Classic Roast Chicken with Lemon and Herbs

by jenna on September 24, 2012

There is just something so comforting about roasting a chicken.

As much as I love baking cookies, the scent of a chicken roasting in the oven might just win. It makes my whole house smell like fall. And the leftovers! Oh, the leftovers. Well, we are determined what you are doing with these leftovers. So.flipping.delicious.

This isn’t so much a detailed recipe as it is a “method”. Everyone seems to have a little bit of a different way that they like to roast their chicken and this is mine. I’m pretty biased, but I really think it’s the absolute best. It’s a classic, what can I say?

I start with a juicy lemon, some fresh thyme and rosemary, soft butter, sea salt, and some minced garlic.

I wash my chicken inside and out {pulling out the giblet packet from inside!}, then stuff the lemon + garlic right inside the chicken.

Then comes the best part: the butter. I break my butter into tiny pieces and then place it underneath the chicken skin, along with the fresh herbs. I promise, this will guarantee the crispest skin ever! Nothing like buttering your skin!

Sea salt is sprinkled all over and then the chicken is placed in the oven for 90 minutes.


Just look at this guy right after he comes out of the oven? Does a more beautiful sight even exist?

Let him sit for about 20 minutes before carving. I got SO much meat off this one, it was ridiculous! And wouldn’t you know that I used every last bit to make a big batch of Cajun Chicken Mac-n-Cheese.

Hope you guys enjoy this version of roast chicken! I don’t know what it is about it, but it never ever gets old. If you’ve never attempted to roast a chicken before, this is a great place to start.

Classic Roast Chicken with Lemon and Herbs

serves 4

Print this Recipe!


3 1/2 – 4lb whole chicken, preferably free-range and organic

4 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

fresh thyme, minced

fresh rosemary, minced

1 tsp salt

1 whole lemon, sliced in half

2 tsp minced garlic


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Unwrap your chicken and wash under cold water. Remove the giblets and throw away. Pat chicken dry with paper towels.

Stick your lemon halves inside the chicken, along with the minced garlic. Place small pieces of butter, thyme and rosemary underneath chicken skin (lift up to stick butter and herbs under).

Sprinkle salt all over chicken and place chicken in a roasting pan. Roast for 90 minutes, until an internal thermometer reads 165 degrees. Remove chicken from the oven, remove lemon from the inside (you can toss the lemon), and let sit in the roasting pan for 20 minutes before slicing.


~2 hours

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{ 67 comments… read them below or add one }

Blog is the New Black September 24, 2012 at 4:37 am

Simple and delicious and classic! I love the combo of lemon and thyme. Looks fab.


Liz @ Tip Top Shape September 24, 2012 at 4:57 am

I’ve never made roast chicken before, but now I think I have to!! This looks amazing 😀


Molly @ RDexposed September 24, 2012 at 5:10 am

I’ll never forget 2 years ago when I was commuting 2.5 hours daily and came home one fall day to a roasting chicken in the oven. Life had meaning again at that point!


Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat September 24, 2012 at 5:11 am

I’ll admit, I’ll take the smell of roasted chicken over cookies any day! This weekend I attended a food festival where we were taught about how to use all parts of the chicken in various dishes (hearts, livers and all!) I’m a pretty adventurous eater but really didn’t feel that way at 11am. The samples of the braised thighs however, were delish! While I’m not prepared to butcher a chicken (which we were taught how to do in detail), I’d certainly try my hand at roasting one like you have here!


Joelle (on a pink typewriter) September 24, 2012 at 5:11 am

I have a recipe like this in my blog too.. I agree- roast chicken is very comforting!


Angela @ Happy Fit Mama September 24, 2012 at 5:24 am

Roasting a chicken reminds me of my grandmother. Every Sunday she would roast a chicken and spend the whole day planning Grandma’s Sunday Dinner.


Jenna September 24, 2012 at 5:52 am

How pretty!


Ali @ Gimme Some Oven September 24, 2012 at 6:21 am

This looks amazing! Definitely my idea of comfort food. Beautiful!


Lauren @ The Homeostatic Mindset September 24, 2012 at 6:25 am

Mmmm, looks so yummy! It would depend on my mood, but I think cookies would still win out for me 😉


amy walters, aDESIGNdock September 24, 2012 at 6:32 am

Roast Chicken is such comfort food for me, but I have to admit…I’ve always been intimidated at the thought of roasting a “whole” one. Thanks for de-mystifying the process.


Laurie {Simply Scratch} September 24, 2012 at 6:36 am

I love this! Looks so so good!


Mandy September 24, 2012 at 6:43 am

Yum!! I might need to roast a chicken this week.


Jenny @ BAKE September 24, 2012 at 6:46 am

beautiful photos!


domonique @ a bowl full of simple September 24, 2012 at 6:52 am

Perfect every time!


Kathleen September 24, 2012 at 7:10 am

This looks delicious! Do you cover the chicken while roasting? Can’t wait to make it!!


jenna September 24, 2012 at 7:13 am

Nope, I do not!


Ashley September 24, 2012 at 7:14 am

Hi Jenna! Can one make this chicken in a crock pot? If so, what would you recommend?


jenna September 24, 2012 at 7:19 am

No, because you wouldn’t get the crispy golden crust that’s only achieved by roasting in the oven. If you cook it in a crock pot, it would simmer in it’s own juice and cook…but it wouldn’t be “roasted”.


Ashley September 24, 2012 at 7:52 am



Jessalyn September 24, 2012 at 7:40 am

Looks delicioius–I’ve tried roasting a whole chicken a couple of times. However, the problem I always seem to have is that, due to the high temperature, the chicken splatters grease all over my oven and subsequently begins burning and smoking (sometimes setting off my smoke detectors). Although the chicken always tastes great, I avoid roasting one because it makes such a mess! Is there any way to avoid this?


Jessalyn September 24, 2012 at 7:40 am

Whoops, delicious*!


doodles September 24, 2012 at 7:41 am

something about rosemary, thyme and lemon…………tasty!! Do you put your chick on a rack to lift off the bottom of the pan? Great photos!


Averie @ Averie Cooks September 24, 2012 at 7:45 am

Anything with lemon and herbs just has such a great flavor. I am a huge fan of rosemary!


Emily September 24, 2012 at 8:07 am

I also like to put fresh sage in the chicken cavity with the garlic, lemon and rosemary. However washing the chicken isn’t a good idea as the water spray and mist can spread campylobacter around the kitchen and increase the risk of food poisoning.


allie@sweetpotatobites September 24, 2012 at 8:17 am

nothing beats a roast chicken – and rosemary with chicken? swoon.


Lauren Z. September 24, 2012 at 8:51 am

This looks so delicious! I’ve also been intimiated by roasting a whole chicken before, but I’m just gonna have to go for it! When you take the internal temp, are you looking for 165 on the light meat (breast) or on the dark meat (thigh/leg)? Thanks Jenna!


Corrie Anne September 24, 2012 at 9:10 am

What a great classic meal… that I had no clue how to make. I think my husband eats dark meat so maybe I can attempt it!!


Jaynie @Junabug September 24, 2012 at 9:59 am

I love to roast my chicken with butter and rosemary. I will have to make this soon!

PS…. I’m in the middle of reading your book. So inspiring!


Laura @ She Eats Well September 24, 2012 at 11:49 am

Love this recipe and can’t wait to try it. It is all about crispy delicious salty chicken skin. And Trader Joes sells organic, well priced whole chickens, so I can’t wait to pick one up!


Megan September 24, 2012 at 11:59 am

You make chicken look so beautiful!! Your photography is amazing!


Caroline L. September 24, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Can’t think of anything more classic or delicious. Yum!


