Honey Glazed Lemon Roast Chicken

This honey-glazed lemon chicken is a very simple roast chicken recipe that we found in an old issue of Bon Appétit. The lemon juice marinade tenderizes the chicken while the honey glaze adds a sweet balance to the lemon.

Honey Glazed Lemon Roast Chicken Recipe

Ingredients

  • One 6 1/2- to 7-pound roasting chicken, rinsed, patted dry
  • 1 1/4 cups fresh lemon juice (from about 6 large lemons)
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup honey, heated to make it easier to brush

Method

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1 Marinate chicken in the lemon juice in sealable plastic bag, placed in a large bowl, so that if it leaks it will leak into the bowl. Refrigerate several hours to overnight, turning the bag occasionally so that the chicken stays well coated with the lemon juice.

honey-lemon-roast-chicken-2.jpg
2 Preheat oven to 450°F. Drain chicken from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the exterior of the chicken and the cavity generously with salt and pepper. Place thyme sprigs into the cavity. Place chicken breast side down, on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast for 15 minutes at 450°F, then reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and roast for 45 minutes more.

honey-lemon-roast-chicken-3.jpg honey-lemon-roast-chicken-4.jpg

3 Turn chicken breast side up on the rack. Use a basting brush or pastry brush to coat the chicken all over with honey. Lower the heat to 350°F and continue to cook until cooked through and deep brown, basting with any juices in pan and brushing with honey occasionally, about 55 minutes longer (test for doneness starting about 40 minutes). The chicken is done when the juices run clear (not pink) when a knife tip is inserted into both the chicken breast and thigh, about 165-170°F for the breast and 180-185°F for the thigh. Transfer chicken to platter. Tent loosely with aluminum foil to keep the chicken warm. Let rest for 15 minutes before carving.

4 Pour the pan juices into small saucepan. Spoon off fat. Reheat the pan juices. If you want you can thicken with a little flour or corn starch (create a slurry with corn starch or flour and a little water first, before adding to the pan juices). Season with salt and pepper. Serve chicken with pan juices or thickened gravy.

Serves 4.

Adapted from a recipe in Bon Appétit magazine.

41 Comments

  1. Katerina

    Wow what a beautiful looking chicken – from the pictures I was sure it must’ve been done on the barbecue. I will definitely try this!

  2. jonathan

    Sometimes the simplest preps are the best. Elise – Since the recipe calls for honey and pan juice basting, do you keep the warmed honey over a very low burner to keep it pourable (and thus, bastable)? Also, any reason why you didn’t truss the chicken? I realize it’s often done just for appearances sake. I’ll always welcome a new and easy roast chicken recipe into my repertoire…thanks!

  3. Matt

    This chicken looks great! When is dinner? J/K. Out of curiosity, did you put anything inside the chicken while it roasted?

  4. Carolyn

    I too, would like to know if this roasting recipe is adaptable to several chicken breasts or a half of chicken? The recipe looks/sounds delicious and seems so simple and quick.

  5. Ramona

    The chicken looks torched, Elise. Either the honey basting was too long (it should only be done during the last 15 – 20 minutes of cooking) or the second oven temp was a bit too high.

  6. Rita Scott

    This chicken looks awesome! I was just thinking about roasting a chicken last night. I think I will try it this weekend. I bet some fresh rosemary out of the garden would be good with this too.

    Thanks!

  7. Amy

    Honey and lemon is always a great combination. The chicken looks super yummy! You can stuff the chicken cavity with a few of the lemon peels so it perfumes the meat from the inside. I also freeze extra lemon peels for whenever I need lemon zest. :)

  8. Kirsten

    This is such a lovely and delicious looking chicken!!

    I love the variance from a basic roasted chicken…I’ll be trying this one soon.

    Thanks Elise!

  9. shauna

    Beautiful, Elise. That top photograph is so luscious that I could eat off my screen.

    I love th roasted lemon-rosemary chicken that the Chef and I make. But now, I have to try it with this organic honey from Hawaii we just bought!

  10. Elise

    Hi Jonathan – We usually truss a roast chicken, but we didn’t do it this time. Regarding the honey, I zap it in the microwave until runny and it just stays that way, no need to keep it warm.

    Hi Matt – We didn’t put anything in the chicken cavity, but next time I probably would put in one or two lemon halves (after they were juiced for the marinade) and/or a sprig of rosemary.

    Hi Kimberly and Carolyn – I haven’t tried it with chicken breasts or a half chicken. If you do, please let us know how it turns out.

    Hi Ramona – Yep, the chicken skin did get a little scorched in places. It was still good though, and the chicken itself was delicious. It would have helped if I had tied the chicken properly before roasting it, the wing tips definitely got scorched. But we don’t eat those anyway. Also, we probably could have basted more often which would have effectively lowered the oven temp. BTW, the lighting of the photo makes the chicken look more burned than it actually was. If you look at the method photos in the recipe itself you’ll see a photo of the very same chicken looking quite nicely browned.

    Hi Ann – the 55 minutes is correct, but I would start testing after about 40 minutes more. The timing is dependent on how often you baste. Every time you open the oven door to baste the chicken you lower the oven temp by at least 10 degrees and prolong the cooking time. So, the more you baste the longer it will take. If you baste less, then the chicken will be ready sooner.

  11. Malinda

    Hi Elise,

    The scary thing for me is I think I remember making that chicken dish when the magazine first came out! I used to add lemons to the cavity like someone above suggested. I had forgotten about it, now I’m anxious to make it again. Thanks!

  12. lydia

    Making a roast chicken that looks and tastes great is harder than it seems. I love lemon and chicken — I often shove cut lemons, onions, and thyme from my garden into the cavity of the chicken to flavor it. The honey makes a lovely glaze, so I’ll definitely try that.

