Herb and Lemon Roasted Chicken
This herb and lemon roasted chicken with potatoes is my favorite easy-but-impressive meal! Crispy, juicy and infused with the aromas and flavors of fresh herbs, citrus and garlic. You simply can’t beat such a timeless classic!
There’s nothing like a go-to chicken dinner recipe, and this oven roasted chicken is the one I make the most. Other favorites are my recipes for Oven Roasted Chicken, Sausage and Potatoes, Chicken Stroganoff and Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic.
An easy roasted chicken recipe
Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
Oh, who can resist the smell of chicken roasting in the oven? For me, it is one of the most comforting scents, along the smell of rain, freshly cut grass and wood burning in the fireplace.
But even better than the aroma is the taste! Oh my goodness, this is the roasted chicken of all the roasted chickens. It is juicy on the palate, garlicky, herb-y, citrusy and absolutely irresistible!
And if you’re intimidated by cooking a whole chicken, this is the recipe that will convert you into a roasted chicken master.
It is easy! So easy that you can serve this as a quick weeknight dinner. But also so heart fluttering that I have no doubts it’d be a hit for Sunday supper or at your next dinner party!
The secrets to perfect roasted chicken
A perfectly cooked roasted chicken is a dish every home cook should know how to make!
But how do you go from an okay, not-too-exciting bird to a life-altering roasted chicken that is tender, juicy and crisp-skinned? Don’t worry, I’m about to give you all my secrets!
- Pat dry the chicken with paper towels. The dryer the skin, the better it will crisp when roasted. Even better if you can do it the night before and leave the chicken in the fridge, uncovered, to let it dry out some more.
- Season like you mean it! Inside the cavity, in the herb paste, all over the chicken and the potatoes. Life’s too short to eat bland chicken!
- Cold butter. This is possibly my biggest secret. I put two tablespoons of cold butter on each breast, under the skin. The cold butter melts slowly, allowing the meat to absorb it. If you use softened butter, you risk it melting too quickly and running down the breasts and into the pan.
- Truss the chicken! Tying the chicken will help the dark and white meat finish cooking at around the same time.
- Basting, basting, basting. We have so many amazing elements in this recipe. Garlic, herbs, lemon, onion, butter and olive oil. As the chicken cooks and the juices collect in the pan, make sure to spoon them back into the chicken!
- Use a thermometer to ensure you don’t over or undercook your chicken.
What you’ll need to buy:
- Whole chicken, about 4 pounds
- Onion, 1 large
- Lemons, 2
- Garlic, 1 whole head + 3 cloves
- Baby potatoes, 1 pound
- Herbs, 1 bunch parsley and a few sprigs of tarragon
Not a fan of tarragon? Just skip it or substitute with your favorite herbs!
Ingredients I assume you already have at home. But, if not, make sure to grab them at the store!
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
Should I rinse raw chicken before cooking?
Despite my grandma’s recommendations, I never rinse my chicken.
In fact, in 2019 the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) issued an emphatic reminder on social media saying that people should not wash raw chicken.
According to that warning, washing raw poultry can spread germs to other food or utensils in your kitchen. As the water from the faucet hits the bird, it will splash and spread tiny imperceptible specs of raw chicken juices all over your sink, countertops and surrounding objects.
So, no, don’t wash your chicken. It is both ineffective and possibly dangerous!
As long as you cook the chicken to the USDA recommended temperature you’re good, as the heat will kill any bacterias.
And don’t forget to always wash your hands after handling raw poultry!
How to truss a chicken and why should you do it
Trussing a chicken means tying up the limbs with twine to hold the bird together, which promotes even cooking and ensures that the ingredients we insert in the cavity stay there, releasing the aromas and flavors in the chicken and not on the pan.
While it is not mandatory – your roasted chicken will be delicious regardless – I highly recommend it.
There are several techniques out there, some more sophisticated and some as simple as crossing the thigh bones together and tying a knot with the twine.
Here’s how I do it:
- Place the chicken breast side up on a cutting board. Run the center of about 3 feet of twine under the chicken, behind the wings.
- Pull the string up towards the wings and legs, tucking the wings in.
- Cross the twine underneath the edge of the breast, pulling tight.
- Loop the edges of the twine under the legs, then over the top of the thighs. Wrap the string over the leg bones and pull them tight together.
- Flip the chicken over and cross the twine, pulling tight and tying a knot. Trim the extra twine.
How to roast a chicken
If you’ve never roasted a chicken before, it is time to master this skill!
The good news is that it is easier than it looks like. Most of the work will be when you are prepping the bird, rubbing it with the herbs and tying it so it cooks perfectly.
Yes, getting under the skin with your fingers can be a little… well… gross! But once you’ve done it once or twice, you get used to it. Especially because rubbing the breast meat with the herbs and garlic is what makes this recipe so flavorful!
But after 10 to 15 minutes of prepping, all you gotta do is relax and let your oven do its job. Don’t go too far though! You’ll have to baste every 15-20 minutes to make sure the pan juices go where they belong: inside the chicken.
Here’s how I make this herb and lemon roasted chicken recipe. As always, you will find the printable (and more complete) version of the recipe at the end of this post!
