Roast chicken just got even more impressive. This riff on classic roast chicken with lemon swaps in sweeter orange for a crisp-skinned, tender chicken infused with the lilt of citrus. The pan sauce, too, is suffused with orange and is blissfully less heavy than traditional gravy.–David Leite

Is This Orange Chicken?

This isn’t the sort of orange chicken that you find on Chinese takeout menus that comprises battered and fried chicken chunks drenched in a gloppy, cloying sauce. This is the sort of orange chicken that’s an easy, aromatic riff on roast chicken with lemon that will have both you and your family clamoring for it again. No lie. And unlike its sadly Americanized Chinese counterpart, it’s bathed in a smooth, silken pan sauce. The recipe makes a gracious plenty of the thin, lighter-than-gravy pan sauce, so spoon it over rice, potatoes, polenta, or whatever you choose to serve on the side.

A chicken, orange, lemon, stock, and herbs on a white background.
A whole roast chicken in a roasting pan with halved citrus fruits around it

Roast Chicken with Citrus

4.67 / 9 votes
This roast chicken with citrus is made by stuffing a whole chicken with orange, lemon, garlic, and herbs and then roasting it until the skin is crisp and the meat infused with the lilt of citrus. Simple and elegant.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories511 kcal
Prep Time40 minutes
Cook Time2 hours
Total Time2 hours 40 minutes


  • One (3- to 4-pound) whole chicken
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small orange, preferably organic, quartered
  • 1 lemon, preferably organic, quartered
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 4 thyme sprigs, plus 1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 4 cups homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, or as needed


  • Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  • Pat the chicken dry inside and out. Season the inside with 2 teaspoons salt and the pepper. Place as many of the orange and lemon quarters, garlic cloves, and herb sprigs in the cavity as will fit. Cross the legs one over the other or tie them together with kitchen string to hold the contents inside. Tuck the wings underneath the chicken as if it was putting its arms behind its head. Squeeze a lemon quarter over the the chicken and rub the juice into the skin, then sprinkle the chicken with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt.
  • Place the chicken, breast side up, in a roasting pan. Toss any remaining orange and lemon quarters, garlic, and herb sprigs in the pan. Roast until the chicken's juices run clear when a thigh is pierced with a fork or an instant-read thermometer registers 160°F (71°C) when inserted into the thickest part of a thigh, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on the size. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • While the chicken rests, pour 1 cup stock into the roasting pan and stir to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom. Strain the pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a saucepan and place over low heat. Add the butter and the remaining 3 cups stock and swirl the pan gently until the butter melts. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the flour over the liquid and whisk until it dissolves and the juices have thickened a little, 3 to 5 minutes. If a thicker sauce is desired, sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons flour, or more as needed, and whisk again.
  • Squeeze the juice from the orange and lemon quarters into the pan and cook, stirring, until the juices have thickened a little more and are glossy, about 5 minutes. The pan sauce should be thinner than a gravy and just lightly coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the chopped thyme. Taste and adjust the seasoning. (You'll have ample pan sauce, but it's lovely spooned over rice or potatoes or virtually anything else you can think to put on the same plate as this citrus roast chicken.)
  • Carve the roast chicken and arrange on a platter. Serve with the warm juices on the side.
The Supper Club

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The Supper Club

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 511 kcalCarbohydrates: 16 gProtein: 32 gFat: 35 gSaturated Fat: 14 gMonounsaturated Fat: 13 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 139 mgSodium: 2185 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 6 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2011 Susie Cover. Photo © 2011 Con Poulos. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This roast chicken will make you a star with very little fuss or time. I really enjoyed this recipe, as did my entire extended family. Filling the cavity with citrus and herbs lent itself to a very flavorful and wholesome roast chicken. This roast chicken is a definite winner and will be a regular on my table whenever I need to impress friends or family.

I’d suggest using a bit less chicken stock unless you’ll be making 2 chickens or wish to have some for a later meal. You’ll probably need 2 to 3 tablespoons of flour, if you do make 4 cups of pan sauce. You may wish to make the sauce in a skillet over a large burner to help it thicken faster.

Somehow the title of this recipe just doesn’t do it justice, as it’s one of the best roast chicken recipes I’ve ever made or eaten. It took me a very long time to find this roast chicken recipe and my poor husband had to endure some embarrassingly rubbery (not cooked enough) and/or rubbery and dry (overcooked) dinners. Finally I found a method from Patricia Wells, and it was the gold standard by which all other recipes were judged, until now.