  13. Nichole

    Also try mixing the honey and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. The soy adds some kick, but make sure to put some glaze and the lemon halves in the body cavity…also, make sure that after you cook a chicken 15 – 20 mins at 375 or higher, flip it and repeat…then TENT THE CHICKEN WITH FOIL for an hour or so until it is done! Get a perfectly roasted chicken every time!

  14. Jim Addison

    Part of that “scorching” effect is probably the sugars in the honey, which burn at a relatively low temp.

    Looks like a good recipe, can’t wait to try it – I’m thinking it would work pretty well on the grill, too.

  15. Anonymous

    I made this using raw, unfiltered honey and the honey carmelized/burned and was difficult to scrape up from the bottom of the pan. It was good, but the honey didnt make a big difference. I did make a gravy from juice I had from a previous chicken and added honey to it, that was good.

  16. Julie

    This was really good! I roasted two chickens, and my family has been eating off them all week. We’ll probably finish up with some chicken salad tonight. Of course the whole bird was delicious, but the wings were the BEST part. Also made some fabulous, richly colored and flavored stock, due to that intense carmelization of the glaze and drippings.
    Thanks!!!

  17. Carrie

    This chicken was amazing! I fixed it for dinner tonight and it was really worth the extra work and time. I followed the directions as posted and didn’t have any troubles! No scorching or anything. I have to say that this is the juiciest chicken I have ever fixed at home. I’ll be roasting my whole chickens this way from here on out. Thanks so much for such a wonderful recipe!

  18. Twinkle

    First time poster and first time roaster =) Tried this and got a juicy chicken! I might have skimped on the salt and pepper though because the meat didn’t turn out quite as tasty as I had expected. Might try adding a bit of garlic too next time. Took a photo of it as a souvenir (was quite proud of myself for pulling off a decent roast on my first try, as you can see) and I agree with Elise, it looks more scorched in photos than it actually is in real life. Can’t wait to try the other roast chicken recipes here! Love your site, Elise! Very useful for beginner cooks like me =)

  19. Veronica

    Hi! I was wondering if anyone has tried this on chicken breasts yet? Also, I know the recipe calls for fresh lemon juice but all I have is bottled. Will this work?

  20. Ms. Nelson

    The recipe was very tasty, my 3 year old loved it and he’s a very picky eater, on the other hand my 7 year old didn’t care for it. I like the fact I was able to find a different recipe for chicken since that’s all we eat besides turkey and seafood.

  21. Shane Deal

    This was fantastic! I usually do not like chicken as it’s usually too dry but this came out very moist and was absolutely delicious, loved the slightly sweet flavor that would come through from time to time from the honey and the lemon added a lot of flavor to the chicken.

    Thanks!

    -Shane

  22. Maria

    Best recipe I’ve tried so far on this website. I couldn’t stop drooling while the chicken was in the oven, and it tasted as good as it smelled when it came out. I’m a newbie when it comes to cooking, but I love your website. Keep up the great work!

  23. Kim

    I seasoned a chicken with chili flakes, lemon and herbs and needed some instructions for cooking times and temps. These worked great. It was so juicy when I cut into it and everyone, even picky kids, loved it. I used the pan juices mixed half and half with water to cook pearled cous cous for a side. Yum, yum.

  24. Monica

    This is definitely a keeper recipe. I’ve made it twice now and the husband and I both love it. Last night I crushed some dried rosemary with my mortar and pestle and added it to the honey so every time I basted that lovely rosemary flavor was added, too. It is incredible!

    Thanx for another really awesome recipe. :0)

  25. Joyce

    Made this roasted lemon honey chicken and it
    turn out great and look just like the picture above and would recommend it and do it again.

  26. Jessica

    I did this tonight with a cornish game hen and it turned out great. Very tasty and moist. I never turned the hen over but it was tasty through the entire bird. I enjoyed that crunchy skin sound and taste.

  27. Jacob

    My family does not like skin in their chicken.
    How would this taste if I take off the skin after roasting?
    I got the same question about your smoked paprika roasted chicken…
    What do you think Elise?
    Thanks!

    It would taste fine. Just don’t eat the skin. ~Elise

  28. Karl

    I made this tonight with some slight modifications. Instead of roasting it on a rack, I roasted it on a bed of sliced carrots in a cast iron skillet. (I think you had a similar concept with another chicken roasted over root vegetables). The carrots came out unbelievably sweet and tasty and paired with the honey-glazed flavor of the skin amazingly well.

    I was a little worried because, on the night I was going to make it, I suddenly was presented with unexpected alternate dinner plans and the marinading had to be prolonged by one day. I was hoping the lemon wouldn’t turn my chicken flesh into mush. Thankfully, the chicken withstood the extra steeping in lemon juice. It might have been slightly grainy in a few places as a result. But, overall, the chicken held up well.

    I give you kudos for another very solid recipe.

  29. Lisa Leong

    I chopped celery,onion and garlic finely with blender. Then smear all over to the chicken and let it marinate for overnight.The rest of steps I follow your instruction… yummy chicken.

  30. Wolfgang

    Thanks for this idea. Since our daughter is just 1 year and 3 months old I didn’t want to use “the usual” garlic butter for our Christmas dinner. It tasted great and went very well with the basil-rice stuffing.

  31. Art

    I really enjoy this recipe. Honey glazed chicken has become my favorite dish. This is from someone who didn’t know how to cook last year.

  32. Kimberly

    This sounds really yummy! Can you use this recipe when just grilling chicken breasts? I don’t think I would ever have a need to roast a whole chicken.

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