Learn how to make the ultimate roast chicken with lemons and onions. After you master our definitive roast chicken recipe, check out our step-by-step guide to carving your bird.

Martha Stewart Living, September 2016


Credit: Bryan Gardner

Recipe Summary

20 mins
13 hrs 40 mins


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Add coriander, cumin, or paprika to the salt, if desired. Pat chicken dry and season the cavity and skin with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt each. Place it on a rimmed baking sheet lined with a rack. Refrigerate, uncovered, at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.

  • Sprinkle the cavity with 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Then pierce whole lemon all over with a fork; put it inside the cavity with 6 thyme sprigs. Rub butter evenly over the skin, season with another 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and tie the legs firmly with twine. On a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment, overlap lemon and onion slices to create a base slightly larger than the chicken. Set the bird on top of this "rack," which will collect the chicken fat as it drips. Strip the leaves from remaining 3 thyme sprigs and scatter them over the chicken. Let the bird stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, which will help it cook evenly.

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Roast the chicken 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees, rotate the sheet, and continue cooking until a thermometer registers 160 degrees, 25 to 35 minutes. (For the most accurate reading, insert it in two places: the thickest part of the breast, then the thigh, near but not touching the bone.) Let the chicken stand 10 minutes (the temperature will rise to 165 degrees) -- this allows the juices to redistribute, creating tender meat. Serve, with the roasted lemon and onion slices.