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Roast Lemon Chicken with Garlic & Herbs

Brian Hagiwara

Servings: four.

If you don’t have an open bottle of white wine to use for deglazing the pan, just use some of the lemon juice that gets squeezed over the chicken.


  • 3- to 5-lb. roasting chicken
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened
  • Finely chopped zest of 1 lemon (reserve the lemon itself)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (or a mix of parsley and basil)
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 whole lemon (in addition to the zested lemon, above)
  • 2 heads garlic, cut in half crosswise
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

For the sauce

  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • About 3-1/2 cups homemade or low-salt chicken stock
  • 2 Tbs. heavy cream (optional)

Nutritional Information

  • Nutritional Sample Size based on 3-lb. chicken
  • Calories (kcal) : 540
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 330
  • Fat (g): 36
  • Saturated Fat (g): 13
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 6
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 15
  • Cholesterol (mg): 155
  • Sodium (mg): 410
  • Carbohydrates (g): 4
  • Fiber (g): 1
  • Protein (g): 45


  • Heat the oven to 450°F. Remove the packet of giblets from the cavity of the chicken (and save for use in a stock if you like — but don’t include the liver, which will make the stock bitter). Pull any loose fat from around the opening. Rinse the chicken inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels. Rub the outside of the chicken with about 1 Tbs. of the softened butter. Mix the remaining 2 Tbs. butter with the chopped lemon zest and herbs. Rub the butter on the inside of the cavity and under the breast skin (see photos). Sprinkle the inside and outside of the bird with the salt and pepper. Pierce the whole lemon with a sharp knife and put it in the cavity of the chicken. Brush the garlic halves liberally with the olive oil and reserve.

    Slip your seasonings under the skin for full flavor and moist meat. Rub the chicken all over with softened butter, gently pushing the butter and other seasonings under the skin without tearing it.

  • Put the chicken, breast side up, on a V-shaped rack (or a flat rack) and set the rack in a roasting pan just larger than the rack. Cut the zested lemon in half and squeeze both halves over the chicken. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, reduce the heat to 375°F, set the garlic halves in the pan near the chicken, and continue roasting for about 45 minutes more for a total of about 1 hour for a 3-lb. chicken. For larger birds, add another 10 minutes for each additional pound. The chicken is done when the leg wiggles freely in its joint and when the juices run clear from the thigh when you prick it and from the cavity when you tilt the bird. A thermometer inserted into the lower meaty part of the thigh should register 170°F. Set the chicken on a warm platter, propping up the hindquarters with an inverted saucer, and tent with foil to keep it warm while you make the sauce. Remove the rack from the pan.
  • Make the sauce from the pan drippings (see photos). Carve the chicken and serve the meat drizzled with some sauce and with the roasted garlic on the side.

    Good drippings are the foundation for a good sauce. Tilt the pan and spoon off as much fat as possible. Set the pan over high heat to caramelize all the juices, but be careful not to let them burn.


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Reviews (1 review)

  • nancy61 | 02/23/2008

    I used this recipe twice, once without the sauce, and once with. Either way, the chicken came out very tender and juicy and very tasty. The sauce was a wonderful addition the second time around. By reducing the sauce twice, the flavors in the sauce were very intense, and it seemed liked they really popped with each bite of chicken.The only reason this recipe didn't get 5 stars was because of the roasted garlic. The first time I made the recipe, I used a flat rack in the roasting pan, and the garlic roasted very nicely. But when I used a v-shaped rack (as the recipe suggests), the garlic got overdone and slightly burned, so I think the flat rack works better.One further note: the first time I made this my friend made orzo salad (with chili peppers, pine nuts, spinach, and garlic) to go with it. It really complemented the chicken very nicely.

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