Garlic Lemon Roast Chicken

Having an American-Canadian binational marriage comes with perks, one of which is two Thanksgivings: twice the feasting, with just enough time in between to allow for a full recovery. In honor of Canadian Thanksgiving, and the coming of cold weather, we wanted to share our go-to roast bird. This simple recipe avoids the complex trussing, stuffings, bags, frying, brining, injecting, or other techniques that can mystify and frustrate the home cook. Our Garlic Lemon Roast Chicken is ready for the oven in minutes, works every time, has moist meat and crispy skin, and is deeply infused with the flavors of lemon and garlic.

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Yield: 1 roast chicken, serves 4 as a main


  • 1 medium whole chicken (4-5 pounds)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • pinch (about 1/16 teaspoons) cayenne pepper
  • 2 lemons (1 thinly sliced, 1 roughly chopped)


  1. Preheat your oven to 350.
  2. In a small bowl, thoroughly mix the softened butter, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to form a paste.
  3. Prepare the chicken by removing the extra bits (gizzard, heart, neck, etc. that are often stuffed inside the chicken), rinse with cold water, and pat dry with paper towel inside and out. Using your fingers (or a flexible silicone spatula), carefully work loose the connective tissue between the skin and meat on the breasts and legs. This is best achieved by slowly working your hand or the spatula blade between skin and meat, starting at the base of the breasts and working up toward the neck.
  4. In small amounts, use your fingers to carefully spread the paste under the chicken skin covering the breasts and legs. The butter paste can be some what lumpy under the skin. Try not to rip the skin. Any leftover paste can be rubbed on the outside of the chicken skin.
  5. Carefully slip thin slices of lemon under the skin, ensuring that at least two slices are on each breast and one on each leg. Any remaining lemon slices and chunks can be thrown inside the chicken's body cavity or spread on the bottom of the roasting pan to help flavor the drippings. 
  6. Set the prepared chicken onto a roasting pan or thick-bottomed pot. Use a pan or pot that is only slightly larger than the chicken, to reduce the chance of the drippings burning.
  7. Set the roasting pan on the oven's middle rack and roast at 350 for 1 hour and 45 minutes. The chicken should be cooked through and the skin browned and crispy. 
  8. Remove from the oven, and allow to rest uncovered for 30 minutes before carving and serving. This resting time allows the meat to finish cooking and for the juices to redistribute, leading to juicer meat. While the chicken is resting, prepare the drippings into a gravy if desired.
  9. Leftover meat can be removed from the chicken frame and saved for several days in the refrigerator. This makes excellent chicken salad!