Simple Whole Roasted Chicken with Lemon

How to perfectly roast a whole chicken with aromatic lemon and garlic. With our easy recipe, the chicken stays juicy and becomes ultra-flavorful. Jump to the Whole Roasted Chicken Recipe

Simple Whole Roasted Chicken Recipe with Lemon

How to Roast a Whole Chicken

The moment I smell chicken roasting away in the oven, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It makes me think of home and my Mom. Here’s how we make it in our kitchen. Making whole roasted chicken at home is simple and something you should know how to do. We’re sharing a basic method for how to do it. Find our best tips for making it below.

Whole Roasted Chicken

Depending on where you buy your chicken, the weight will vary. For our recipe, we call for a 5 to 6-pound chicken, which is quite large. That said, the recipe will still work for smaller chickens (3 1/2 pounds). The bake time will be slightly less.

That’s why we love having our instant-read thermometer handy. This way, we can accurately check the doneness of the chicken — you want it to read 165 degrees F when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh. If you do not have a thermometer, don’t worry, another good test is to slice between the leg and thigh. If the juices run clear, you should be good.

You can roast a chicken at almost any temperature. It all depends on what you are looking for.

For extremely tender, fall off the bone meat and soft skin, roast between 300 and 350 degrees for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on the weight.

For firmer meat and crisp skin, roast the chicken around 425 degrees F for 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the weight. In our recipe below, we roast a 5 to 6-pound chicken at 425 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours.

You will need a pan to roast the chicken in — a roasting pan with a rack, large baking dish, rimmed baking sheet or an oven-safe pan will all work.

When it comes to seasoning, we like to keep things simple. We season the whole chicken plus the cavity with salt and fresh ground pepper. By the way, if you have the time, refrigerate the seasoned chicken, uncovered, for an hour, or overnight. This is basically dry brining which will help the skin become extra crisp and the meat extra juicy.

Then we stuff the cavity with a whole garlic head cut in half as well as a lemon cut into quarters. You can stick with our method or try adding a spice rub or fresh herbs to the cavity as well. Finally, you can roast the chicken on top of vegetables — in our photos, we roasted ours on top of onions.

What To Serve With Roasted Chicken

Our Favorite Oven Roasted Vegetables — See how to roast vegetables in the oven, so they are tender on the inside and caramelized on the outside. Easy, no-fuss and adaptable recipe based on what you have in your kitchen.

Quick and Easy Gravy — Serve this silky smooth gravy next to the chicken. The gravy takes less than 10 minutes and works wonders with the pan drippings in this recipe!

Seriously Good Mushroom Stuffing — The stuffing is savory and soft in the middle, and perfectly crisp on top. It is naturally vegan and you can make it in advance.

Coconut Oil Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pecans — Sweet potatoes are a staple in our kitchen and can be found roasted or baked and on our plates many days of the week. Coconut oil works so well with the caramelized sweet potatoes. Pure maple syrup adds a little sweetness, and a little cinnamon adds spice.

Our Favorite Potato Salad Recipe — Such an easy potato salad recipe. We love this stuff! We would be happy to hover over a bowl of it any day. It has few extras thrown in, too.

More Chicken Recipes

Recipe updated, originally posted September 2009. Since posting this in 2009, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear. – Adam and Joanne

Simple Whole Roasted Chicken with Lemon

  • PREP
  • COOK

You can roast a chicken at almost any temperature. It all depends on what you are looking for. For extremely tender, fall off the bone meat and soft skin, roast between 300 and 350 degrees. For firmer meat and crisp skin, roast the chicken around 425 degrees F. In our recipe below, we roast a 5 to 6 pound chicken at 425 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours.

If you have the time, refrigerate the seasoned chicken, uncovered, for an hour, or overnight. This is basically dry brining which will help the skin become extra crisp and the meat extra juicy.

Makes approximately 4 servings

Watch Us Make the Recipe

You Will Need

1 (5 to 6 pound) whole chicken, patted dry

Salt and fresh ground pepper

1 onion, sliced (optional)

1/2 cup chicken stock or water

1 lemon, quartered

1 whole head garlic, halved crosswise

Small bunch fresh herbs, such as thyme, rosemary and sage, optional


    Generously season the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. If you have time, refrigerate the chicken, uncovered, for an hour, or overnight.

    Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Scatter onions in the bottom of a roasting pan and cover them with the stock (or water). Place chicken breast-side up on top of the onions. Stuff the cavity with halved garlic, lemon wedges, and herbs. Use kitchen twine to tie the legs together. (If you don’t have twine, leave the legs as they are.)

    Roast the chicken for 1 hour, then spoon pan juices over the chicken several times and cook another 20 to 30 minutes longer. You will know the chicken is done when an internal thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees F or when the chicken juices run clear when when you cut between a leg and a thigh. Depending on the size of your chicken, the total roasting time may vary.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Depending on where you buy your chicken, the weight will vary. For our recipe, we call for a 5 to 6 pound chicken, which is quite large. That said, the recipe will still work for smaller chickens (3 1/2 pounds). The bake time will just be slightly less.
  • Nutrition Facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA Supertracker recipe calculator to calculate approximate values.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste

Nutrition Per Serving: Calories 336 / Protein 46 g / Carbohydrate 5 g / Dietary Fiber 1 g / Total Sugars 1 g / Total Fat 14 g / Saturated Fat 4 g / Cholesterol 170 mg
AUTHOR: Adam and Joanne Gallagher

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28 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Marylynn Swartz January 26, 2021, 1:36 pm

    I will make this tonight. I find that roasting poultry with chopped onion, or celery or carrots or all of above will give a very moist meat.

  • Joanne January 2, 2021, 1:02 pm

    So sorry the recipe didn’t work out for you!

  • Lora Baker December 23, 2020, 10:19 pm

    Made this chicken tonight. I didn’t have a whole garlic or any lemons, so I used minced garlic (from the fridge) and limes in the chicken cavity. I used chicken stock rather than water to cover the onion (I did have an onion – yay me). I had a 6 1/2 pound chicken, and at 425 (lowered to 400 after half an hour), it was done in 1 hour 40 minutes. The chicken was delicious. The gravy was even better (used the pan drippings and the gravy recipe on this site). This is a keeper.

  • Greg Reid February 9, 2020, 11:11 am

    I am the cook in our house As everyone else in my family is off to work. I work at home. I love cooking for my family. My personal philosophy towards preparing meals us to keep simple and uncomplicated I do not believe in using more than 4 ingredients. For me simple is best. It seems that you two have a similar philosophy. Thanks for the recipes. This was my first time reading one of your recipes. But I promise I’ll be back. Many thanks, Greg

  • Kate December 23, 2019, 5:49 pm

    I’m baffled by all the positive comments above… Tried this recipe for the first time today, cooking a chicken that was less than 4 pounds at 425 for just over an hour. Measured temperature in the thigh was 170 but this chicken was undercooked and tough. The worst chicken I’ve ever cooked. Won’t be using this one again.

    • Joanne January 2, 2021, 1:06 pm

      Hi Kate, We are sorry to hear that. 170 should have done it, I’m really not sure why the chicken would have been undercooked after a reading of that temperature. It is important to check the thickest part of the thigh.

  • Maggie November 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

    I cooked my 5 & 1/2 pounder it at 410 degrees for about an hour and a half and it came out great!! Our oven seems to run better when the suggested cooking degrees are set at 10 to 20 degrees cooler.Thanks for the very easy recipe!! 🙂

    • Larry Schuler November 17, 2019, 4:15 pm

      Should I cover the chicken while roasting?

      • Joanne November 27, 2019, 1:13 pm

        No, we roast the chicken uncovered.

  • Jennifer Jordan May 30, 2018, 4:24 am

    Super easy, super delicious!

  • Janet January 18, 2018, 4:32 pm

    Excited to try this roasted chicken recipe! Question: should you cover chicken at least initially?

    • Joanne May 4, 2018, 12:37 pm

      Hi Janet, We don’t cover our chicken since we love getting the skin nice and browned.

  • EasyRoasted5 December 20, 2017, 5:48 am

    This recipe was simple and delicious simple whole roasted chicken recipe with lemon I’ve tried a lot of and with this one I feel like I finally hit gold! Full chicken taste beautiful colour perfect This was really good. Thanks.

  • Maret April 5, 2017, 10:08 am

    Juicy with Great Flavor!

