Roast Chicken with Citrus

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.

A whole roast chicken in a roasting pan with halved citrus fruits around it

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. Originally published April 24, 2013.Renee Schettler Rossi

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.

Roasted Chicken with Citrus

  • Quick Glance
  • (4)
  • 40 M
  • 2 H, 40 M
  • Serves 4
5/5 - 4 reviews
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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.

Print RecipeBuy the The Supper Club cookbook

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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!


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  1. 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.

  2. I have not made this recipe, though I am sure it is delicious. But I would suggest a cooking temperature of 425 to 450 F instead of the 375 F suggested here. I have been roasting chickens for over 30 years, and one thing I’ve learned which holds true for both chickens and turkeys is that you want to cook them at a higher heat for a shorter amount of time because “the longer the cooking time, the drier the meat.”

    Also, the purpose of roasting the chicken with half an orange in the cavity is not to give the chicken an orange flavor but because you should ALWAYS place cut citrus fruit in the cavity when roasting: the citrus fruit infuses the meat with moisture during the cooking process, which keeps the meat from drying out.

    The citrus can be lemon, it can be orange, it can be grapefruit, it can be lime. It doesn’t matter–because contrary to what you imply in the recipe, the orange in the cavity does not impart an orange flavor to the meat. The orange flavor in this recipe comes from the sauce. It doesn’t matter what type of citrus you use to roast a chicken, the meat always ends up tasting the same: like chicken. Moist, tender, non-citrusy chicken. And that’s a GOOD thing because it means you can use whatever citrus fruit you have on hand to roast your chicken!

    1. Thanks, Diane. We so appreciate you taking the time to share your insight and experience with us.

  3. I couldn’t decide between this recipe and the Sumac Roast Chicken so I combined the two and the end result was excellent! The aromatics were well balanced and nothing overwhelmed. The white meat was unbelievably juicy and fork tender. My chicken was just over 2 lbs and it’s usually difficult to get much flavor out of such a small bird, but this wasn’t the case this time. I tweaked the rub and added sumac, lemon juice and minced garlic to the butter, reserved about a tablespoon of the mixture, then refrigerated the chicken overnight. Before roasting I stuffed it with the oranges, lemons and herbs, rubbed the reserved butter mixture over the skin and drizzled it with lemon juice. Instead of roasting veggies with the chicken I placed it on a bed of lemon slices and spread lemon and orange segments around it in the pan. Each recipe had a different oven temperature so I split the difference and roasted the chicken at 400°. It took 50 minutes. The skin wasn’t super crisp, but it had a beautiful char and was delicious. I didn’t make the sauce but deglazed the pan with a bit of wine, then simmered to reduce the juices slightly. The flavor of the pan juices was outstanding. This “hybrid” is definitely a keeper.

  4. Citrus roast chicken was a great hit last night. My grandson, who is very picky said, “Good chicken!” My son-in-law said it was the best chicken I’ve made. Very juicy and flavorful.

  5. I have never roasted a chicken in my life – until yesterday. I made my first roast chicken using this recipe – and then I promptly went out and purchased the cookbook. The chicken was perfect – moist, delicious, crispy skin – I couldn’t get over how easy it was! I had to laugh when I caught my husband sneaking a piece of chicken from under the foil while it was resting – this is a guy who only eats chicken in the form of over-processed nuggets. In his words, “this chicken kicks ass.”

    1. Nicholle C., that’s swell! Thanks for letting us know! There’s no higher compliment, as far as I’m concerned. May I recommend a few other roast chicken recipes that I swear you and your husband will rave about? There’s Ina Garten’s recipe for Roast Chicken with Lemons, which is the roast chicken recipe we’d choose to make over and over again if we could choose just one recipe for life. Then there’s the Peruvian Roast Chicken recipe from another book you may wish to run right out and buy by Mindy Fox. Love to know what you think….

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