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This tender, juicy Butter Roasted Chicken is seasoned with fresh herbs and lemon, then basted with butter for a crispy golden brown skin. It’s easy to make with only four ingredients!
I’ve roasted many chickens in my time. Many.
First, because it’s one of the most delicious meals you can serve your family. And you can change the seasonings to suit your family’s tastes.
And second, because it’s just so easy. Season the chicken, pop it in the oven, and come back later to serve dinner.
I had really never thought that there might be a better method for roasting a chicken until came across this butter basted chicken. Since I found this method, I now have a new favorite way to roast a chicken. Of course, I made a few tweaks and adapted the recipe to suit myself, but that’s what cooking is all about, isn’t it?
About the Ingredients
- Whole Fresh Chicken – a smaller chicken is best for this recipe. Look for one that is around 4 pounds. I used to find 3-pound chickens, which I really like, but those are rare these days. Chickens today are bred to have so much breast meat that it makes the poor little things top-heavy and the smallest ones you can find are usually about 4 pounds. Although I have seen some labeled “organic” that are somewhat smaller.
- Fresh Herbs – my favorite combination is tarragon thyme, rosemary and sage.
- Lemon – One whole, fresh lemon.
- Butter, salt, and pepper.
You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.
How to Cook Butter Roasted Chicken
Let’s Go Step-by-Step
I always like to show you the photos and step-by-step instructions for my recipes to help you picture how to make them in your own kitchen. If you just want to print out a copy, you can skip to the bottom of the post where you’ll find the recipe card.
Prepare the Chicken for Roasting
Whatever size bird you choose, just take it out of its package, remove all the “gunk” from the inside (you know, the giblets and the stuff that makes you go ewwww) and dry the skin really well with a paper towel. Then salt and pepper the chicken liberally, both inside and outside.
Now take your fresh herbs and stick them…well, you know where they go…
And push those lemon wedges in there, too. At this point, you can truss your chicken if you want to. I like to do it so that it cooks more evenly, but you don’t have to!
Add the Butter
Now place the chicken on its left leg in a roasting pan or a large cast iron skillet. Put the butter all in one piece on top of the chicken.
How to Baste a Chicken
In my opinion, this is the ideal way to baste a chicken. It produces a golden brown chicken with crispy, buttery skin.
Step 1. Place the pan in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, baste the skin all over with the accumulated pan juices and turn the chicken over on its right leg.
Step 2. Put it back in the oven and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the pan, baste the chicken and turn it breast side down.
Step 3. Put the pan back in the oven and cook for 15 minutes more. Remove the pan, baste the chicken and turn it breast side up.
Step 4. Cook for an additional 30 minutes or until the juices run clear at the thigh. Be sure to baste several more times during the final cooking. It makes the skin a beautiful golden brown and so crispy.
My best tip for roasting chicken is to use an instant read meat thermometer to check for doneness. Check the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh being careful not to allow the thermometer tip to touch a bone when reading. Chicken is done when the internal temperature reaches 165F.
Rest Before Serving
Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.
If you don’t have the same herbs I used in the recipe, you can certainly substitute something else. Dill and basil are both very good. You can also use a different type of citrus. Try orange for a nice change.
Yes, of course. You can roast the chicken earlier in the day (or the day before) if you plan to serve it for dinner and gently reheat it covered with aluminum foil in a low oven (175-200 degrees) for about 20 minutes. Keep in mind that the skin won’t be as crispy when reheated.
To store any leftover chicken, wrap it tightly in plastic or foil. Like most leftover foods, roasted chicken can be kept for about three days in the refrigerator. After that, the risk of food poisoning increases. If you won’t use your leftovers within three days, freeze them instead of refrigerating.
Butter Roasted Chicken
- 1 whole chicken about 4 pounds
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh herbs – my favorite combination is tarragon thyme, rosemary and sage
- 1 lemon quartered
- ¼ cup butter (1/2 stick)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Remove the giblets from the chicken and dry it the skin well.
- Thoroughly salt and pepper the chicken both inside and out.
- Place the herbs and lemon wedges inside and truss if you wish.
- Place the chicken on its side in a roasting pan or a large cast iron skillet. Sit the butter on top.
- Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes.
- Remove from oven, baste the skin all over and turn the chicken on its other side.
- Cook for 15 more minutes, remove from oven, baste the skin all over and turn the chicken breast side down.
- Cook for 15 minutes, remove from oven, baste the skin all over and turn the chicken on its back (breast side up).
- Return to the oven and cook an additional 30 minutes or until juices at the thigh run clear and the internal temperature reaches 165F. Be sure to baste several more times during the final 30 minutes of cooking.
- Remove from the oven and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.
Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.
— This post was originally published on August 16, 2011. It has been updated with new photos and additional information.
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