Roast Lemon Pepper Chicken Recipe

Living in Maryland affords me the luxury of four distinct seasons every year, and as one grows to a close, I long for the next. If you grew up in the Mid-Atlantic, you understand.

Brisk, icy winters spawn delicious thoughts of dewy spring mornings with bright, warm sunshine. Days where the weather is just perfect enough to leave the house’s windows open all day – and even better – all night.

Yes. The winter-to-spring transition is one of my favorite transitions.

But nothing, nothing trumps the beautiful turn of events when summer matures into fall. The mountains that flank my neighborhood flicker with hints of beautiful yellows and reds that top their tree-studded slopes. Air turns crisp as the stagnant, humid summer air is seemingly whisked away overnight.

Fall also begins a foodie’s holiday-pollooza. Cooler air allows for figurative permission when it comes to certain dishes like pies, roasts, stews and other stick-to-your-ribs meals that were put on the back burner during summer’s unrelenting 100°F days.

I love it. Only a few more weeks….


Lemon Pepper Roast Chicken

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{Print this recipe}

Prep: 10 min | Cook: 60 min | Rest: 20 min | Serves: 4

1 4-pound whole chicken, rinsed and patted dry (discard the giblets, or save them for gravy)
1 stick salted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 lemons, quartered
2 tablespoons of lemon zest


Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Place the chicken on the rack of roasting pan that has been filled with 1/2″ of water. The water will serve two purposes, to keep the drippings from burning as the chicken roasts, and also to make a great gravy base. Tuck the wings under the body of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the lemon quarters.

Mix the butter, salt, pepper and lemon zest together in a small bowl.  Gently slide your hand under the skin atop each breast to create two pockets. Spread 1/3 of the butter mixture under the skin on one side, then smooth it out by rubbing the top of the skin. Repeat with the second side.

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Spread the remaining butter mixture on top of the chicken, taking care to coat the drumsticks and sides of the chicken. Drizzle with olive oil.

Roast the chicken for about 60 minutes, or until the skin is crispy and the juices run clear. Temperature with an instant-read thermometer should read about 165°F when taken deeply in the thigh.

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Let the roast lemon pepper chicken rest for about 20 minutes before carving; temperature will rise another 10-15°F, and juices will settle into the meat.

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