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.
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
Prep work. Preheat your oven and prepare a roasting pan or line a baking dish with foil or parchment paper for easy clean up.
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.
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.
Roast. Get that chicken in the oven and immediately turn down the temperature to 375 degrees F. Roast the chicken for about an hour.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
TipsCook 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.
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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.