Step 1: Make the herb paste
- Combine the herbs, olive oil, garlic and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper. (Photo 1)
Step 2: Prepare the chicken
- Pat dry the chicken – inside and out – with a paper towel and season the chicken’s cavity with salt and pepper. Use a sharp knife to make a few slits on the legs so the flavors can get in there too.
- Use your fingers to carefully loosen the chicken skin. Start by sliding your fingers between the meat and the skin, and gently work your way through as far as you can reach, separating the skin from the breast. (Photo 2)
- Grab 1/2 of the herb paste and use your fingers to rub it beneath the loosened skin, directly into the breast meat. Insert two tablespoons of the sliced butter under the skin on each side. (Photo 3)
- Insert the whole head of garlic (with the top sliced off to expose the cloves) and the halved lemon inside the chicken’s cavity. (Photo 4)
- Truss the chicken with butcher’s twine. (Photo 5)
Step 3: Arrange the chicken in a baking dish
- Transfer the chicken to a roasting dish or a large cast iron skillet. Arrange the potatoes and quartered onion around the chicken. (Photo 6)
- Rub the outside of the chicken with the remaining herb paste, drizzling some on the potatoes as well. (Photo 7)
- Season generously with salt and pepper, and drizzle everything with olive oil. (Photo 8)
Step 4: Roast the herb and lemon chicken in the oven
- Roast the chicken at 400 degrees F for 1 to 1.5 hours, basting every 15 minutes with the pan juices. (Photo 9)
How to tell when a roast chicken is done
The best way to know when a roasted chicken is done is to insert an instant-read thermometer between the leg and the breast. The temperature should read between 160 and 165 degrees F.
That being said, if you don’t have a thermometer, you can slice the skin between the leg and the breast and take a look at the juices. If the juices are clear, the chicken is done. If they are still pink, you have to cook longer.
|Olivia’s Tip: I know it’s hard to resist digging into this marvelous bird as soon as it’s out of the oven. But you should allow your roasted chicken to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving it so the moisture can be re-absorbed and redistributed through the meat. Rested chicken = juicy chicken!
What to serve with Herb and Lemon Roasted Chicken
This herb and lemon roasted chicken is already roasted with potatoes, making it what I call a satisfying meal!
If you want to add another side, you could serve it with a simple green salad or another vegetable, like green beans or broccoli.
It would also pair great with these sides:
- Sautéed Green Beans with Garlic and Almonds
- Moroccan Couscous Pilaf
- Corn Couscous
- Cheesy Brussels Sprouts
- Farofa (Toasted Manioc Flour)
Can you roast this herb and lemon roasted chicken in advance?
Unfortunately, you won’t get the same juiciness from a chicken that was roasted yesterday and reheated.
I’ve seen some articles recommending partially cooking the chicken and then finishing right before serving. That is dangerous advice!
Chicken is an ideal host for many foodborne pathogens and par-cooking it increases that risk substantially.
Bummer, I know! We all lead busy lives and want to get as much done in advance as possible, especially when hosting a party!
The best you can do is roasting the chicken before your guests arrive and let it rest for half an hour. Then, when you party starts, pop it back into the hot oven for 5 to 10 minutes to flash reheat it!
How to reheat Herb and Lemon Roasted Chicken without drying it out
My favorite way of reheating leftover chicken is in the oven. It helps keep the skin crispy and the inside as succulent as it can be, although it won’t be as moist as when it was fresh out of the oven!
To reheat, place the chicken in an oven safe dish, pour a cup of chicken broth in the bottom of the dish and cover everything with foil.
Place it in the oven, at 350 degrees F, for about 25 minutes. Then, remove the foil and let it roast for another 5 minutes for the skin to crisp up again.
|Did you make this recipe? I love hearing from you! Please comment and leave a 5-star rating below. You can also take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #oliviascuisine.
Herb and Lemon Roasted Chicken
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- Zest of one lemon
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 4-pound whole chicken
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, divided
- 1 whole head garlic
- 1 lemon, halved
- 1 pound baby potatoes, halved
- 1 large onion, quartered
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a small bowl, combine the chopped herbs, olive oil, minced garlic and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper. Reserve.
- Place the chicken, breast side up, on a large cutting board. Remove the giblets and trim excess fat. Season the chicken cavity with salt and pepper. Carefully use your fingers to loose the skin over the breasts. Using a sharp knife, make a few slits (3 or 4) on each thigh to allow the flavors to penetrate.
- Spread half of the herb mixture under the chicken skin, being careful not to tear it. Place two tablespoons of butter under the skin on each side.
- Slice the top of the garlic head off, exposing the cloves. Insert the lemon halves and garlic head into the chicken’s cavity.
- Truss the chicken with butcher’s twine, tightly closing the legs together.
- Rub the chicken with the remaining herb mixture and season with salt and pepper.
- Scatter the potatoes and onion wedges around the chicken. Drizzle the chicken and potatoes with more olive oil.
- Roast for 1 to 1.5 hours, basting every 15 minutes with the pan juices and rotating the pan, until the chicken is golden brown and a kitchen thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thighs reads between 160 and 165 degrees F. If, by this point, the potatoes are not yet golden brown, remove the chicken to a cutting board and place the roasting dish with the potatoes back into the oven.
- Let the chicken stand for 10 minutes before carving. Discard onion wedges.
- Serve with the potatoes and pan juices.