Rainbow Chicken

Here's a favorite dinner in our home – chicken and a pile of rainbow-colored vegetables, tossed in a quick spice rub and brightened with lemon slices. It's so simple and spring-like – and our new go-to chicken supper!

Rainbow Chicken ♥ KitchenParade.com, chicken and a pile of rainbow-colored veggies tossed in a spice rub and brightened with lemon slices. So simple and spring-like, it's our new go-to chicken supper.

Dinner at Home, Made from Scratch. Real Food, Fresh & Flexible. Another Quick Supper, a Kitchen Parade Specialty. Hearty & Filling. Budget Friendly. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. One-Pot Meal. High Protein. Weight Watchers Friendly. Naturally Gluten Free.

  • "I made the Rainbow Chicken (twice) in one week (so good)" ~ Bonita
  • "... amazing!" ~ Monique
  • "What can I say other than wow ... " ~ Peas&Carrots
  • Add yours, leave a comment, below!

But First, May We Talk About a Problem? A Dishwasher Problem?

“I think it’s your detergent,” declared my sister at Christmas, pulling barely clean dishes from the dishwasher and apparently unimpressed by the bargain box of dishwasher powder I’d picked up at the dollar store along with a few stocking stuffers.

She was right, though: the dinner plates were rough with food grime, the silverware was slightly sticky, and the drinking glasses were covered with a powdery film.

I wondered if the water were hot enough, whether the fifteen-year old dishwasher (or a still-older water heater) was about to crash beneath the stress of heavy holiday use.

Turns out, the dishwasher detergent was indeed the problem but it’s affecting brand-name and no-brand products alike. And if you’re not experiencing the problem yet, get ready, you will.

According to NPR, in 2010 detergent manufacturers quietly removed the phosphates that stripped food and oil from dirty dishes and prevented food bits from re-attaching during the wash process. The action was taken product-wide after seventeen states banned phosphates due to damage to the environment. Rather than supporting separate products for separate markets, rather than continuing the damage to the environment even while still legal in some states, detergent manufacturers switched to no-phosphate detergents across the board. [Source: NPR, Dishes Still Dirty? Blame Phosphate-Free Detergent]

While I’m glad to know that throwing money at a plumber or new appliances won’t help, I’m still struggling with less than clean dishes, despite more careful rinsing.

Any suggestions?

UPDATE & POTENTIAL SOLUTION? Back in 2011, Consumer Reports said that the "Quantum tablets" from Finish do a "superb" job of cleaning dishes without leaving water spots although at a steep price: thirty cents a load. They say that another Finish product, the gel that's just twelve cents a load, doesn't work. Any experience with these or other products?

FAST FORWARD TO TODAY In our kitchen, I've settled on two things that work well here. The first is these Finish Powerball pods (affiliate link), these have wrappers so the pods don't stick together, releasing the small liquid portion.

The biggest thing, however? Dealing with the hard water from our well. If I keep the water softener replenished with salt, all is good. What's not good is the 60-pound bags! At the store, I can get somebody to load the heavy bags but once home, it's a hike from the garage back to the storage room where the water softener equipment is. This dolly / hand truck (affiliate link) helps! It holds three bags at a time, so I can't really stock up anymore but so be it.

Rainbow Chicken ♥ KitchenParade.com, chicken and a pile of rainbow-colored veggies tossed in a spice rub and brightened with lemon slices. So simple and spring-like, it's our new go-to chicken supper.

Back to the Chicken & A New Idea? Or NOT.

A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times featured recipes with the "new idea" of oven-to-table suppers where we skip the step of browning the meat. Instead, the uncooked meat is combined with vegetables and then baked in the oven. New idea? No way.

Good cooks have kept recipes like this in their repertoires forever.

After making Rainbow Chicken a half dozen times already this year, it’s become my go-to, no-thinking chicken comfort food. I’m partial to the more richly flavored dark meat so pick up packs of inexpensive thighs or legs, then slip off the skins and coat with the Spice Rub. Then I check the fridge for vegetables, chopping up whatever’s on hand. The vegetables shown in the ingredient list here, however, fast became my favorites.

This recipe's a keeper!

