Classic French Lemon Herb Roast Chicken

Roasted chicken is comfort food at it’s best.  This recipe is easy to make, giving a wonderfully savoury, crisp, tangy skin.  The smell of it roasting in the oven is enough to whet anybody’s appetite.  A definite crowd pleaser.  I usually serve it with sweet potato chunks (as opposed to regular potato, for health reasons) roasted in the pan along with the chicken and a simple green salad tossed with extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper.

serves 4


  • whole chicken (the larger the better)
  • 2 lemons, halved and juiced (reserve the juiced halves)
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed with the side of your knife
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 tbsp. melted butter
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed into 1″ chunks

1. Pre-heat your oven to 500F.

2.  In a bowl large enough to hold the chicken, combine lemon juice, garlic cloves, thyme, rosemary, 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper and stir together.

3.  Roll the whole chicken around in the bowl, coating it all over with the lemon juice mixture.

4.  Season the chicken liberally with salt and pepper, both the outside and the cavity.  Stuff the cavity with the garlic cloves, herbs and as many of the lemon halves as will fit.

5.  In a large, shallow roasting pan, make a bed out of the onion slices and place the chicken on top, tucking the wings behind the chicken’s back.  Drizzle with olive oil.

6.  Put the chicken in the oven and reduce heat to 400F.

7.  After 30 minutes, remove chicken from oven, distribute sweet potato chunks around the chicken, turning in the drippings to coat.  Drizzle the melted butter over the chicken and return to the oven for another 45 minutes, or until chicken is done.

8.  Remove chicken from oven and let sit for 10-15 minutes before carving and serving.

Tips and Tricks

Many people truss the chicken, tying the legs together.  I don’t bother.  This is done primarily for presentation, but I find that when trussed, the breast fully cooks before the inside of the chicken thighs.  Cooking a trussed chicken until the thighs are done usually leaves you with overcooked (and dry) breast meat.

Don’t be too shy with the salt.  Chicken, steaks, and most meats can tolerate and benefit from a little extra salt.

Cooking time is approximate and depends on the size of your chicken.  One to one and a half hours is generally sufficient.  If you are unsure, use a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh.  It should register at least 165F.  The temperature will rise another 5 to 10 degrees after resting outside of the oven.


About foodcompanion

personal chef, caterer, crossfit and weight training enthusiast

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