this recipe 🙂 Thanks for sharing your alternative cooking method and substitutes. I'm sure other readers will appreciate it.
did it taste like the lechon we have in CDO?
At the last part of roasting at 20 - 30 minutes ...Is it still on the 180 degrees centigrde ???? Thanx
Yes, still 180c so the skin doesn't burn.