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Roast Chicken with Rosemary-Lemon Salt

Scott Phillips

Servings: One whole chicken four for dinner; the second yields enough to make two additional meals.

For a very flavorful roast chicken, I like to liven up plain old kosher salt by mixing it with some fresh rosemary and lemon zest. Pulsing it in the food processor helps release the flavorful oils from the zest and the rosemary. This recipe is for two chickens, which will give you leftover meat to use in salads, wraps, or this quick stir-fry.


  • 2 medium lemons
  • 2 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 4-lb. chickens, giblets and excess fat discarded
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Nutritional Information

  • Nutritional Sample Size based on eight servings
  • Calories (kcal) : 570
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 310
  • Fat (g): 35
  • Saturated Fat (g): 12
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 7
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 13
  • Cholesterol (mg): 205
  • Sodium (mg): 1160
  • Carbohydrates (g): 0
  • Fiber (g): 0
  • Protein (g): 59


  • Finely grate the zest from the lemons. In a food processor or mini chopper, combine the zest with the 2 Tbs. salt, the rosemary, and black pepper. Pulse several times to combine.
  • Sprinle each chicken with this salt mixture both inside and outside the cavity and between the skin and the breast meat (use your fingers to gently open up a pocket between the two). Cut 1 of the lemons in half and stuff a half in the cavity of each bird. Reserve the remaining lemon for another use. Set the chickens on a wire rack atop a rimmed baking sheet, and refrigerate uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
  • About 30 minutes before you’re ready to roast the chickens, set an oven rack in the middle position and heat the oven to 425°F. Take the chickens out of the refrigerator and brush the butter uniformly over the skin. Sprinkle each chicken with 1/2 tsp. salt. Set each chicken, breast side up, on 1 or 2 racks (preferably a nonadjustable V-rack) in a large roasting pan. Let the chickens rest at room temperature while the oven heats.
  • Roast the chickens until the breasts are nicely browned and crisp, about 40 minutes. Gently flip each chicken (I like using tongs to clutch the inside ofthe cavity and the side of the bird) and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165°F to 170°F, about 20 minutes more. Let rest for 5 minutes before carving one of the chickens into pieces.
  • Find more recipes like this one in 150 Things to Make With Roast Chicken, by Fine Cooking contributing editor Tony Rosenfeld. Get two meals in one, with 50 ideas for roasting the bird, plus recipes for casseroles, soups, stews, wraps, salads and more using the leftovers.


Salting seasons the bird, of course, but if you can do it a day, or even a few hours, ahead, you’ll get more flavorful meat and crisper skin.


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Reviews (9 reviews)

  • CJMason | 09/17/2017

    Such a great staple recipe! Love having the extra for another use. A Sunday night favourite.

  • RosieGirl | 07/19/2015

    This is one of my go to recipes. I know that this alwasy comes out incredible - I get rave reviews every time, and have given this recipe out many times. I have made it in the oven, but now make it in my big green egg and roasting it over charcoal just elevates even further. Definitely better when you give it 12 hours to sit in the fridge, but even at 4 hours it is still very good.

  • LArcher | 08/28/2014

    Awesome recipe! I only refrigerated the chicken for 5 hours and the flavor was fantastic. I will keep this recipe in mind the next time I am entertaining and want to prepare the chicken the day before. My kids loved it!

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