Marinated and Baked Forbidden City Chicken

Marinated and Baked Forbidden City Chicken is a tasty dinner that’s loaded with flavor. I used some brown sugar in the marinade, but use an approved sweetener and gluten-free soy sauce and this recipe would be low-carb, gluten-free, dairy-free, low-glycemic, and South Beach Diet phase one. Use the Recipes-by-Diet-Type Index to find more recipes like this one.

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This Marinated and Baked Forbidden City Chicken is a recipe I first made back in 2005 when I first started blogging, and when I looked at the old version recently I decided it was overdue for new photos. Once I got started, I gave the recipe a little update too, because hey, I hope I’m a better cook now than I was in 2005!

 I’m using brown sugar in the new version instead of Splenda Brown Sugar Blend, but even if you’re a faithful South Beach Dieter, I wouldn’t worry much about the amount of sugar that clings to the chicken when it’s marinated like this. Or you could certainly use an approved sweetener if you prefer, which would make this recipe really low in carbs. 

(I’m keeping the original version of the recipe on the printer friendly page, just in case someone has it bookmarked and loved that version.)

I don’t know why this recipe was called Forbidden City Chicken, but I was lucky enough to visit Beijing in 2001 with my wonderful brother Rand, and we saw the Forbidden City from the outside. When Sam from Becks and Posh asked what the Forbidden City was back in 2005, I did find some information about the Forbidden City and even some photos of the Forbidden City. Hope you enjoy learning more about it.

(Marinated and Baked Forbidden City Chicken was updated and added to Recipe Favorites March 2010.) 

Marinated and Baked Forbidden City Chicken found on KalynsKitchen.comHeat the oil for about a minute over medium heat, then stir in all the marinade ingredients.

Marinated and Baked Forbidden City Chicken found on KalynsKitchen.comTrim chicken and make slits crosswise down each breast if you want, then put chicken in a Ziploc bag and pour in marinade. Let marinate in refrigerator for 3-4 hours. (These photos show half the amount in the recipe.)

Marinated and Baked Forbidden City Chicken found on KalynsKitchen.comWhen you’re ready to cook the chicken, remove it from the marinade and place in a glass or crockery baking dish with the top side down, brushing each side with marinade. Let chicken come to room temperature while the oven preheats.

Marinated and Baked Forbidden City Chicken found on KalynsKitchen.comAfter 20 minutes, turn chicken and brush both sides again with marinade, then put back in the oven.

Marinated and Baked Forbidden City Chicken found on KalynsKitchen.comCook for 10 minutes more, then brush the top side with the marinade that’s collected in the pan and cook 5-10 minutes more.

Marinated and Baked Forbidden City Chicken found on KalynsKitchen.comChicken is done when the top is lightly browned and it feels firm (but not hard) to the touch; don’t overcook or it will be dry. Serve hot.

Forbidden City Chicken

(Makes 4 servings, recipe adapted from a Junior League Cookbook I no longer have. The recipe below is changed slightly from the original version posted in 2005, but if you click the printer-friendly recipe link you can still see the original version.)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 T peanut oil or canola oil
1/2 – 1 tsp. Curry powder (I used Sweet Curry Powder)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon (I used Vietnamese Cassia Cinnamon)
1 tsp. ginger puree (sold in small jars, or use fresh grated ginger root)
1 tsp. garlic puree (sold in small jars, or use finely crushed fresh garlic)
3 T brown sugar (or use an approved sweetener if you want less carbs)
3 T soy sauce (gluten-free if needed)
1 T fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 T chicken stock
sliced green onions for garnish (optional)


Heat oil in small pan for about 1 minute, then turn off heat. Whisk in curry powder, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, and brown sugar or agave nectar. Add soy sauce, lemon juice, and chicken stock. Stir until well combined.

Trim all visible fat and and tendons from chicken. Make small crosswise slits about 1/2 inch apart down the length of each chicken breast. (This allows the marinade to penetrate more.) Put chicken in Ziploc bag and pour marinade over. Marinate 3-4 hours in refrigerator.

To cook, remove chicken from marinade and place top side down in glass or crockery dish (not metal) that you have sprayed with nonstick spray. Use a pastry brush to brush both sides of chicken with the marinade left in the plastic bag. (Save the rest of the marinade to brush one more time.) Let chicken come to room temperature while you preheat the oven to 325F/162C.

When oven is heated, put chicken in and cook 20 minutes. Then remove from oven, turn chicken with top side up and brush with marinade you saved in the plastic bag. (Discard any unused marinade at this point.) Cook 10 minutes more.

After 10 minutes, remove chicken again and brush with the marinade that’s collected in the pan and cook 5-10 minutes more, or until chicken is lightly browned and feels firm (but not hard) to the touch. Don’t overcook or chicken will be dry. Serve hot.

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Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:

I wouldn’t worry about the small amount of brown sugar that would actually be eaten in a recipe like this where you only eat the marinade that clings to the chicken, and some of the marinade is thrown away, but if you want low-carb, just use an approved sweetener.  

