This roast chicken with herb butter from Dorie Greenspan–with its mix of parsley, rosemary, thyme, basil, cilantro, sage, tarragon, chives, and/or oregano–guarantees an exceptionally flavorful, tender bird that everyone will rave about.
Just when you thought you were unable to come up with yet another variation on roast chicken that didn’t bore you out of your mind, along comes Dorie Greenspan with this simple yet really quite surprisingly lovely rendition.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Roast Chicken with Herb Butter
- 1/2 lemon
- 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter very soft
- About 1 cup loosely packed minced mixed fresh herbs (including parsley, rosemary, thyme, basil, cilantro, sage, tarragon, chives, and/or oregano)
- 4 scallions white and light green parts finely chopped, dark green parts reserved
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- One (4-pound) chicken room temperature
- 1 small onion thinly sliced
- 1 bay leaf
- 2/3 cup white wine or water
- 1 to 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar for the pan sauce (optional)
- Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 450°F (230°C).
- Finely grate the zest of the lemon into a small bowl, reserving the lemon. Toss in the butter, minced herbs, and finely chopped scallions and mash the ingredients together until well blended. Season with salt and pepper. Divide the seasoned butter in half. Wrap 1 piece tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for your next chicken or another use. Use the rest for the chicken.
- Pour the oil into a Dutch oven swish it around so that it slicks the sides of the pot.
- Pat the chicken completely dry with paper towels. Use your fingers to gently pull the chicken skin away from the meat, loosening it along the breasts and drumsticks. Work from the top and bottom of the chicken, lifting the skin up with your knuckles to help you open up some space without tearing the skin. Use a chunk of herb butter at a time and squish, squiggle, and otherwise schmush most of the butter under the skin of the chicken, spreading it as best you can against the meat. Don’t worry about getting it in an even layer—the butter will melt and baste all the meat in the oven. Any butter that plops off the chicken can be rubbed all over the skin. Season the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper and stuff the cavity with the reserved herb stems and scallion greens. Squeeze the half lemon over the bird and tuck the lemon inside the cavity.
- Place the chicken, breast side up, in the Dutch oven. Toss in the onion and bay leaf and then pour the wine or water around the chicken and roast, uncovered, until done, 60 to 80 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken. If it looks as if the pan juices are running low, add some water. The chicken is done when a thermometer poked into the thickest part of a thigh registers 165°F (75°C). Alternatively, you can test for doneness by cutting a slit in the chicken between the drumstick and breast and check that the juices run clear.
- Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, skim the fat from the surface of the pan juices, discard the bay leaf, and, if desired, stir in some sherry vinegar.
- Carve the chicken and serve with the pan juices on the side.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
The roast chicken with herb butter came out flavorful and savory. My family and I really enjoyed having it for dinner. But, the chicken took longer to cook than the recipe directed. My chicken took about 1 1/2 hours before the juices ran clear at the drumsticks and the thermometer reached 165 degrees. I didn’t need to add any additional liquid to the pan while the chicken was cooking.
This roast chicken with herb butter is a wonderful Sunday roast recipe! House smells terrific while it’s roasting. It takes a bit of time to chop up the herbs for the butter and to smoosh it up under the skin, but the flavorful moistness it lends to the meat and the herby broth it creates is what makes this dish so special. I love the variety of herbs you can use for this dish. I used parsley, cilantro, basil and oregano since that is what I had on hand, but I am thinking rosemary, thyme, parsley and garlic would also be fabulous. I didn’t use the sherry vinegar this time for the pan sauce, but I will the next for even more depth of flavor. I ended up with a good deal of broth, so I served the chicken with wild rice to soak up the yummy sauce. A definite keeper for us!
Any recipe that makes your kitchen smell so amazing that you can’t wait for the oven timer to ring is a definite keeper. A simple collection of herbs from the garden, soft butter, a zesty lemon and pour of wine made for a perfectly moist and tender chicken. I served it with some garden roasted potatoes, carrots and parsnips. Perfect for pouring the extra pan juices over. Delicious.
This roast chicken with herb butter recipe produced a basic roasted chicken and I liked the idea of changing the flavors of the butter. The herb butter could be frozen when all the herbs are in season and do a whole chicken or even thighs and breasts.
The skin of the chicken was nice and crisp and the white wine added to the pan gave some juices. I added an extra 1/3 cup water to extend the juices. We love cold roast chicken the next day, so it was nice to have a few pieces to enjoy.
This is definitely a hands-off recipe. Once the technique is down then you can follow the suggestions for other flavors with different herbs and spices. The butter can be ready at a moments notice from the freezer.
Originally published October 24, 2018