Get ready for the juiciest, herb-infused roasted chicken you’ve ever had. It’s easy enough for a casual meal, but equally enough of a showstopper to make it the star of a special occasion.
Everyone should have a recipe for roast chicken up their sleeve, and this one, stuffed with the most gorgeous lemony, herby flavours is pretty special. It’s also incredibly easy, with limited hands-on time. It’s great for prepping ahead and then just letting the oven do all the hard work.
Roasting a chicken can often feel intimidating, but I promise it really is easy. There are just a couple of key tips and tricks which will help you get perfect, juicy roast chicken every time.
One of my favourite things about roasting a chicken is the leftovers! Stuff the meat into sandwiches, wraps, pile it onto poke rice bowls, throw in creamy pasta, and frittata, make a leftovers pie and then make a nutrient-packed chicken stock from the carcass.
And the secret to super juicy, moist roast chicken? It’s twofold:
The dry brine:
- Lots of recipes will call for a traditional wet brine for the chicken but I always find this SO impractical. It means you have to somehow fit a very large pot in your fridge, which is basically impossible when you have limited fridge space, especially if you have a packed fridge around the holiday season.
- You also have to heat the brine, then wait for it to cool enough to put the chicken in and make sure it’s completely submerged. Essentially, it’s a big hassle.
- A dry brine solves these problems. It’s easy and works just as well. All you have to do is mix salt and lemon zest, then rub it all over the chicken. Pop it in the fridge, ideally overnight, and then it’s done. It’s all a bit science-y but basically, the salt draws the moisture out of the meat, it then is reabsorbed INTO the meat with the salt, creating a well-seasoned chicken and this process keeps the lovely juices inside.
The most deliciously fragrant herb and miso butter that’s stuffed under the skin:
- The biggest culprit when it comes to a disappointing roast chicken is dry breast meat. Because the meat there is so lean, it’s prone to drying out easily. It’s also right on top of the chicken, closest to the heat of the oven.
- To counter both these things, butter under the skin works a charm. Not only is it going to infuse the chicken with all that gorgeous flavour, but it keeps the breast meat juicy and also provides a layer of protection from the direct heat.
You don’t need many ingredients to make this juicy chicken – a few pantry staples and herbs and you’re on your way.
- Chicken. I’m using a large chicken here, and always go free-range.
- Miso. This fermented soybean paste is a staple in my kitchen. It brings a wonderful savoury, umami depth to the chicken and I LOVE it. It’s pretty readily available in supermarkets now (it will be in the Asian food section). If you can’t find it, you could use 1 tablespoon of fish sauce to try and replicate the umami flavour, or just leave it out.
- Herbs. I’m using a mixture of rosemary and thyme, but you could also use oregano, or you could use dried herbs.
- Butter. You want to ideally use unsalted butter, just so you can control the level of salt. Miso is salty, so if you use salted butter, reduce the amount of miso to 1 tablespoon. You want it to be softened here, so just pop it in the microwave for 10 – 15 seconds, then give it a good mix.
- Salt. This one is key! Remember that different types of salt are saltier than each other – 1 tablespoon of table salt is going to be more salt in total than 1 tablespoon of sea salt. I used table salt in this recipe because it’s the type I find to be most readily available. If you’re using larger sea salt crystals, I’d increase the dry brine amount to 2 tablespoons.
- Lemon. Lemon is used in three ways in the recipe – the zest in the dry brine, the juice in the glaze and it’s stuffed into the cavity of the chicken while it roasts. I like to use the same lemon for all three purposes, that way, none of it is wasted.
How to make it
Mix the salt and lemon zest, then rub it all over the chicken. Pop it into an oven dish then cover it loosely with foil and pop it into the fridge. Ideally, you want to do this the day before you want to cook it (up to 24 hours), but at minimum, you can leave it for an hour.
Mix the softened butter, miso paste, garlic, rosemary, thyme and honey in a small bowl. With the chicken’s legs facing towards you, use the back of a spoon to prise the skin from the chicken breast carefully, then spoon the butter under the skin and push it all the way down the breast. I find the easiest way to do this is to stuff the butter in, then smooth it along the chicken with the back of your spoon on the outside of the skin. Repeat this on the other breast, then rub any leftover butter all over the outside of the breasts and legs.
Mix the olive oil and lemon juice, then brush it all over the outside of the chicken. Stuff the lemon halves and rosemary sprigs into the cavity, and you’re ready to cook.
PRO TIP: You can truss the chicken if you like, for a neater look and it will cook more evenly this way. Trussing a chicken is essentially tying the legs and wings in tightly with string. Here’s a helpful guide for doing this that I use if you’d like to give it a try.
Cover the chicken with foil, then roast at 180C/350F fan for an hour. Then remove the foil and roast for another 25 minutes, basting with the cooking juices a couple of times, until the chicken is looking golden and gorgeous. The chicken is cooked when a probe thermometer hits 75C/165F at the thickest part (generally around the leg near the bone) and the juices run clear when you cut into it.
Let the chicken rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. You can either serve it whole and carve it at the table, or carve it and present it to the table that way. Whatever you choose, make sure you spoon lots of the flavour-packed cooking juices all over the meat – it’s magical stuff!
Got a question?
There are a couple of different ways to check this. The easiest is to use a probe thermometer – they’re not expensive and they’re a serious game-changer. You want the internal temperature to be 75C/165F, in the thickest part of the leg, near the bone. Without a thermometer, if you cut into the chicken you’re looking for the juice to run clear – if it’s not cooked enough, it’ll be pink and cloudy.
You can also cut into the meat itself if you’re really unsure to check – around the leg near the bone is the part that will take the longest to cook. It’s tricky because some of the meat around that area will remain a little pinkish so don’t be put off if you see that. You want the meat to feel firm – if it’s super soft and rubbery you’ll know it’s undercooked.
Oregano or marjoram would also be lovely here – and don’t worry if you don’t have fresh herbs, dried ones will be absolutely fine.
You could add 1 tablespoon of fish sauce to try and replicate the lovely umami richness of the miso, or leave it out but make sure to add 1 teaspoon of salt to the butter mix.
The options are endless here!
– I love serving this chicken as part of a feasting spread over the holiday season (or at Christmas), with cranberry stuffing balls, crispy skin-on roast potatoes, a couple of salads like a fresh peach and halloumi salad, crunchy Asian slaw or roasted butternut squash salad with feta and pomegranate.
– Serve it with flatbreads, creamy hummus, tahini yogurt sauce and a crunchy chopped salad for a Middle Eastern inspired feast.
– Enjoy it with a fresh green goddess salad, miso roasted sweet potatoes and courgette and peach salad for a more summery style spread.
Basically, it’s a way for the salt to really penetrate into the chicken to season it and keep it super juicy. Salt will draw out moisture, but when left, that drawn-out moisture combines with the salt and is reabsorbed into the chicken, changing the protein structure of the meat and making sure it stays juicy when cooked.
It’s a bit complicated and science-y, but just know that it makes the meat juicier!
Complete your Christmas menu with these ideas
If you make this recipe, let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear what you think.Print