About This Recipe

  • Rainbow Chicken is a one-dish chicken dinner, just chicken thighs or legs baked in the oven for 45 minutes with a pile of chopped vegetables, turning out moist, tender chicken and perfectly cooked lightly spiced veggies.
  • Rainbow Chicken has two distinct ingredients. The first is the Spice Rub that seasons both the chicken and the veggies. You'll mix it yourself: just paprika, cumin, salt and pepper plus a splash of vinegar and olive oil and some minced garlic. The second is lemon: thin lemon slices rest on top while the chicken bakes, adding moisture and sunny lemon flavor.
  • ingredients = chicken thighs or chicken legs + your choice of vegetables (I suggest turnip, sweet potato and onion, bell pepper, zucchini & carrot) + Spice Rub + lemon slices
  • It takes about 25 minutes to prep the chicken and vegetables for the oven, then about 45 minutes to bake in the oven, longer if covering with foil.
  • The recipe serves 4, chicken plus vegetables.

For Best Results

For my weekly column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I interviewed chefs and translated their restaurant recipes for home kitchens. The most iluminating question? "How can a home cook ensure the same results?" So now I ask that question of myself, too, for my own recipes. Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!

Aim for a Rainbow of Vegetables Choose vegetables with different colors and textures. We especially like sweet potato here but do not recommend red cabbage, it stains the other vegetables.

Bookmark! PIN! Share!

How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this recipe that combines chicken and healthy rainbow vegetables in the oven hits the mark, go ahead, save and share! I'd be honored ...

Rainbow Chicken ♥ KitchenParade.com, chicken and a pile of rainbow-colored veggies tossed in a spice rub and brightened with lemon slices. So simple and spring-like, it's our new go-to chicken supper.


Hands-on time: 25 minutes
Time to table: 1–3/4 hours
Serves 4
  • 2 teaspoons sweet or smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/4 pounds (570g) bone-in chicken thighs or legs, skins removed
  • 1 turnip, diced small (potato works too)
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled, diced small
  • 1 medium onion, cut into lengths
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into lengths
  • 1 zucchini, cut into chunks
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 lemon, sliced thin cross-wise (don’t skip)

Heat oven to 425F/220C.

SPICE RUB Mix the Spice Rub ingredients in a large bowl.

CHICKEN Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels, then drop one at a time into the Spice Rub and turn to lightly coat. Arrange the chicken in a single layer in an oven-safe skillet or casserole dish with a lid; if you don't have a covered casserole dish with a lid, foil can substitute for the lid but the baking time will be longer.

VEGETABLES Drop the vegetables into the remaining Spice Rub (there won’t be a lot, it'll seem skimpy but it’s just enough), give it all a good stir and then scatter the vegetables over the chicken.

LEMON Arrange the lemon slices evenly across the top of the chicken and vegetables.

BAKE Cover and bake for 45 minutes (and up to 20 minutes longer if using a baking dish covered with foil) or until no pink remains in the chicken pieces and the internal temperature reaches 165F/75C. Let the chicken rest on the counter for 5 minutes, then serve and savor!

LEFTOVERS Consider making extra! The leftovers reheat beautifully.

ALANNA’s TIPS If you have anyone in the household who wants/needs more calories, just leave the chicken skins on. For the rest of us? Skins off! If you find bone-in chicken thighs with the skins already removed, get 1-1/4 pounds instead of 1-1/2 pounds. One vegetable I make sure to always include? Sweet potato. (Despite the new photos, where I forgot the sweet potato and so missed it!) One vegetable I don't recommend? Red cabbage. Turnips are a good low-carb substitute for potatoes. Turnips are also Weight Watchers friendly. We like turnips but are more likely to have potatoes on hand. And they're good! For a whole chicken, cut the chicken into pieces but make twice the Spice Rub. Reserve the back and wings for No-Big-Deal Homemade Chicken Stock. To my taste, chicken breasts don't work here, they get a little dry. Dang! (That said, one commenter loved Rainbow Chicken made with chicken breasts.) Rainbow Chicken doesn't translate well to Rainbow Beef. Double Dang!
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Serving (assumes 4): 238 Calories; 4g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 70mg Cholesterol; 333mg Sodium; 29g Carb; 7g Fiber; 11g Sugar; 21g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS (blue & purple assume chicken breast) Old Points 4 & PointsPlus 6 & SmartPoints 7 & Freestyle 2 & myWW green 4 & blue 2 & purple 0 & future WW points CALORIE COUNTERS 100-calorie serving = scant half serving (9g protein).
Adapted from a recipe called Peruvian-Style Chicken at Whole Foods where there are lots of stars and exclamation points in the reviews for this recipe – LOL!! I love it too!!!!!

Easy Easy, Chicken Dinner,
Easy Easy, Chicken Winner

~ chicken recipes ~
~ Quick Suppers ~
Lemon-Honey Chicken Skillet ♥ KitchenParade.com, a one-pot chicken dinner with a medley of spices and vegetables.