This recipe is easy and required no exotic ingredients. The instructions are straightforward. I used a 4 1/2-pound kosher chicken and didn’t brine it first. The sauce was easy to make but it did make a very large quantity. I think the amount could be reduced by half and there’d be plenty. The bird was moist and well seasoned with just a hint of citrus. Loved it! The sauce was tasty again with the citrus being subtle but adding great flavor. We’ve a new winner.

By the way, since there are only two of us we had leftovers. The sauce, thinned with water, made a fantastic base for chicken soup with miniature dumplings. An added bonus!

I’m a huge roast chicken fan so any time I find a new way to cook it I’m always game to try. I really liked this version and found the recipe easy to follow. The pan sauce recipe with it was easy to make, which for me is fabulous as gravy isn’t my forte.

I find a little citrus goes a long way, but I know so many people like to use more of it than I do. I did find the pan sauce a little too citrusy in flavor. That might just be a personal thing.

The roast chicken was perfectly moist and tender. Waiting was the toughest part, but the reward was worthwhile. Squeezing lemon juice over the skin is a brilliant idea and I sprinkled it with Himalayan sea salt.

I’ve made many a roast chicken, always secretly rating them in my brain and remembering which ones turned out best. So far, I’d say this one is my favorite. A roast chicken is the perfect dish for any occasion when cooked properly. Crisp, golden skin, and tender meat seasoned to perfection. That’s exactly how this chicken turned out.

I loved the addition of orange segments and juice in this recipe; I think it really added a nice taste to both the meat and the skin. My only suggestion would be that you really don’t need a pan sauce with this particular roast chicken! The flavors of the crisp skin and tender meat are enough. The pan sauce was good, but I’d think about just concentrating on this delicious chicken and not covering it up.

This is an absolutely flavorful, moist, and, above all, easy roast chicken. The herbs and the citrus flavors marry very well and the kitchen is filled with a fragrant aroma. The recipe yields a lot of gravy for 1 chicken; it might be worthwhile doing 2 or having mashed potatoes on hand. I used a 3-pound organic chicken. It took about 1 1/2 hours in my oven.

Go buy the best free-range chicken you can get your hands on, and make this hen. You’ll be happy you did.

The aromatics in the cavity flavored the meat from the inside, perfuming the house with a gobsmackingly wondrous scent that only roast chicken can give. I loved, loved, loved how the lemon juice rubbed onto the skin and then sprinkled with salt gave an oh-so-subtle citrus note. My husband and I tore off the skin as though we’d been starved for a few weeks. It was picture-perfect (well, before we attacked it). Come to think of it, we were going to take a picture but before we knew it, it was too late.

When we cut into the meat, it was so moist that juices literally squeezed out. Then came the pan sauce. Ooh, joy! The sauce made from the orange and lemon juices and thyme was bursting with deliciousness. We could hardly stand it, it was so good. We kept just saying, “Oh, man. Oh, man.” Not overly intelligent sounding, I know, but it was almost enough to make us weep. Part of the reason it was so great, in my opinion, was roasting it in a cast-iron skillet, which we usually do. The low sides allowed more of the skin to crisp up and we all know what a wonderful job cast iron does in roasting.

Neither of us could think of a single thing we’d want to change about this recipe. It was seasoned perfectly. The carcass made its way into a delicious chicken noodle soup for tomorrow’s lunch. Then it’s all over [sigh].

Citrus, garlic, and herbs contributed to a lovely roast chicken. I loved the flavor the orange imparted. I usually use lemon with chicken but can’t recall using orange. I’m not a huge fan of gravy with chicken, but this pan sauce was better than most.

This is a very good roast chicken recipe. We very much liked the subtle flavors of orange, lemon, and thyme that permeated the chicken and sauce.

I roasted a chicken that weighed almost 5 pounds, which took a full 2 hours to get to 160°. The chicken was very flavorful and remained moist in spite of the long roasting period. There was quite a bit of liquid in the pan at the end of the roasting period and so I only added 2 cups of stock, which made just the right amount of pan sauce. Had the pan been very dry, I probably would’ve used the full 4 cups stated in the recipe. I suggest degreasing the roasting liquid before proceeding to make the gravy. I used an extra tablespoon of flour to get the pan sauce to the correct consistency.

I love roast chicken. I love the warm and inviting aroma that invades my home while roasting a chicken. I love the oohs and ahhs from my family that replicate the oohs and ahhs during Thanksgiving—and all because I roasted a 5-pound chicken. I’m a glory-seeker, and roast chicken brings the glory. The flavor of citrus mixed with fresh herbs was divine, the meat tender and flavorful. The sauce took more than 20 minutes to thicken up so next time I plan to cut back on the amount of chicken stock, but otherwise, this was a Sunday dinner superstar!

