Lemon Roasted Chicken

I have a confession to make: I have never roasted an entire chicken before. Don’t judge me! One of the reasons I started this blog was to inspire myself to step out of my comfort zone and so far it has worked! Even I am not sure how I managed to avoid it for this long. In college, while living with several roommates, I never felt like I should roast a whole chicken just to feed myself. Once Mr. C and I were engaged and moved in together, I still avoided making an entire chicken. Even now after being married for close to two years I still didn’t have this experience under my belt, until now. I was intimidated and so worried about under-cooked poultry that I usually stuck with boneless chicken breasts that were easy to cut into to check to see if done or chicken legs because, truth be told, I like them a little dry.

Working with raw chicken also gives me the heebie jeebies because I am so paranoid about salmonella that I wash my hands fifty billion times in the process. Then I proceed to use disinfectant wipes all over my sink and counters after the chicken is in the oven… And then I wash my hands again. I know, it is a little obsessive but that is another reason I avoided it for so long!

Anyway, I finally did it. I roasted an entire bird and didn’t kill anybody with under-cooked meat! I did a little digging in the recipes of some of my favorite cooks, Ina Garten and Ree Drummond, specifically for this dish. I like to cross reference different recipes when I am trying something new. The recipe below is similar to one that the Pioneer Woman has shared (that’s me, giving credit where credit is due) but mine is a little different due to the lack of ingredients available.

Lemon Roasted Chicken079

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 2-3 lemons
  • 3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
  • Rosemary, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Rinse the entire chicken and pat dry with a paper towel. If your chicken comes with the guts or neck, make sure to remove those, as well. Place the whole chicken in a baking dish lined with foil for easy clean up. Next, place softened butter in a small bowl. Grate two lemons into the butter and set aside the lemons. Add in salt, pepper, and rosemary to the butter/zest mixture and stir together until well combined. Take the butter mixture and smear it all over the chicken, inside and out. Sprinkle additional salt, pepper, and rosemary over buttered chicken. Cut one of the lemons in half and pick out the seeds, then squeeze the juice all over the top of the chicken. Place the drained lemon halves into the cavity of the chicken. Cut 1 or 2 more lemons into quarters and place in the baking dish around chicken. Place the chicken in a preheated oven and bake until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. The skin will be crisp and golden brown and the juices will be sizzling.

Step-by-Step Photos

006Here are our cast of characters: One whole chicken, 3/4 cup butter, 2 lemons (I would use 3 next time), salt, pepper, and rosemary. I was a little bit horrified to find that my chicken had a sack of guts stuck in the cavity and the neck was still attached… why would they do that to me?! I quickly disposed of that horrible bag of nastiness and chopped off the neck because… gag. I also rinsed the chicken, inside and out. Then I washed my sink thoroughly because I am very paranoid.

018Zest 2 lemons into the softened butter, add salt, pepper, and rosemary. I made a mess trying to zest the lemon because I don’t have a proper zester, so I just used a very small grater. Then mix together until thoroughly combined. Note: make sure to wash the lemons well just like you would any other fruit or vegetable that you are about to consume.

026Smear your butter mixture all over the chicken, inside and out. Don’t forget to get all of the nooks and crannies. I even lifted the chicken and rubbed some butter onto the back for good measure.

033Cut one of the lemons in half and squeeze the juice over the top of the entire chicken. Then stuff the halves of the lemon into the cavity. Sprinkle more salt and pepper over the top of the chicken. Cut 1 or 2 lemons into quarters and place around the baking dish. I suggest using 3 lemons, but 2 still gave this chicken great flavor. Now, place that pretty hen in the oven at 425 degrees and bake until cooked through.

066Look at this gorgeous girl! I ended up baking this chicken for about 1 hour and 20 minutes until it was cooked through to my satisfaction. I used a digital thermometer to check the temperature of the chicken to make sure it was 165 degrees. You can also check to make sure the juices of the chicken run clear. If you pierce the thigh and the liquid is tinted pink, it is still under-cooked.

Oh my goodness, the butter made the chicken skin so crisp and golden. My whole house smelled so delectable, I was giddy to taste it!

079I definitely need to work on my carving skills, but I managed to hack off a breast and keep it mostly intact. The chicken was so moist and luxurious because of all of the butter that I used. Was it particularly healthy? No. But was it worth every calorie? Yes!

Mr. C, myself and a good friend of ours enjoyed this chicken with lots to spare! I paired my lemon roasted chicken with herbed orzo pilaf (watch for my next post for the recipe) as well steamed broccoli and cauliflower.

I am sorry that it took me this long to make a whole roasted chicken. Now that I have tried it, I will definitely be doing it again! Next time, I will buy fresh rosemary to use and I will share that with you in the future.

Please, if you have avoided roasting a full chicken in the past, don’t wait any longer- just do it!


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