Honey Glazed Lemon Roast Chicken

Nothing beats a roast chicken for an easy family dinner. In this recipe we are marinated the whole chicken in lemon juice for a few hours, roasting the chicken, then glazing it with honey the last few minutes in the oven. The acidity of the lemon juice works like buttermilk to tenderize the chicken. The chicken is salted when it goes into the marinade so the marinade doubles as a gentle brine as well.

Cooking with honey can be problematic because it burns so easily. So we wait until the chicken is almost done, then baste it with honey so it doesn’t burn, but still gives us some wonderful honey flavor.

Recipe revised and updated Aug 10, 2014

Honey Glazed Lemon Roast Chicken Recipe

  • Prep time: 2 hours
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 3-4.

You can marinate this chicken for 2 hours or up to overnight. An overnight marinade will result in more lemon flavor in the chicken, but in either case, the lemon flavor is subtle.

Ingredients

  • One 4 pound (1.8 k) whole chicken
  • 1 cup (236 ml) lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/2 fresh lemon, cut into wedges
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) honey, heated to make it easier to brush

Method

Sprinkle chicken with salt put chicken in marinade bag with lemon juice

1 Rub the chicken with about two teaspoons of kosher salt, all around the surface of the chicken. Place the lemon juice and the whole chicken in a resealable plastic bag (like a large freezer bag). Seal the bag and move the lemon juice around so that it coats the chicken. Place the bagged chicken in a bowl, so that if the bag leaks, it won't leak all over your fridge, and chill for 2 hours or overnight. Turn the chicken occasionally so that all sides stay coated with the lemon juice.

rub chicken with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper place chicken on a rack over a roasting pan

2 Preheat your oven to 400°F (205°C) with an oven rack set in the bottom third of the oven. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and take it out of the marinade bag (discard the marinade). Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Rub olive oil all over the exterior of the chicken. Sprinkle all over with salt and pepper, including the cavity. Place thyme sprigs and lemon wedges into the cavity.

3 Place the chicken on a rack over a shallow roasting pan (we recommend a rack to help the heat circulation around the chicken). Roast for 20 minutes at 400°F (205°C), then lower the heat to 350°F (175°C). Roast for another 45 minutes.

While the chicken is roasting, heat the honey in a bowl in the microwave or in a small saucepan to make it easier to brush.

brush chicken with honey a well browned chicken

After the chicken has roasted at 350°F (175°C) for 45 minutes, use a pastry brush to generously brush the top and sides of the chicken all over with honey. Roast for another 10 to 15 minutes at 350°F (175°C) until an instant read thermometer reads 160°F (71°C) for the breast and 170°F (77°C) for the thigh, or when a sharp knife inserted into the breast and thigh releases juices that run clear, not pink. Honey will burn if it gets too hot, so watch the chicken at this stage. If the skin is getting too dark and the chicken still isn't done, loosely tent the chicken with a piece of aluminum foil. Brush the chicken with honey one more time before taking it out of the oven.

4 Remove the chicken from the oven and tent with foil to rest for 15 minutes.

5 Transfer the chicken to a cutting board or serving platter. Scrape up the drippings in the pan with a metal spatula. Pour the pan juices and drippings into a small saucepan. If there are blackened bits from burnt honey, remove them. Spoon off all but a tablespoon of fat. If you want to thicken the juices for gravy, create a slurry with a teaspoon of cornstarch or flour and a tablespoon of water. Add the slurry to the drippings, heat and stir until thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve the chicken with pan juices or thickened gravy.

 

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Links:

Honey Glazed Lemon Chicken from Bon Appetit

Honey Glazed Lemon Roast Chicken

11 Comments

  1. Karen

    Works GREAT with cornish hens too!!

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Paula

    This recipe looks amazing! Any thoughts on how this might be prepared in a slow cooker? Eager to hear from you!! Thanks so much!

    • Elise

      Hi Paula, well it is a roast chicken that required the dry heat of the oven for browning. So, I don’t think you can do this one in a slow cooker. You might try browning some chicken pieces on the stove-top and then cooking them in a slow cooker, at least you’ll get some of the browning that way. If you marinate the same and add some honey to the chicken in the slow cooker you may get a similar taste.

  9. shirley woolward

    do you have to use fresh lemon juice ? have everything in the house to make this now but might be a bit short on lemons……… thanks !

    • Elise

      You can use any lemon juice you have. We juice our lemons and then freeze the juice and use it all year round.

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