Classic Roast Chicken

The ultimate comfort food. Learn how to season your chicken, ensure it’s juicy, and get that crisp, golden skin (hint: use butter!).

Classic Roast Chicken

Makes six servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: one hour, plus 10 minutes to rest


  • 1 4½– to 5-lb. organic chicken
  • 2 tsp. sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary (or ½ tsp. dried)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme (or ½ tsp. dried)
  • 2 fresh sage leaves


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Pat chicken dry with paper towels, then rub the inside of the cavity with ½ teaspoon salt. Coat the outside of the bird with unsalted butter.
  • Combine pepper and remaining salt; lift as much of the skin as possible and rub half the mixture underneath and the remaining half on the outside of the skin.
  • Put two quarters of the lemon, as well as the garlic and herbs, into the cavity.
  • Set chicken on a roasting rack in a baking dish, breast side up. (Trussing is optional.) Roast until meat thermometer reads 163 degrees F when inserted in the thigh and the juices run clear, about one hour. (The temperature will climb to 165 degrees F as it rests. This is called carryover cooking.)
  • Let rest 10 minutes. Carve. Squeeze remaining lemons over chicken and serve.
  • Refrigerate up to four days, or freeze for up to four months.

Why No Numbers? Readers sometimes ask us why we don’t publish nutrition information with our recipes. We believe that (barring specific medical advice to the contrary) if you’re eating primarily whole, healthy foods — an array of sustainably raised vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, meats, fish, eggs, whole-kernel grains, and healthy fats and oils — you probably don’t need to stress about the numbers. We prefer to focus on food quality and trust our bodies to tell us what we need.  — The Editors

, is the author of several cookbooks, including Clean Soups and The Healthy Mind Cookbook, and is the director of the Healing Kitchens Institute at Commonweal. She lives in San Rafael, Calif.

Photography by Andrea D'Agosto; Prop Styling by Alicia Buszczak; Food Stylist: Paul Jackman

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