Easy, versatile and so tasty, Roast Chicken with Garlic, Thyme and Lemon is a delightful dish that can also be made-ahead for use in easy lunches.
When was the last time I roasted a whole chicken? I can’t even remember. But with a chill in the air, I decided to do so.
Roast chicken is a wonderful thing. It makes a lovely dinner with roasted potatoes and steamed veggies. But it can be so much more than that. It can be sliced and stuffed in pita bread for sandwiches. It can be tossed with lettuce, Pecorino Romano, croutons and caesar dressing for a lovely caesar salad. It can be eaten alone or with mashed potatoes, make a mean club sandwich or top a rice bowl.
So. Many. Possibilities.
So I roasted a chicken, stuffing the cavity with lemon and thyme and tucking garlic and thyme under the skin. I sprayed it with olive oil spray and seasoned it with salt and pepper.
How to Make Roast Chicken with Garlic, Thyme and Lemon
The process is relatively easy and the pay off is great — with one chicken, I’ll have lunches for the kids and I for days plus a couple quarts of chicken stock.
But first, you have to make the chicken.
Start with a whole chicken — four or five pounds. You’ll want to rinse it in cool water inside and out. Then pat it dry with a paper towel. Be sure that you wipe down your work surface when you’re done.
The flavor (and moistness) for the chicken comes from lemon wedges and fresh thyme stuffed inside the cavity and garlic and thyme under the chicken skin. It’s a lovely, savory combination.
Mince the garlic and some thyme together before shoving it wherever you can under the skin. This will ensure that both are evenly distributed.
Then, spray the bird all over with olive oil spray to help the skin crisp and turn a light golden shade. I use a Misto filled with my favorite oil, but you can also buy olive oil cooking oil spray in the grocery store. Alternatively, you can brush it gently all over with a little olive oil.
Finally, season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. Easy peasy.
Then bake. This cooks first at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for a short time and then at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for a longer time. That ensures a crispy skin and juicy inside.
Once it’s done cooking, the chicken needs to rest for 15 minutes. This allows the juices to reabsorb instead of spilling all over the cutting board.
Then carve. This can absolutely be served immediately — it’s delightful hot from the oven.
Or you can do as I did, and save all that delicious meat for sandwiches, wraps, pita pockets, rice bowls and more.
Once it’s carved though, the fun isn’t over. You can use the carcass to make homemade chicken stock. Simply cover the chicken with water in a big pot, bring to a boil and cook for several hours — I’d recommend four to five hours.
And don’t forget to add more water as it cooks down. This makes two quarts for me, when all is said and done. You could probably make even more though.
So, what do I plan to do with this chicken? I have great plans for it. For the kids, I am making pesto chicken pita pockets with lettuce, chicken, a smear of pesto, fresh mozzarella and roasted red peppers. I am going to package the peppers separately so they don’t make the pockets wet.
When was the last time you roasted a chicken?
- 3-4 lb roaster chicken
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 12-15 sprigs thyme
- 3 cloves garlic
- Olive oil spray
- Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a rack on top.
Rinse the chicken inside and out with cool water. Pat dry with paper towel and place breast-side up on the rack.
Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the lemon quarters and all but 4 sprigs of thyme.
Remove the leaves from the remaining sprigs of thyme and mince together with the garlic.
Loosen the skin on the chicken. Spread the garlic and thyme under the chicken all over. Spray the outside of the chicken (the skin) with the olive oil spray. Season all over with salt and pepper.
Slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 for bake for an additional 45-55 minutes, until the juices run clear. The meat at the thigh should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Let the chicken sit for 15 minutes before carving.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.