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Roast Spatchcocked Lemon Chicken

The technique of spatchcocking requires splitting and flattening the chicken. It exposes more skin, which really crisps up at high temperatures. See our step-by-step guide to spatchcocking a chicken.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 4
Roast Spatchcocked Lemon Chicken

Photography: chris court

Source: Martha Stewart Living, January 2013


  • 1 whole 4-pound chicken
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 lemons, thinly sliced, divided
  • 6 small shallots (6 ounces), peeled and quartered lengthwise


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chicken, breast side down, on a work surface. Starting at thigh end, cut along 1 side of backbone with kitchen shears. Turn chicken around; cut along other side. Discard backbone or save for stock. Flip chicken, and open it like a book. Press firmly on breastbone to flatten.

  2. Rub chicken with 1 tablespoon oil, and season with 1 tablespoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Brush 1 tablespoon oil in the center of a rimmed baking sheet slightly larger than the size of the chicken, and place half the lemon slices in a single layer on top of oil. Place chicken, skin side up, on lemons. Beginning at the neck end of breast, carefully loosen skin from flesh of breast and thighs with your fingers. Slide remaining lemon slices under skin in a single layer.

  3. Roast chicken 20 minutes. Toss shallots with remaining teaspoon oil, and scatter around chicken. Continue to roast chicken until a thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast reaches 165 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes more.

  4. Transfer chicken to a carving board, and let rest 10 minutes. Cut chicken into 8 pieces, and serve with roasted lemons, shallots, and pan juices. If using chicken for soup and salad, let chicken cool completely. Remove and discard skin, lemon under skin, and bones, and shred meat into bite-size pieces. Chicken, roasted lemons, shallots, and pan juices can be refrigerated up to 2 days. Store meat and pan juices in separate containers; lemons and shallots can be stored together.

Reviews (10)

  • Jtm315 22 Aug, 2014

    I make this recipe frequently ever since I saw it printed in the magazine. Each time I make it my family starts picking at the crispy, delicious chicken before I can even serve it up on a plate and it rarely makes it out of the kitchen and onto the dinner table. I have never had a problem with a "sour" or bitter "too-lemony" taste. It's delicious as is... Just use thin slices! YUM.

  • auntbrig 15 Apr, 2014

    This was way too lemony for my husband and me. He is a real lemon lover, too. The flavor was more like lemon pith, with a bitter aftertaste. I roast chicken about 2 times a month and lately have been using the spatchcocked method. I came across this recipe when I had fresh lemons from my sister's tree. I cut the lemons very very thinly for inside the skin. I didn't use the shallots, but everthing else was the same.

  • bkcochran 28 Feb, 2014

    This was positively delicious. We ate the leg/thigh portions and my husband went back and grabbed the two wings. I boiled the back meat for free broth and more meat....picked the bones clean and tonight made a recipe from Winter Cottage Feb 2013, called Lemon Chicken Soup with Spinach. Absolutely wonderful! With that I served "Savory" crackers, made from saltines and a bag of Savory Seasoning and some swiss cheese slices....perfect meal! for the seasoning.

  • spudugan 22 Feb, 2014

    I love this fast way of roasting a whole chicken-skin is crispy, meat is tender. I make it frequently.

  • njhendri1 20 Jan, 2014

    Awesome recipe- I added sage, rosemary, and thyme. It looked great when it was all done- I looked like I knew what I was doing. A thing a beauty that tasted good too

  • Siegal 29 Oct, 2013

    I made this! I didn't follow the recipe 100% (as I tend to use recipes more for inspiration) but the spatchcocking instructions were great and helped me avoid over cooking. I put the chicken on a bed of sliced lemons and rosemary sprigs and cooked and seasoned as instructed and the skin came our crispy and the drippings made a lemony gravy. I will make again

  • caroline1008 29 Aug, 2013

    Delicious. I wanted to eat half as a roast chicken so only placed one sliced up lemon beneath the chicken and none under the skin. The soup using 1/2 the roast chicken was delicious as well.

  • shevrae 3 Feb, 2013

    We liked this very much, and I have four young kids, some of which are pretty picky eaters. I followed the recipe just as stated and didn't find the meat sour - just a hint of lemon. But I used thin slices (less than 1/4 inch) and put one on each thigh and two on each breast - maybe the trick is not to overdo it. I will definitely be trying the Roast Lemon Chicken and Rice soup with our leftovers.

  • Emily Armstrong 24 Jan, 2013

    We did not enjoy this. It was just too sour. My kids were shuddering as they ate, and I have to admit I was too. I will definitely spatchcock a chicken again, but I will not stuff lemons under the skin.

  • SammiNeu 14 Jan, 2013

    This was delicious! I have *never* successfully made a whole chicken, by the way, so I was a little intimidated by the spine-cutting thing. But it worked wonderfully. I made it tonight and am eating the soup right now :) I had a 5 lb. chicken so it took a little longer, and I only had oranges, so used oranges instead of lemon, which probably made it a little sweeter. But what an awesome way to prepare chicken...the soup is full of caramelized roasted flavor. This won't be my last spatchcock :)

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