Perfectly Roasted Whole Chickens with Lemon and Thyme

Perfectly Roasted Whole Chickens with Lemon and Thyme
YES!!!! This is really as good as it looks!! Cheers!!
YES!!!! This is really as good as it looks!! Cheers!!

Friends, these perfectly roasted whole chickens are a go-to here at our house.  Make them and your house will smell AMAZING, your dinner will be AMAZING and the opportunities with left-overs are endless.   With a little bit of prep work, you will have the beginnings of 3 amazing meals.  In our house, we have a roast chicken dinner one night, I will make stock (see my basic training page for stock recipe at for soup another night and we do some kind of chicken salad one night….stay tuned for inspiration for your hot date dinner.  Enjoy!!

Perfectly Roasted Chicken
Sure you can roast one chicken, but WHY??? I always do a 2 at a time so that I have leftovers for soups and salads..

Perfectly roasted whole chicken is not hard to make, but does require a little bit of prep time and a few key steps, including a bit of work the day or two before you plan to roast the birds.   To begin, remove the giblets from the chickens and reserve for stock.  Rinse each of the chickens, inside and out with cold water, dry thoroughly with paper towels and place on a wire rack on top of a sheet tray.  Liberally sprinkle with kosher salt and place in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours.  WHY?   The salt dissolves and absorbs into the meat (intensifying amazing flavor), tenderizing it in the process while drying out the skin to ensure the perfect, crispy texture.

Perfectly Roasted Whole Chicken
Out to the herb garden, look for thyme or rosemary, maybe some marjoram if you have it (if not purchase your favorite)
Perfectly Roasted Whole Chickens
In this particular recipe, I am using lemon-thyme….it is what looked best in my garden, but feel free to use regular thyme, rosemary or marjoram in this recipe

A second step in preparing perfectly roasted whole chickens is to stuff the cavity with all things amazing and aromatic to flavor you birds, these ingredients might include, herbs, citrus fruits, onions, garlic, shallots, even chilies.  In this recipe I am using both lemon-thyme and lemons to flavor the birds.  This combinations is subtle, yet AMAZING!!

Perfectly Roasted Whole Chickens
Stuff the cavity of both of the birds with 1/2 a lemon, a handful of the lemon-thyme and again liberal amounts of salt and freshly ground pepper
Perfectly Roasted Whole Chickens
Stuff the cavity of both of the birds with half of the aromatic ingredients along with liberal amounts of salt and freshly ground pepper
Perfectly Roasted Whole Chickens
Trussed Chickens

Have you seen chickens or turkeys tied up before and wondered why is that done??  It is a very important part of even cooking because when you don’t truss your chicken, the breast cavity remains wide open and too much hot air circulates inside of it, drying out the breast before the thighs and legs are properly cooked.  This is why breast meat is often dry, so pick up some kitchen twine at your local hardware store and tie that bird up!! This process will ensure even cooking and a lovely presentation….here’s how to do it…

  1. Tuck the wings behind (under) the bird’s back..
  2. Bring the twine over the legs, to the back. …
  3. Crisscross the twine on the bird’s back. …
  4. Bring the twine back to the legs, and tie it off at the ankles..

Finally, roast the birds in a 425 degree oven for 90 minutes.  Remove the chickens from the oven and allow them to rest (DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP) for 10-15 minutes so that all of the juices re-distribute throughout the chicken.  Carve and serve….Bon Appetit!!

Perfectly Roasted Whole Chickens
TA-DA!! You did it, your house smells amazing, you have 1 fabulous chicken dinner prepared and left-overs for the week…way to go!!
Perfectly Roasted Whole Chickens
Comfort food at it’s finest


2 whole chickens, 3-4 pounds per chicken, preferably local (it is important that they be as close in size as possible so the cooking time is the same for both.)

1 lemon

Few sprigs of fresh (lemon) thyme

Salt and freshly ground pepper


**NOTE**Begin a day before serving

Remove the chickens from their packaging (remove giblets and reserve for stock), rinse and pat dry with paper towel.  Sprinkle liberally with salt, place on baking rack in large rimmed baking sheet and place in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours (this step is not necessary if short on time, but will increase juiciness of birds). 

Prior to baking remove from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature 30-60 minutes.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Stuff each bird with ½ lemon and thyme sprigs.  Season inside and out with salt and pepper.  Tie legs together to ensure even cooking.  Bake for 90 minutes, remove from oven and allow chickens to rest under foil tent for 15 minutes before carving.  Serve with your favorite sides.  RESERVE carcasses for stock (see basic training).  Enjoy!!

Makes 2 Roasted Chickens

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