This was a very close second-favorite chicken recipe of all time. The recipe creates a moist, tender chicken with a deliciously flavorful pan sauce. And it’s quite simple—no basting or hands-on time while the chicken is cooking. Will definitely be adding this to my repertoire!

The chicken is delicious and juicy. All the things you stuff in the cavity infuse it with subtle favors. The sauce is less successful. Things I’d change with the recipe: 1) Tell people to pat the chicken dry before roasting. This may be obvious to most people, but some people will get a chicken in plastic that’s very wet and not know to rid it of the moisture. 2) I used 2 teaspoons of salt, and I thought this was plenty. 3) If you don’t either heat the 3 cups of chicken stock or turn up the heat a lot when you add the stock and butter, it’ll take the butter a very, very long time to melt. 4) You need to use more flour (maybe 3 to 4 tablespoons) to get the sauce to the right consistency.

This is a simple recipe with minimal prep time and uses basic ingredients but produces a VERY moist and flavorful chicken. I used a chicken that was just under 5 pounds and the cavity was full with the citrus and herbs. There was way too much pan sauce, even though I had a larger bird, and I had to add 3 more tablespoons of flour to get it thick enough to coat a spoon. I served this with a gratin dauphinois, but had there been mashed potatoes, we probably wouldn’t have had so much left over.

What’s bad about roast chicken? So simple, so good. I usually rub a cut lemon over my chicken, but I was curious to try the addition of orange, and it really was quite lovely. The citrus flavor is subtle on the bird itself, but really gives the pan juices a nice zing. I might squeeze both lemon and orange over the chicken skin next time.

I used 1 teaspoon of dried thyme inside the cavity, as I didn’t have any fresh. My 5-pound chicken took exactly 1 1/2 hours and was moist and juicy. I couldn’t resist throwing a pound of baby potatoes into the roasting pan about 30 minutes before the end of cooking. I had a hard time putting so much butter into the gravy, which I made with frozen Thanksgiving turkey stock, and I could’ve done without it. The recipe makes copious amounts of gravy, but to my taste, the concentrated citrus-flavored pan juices were much tastier.

This recipe makes an excellent roast chicken. The hint of orange and lemon together with the thyme and rosemary gave it a delicious taste. One tablespoon of flour wasn’t enough to thicken the gravy even slightly but this is an easy thing to fix. The only caveat is that I’d recommend stirring the flour into a tablespoon of cold water and then adding it to the gravy so you don’t get lumps. Other than that it was perfect and a recipe that I’ll certainly use again.

This recipe produces a juicy, flavorful bird very easily. I had never used an orange in a roasted chicken—I liked the sweetness it provided. The gravy needs work—too much chicken stock, too little flour. That’s an easy adjustment.

The hardest part of this recipe was to fill its cavity with all of the requested ingredients, but the final taste was a nice roasted and juicy chicken, filled with aromatic flavor. My whole family loved how juicy and tasty it was.

The roast chicken part of this recipe is an A++. Wonderful, crisp flavors from the citrus and garlic as well as the rosemary. The crisp skin is the perfect counterpoint to the succulent, moist, and lightly fragranced meat. Those delicious flavors carry over to the pan sauce as well.

I made the recipe exactly as written and I got a lovely citrus-and-thyme-flavored sauce. It tasted grand, but just didn’t quite perform as a gravy. The next day I took the pan sauce and added about a 1/4 cup flour and a tablespoon of cream and then voila! Gravy.

At any rate, a 10 for the chicken and the adjusted pan sauce!

This recipe makes a very nice roast chicken. It’s a good basic go-to recipe that’d serve anyone really well. My chicken was about 4 pounds and was fully cooked after 1 hour in a small convection oven.

Since ovens can vary so much I’d suggest that when making this recipe the chicken be checked with an instant-read thermometer after the 1-hour mark to prevent it from being dry. We weren’t all that keen on the citrus overtones in the pan sauce, and it was thinner than we would’ve preferred. All in all I’d certainly make this chicken again, just use my own recipe for the sauce.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    What a treat it was to cut into this chicken and pour the “silken” sauce all over it and on the vegetables ( broccoli) and baked potato served with it. The recipe was perfect as it was and reminded us of a citrus chicken we had in Spain many years ago. I added some Bearss lime, too to increase the citrus. I’ve shared it with a dozen people so far. It was easy. I might do it next time at 400 degrees for a little faster cook. I had a 3-1/2 organic hen from Costco and I left it in the oven for 1 hr and 45 minutes. I can’t wait to make it again.

    1. Thanks, Jacques! I’m delighted that you enjoyed this so much and so appreciate you taking the time to let us know.