Table of Contents
  1. Why this recipe works.
  2. Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.
  3. Here’s how to make this recipe.
  4. These pro tips will make this recipe a success.
  5. Frequently asked questions about this recipe.
  6. More delicious dinner recipes to try.
  7. Watch how to make this recipe.
  8. Have I convinced you to make this recipe?
  9. Citrus & Herb Roast Chicken Recipe

This is the step-by-step guide to getting a delicious rotisserie-inspired roasted chicken right at home. With bright lemon and orange flavors and delightful crispy skin, this recipe has it all! Plus, the marinading and roasting are hands-off, which is perfect for a weeknight or something more fancy. You’re going to love it!

Why this recipe works.

Let’s be honest; we have all had bad chicken that is dry and flavorless. A good roast chicken is not hard to achieve, but it takes important steps to ensure the flavor and moisture of the meat are perfect. This recipe utilizes bright citrus and salt to create the most juicy chicken possible. For maximum flavor, the entire citrus is used in multiple ways: through the zest and the juice. The zest is part of the salt dry rub that’s prepared and added under the chicken skin, and the juice is used as part of the basting liquid that’s brushed on the outside of the chicken as it roasts. To make the roasting time even quicker, the chicken is spatchcocked. This removes the backbone so the chicken lays flat and roasts evenly. Forget the worry of overcooking the chicken and make this perfect roasted one.

Black skillet filled with roasted chicken with golden top with herbs all around the base of the chicken all on white marble surface.

Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.

  • Kosher salt is used in this recipe, and salt is extremely important. Every type of salt measures differently. This recipe uses diamond kosher salt, so be sure to adjust if using table salt or other varieties. The salt plays a pivotal role in adding flavor and retaining the natural juice of the meat.
  • Lemon zest and orange zest are where all of the essential oils of each type of citrus reside. While juice poured on the chicken would add some flavor, using the zest instead adds so much more bright and intense flavor notes.
  • Fresh rosemary and thyme lend a sort of Mediterranean quality to this roast chicken. Plus, these two herbs do a tremendous job at marrying well with the flavors of citrus, leading to a super flavorful chicken.
  • Chicken is the main ingredient and needs to be the star. Choosing a chicken without added water, fillers, or brining will ensure the best chicken.
White marble surface filled with all ingredients needed to make citrus and herb roast chicken including raw whole chicken, spices, salt, orange, lemon, and more.

Here’s how to make this recipe.

  1. Prepare the brine. In a bowl, combine the salt, lemon zest, orange zest, black pepper, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, pressed garlic, minced fresh thyme, and minced fresh rosemary. Using your hands or a utensil, mix all of the ingredients together until well combined, sandy in texture, and orange in overall color. Set aside while preparing the chicken.
  1. Spatchcock the chicken. Remove any giblets from the interior cavity of the chicken and remove any excess skin from the rear or neck. To spatchcock the chicken, flip the chicken on its breast and remove the backbone by cutting with sharp scissors along each side of the backbone. Save this to make homemade chicken stock. Flip the chicken back over onto its back, and break the breastplate, pressing down with the palm of your hand. Then work your fingers between the skin and the meat, separating the two.
  1. Add the salt brine. Using the salt rub that was already mixed, work the mixture between the skin and the meat. Make sure to push the salt all the way down into the legs and thighs along with the breast. Also add any remaining salt rub to the exterior of the chicken as well as the underside of the chicken. Place the chicken on a sheet pan or plate, cover it, and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.
  1. Roast the chicken. Once the chicken has been marinated, remove it from the refrigerator. In a small saucepan, prepare the basting liquid by combining the butter, lemon juice, orange juice, thyme leaves, and rosemary leaves. Place the saucepan over low heat and let it melt until all of the butter is melted. To a separate pan, add neutral oil and place the chicken on top. Tuck the wings under to prevent them from burning. Place the chicken in the preheated 400°F oven and let roast for 45 to 60 minutes. Every 10 minutes, remove the chicken from the oven and baste it with the melted butter. Roast the chicken until the internal temperature registers 160°F with an instead read thermometer. Once fully cooked, remove it from the oven and let it rest for at least 15 minutes before serving to let the juices settle.

What would you serve with this roasted chicken?

These pro tips will make this recipe a success.

  • Since this recipe uses a lot of citrus zest, make sure to purchase organic lemons and oranges. When organic, the outer peel should be free from chemicals. Additionally, if the outside of the citrus seems waxy, drop the fruit in boiling water to remove the film.
  • When zesting both the lemon and orange, use a grater or Microplane. Rather than holding the grater steady and running the fruit over the top, hold the citrus steady and move the grater back and forth. This will allow for much more control and will collect all of the zest within the sides of the Microplane.
  • To get the most flavorful chicken, look for one that is well-grown! How a chicken is raised and fed will have a direct impact on how tasty it is when roasted. If possible, look for an organic chicken.
  • For the crispiest skin, use your fingers to separate the skin from the meat all over the chicken. This introduces space between the two, which is what will give the skin that desirable crispy texture.
  • Make sure to let the chicken rest for at least 15 minutes after it is removed from the oven. This resting time will allow the juices to settle, preventing them from pooling out once sliced. With more juices still intact in the chicken, it will have even more moisture!
White platter filled with slices of herb roast chicken with slices of citrus and pieces of herbs all around.

