Classic Italian Roasted Chicken

I think all cooks should know how to roast a whole chicken. It’s so incredibly easy and much tastier than those little rotisserie chickens you can pick up at the local big box grocery store. Whole roasting chickens usually go on sale for a price that is comparable to the pre-made version but you get a whole lot more. The rotisserie chickens weight about 1 pound and cost roughly $6.00 whereas the whole roaster chicken weighs about 3-4 pounds and costs the same or less for a decent quality. What have you got to lose by trying to roast your own? Not too much.

Classic Italian Roasted Chicken

One 3-4 pound whole roasting chicken

1-2 lemons

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried parsley

salt and fresh ground pepper

olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Carefully remove the bag of innards from the chicken, you can discard this or save it for other recipes, which I don’t do. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Rub olive oil over the surface of the chicken and drizzle some inside as well. Stuff the lemons, which you have pierced with the tip of a sharp knife in several places, inside the cavity of the chicken. Mix the dried herbs and rub under the skin of the chicken around the neck, breasts and thighs or where ever it will lift for you. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the skin and rub in. Tie the legs closed and use toothpicks to hold the lemons inside by closing up those skin flaps. Set on a rack, breast-side down, that is inside a roasting pan or any dish that is large enough to hold the rack and the chicken, making sure the sides are at least 1-2 inches high. You want the juices this will make.

Roast for 30  minutes and carefully turn the chicken over. Continue roasting for another 30 minutes. If the skin is browning too fast, cover with foil. The temperature when done should be at least 185 in the thickest part of the breast and 190 in the thickest part of the thighs and juices run clear. Remove from oven and transfer to cutting board, cover and let rest for 10 minutes so the juices settle. Slice and serve with the pan drippings. Be sure to skim the fat from the pan drippings. You can also boil the drippings to reduce and thicken a bit if you like. I served this with orzo pasta as the juices act like a sauce for the pasta.


  1. Use fresh rosemary sprigs in place of the dried herbs and put some inside with the lemons as well as under the skin.
  2. Stuff with onions and put carrots and potatoes around the chicken. Use any herb combination you like best.

I plan to stretch this chicken to at least one or two more meals by using all the leftover meat for either a chicken salad or chicken quesadillas and then cooking the carcass with carrots, onions and celery for soup broth. I’ll post those recipes and meal ideas over the next few days.

9 thoughts on “Classic Italian Roasted Chicken

  1. This is definitely ambitious! I don’t think I could ever do it. I have a thing against innards of any kind! :) In fact, for Thanksgiving, I “chickened” out and bought a turkey breast (however, it was large) and even then was gagging while washing it. It’s definitely not for people with a soft gag reflex.

    That said, I LOVE roasted chicken and this recipe has made me so hungry!!!

  2. Love doing this and just cut the roaster into serving-size pieces instead of meeting fancy. Also sometimes do it on top of a beer can both in the oven and on the grill.

    • I really need to try cutting up a whole chicken before roasting to see how it easy it is. I have a lot of recipes from my Italian cookbooks that start out with “one whole chicken cut into 10 pieces” and I could just go buy it cut up already. But I want to try cutting one up for myself. I bet it’s easier than I think.

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