Is there anything more comfort-foody than homemade roast chicken? (did I just make up a word there?) Crispy, salty skin… juicy meat… I’m practically drooling sitting here thinking about it. And this Lemon, Garlic, and Rosemary Whole Roast Chicken takes the cake for the BEST. ROAST. CHICKEN. EVER. And it’s SO easy to make!
The purpose of this post is three-fold (anyone thinking of Friends, here?): 1) to share the best recipe for roast chicken with the most amazing flavor EVER; 2) to explain how to make the perfect roast chicken in a dutch oven; and 3) to explain how I use all parts of the chicken to make multiple meals and get the most bang for your buck.
Part one: My favorite things about this recipe (and the reasons why you should drop everything and make it, too):
- It uses only five ingredients (assuming you already have butter, salt, and pepper);
- The flavor combination of lemon, garlic, and rosemary creates amazing flavor;
- There is no waste– the lemon zest, juice, and rinds are used, as well as the onion, garlic, and rosemary scraps;
- While it takes a while to roast in the oven, the prep time is only 10-15 minutes!
- If you don’t mind not having crispy skin, you can make this in your slow cooker (scroll to the bottom of the recipe for instructions)!
Have I convinced you yet? Good. Scroll to the bottom for the recipe.
Part two: Here are some tricks I use to create the Perfect Roast Chicken
Don’t be scared of making a whole roast chicken- the basic method is actually quite simple. Mix some herbs/seasoning with butter, slather it on the chicken, put some things into the cavity, truss it, and roast it.
1. I use my dutch oven. I have a blue Cuisinart Classic Enameled Cast Iron 5-1/2-Quart Oval dutch oven, which I LOVE and HIGHLY recommend. Conveniently, it perfectly fits a chicken, and because it gets so hot on the sides , it helps roast it evenly on all sides of the chicken for awesomely crispy skin. Keep the cover off when roasting- if the skin browns too quickly on top, you can place the cover on ajar on top to help avoid direct hot heat.
2. I butter under and over the breast skin. For this recipe, lemon zest, minced garlic, chopped fresh rosemary, and S&P are added to butter, then slathered over the chicken before roasting. Use your hands. It’s important to spread the mixture liberally over the entire chicken (every nook and cranny). In addition, I separate the skin from the top of the breast and spread some of the butter underneath, being careful not to tear the skin (intact skin helps the meat stay moist since it keeps the juices in). This creates extra crispy skin and helps flavor the meat better.
3. I truss the chicken. Not in a complicated way- I just tie the legs tightly together using kitchen twine. This helps keep everything nice and neat and compact for even, consistent cooking. If the legs splay out too much, they will cook too quickly, causing them to become dry.
4. I roast high, then low. This makes perfect crispy skin. Roast the chicken at 475 for 15 minutes- this gets the crispy skin process going. Then, turn the heat down and roast at 350 for approximately 20 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees (I stick my meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast as far as it will go, then retract it just a little so it’s not touching the bone. It won’t read accurately if it is touching a bone).
5. Let it sit for 10 minutes when it’s done. This will ensure that a) the chicken isn’t too hot to handle when you carve it, and b) that the juices have a chance to redistribute. If you cut into it too quickly, the juices will escape too fast and the chicken will become dry. If you need, you can let it sit for longer than ten minutes- just place the cover ajar on top or tent it with foil to make sure it doesn’t cool off too long.
Part Three: here is how I make sure I get the most bang for my buck when making a whole chicken:
1) I make stock/broth from the carcass. Save the carcass in a gallon-sized bag and store in your freezer until you are read to make stock. Add to your slow cooker with kitchen scraps of celery, onion, carrots, and/or herbs, cover with water, and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4. For a more detailed recipe, get my 15 Quick and Easy meals to make with leftover chicken!
2) I use the giblets. Some whole chickens come with the giblets stuffed in the cavity. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DO NOT THROW THESE OUT! They often include the neck, heart, kidneys, gizzard, and/or liver of the chicken. Do not be scared of them. Save the neck, heart, gizzard, and kidneys in the same bag you are saving the carcass in for stock. Save the liver to cook up- fry it and spread it on toast, or save it in your freezer with livers from other chickens to make pate, once you have enough. (The liver has too bitter of a taste to use in the stock)
3) I make multiple meals from one chicken. In addition to having stock on hand for a future meal, Zach and I certainly do not finish an entire chicken for one meal (although, we came close when we made this one!). The leftover meat can be used for other chicken dishes, such as chicken soup, chicken pot pie, BBQ chicken pizza… just to name a few!
Now, go forth and roast a chicken! Be bold! Grab the chicken by the wings! (isn’t that the saying?)
Lemon, Garlic, and Rosemary Whole Roast Chicken
- 1 whole chicken
- 2 lemons
- 5 cloves garlic- 3 minced 2 cut in half
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary- 3 chopped finely 1 reserved
- 2 large onions
- 1/2 stick butter
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 475.
- Melt butter in small bowl; add minced garlic, chopped rosemary, the zest of the lemons, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Thickly slice the onions and place in bottom of enameled cast iron dutch oven. Reserve the end scraps.
- Prepare chicken by removing giblets from cavity, rinsing off, and patting dry (or not, whatever you prefer).
- Liberally season the cavity with salt and pepper.
- Cut the lemons in half; reserve juice and save rinds.
- The butter mixture will have hardened slightly by now. Using your hands, slather the mixture liberally over every part of the chicken and under the breast skin (being careful not to tear the skin). Place in dutch oven on top of sliced onions.
- Stuff the cavity with the lemon rinds, onion scraps, remaining garlic, and rosemary sprig/stems.
- Tie the legs of the chicken together tightly using kitchen twine.
- Pour reserved lemon juice over the chicken.
- Roast chicken for 15 minutes at 475, then reduce heat to 350 and cook for approximately 20 minutes per pound, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees (about 1.5 hours for a 4.5 lb. chicken). If you want to, baste the chicken approximately halfway through cooking process. (Note-You should cook the chicken uncovered in the dutch oven, but if it starts to burn on top and the internal temperature is not high enough yet, you can place the lid on ajar to avoid direct heat and prevent further burning.)
- Place sliced onions in bottom of large slow cooker. Prepare chicken as directed above. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours or high for 4-5, until the chicken is falling off the bone. (this method will not make crispy skin, but will still be delicious!)
- The provided nutrition information does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. Feel free to calculate it yourself using this calculator or by adding the recipe to Yummly.