Paleo | Whole30 | Meats
Roasted chicken is a staple in our weekly rotation of meals. We have tried a lot of different variations, but this lemon chicken recipe has become one of our favorites. We buy whole, organic, free range chickens for less per pound than buying already portioned chicken pieces. We spatchcock the whole bird to reduce cooking time and use lemon zest, cumin, and garlic to create a compound ghee that seasons the chicken under the skin. This lemon chicken recipe yields up to 8 servings, so it is perfect for a family meal, or for repeatable leftovers later in the week.
We tried several different variations of this lemon chicken recipe before we figured out the best way to maximize the lemon and cumin flavor without being too complicated or requiring significant preparation time. One way to ensure that you end up with juicy and flavorful chicken is to brine the chicken the night before cooking. A simple brine with a 1:20 salt to water ratio, along with quartered lemons and peppercorns produces a great lemony flavor, but brining requires thinking ahead of time and isn’t ideal for a last minute meal.
To make this recipe more spontaneous, we shifted to using lemon juice in the compound ghee along with the lemon zest and other spices. Unfortunately, getting the lemon juice to incorporate well into the ghee to create a spreadable paste takes a lot of whisking. Our first attempt resulted in a runny mess - the second attempt took a good 5 minutes of hand whisking. So although possible, it’s not ideal when you are looking for an easy lemon chicken recipe.
We finally landed on using lemon zest for the compound ghee and then quartering the zested lemons and placing them under the chicken during the roasting. This final version gave us a great lemon chicken recipe, and because we spatchcock the chicken (see our How To page on this), we ended up with crispy, flavorful skin, and juicy, tender meat - all in less time that if we roasted the chicken whole.
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