• STEP 1

    The night before, put the chicken in a medium roasting tin. Rub the salt generously over the skin and into the cavity, then grind over some black pepper. Push one half of a lemon into the cavity, then tie the legs together with kitchen string. Cover and chill overnight.

  • STEP 2

    Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Dab a little of the excess salt from the skin using kitchen paper.

  • STEP 3

    Mix the butter with the garlic and sage. Push the herby garlic butter under the skin using your hands and rub it over the flesh, making sure it’s evenly spread out. Stuff the thyme and bay leaves into the cavity, then put the remaining lemon halves in the tin around the chicken. Roast for 1 hr, then baste the chicken with the buttery juices from the tin. Roast for a further 20-30 mins, or until cooked through. Check the chicken is cooked by inserting a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh – the juices should run clear.

  • STEP 4

    Transfer the chicken to a board, cover and leave to rest for 20 mins before carving. Slice and serve on a warmed platter.



In step three, instead of using garlic and sage, finely chop 70g smoked pancetta and ½ bunch of rosemary leaves and mix with the butter.


Mix ½ tbsp smoked paprika and 2 tsp dried oregano into the butter before rubbing into the chicken.


Or, squeeze the sausagemeat from 2 pork sausages and mix with ½ bunch of sage or thyme leaves, finely chopped, and 2 chopped shallots.

Listen to this recipe

Listen to the crispy sage & lemon roast chicken Cookalong episode of the BBC Good Food podcast to hear Esther Clark talk you through the step-by-step guide to her recipe. Listen on Spotify now.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, Christmas 2020

Goes well with


Comments, questions and tips

Rate this recipe

What is your star rating out of 5?

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Overall rating

A star rating of 3.5 out of 5.7 ratings