Frequently asked questions about this recipe.

What is the minimum amount of time that is needed to brine the chicken?

While the most flavor will be achieved by brining the chicken for 4 hours, tons of flavor will be added in as little as 30 minutes.

Will regular paprika work in place of the smoked paprika?

Yes, you can swap out regular paprika if you do not have smoked paprika on hand (but know that you should probably buy a bottle for the future). The salt brine will not have quite the intended smokey flavor without the smoked paprika, but it will work.

What type of pan works best for roasting the chicken?

Any roasting pan will work well. I’d recommend a simple baking sheet or a cast iron skillet as the perfect option.

How long does this chicken last once roasted?

Once roasted, the leftover chicken will last for 7 to 10 days in the refrigerator. The meat can be removed from the bones and frozen for future uses for up to three months.

What are good ways to use any leftovers?

There are innumerable ways to use up delicious roasted chicken. But some of my favorites are in chicken salad, in casseroles, tacos, on top of a lettuce salad, and stuffed into a wrap. The options are endless, and there’s no wrong way to use the leftovers if you have any!

Watch how to make this recipe.

Have I convinced you to make this recipe?

I hope you make this recipe and put some food on your table. Leave a comment and share a star rating so you can let others know how much you love this recipe. This helps show others that this is a recipe they, too, can make, enjoy, and love!

White circular platter filled with sliced pieces of citrus roast chicken with two halves of citrus laying open along with herbs all on white marble surface.

Citrus & Herb Roast Chicken

5 from 1 vote
This is the step-by-step guide to getting a delicious rotisserie-inspired roasted chicken right at home. With bright lemon and orange flavors and delightful crispy skin, this recipe has it all! Plus, the marinading and roasting are hands-off, which is perfect for a weeknight or something more fancy. You’re going to love it!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Brine Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 cloves garlic pressed or minced
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
  • 3-4 lb whole chicken (giblets removed)
  • 1 tbsp neutral oil

For the basting liquid

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary leaves

Instructions
 

  • In a medium bowl, combine the salt, lemon zest, orange zest, black pepper, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, garlic, thyme, and rosemary. Work the mixture together until well mixed and the salt begins to feel moistened.
    1 tbsp kosher salt, 1 tbsp lemon zest, 1 tbsp orange zest, 1 tsp black pepper, ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 3 cloves garlic, 1 tbsp minced fresh thyme, 2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
  • Using heavy-duty scissors or a sharp knife, remove the backbone of the chicken. Once removed, lay the chicken on a flat surface and press down on the breastplate to flatten the bird. Gently lift the skin from the meat of the chicken, working slowly and carefully, taking care not to rip the skin. Separate as much skin as possible from the meat. This will allow the rub to have close contact with the meat and provide crispy skin.
    3-4 lb whole chicken (giblets removed)
  • Work the salt rub under the skin all over, on top of the skin, and on the underside of the chicken. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the chicken for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Once the chicken is marinated, drizzle the neutral oil into a 12-inch cast iron skillet or a sheet pan. Place the chicken skin side down in the oil and then flip it over. Tuck the tips of the wings underneath the chicken to keep them from burning. Place the chicken in the preheated oven.
    1 tbsp neutral oil
  • While roasting, in a small saucepan, combine the butter, lemon juice, orange juice, thyme leaves, and rosemary leaves. Bring the mixture to a simmer and then turn the heat to low to keep it warm. Every 10 minutes, baste the chicken with the butter mixture.
    4 tbsp unsalted butter, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 2 tbsp orange juice, 2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves, 1 sprig fresh rosemary leaves
  • Roast the chicken until it is browned and the internal temperature reads 160℉. Once roasted, remove the chicken from the oven and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. Once rested, cut the chicken into pieces and serve.

Notes

  • Since this recipe uses a lot of citrus zest, make sure to purchase organic lemons and oranges. When organic, the outer peel should be free from chemicals. Additionally, if the outside of the citrus seems waxy, drop the fruit in boiling water to remove the film.
  • When zesting both the lemon and orange, use a grater or Microplane. Rather than holding the grater steady and running the fruit over the top, hold the citrus steady and move the grater back and forth. This will allow for much more control and will collect all of the zest within the sides of the Microplane.
  • To get the most flavorful chicken, look for one that is well-grown! How a chicken is raised and fed will have a direct impact on how tasty it is when roasted. If possible, look for an organic chicken.
  • For the crispiest skin, use your fingers to separate the skin from the meat all over the chicken. This introduces space between the two, which is what will give the skin that desirable crispy texture.
  • Make sure to let the chicken rest for at least 15 minutes after it is removed from the oven. This resting time will allow the juices to settle, preventing them from pooling out once sliced. With more juices still intact in the chicken, it will have even more moisture!

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 281kcal
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Difficulty Intermediate
Method Roasting

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Kaleb

I’m Kaleb! I'm not a chef, professional baker, landscaper, or designer, but I like to play each on Knollgate Farm. Come join me on my journey and let's learn together!

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