Spiced Chicken Tagine with Roasted Cauliflower ♥ KitchenParade.com, a one-pot supper, chicken and roasted cauliflower with warm spices and a touch of sour from Spiced Preserved Lemons.

Baked Chicken with Fresh Peaches ♥ KitchenParade.com, quick-seared chicken breasts finished in the oven surrounded by fresh and summer-juicy peaches. Low Carb. High Protein. Very Weight Watchers Friendly. Weeknight Friendly. Naturally Gluten Free.

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ chicken recipes ~
~ potato recipes ~
~ sweet potato recipes ~
~ bell pepper recipes ~
~ zucchini recipes ~

~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2011, 2017, 2019 & 20222 (repub)

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Question: What is the purple in the picture? It looks like red cabbage, but I don't see that on your list of ingredients. I love your recipes and this is one that I will definitely want to try!

  2. Flo ~ Oh I love how careful people read and look! :-) Yes there's red cabbage in the photo but I wasn't as fond of it as expected. I made several vegetable combinations, the ingredient list shows my favorite.

  3. Thank you! I was wondering if I'd like cabbage in there. I am going to make this using the exact ingredients you posted. Your recipes never fail to please!

  4. I typically don't comment as at heart I'm a die hard lurker but your dish washing dilemma spoke to me. I've struggled with the same thing and have been soooo frustrated! The best solution I've found short of washing everything by hand is adding an environmentally safe additive to each load of dishes. I found it at WalMart but have included the link to their website. It truly is a miracle product in my opinion.

  5. Oh blast, forgot the link.


  6. Anonymous4/13/2011

    To date, restaurants are still allowed to use dishwasher soap WITH phosphates. Individuals can still buy it online by the case from several distributors. I now have six boxes, enough to last me for a LONG time. I continue to use the non-phosphate products when I have less-soiled dished or to use with my fine china.

  7. Alexis4/13/2011

    Thank you for your websites. I use your recipes often, and have turned my children into vegetable-tolerators! (It would be a stretch to say my 8-year-old loves or likes veggies, but he eats them now…every day!!)

    The Rainbow Chicken looks delicious. I will definitely make it this weekend. Question: The photo looks like there is purple cabbage in it. Is there? And how much?

    Thank you, again, for your labor of love.

  8. Alanna - about the dishes... we have a new-ish (2006) dishwasher and use its Sanitize and HiTemp Wash selections (I won't mention the brand because I would never recommend it, for repair reasons), so I know the water is very hot. I use 7th Generation Auto DW Detergent (powder) which has never had phosphates, and the dishes are always squeeky clean, despite very hard water, so I do recommend that. And we never pre-rinse and I always load to the max. 7th Generation may look more expensive, but I don't need to use as much as I used to use (of the stuff in the shiny green box), and besides I prefer to try to pay my own way rather than leaving a mess for future generations.

  9. Alexis ~ You've WARMED my heart today, thank you! There IS red cabbage in the photo but NOT in the ingredient list, since it turned out not to be a favorite. I've modified the recipe so that others know too! Thanks so much for taking the time to write!

  10. I'm a bit shocked that you cast the removal of phosphates from dish detergent in a negative light! They are TERRIBLE for the environment, causing overgrowth of algae in our waters and killing off critters. This may be the first instance I've ever heard of that companies did the responsible thing, instead of something that would make them more money. I've never used anything but phosphate-free detergent since I first started enjoying the luxury of a dishwasher, and I've never had a problem; but I do rinse my dishes if I'm not going to be running the dishwasher within a few hours, and for things like egg and pizza dough, I do a light pre-scrub with a dobie pad. Having washed dishes by hand for about 10 years, it still seems like hardly any work at all...

  11. Erika ~ Oh dear, I sure didn't intend the impression that it's a bad thing to remove phosphates -- just that now that they're gone, I'd just like to know how to get my dishes clean, in this new (ahem) environment.

    Which phosphate-free detergent do you use? I rinse, too, even when the dishwasher is going to be run right away, maybe yours would work here too.

    Thanks for chiming in!

  12. Anonymous4/13/2011

    As to the dishwasher dilemma...we had the same problem, and by golly it WAS the dishwasher...and we had a fancy-smancy dish drawer set up that, at first, was the answer to my prayers. 8 years and 1 brand spanking new dishwasher later, our dishes come out spotless and shiny! I just continue to use the detergent that was recommended by my manufacturer...don't even know the name off the top of my head, but it comes in tablets with a small red ball of something in each one.

    Oh, your recipe sounds good, too...in fact, I needed something for dinner tonight, and I think that will be it!! Thanks!

  13. Interesting info about the phosphates..so far I have not noticed anything but have to admit the dishes are prety much washed prior to going into the dishwasher.

