Roasted Lemon Chicken

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Roasted Lemon Chicken is easy enough to make for a simple weeknight meal, but nice enough to serve to guests or for a Sunday dinner!

baked whole chicken in roasting pan


So, I have to share with you…  I do not care for meat on the bone.  I don’t know when it started, I always remember having issues with it.  My family ate A LOT of whole chicken and it was ALWAYS served on the bone with the skin. 

I would pick the pieces off the chicken and throw them in my solid blue plastic cup or chuck them under the table (and clean it up after dinner).  We were a “clean plate” family, as were most struggling middle income families of my day. 

So, once it was served you didn’t leave the table until it was gone. Being an “out of the box thinker” even then I found a way to get rid of it. 

lemon chicken baked, in roasting pan

As an adult I feel that I may be missing out on some of the most amazing dishes by not overcoming this challenge, so last week, I stepped out of my comfort zone and bought my very first whole chicken.  It was quite the day for me. 

Cleaning it was most disgusting, but I made it through.  In the end this turned out to be the most amazing chicken I have ever cooked and I am anxious to make this again!!!

Whether you are a seasoned whole bird cooker, or a novice…  I recommend this roasted lemon chicken recipe!  It is a keeper.

Recipe by Marcella Hazan: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking


With love, from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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Other Easy Chicken Recipes

whole chicken baked with lemons

Roasted Chicken with Lemons

Donna Elick
Roasted Lemon Chicken is an easy recipe for a simple weeknight meal, but nice enough to serve to guests, or for a fancy Sunday dinner!
5 stars from 1 review
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine American
Method Oven
Servings 6


  • 4 pound bone-in chicken
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, or more, to your tastes
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, or more, to your tastes
  • 2 small lemons


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Wash the chicken thoroughly in cold water, both inside and out. Remove all the bits of fat hanging loose. Let the bird sit for about 10 minutes on a slightly tilted plate to let all the water drain out of it. Pat it thoroughly dry all over with cloth or paper towels.
  • Sprinkle a generous amount of salt and black pepper on the chicken, rubbing it with your fingers over all its body and into its cavity.
  • Wash the lemons in cold water and dry them with a towel. Soften each lemon by placing it on a counter and rolling it back and forth as you put firm downward pressure on it with the palm of your hand.
    Puncture the lemons in at least 20 places each, using a sturdy round toothpick, a trussing needle, a sharp-pointed fork, or similar implement.
  • Place both lemons in the birds cavity. Close up the opening with toothpicks or with trussing needle and string. Close it well, but don't make an absolutely airtight job of it because the chicken may burst.
    Run kitchen string from one leg to the other, tying it at both knuckle ends. Leave the legs in their natural position without pulling them tight. If the skin is unbroken, the chicken will puff up as it cooks, and the string serves only to keep the thighs from spreading apart and splitting the skin.
  • Put the chicken into a roasting pan, breast facing down. Do not add cooking fat of any kind. This bird is self-basting, so you need not fear it will stick to the pan. Place it in the upper third of the preheated oven.
    After 30 minutes, turn the chicken over to have the breast face up.
  • Cook for another 30 to 35 minutes, then turn the oven up to 400°F. and cook for an additional 20 minutes.
    Calculate between 20 and 25 minutes per pound total cooking time.
  • Leave roasted chicken uncarved with the lemons inside the cavity until it is carved and opened. The juices that run out are perfectly delicious.
    Be sure to spoon them over the chicken slices. The lemons will have shriveled up, but they still contain some juice; do not squeeze them, they may squirt.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 323cal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 109mg | Sodium: 393mg | Sugar: 1g | Fiber: 1g | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 2mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Originally Posted November 2011

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  1. LOL! Too funny, Donna! Did you ever reveal this to your parents? That is hysterical.
    This recipe sounds delicious – love the lemon.

  2. @Claudia – Thank you. Mr W does all the final shots. This one was taken at 9pm, as we couldn't wait to eat that chicken until morning.

    @Lynne – I was talking to my mom while I was writing this post and I told her that maybe if she had taken it off the bone, I may have eaten it. She said "I thought you were eating it". So, I guess the answer is no. They had no clue. : )

  3. I'm so proud of you, Donna! Way to go. The chicken looks perfect. And you totally cracked me up with the memories. We did similar things with the liver my mother attempted to make us eat. Unfortunately for us, our dinner glasses were clear!

  4. I would say this sounds like a great way to try your first chicken "on the bone." I love how Marcella's recipes are so simple, but the focus is on the technique and ingredients. Lemon does add a great flavor to the juices from the chicken. This sounds wonderful!

  5. Congrats! I had a phobia with chicken in general for along time, but the taste of chicken cooked on the bone is unreal…so I made myself get over it! I do up a whole chicken almost the same exact way and now we have it at least once a week! Save the carcass for homemade chix broth!

  6. Good for you! This chicken looks amazing and lemon is always the perfect addition to roasted whole chickens. Next thing you know you'll be posting a big giant turkey!

  7. I'm a bit weird with meat on the bone as well. I prefer to just buy the boneless, skinless chicken. Much easier! I'm sure your chicken was just as delicious as it looks though. It's gorgeous! x

  8. This looks good! I love chicken and lemon together it's so perfect. I found your recipe over on blog hop on That skinny chick can bake! Can't wait to check out the rest of your recipes. Thanks so much for sharing. Come share some love over at my blog!

  9. 5 stars
    IU love lemon roasted chicken, and it always comes out amazing when I use this recipe! Won’t be buying rotisserie chickens all the time now because I can make this!

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