Courtney September 24, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Too funny! We also roasted a chicken last night and I couldn’t stop talking about how amazing the house smelled. We used about the same ingredients except added fennel seed. We are using our leftovers to make white chicken chili. Yummy!


Heather @ girlyeverafter September 24, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Roast chicken is a staple at our house on busy weeks. I make it on Sunday and have it ready for grab and go meals throughout the wk. It’s so much easier and cheaper than buying separate breasts, legs, or thighs.


Suzanne de Cornelia September 24, 2012 at 1:06 pm

When I had a storybook ivy-covered English cottage in the woods in Carmel-by-the-Sea…the kitchen had French doors out to a flower-filled deck with a splashing small fountain. Next to the French doors was a fireplace that in the winter always had a glowing fire…and you could hear the crashing sea. And if that wasn’t enough paradise…I used to roast this very chicken except with tons of rosemary and new potatoes in the pan, and using olive oil instead of butter. Alas, I quit eating meat–but still can smell how delicious.

The funny part is that DEER would come and stare in through the French doors! Hey, you guys aren’t carnivores!

Anyway, enough of Memory Lane. Jenna, am giving a copy of your book away today on my blog. The California Wine Festival has branched-out for the first time from Santa Barbara/Laguna to the historic heart of Old Monterey for this weekend. Thought I’d mention as know how much you love this area–and thought it fit with the event.


Laura@HappySugarHabits September 24, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Wow those pictures look incredible. I have actually never roasted a chicken myself before but now I have your recipe I might have to give it a go!


Sam @ Better With Sprinkles September 24, 2012 at 3:43 pm

I always feel a little bit proud of myself every time I roast a chicken – I may have to try your version Jenna!


Emily @ Life on Food September 24, 2012 at 5:11 pm

The essential Sunday night supper right here. Yum, yum!


Linda September 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Never go wrong with roast chicken, esp. with lemon and herbs like this. I’m sure the fragrant smells and taste are awesome! Now, I need to give it a try.


afarmerinthedell September 24, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Looks delicious! So simple. We just did our first pig roast this weekend for my husbands 30th birthday. It was awesome, but I am sticking to something more simple like roasted chicken for his 31st! Thanks for the recipe!


Amanda Simmonds September 24, 2012 at 5:44 pm


It was amazing meeting you tonight. Thank you for taking time to come to Charlotte! I cannot wait to read your book. You and your mom were very sweet and welcoming! I bet your brother is smiling down from heaven. It was a pleasure getting to know you and your family. Have a great rest of your book tour!



Kristin @ FoodFash September 24, 2012 at 5:44 pm

I would have never thought to put the butter and herbs under the skin. I’ll have to test this out the next time I have a group over for dinner!


Michelle September 24, 2012 at 7:34 pm

I’m inspired. I want to roast a chicken right now..


Julia {The Roasted Root} September 24, 2012 at 7:34 pm

The scent of chicken roasting in the oven definitely rivals baked goods…as big as my sweet tooth is, I agree with you – roasted chicken is killer! Next time I do a roasted chicken, I’ll follow your method! :)


Katie @ Katie Grows Green September 24, 2012 at 7:43 pm

Wow, I’m all set for autumn with this recipe! Thanks for sharing :)


Melody September 24, 2012 at 8:05 pm

YUM. I’ve never roasted a chicken but my mom does it all the time. So good! Crispy, buttery skin. Ahhh!


Melanie @ Nutritious Eats September 24, 2012 at 9:59 pm

When I experimented eating vegan, roast chicken is what I miss the most! This is how I make mine too- it’s the best.


Rachel @ Baked by Rachel September 25, 2012 at 6:32 am

I need a roast asap. I eye them a lot but rarely pick one up.


Lindsay September 25, 2012 at 7:51 am

This makes me extra happy it is fall time. I love roasting chicken! I can’t wait to try this!


Natalie @ Free Range Human September 25, 2012 at 10:37 am

This is great! I love roasted chicken, but it intimidates me!