    I'm a huge fan of flavorful chicken dishes that celebrate both chicken and veggies...so I'm delighted to find your recipe and I'm going to try it this weekend!

    You have a wonderful blog and I will "like' it on face book!

  14. Funny you should mention this! I just had Sears out to service my dishwasher. Upon the advice of the previous repairman, we now have hot water that will scald you if you aren't careful. That was the last resort. We live in the desert, with extremely hard and mineral laden water. The white scum on everything is intense, but yet the dishwasher detergent (Cascade or any other brand) doesn't completely dissolve.

    Also, I should mention I run dishwasher cleaner (usually use Jet-Dry's cleaner) twice a month in my dishwasher to try to stay on top of the hard water deposits.

    This new repairman said they're being told to recommend a product called "Lemi-shine" dishwasher detergent additive. I bought some. Not sure of the cost - you use a scant teaspoon-full per load. Dishes feel clean now - and the detergent is dissolving. It's supposed to help with the build up as well.

    My glasses looked like they were etched by a 5 year old. After a couple of washes they're looking clean and feel clean - now scummy residue.

    I can't believe I'm writing a commercial for this product!!!

  15. I had the same issue with my dishwasher and after much hair pulling, frustration, and a repairman call I came upon the answer. A tablespoon or two of regular white vinegar does wonders for the film/deposits previously left behind. Also I agree with Lin - the "Lemi-Shine" additive is good as well, I also use their dishwasher cleaner.

  16. Let me know how you life the lemi-shine - just make sure you get the additive (it's a powder), and not the rinse!

  17. I put a small bowl in the bottom of my dishwasher and fill it with vinegar each time I run it. Works very well--glasses come out shiny.

  18. Anonymous4/13/2011

    On the dishwashing question, the (unhappy) fact is that dishwashing by hand beats machine washing hands down (no pun intended) - clean dishes, with no grit, cloudy glasses or scratches. If you fill up the sink rather than running the water while you wash, handwashing uses less water and electricity (or natural gas), too. The only problem is washing by hand takes a lot longer!

  19. I made the Rainbow Chicken (twice) in on week (so good) my question is, how could we make it in the slow cooker? I don't want the oven on in the summer...thanks Bonita

  20. Bonita - So glad you like the Rainbow Chicken! (Me too!) As for a slow cooker, I'd start with One-Pot Chicken with Beans & Vegetables (which is also fabulous, just made it this week, look for an update later today or tomorrow) as a guide. That said, I know that I really prefer the taste/texture of the oven version of that dish.

    Maybe it'll be up to you to figure out how to do Rainbow Chicken in the slow cooker!

  21. How would you adjust the temperature/cooking time for using chicken breasts as opposed to thighs or other parts?

  22. Monique ~ The time and temperature remain the same. Once it's done pull out a breast to check if the juices run clear, if they do, you're good to go, if they're a little pink, put it back in the oven for another 15 or so minutes. Or if you have an instant-read thermometer, let the meat in the thickest part of one breast reach 165F. Enjoy, love this dish!

  23. Thanks Alanna! Made it with the chicken breasts and served it with brown rice - amazing!

  24. Anonymous2/02/2017

    I know this is an older post, but I wanted to share my help with the dishwasher problem, for people who can't afford either the new dishwasher or the additive. Sometimes a splash or two of vinegar works for me, But most often I spray down the loaded dishes with a multi-purpose spray cleaner (like Windex). It all washes off and the dishes are very clean.
    Also, I love this website! I am new to teh WW program and this is one of my fave sites for go-to recipes and everyday help. Thank you very much!

  25. Anonymous ~ Older post, schmolder post, a good idea is always welcome around here! Thanks for sharing yours, the kind words also mean the world. Good luck with Weight Watchers ...

  26. Rainbow Chicken
    What can I say other than wow! Fresh veggies, excellent taste and moist chicken. I didn't have turnip on hand so I just threw in 2 small potatoes (my hubby won't eat sweet pot). I think it actually tastes better the next day. All I had in the fridge were 4 nice size boneless skinless chicken breast. I coated those in the rub, placed in the bottom of my le creuset and put the vegetables over the top, topped with thin sliced lemon, covered and baked as per directions for 45 min. I can't wait to try so many more of your recipes.

    1. Peas&Carrots ~ What can I say other than wow?! So glad this recipe worked so well for you. It’s been too long since I’ve made it myself, thanks to you, it’s on the menu for this week! I so appreciate your kind words ... AK

  27. Pat on Pinterest11/03/2022

    very good!


Post a Comment

Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna