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Honey Lemon Roast Chicken is a fresh whole chicken roasted in the oven with lots of lemon and herbs and a sweet honey baste. It’s tender and juicy, with a crispy skin that everyone loves.

roast chicken in a round pan with potatoes and lemons, blue napkin

This classic dinner recipe is as easy as it is delicious. It’s perfect for Sunday supper, served with some Oven Roasted Broccoli and fresh homemade dinner rolls.

Roasting a Whole Chicken

If you’ve been intimidated by the thought of roasting a whole chicken, you’re not alone! It took me years to work up the courage to work with a whole bird like this. But I figured if I could do it with our Thanksgiving Turkey, I could definitely hold my own with a chicken.

Aside from touching the raw meat, which is just something you have to get past (I promise, it’s really not that bad), it’s super easy to prep a whole chicken. Just pat it dry with some paper towels (don’t wash it – more about that later), rub in the seasonings, and roast! You want the chicken to be as dry as possibly to get that super crispy skin.

Lemon Roast Chicken is totally budget friendly – buying a whole chicken is usually about half the cost of buying individual pieces. There is a ton of flavor cooking chicken on the bone like this, and you get that crispy, flavorful skin. Plus you can fit two whole chickens in a large roasting pan and you can make enough to feed a large family or have tons of leftovers for chicken soup, casseroles and sandwiches.

raw whole chicken with potatoes and lemon in a round pan, thyme sprigs, chicken has butter all over it.

What is a good temperature to roast chicken in the oven?

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. As soon as you place your chicken in the oven, turn the oven down to 375 degrees. The reason for this is to have the chicken cook at a higher temperature for a short time, then finish at a lower temperature to lock in the juices and keep the meat super tender. Plus it gives that crispy skin a nice head start!

How to Roast a Chicken

  1. Prep work. Preheat your oven and prepare a roasting pan or line a baking dish with foil or parchment paper for easy clean up.
  2. Prep the chicken. Remove the giblets and neck from the cavity of the chicken, if included, and discard or save/freeze to make dressing or gravy another time. Pat dry the chicken with paper towels inside and out.
  3. Make the rub. Mix together softened butter, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh lemon juice, parsley, thyme and garlic. Place the chicken in the pan. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over the chicken then rub the butter mixture all over with your hands. Get in there and get messy – rub all over the outside and under the skin of the chicken, even the inside! This is going to flavor the meat and the skin. Place the thyme into the chicken cavity. Arrange potatoes and squeezed lemon halves around the chicken.
  4. Roast. Get that chicken in the oven and immediately turn down the temperature to 375 degrees F. Roast the chicken for about an hour.
  5. Honey & baste. Grab a pastry brush and some honey and go to town, brushing that sticky honey all over the chicken skin. Baste with some of the juices from the pan.
  6. Rest. Once the internal temp reaches 165 degrees F (test the meaty part of the thigh bit make sure not to touch the bone) remove the lemon roast chicken from the oven. Tent with foil and let it rest so the juices can redistribute. Carve it up and serve with potatoes and your favorite veggies.

white bowls with chicken pieces, mushrooms and lemons

Are you supposed to wash your chicken?

I say this with emphasis – do not wash your chicken! Washing your chicken can easily spread harmful bacteria as droplets can travel to other food and surfaces in your kitchen. This is called cross-contamination.

Chicken does not need to be rinsed. Any bacteria will be killed when the chicken is cooked to the appropriate internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

How to Serve Lemon Roast Chicken

Carve your whole roasted chicken into 6-8 pieces. I usually cut the breasts out whole, then in half, then cut off the wings, and cut the drumstick and thighs in half.

If you’re cooking potatoes with your chicken, you can serve those as a side dish. You also add veggies to the roasting pan, like carrots, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and onions.

Some of our favorite side dishes for lemon roast chicken include Garlic Mashed PotatoesEasy Rice Pilaf or a simple Garden Salad with Homemade Ranch Dressing.

tongs lifting a drumstick off a whole chicken in a pan

Make Ahead, Storage and Freezing

Make Ahead: You can prep your chicken up to 30 minutes in advance, cover and refrigerate until ready to roast. I don’t recommend letting it sit longer than that because the acid in the lemon juice can end up “cooking” the chicken, making it tough.

Storing Leftovers: Keep leftover chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave or use in other recipes.

Freezing: This lemon roast chicken makes excellent shredded chicken to keep on hand. Store in resealable freezer bags for up to 6 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight to use in your favorite recipes.

spoon basting juices over a whole chicken in a pan, thyme sprigs

More Chicken Recipes to Try


Lemon Roast Chicken

5 from 10 votes
Honey Lemon Roast Chicken is a crispy skinned, tender and juicy whole chicken roasted in the oven with lemon, herbs and a sweet honey baste.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings


  • 4 pounds whole chicken
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup butter softened
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 4 lemons halved
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 5 garlic cloves minced
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 8 ounces ounce baby potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons honey
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  • Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line a shallow pan or baking tray with parchment paper.
  • Remove the giblets and neck from the cavity of the chicken, if included, and discard or save/freeze to make dressing or gravy another time. Pat dry the chicken with paper towels inside and out.
  • Place the chicken in the pan, breast side up. Season with salt and pepper inside and outside. With a fork and in a small bowl, combine softened butter, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, juice from lemons, parsley, thyme and garlic and rub all over the whole chicken, under the skin and inside the cavity.
  • Place the thyme into the chicken cavity. Arrange potatoes and squeezed lemon halves around the chicken.
  • Turn the oven down to 375 degrees F. Roast for 1 hour. Halfway through cooking time, baste with the juice and brush honey on the chicken. Keep basting the chicken every 10-15 minutes until internal temperature registers 165 on an instant read digital thermometer.
  • Remove from the oven and tent with foil for 10-15 minutes before carving and serving. Drizzle with pan juice and serve with potatoes and your choice of vegetables.


Cook the chicken uncovered unless it begins to brown too much and you don’t like it too crispy. Then use a foil.
Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
Keyword lemon roast chicken, roast chicken, whole roasted chicken


Calories: 655kcalCarbohydrates: 32gProtein: 43gFat: 40gSaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 163mgSodium: 163mgPotassium: 856mgFiber: 5gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 711IUVitamin C: 83mgCalcium: 87mgIron: 4mg

Nutritional Disclaimer Kristin Maxwell of "Yellow Bliss Road" is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. For accurate calorie counts and other nutritional values, we recommend running the ingredients through your preferred online nutritional calculator. Calories and other nutritional values can vary depending on which brands were used.

Kristin Maxwell

Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.

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5 from 10 votes (9 ratings without comment)

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  1. David Benere says:

    This is a keeper! Substituted rosemary for thyme. Didn’t have fresh thyme available.
    Pared with a 2015 Pinot Noir

    1. Kristin says:

      Nice! Thanks for stopping by David.