Kels H. September 25, 2012 at 10:42 am

Can you roast it sans skin for fewer calories?


jenna September 25, 2012 at 10:48 am

No- if you want few calories just pull the skin off after you roast! If you roast without the skin you will end up with one dry chicken! 😉


Sarah September 25, 2012 at 10:46 am

It may be a classic but it looks gorgeous! I can never be bothered to put butter under the skin but maybe I should give it a go.


Ally September 25, 2012 at 11:53 am

I made this last night and it was absolutely perfect for a chilly fall NYC evening. Paired it with your Fall Harvest Salad = delicious!


Kari@Loaves and Dishes September 25, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Roasting is so great for entertaining. The oven does all the work, while I enjoy my guests. This is a terrific recipe/method. Love it!


Kiran @ September 25, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Oh yum! I love roasting a whole chicken. Yours came out perfectly golden and yum!


Anna @ ApronHearts September 25, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Roasted chicken is one of my favorite meals and so simple to prepare, I will definitely try your version with thyme, looks delicious!!!!


Veronica September 25, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Hi Jenna! I wanted to express my admiration of your blog and recipes! I discovered you last week and I have already made the White Chicken Chili….my husband and kids loved it! This roasted chicken recipe looks amazing….I can’t wait to try it as well. I wanted to also sing your praises for openly, but not over bearingly recognizing your faith;) From one foodie and blogger to another….keep up the good work! Keep inspiring the rest of us.


alice September 25, 2012 at 8:48 pm

I’ve always wanted to cook a roast chicken at home! I’m going to try this recipe.
Btw, I wanted to say Congratulations on your new book! I’ve been reading your blog for a long time now and it’s amazing to see how far you’ve come. It really is inspirational.


Lauren @ Part Time House Wife September 26, 2012 at 2:18 am

It’s beautiful! I bought a chicken to roast the other day! They’re so simple it’s sick and it tastes so good on a fall night!


The Spatularettes September 30, 2012 at 7:23 pm

What a great classic recipe! I made this for Sunday dinner for my friends tonight and we all loved it. Can’t wait to enjoy the leftovers all week!


Lyndsy October 6, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Have you ever cooked with the giblets? We have our own chickens and I try to use every part of the chicken but really don’t know how or what to do with giblets.


Shirley October 7, 2012 at 7:43 am

I’ve never been good at cooking roast chicken, but tried this yesterday and it was absolutely amazing!!!


Matt October 15, 2012 at 11:08 am

My girlfriend and I made this last night! We loved it :)


Melody Rich November 3, 2012 at 11:16 am

Jenna! I made this last night when my family came over for dinner and they LOVED it. It was first time ever roasting a chicken and was completely grossed out when the necks fell out of the cavities, but I pressed on! :) We have TONS of leftovers! I can’t wait to try your white chicken chili with some of it!

PS. The last time they were over for dinner I made your buttermilk fried chicken and they died. It was SO. GOOD. Thanks for being awesome :)


Jenna November 5, 2012 at 10:54 am

Have never tried roasting a chicken before (too intimidated!) but am going to try your method. Question for you… do you place directly in the pan (and if so do you put olive oil or anything in the pan first?) or do you place a roasting rack (not sure if that’s what it’s actually called) in the pan and set the chicken in that? Thanks for your help!

p.s. LOVED your book!!!


megan February 1, 2013 at 3:53 am

I want to make this so badly! I’m afraid I’ll mess up, though. I’ve never cooked a whole chicken before (now we have 2 in the freezer!). I don’t have a meat thermomete, is there another foolproof way of telling its done? I’ve read the juices will run clear and the legs will wiggle. Thank you! I’ll probably attempt it this weekend. My friends deserve a good feast. :)


Mary Anne November 30, 2014 at 9:12 pm

This is my go-to chicken recipe now. It comes out perfectly every time and I love to cook it once a week. Thank you for posting it!


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