Lemon-Rosemary Roast Chicken

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 75 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6

Here, tart lemon, fragrant rosemary and a rich mixture of butter and olive oil flavor this delicious chicken. This classic recipe, which requires very little hands-on time, should be added to your weeknight recipe arsenal. What’s not eaten for dinner makes fabulous leftovers, whether sliced and eaten cold, or shredded or cubed and used in chicken salad or enchiladas.


  • 1 chicken, 5 to 6 lb. (2.5 to 3 kg)
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 lemons
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 4 garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 yellow onion, cut into 3 wedges


Preheat an oven to 425°F (220°C).

Remove the giblets from the chicken and discard (or reserve for another use). Dry the chicken thoroughly with paper towels.

In a small bowl, beat the butter with the zest and juice of 1 lemon, the rosemary and plenty of salt and pepper. Starting at the neck of the chicken, gently loosen the skin  from the breasts and the drumsticks. Using your fingers, spread the butter mixture evenly under the skin. Brush the outside of the chicken all over with the olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Place the chicken, breast side up, in a roasting pan.

Quarter the remaining 2 lemons and toss them in a bowl with the garlic and onion. Season the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper and fill with the lemons, garlic and onion.

Roast the chicken in the oven, basting once with the pan juices about halfway through, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh but away from the bone registers 165°F (74°C), about 1 1/4 hours.

Remove the chicken from the oven, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 15 minutes. Carve the chicken, arrange on a platter and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Chicken Night, by Kate McMillan (Weldon Owen, 2014)

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