    I’m in the group who “made this 2 times before reviewing” and have enjoyed a flavorful and moist chicken both times. While I am used to making a gravy with roast chicken, this one is so moist, it doesn’t need it! The first time I made it, time did not allow for the dry brining, but it was still good. I have used a bunch of thyme, parsley, and sage as the herbs. What amazes me is how the leftover meat remains moist and great for sandwiches, etc.

    I’m wondering what exactly makes this chicken so juicy? Is the lemon a factor? Your comments mention a range of oven temperatures. I’ve only used a 425 oven as stated in the recipe, but would I get the same moist meat from a lower temperature bake like 325-350? In other words, is the higher temperature critical to seal in juices?

    I forgot to mention that I did NOT baste the chicken and still got great results.

    Thanks for another keeper recipe!

    • Joanne April 5, 2017, 12:47 pm

      Hi Maret, I do love the lemon in this recipe and personally feel it helps with keeping the chicken moist. The higher temperature does’t really seal in the juices, but it does help with getting the skin browned and crispy (my favorite). If you were to use a lower oven temperature, the chicken will still be moist, but the meat will be much softer. The key to the best roasted chicken is to not overcook. I’m so happy you have tried our recipe and thanks for leaving your comments.

      • Tammie Miller May 17, 2020, 4:02 pm

        Mine is in the oven right now. I used whole garlic cloves and a honey garlic rub. It smells delicious! I can’t wait to have dinner!

  • Bernardine Ligthart March 15, 2017, 6:34 am

    Hello, I am a big fan of you, and made several recipes with success.
    Would it be a big bother to give the temperature also in Celsius?
    And maybe put the cups in grams?
    I live in Holland and I am sure you have more fans in Europe.
    Cheers and keep up the good work..

  • Heather Eagleson January 18, 2017, 6:33 pm

    This came out super golden and juicy! This will be the second time I stuffed a lemon and celery in the cavity of a chicken. I also stuffed a large clove of garlic in there with some pearl onions. I didn’t have carrots on hand (DARN), but I did have some organic Russet potatoes that I seasoned with salt & pepper, olive oil and thyme, which I mixed with some more pearl onions. I liked your idea of roasting the bird over some veggies. That takes care of a side if you’re short on time/lazy, lol. I seasoned the outside of the chicken with olive oil, cracked black pepper/sea salt lemon mix from a grinder and sprinkled organic garlic powder on the outside as well. I also had some brine left over from the Thanksgiving turkey (not homemade), which I used to brine the chicken in overnight, or about 12 hours. I will remember this one. Thanks for sharing!

  • Niki Marie October 25, 2015, 6:55 pm


  • Paola June 1, 2013, 11:27 pm

    Made this chicken for the second time tonight, and again it was delicious. Probably the best roasted chicken I have made. I’ve tried about 5 or 6 of your recipes and all have been great! Really enjoying your website!

  • Lauren Shehan (Bowers) February 18, 2010, 6:22 pm

    I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but I’m certainly excited to. Alton Brown (probably my favorite chef on food network) did an episode for Thanksgiving on a wonderfully tender turkey which is cooked similar to this chicken but rested in a brine overnight. In not wanting to waste the rest of the brine I experimented by placing a chicken breast in with the turkey. It turned out fabulously moist and tender. Perhaps you could try that with this recipe as well, creating your own blend of spices to compliment the flavor for the brine. Just a thought. 🙂

    • inspiredtaste February 19, 2010, 8:16 am

      Lauren – We have seen that episode too and have tried it a couple Thanksgiving’s ago, it is a fantastic recipe. The brine works really well, especially for turkey. I think the key is a high oven temperature to seal in all those juices. Thanks for commenting!

      • marie agnes February 1, 2016, 5:38 pm

        Hi I am roasting a 6 pound chicken tonight which has been brining all day in a salt water bath. I will roast at 425 because it seems at 350 it takes almost 3 hours to roast. Also i am using a V rack and will roast breast side down. Is 425 too high for this way of roasting? And how long should I roast? Thanks, Marie Agnes

        • Joanne February 2, 2016, 4:30 pm

          425 should still be fine.If you are worried, reduce to 400, it shouldn’t change too much.


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