More Ideas for Chicken Dinners:
Slow Cooker Chicken Recipes Photo Index Page ~ Slow Cooker from Scratch

Grilled Curried Chicken Skewers with Spicy Peanut Sauce from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Chinese Chicken and Broccoli from Andrea Meyers

Marinated and Baked Forbidden City Chicken found on

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31 comments on “Marinated and Baked Forbidden City Chicken”

  1. Wow — it’s not even 10:30 and now I’m ready for dinner!

  2. I have an interesting variation. A cousin in Germany makes a spaetzle dish I love. Spaetzle is available here, but I’ve tried it with macaroni too. The cheese used is Emmentaler — a milder variety of Swiss — but the best part is the layer of fried onions covering the top. I haven’t ever written down quantities, unfortunately.

  3. Our company holiday party last weekend was on the theme of the forbidden city. I confess, I dont even know which city it is, despite having been to the party (too much sake?). I would love to know a bit more about where this chciken dish got its name

  4. Kalyn–I think in another life you were Asian or Indian or middleastern…or at least you definitely have a taste for their food now. It’s fun to discover new flavors, isn’t it?

  5. bna – thanks for visiting.

    Dolores, hi! Your first time leaving a comment. Wow.

    Sam, I did edit to give more information about the Forbidden City. Thanks for the idea.

    LisaSD – you have no idea! Actually I think I might have been African in another life. My house is all decorated in African art. For some reason that art just speaks to me. But yes, I do love the foods from all those places. Actually American food is probably my least favorite.

  6. Kalyn- this picture speaks for itself! great dish!

  7. Now that’s a delicious looking dish. Can’t wait to try it!

    Thanks for sharing.

  8. I was looking for something different to do with the chicken tonight….this sounds soo good. I can’t wait to try it.

  9. Hands down the most delicious and unique chicken I have ever had. I passed the recipe on to several family members and they agree as well.

  10. Just love the name ๐Ÿ™‚ I still use your grilled chicken breast trick to this date (and more). Love!

  11. Okay, I will definitely be making this for my family. The marinade looks so flavorful. How fun that you and Rand were able to experience Beijing together!

  12. This recipe sounds great! Will have to try it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. I recently found a jar of ginger puree in the market and I love using it in marinades. This one combines many of my favorite ingredients, so I'm definitely bookmarking. I'm thinking that the chicken would be delicious cold, too, on sandwiches or for a picnic.

  14. I believe strongly that people should make their own food choices, so I'm not going to publish comments talking about health issues associated with agave nectar. (Obviously I wouldn't mention it in a recipe if I thought it was unhealthy.) I am aware that there's information circulating around the web claiming that Agave Nectar is as bad as high fructose corn syrup, but not all brands of agave nectar are produced in the same way, and I believe that agave nectar produced without chemicals is safe and doesn't contain chemical fructose.

  15. wow oh wow… great sounding recipe… could be on the table tomorrow night!

  16. Seems such a fabulously easy and delicious recipe. That finished dish photo makes it look especially yum!

  17. This sounds delicious! I love giving makeovers to my old recipes too ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. That does look tasty. I like how the photos show how easy the prep work is. You must be a tidy cook, Kalyn!

  19. I'm glad people are liking my updated version of this recipe. And I am laughing out loud at Mimi saying I'm a tidy cook! My dad used to say I was never happy unless every dish in the kitchen was dirty when I finished cooking, and no, I'm not really a tidy cook! (I do clean up the mess when I'm done though!)

  20. Yum! This looks delicious. I love the name of the dish as well. Will try this soon!

  21. I just made a fast variant of this today to see if I'd like it (plus I'm not very good at planning ahead :))…anyways…..WOW !

    I'm definitely making this the next time I have guests over.

  22. That makes two of us who aren't that good at planning ahead! Glad to hear you liked it.

  23. Oh my goodness! This chicken is out of this world! So fragrant and delicious! My husband and I couldn't stop talking about it and can't wait to make it again! Thank you for your wonderful blog, Kalyn. Every recipe we've tried has beed fantastic! And we've tried so many! How is possible to eat such flavorful food and still lose weight? Honestly, your blog makes it easy and fun! I know you've heard it a million times but I have to say it again…YOU ROCK!!

  24. Anonymous, thank you! I always love hearing that people are enjoying the food.

  25. I made this a couple of nights ago and it's so delicious!!! This was my first recipe of yours to make and I can't wait to try more!!! I don't know if it's possible but I would love it if you could make a spot where we could put our own pictures of it up! It was so pretty I wanted to take a picture of it! Thanks so much again!

  26. Hi Michelle,
    So glad you enjoyed the recipe enough that you wanted to take a picture. I can't think of any way to add a place where people can post photos to the blog though. Maybe you'll just have to post them on Facebook!

  27. Wow – I made this last night, along with "Wake-up-your-mouth Thai cucumber salad", and they both were amazing! I used one packet of Splenda in each recipe in place of any sugar, and I think it turned out great. I'll definitely make this again soon. Thank you for all the recipes!

  28. Kate, so glad you liked it, and good to know that the Splenda packets will work. (And I see a typo in the recipe, it should say Splenda-Brown Sugar blend, arghh. Will fix right now)

  29. Love it! I grilled it. Skipped the garlic and ginger and subbed in 1T of maple syrup for the sugar. Really good! Thank you!

  30. Eliza, so glad you liked it. Love to know that this will work for a grilled recipe too.

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