Lemon and Garlic Butter Roast Chicken with Sage

I love a roast dinner. It’s so homely and comforting. A perfect way to share a dinner together as a family. This delicious spring roast chicken will make any dinner, simply spectacular.

Roasted whole chicken makes a great dinner, that is pretty easy to get right, if you follow the correct steps. You can prepare it in the morning, leave it to marinate for the day, then pop it in the oven to do the rest. A moist roast chicken, plenty of flavour and a crispy skin on the outside is what awaits.

The key to adding the most flavour is the herby garlic butter. Add the butter underneath the skin as well as over the top and the meat will be flavourful and delicious. I also like to place the used lemon, cut into wedges, inside the bird along with some extra sage leaves. This combination releases a wonderful spring aroma, as you carve.

Garlic and Lemon are two flavours that go really well with chicken. The flavour combination gives the chicken a light, non-overpowering taste, that I associate with Spring. You can also check out these breaded chicken bites with lemon and these mini chicken kiev nuggets for more ideas on using lemon and garlic.

raw whole chicken being covered with lemon marinade

What to Serve with a Roasted Chicken

Roast Chicken served as part of a roast dinner is an obvious choice, when it comes to what you want to serve with it. This guide on roasting potatoes will show you how to get the crispiest accompaniment as well as steamed vegetables, cauliflower cheese and Yorkshire puddings.

But, roasted chicken doesn’t have to be a accompanied by a big, elaborate meal. Why not try simple rice, roasted root vegetables, or a spring salad.

The leftover roast chicken will also make great sandwich fillings, you can add it to pies or to curries like this chicken korma. You can freeze leftover cooked chicken too, let it cool and then store in an airtight container, in the freezer, for up to 3 months.

Recipe Tips and Guidance

Your whole raw chicken does not need to be washed. You can actually increase your chances of food poisoning by doing so. Washing chicken can cause the surrounding area to be splashed with bacteria and can contaminate clothes, surfaces and cooking equipment. Cooking your chicken for the recommended amount of time at the right temperature will ensure that any bacteria present on the chicken will be killed.

To loosen the skin, use your fingers (be careful not to tear the skin if you have longer nails) or an inverted spoon, use the spoon upside down to prize away the skin without tearing.

Let your chicken come to room temperature before roasting it. This helps the chicken to cook more evenly and the meat will remain moist. Give it at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before placing in the preheated oven.

If you want the classic crispy chicken skin, don’t cover your chicken when roasting.

Roasted chicken needs to rest a little before carving it. I recommend moving it to your carving board, covering it with a piece of tin foil and leaving it to rest for around 15 minutes before carving. This helps to prevent the moisture escaping immediately and drying the chicken meat out. It also makes carving easier.

Don’t throw away the cooking juices in the pan, add them to the gravy, or drizzle over the chicken. The cooking juice can also be saved for other recipes, to flavour soup or stocks for example. You can even use it to roast your vegetables and potatoes in.

Recipe FAQ

What is the length of time it takes to roast a whole chicken?

When it comes to working out the time your whole chicken will take in the oven, give it 20 minutes cooking time for every 500g (approx 1lb) in weight, plus an extra 20 minutes at the end.

How can I tell when my chicken is cooked?

The best method is to use a meat thermometer. Stick the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone and into the middle of the breast. Both should read a temperature of 75C (165F). If you do not have a thermometer to hand, cut into the thickest part of the meat on the thigh, the juices should run clear. Be sure that you have weighed your chicken correctly and cooked for long enough, according to the appropriate time calculations.

A golden roast chicken seasoned with herbs sits on a wooden board, with a blurred plant in a white pot and a brick backdrop.

Lemon and Garlic Butter Roast Chicken with Sage

5 from 1 vote
I love a roast dinner. It's so homely and comforting. A perfect way to share a dinner together as a family. This delicious spring roast chicken will make any dinner, simply spectacular.
Print Recipe Rate Save
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: British
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Plus Marinating time: 2 hours
Servings: 6
Calories: 473kcal


  • 2 kg Whole Chicken
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Lemon, zest and juice
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic , crushed
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 3 Fresh Sage Leaves, chopped, plus extra to stuff
  • 50 g Butter


  • Loosen the skin from the chicken using your fingers or the back of a spoon.
  • Soften the butter with half of the garlic, lemon zest and sage leaves and spread some underneath the chicken skin and the rest on top.
  • Place your chicken into a large bowl or container.
  • Mix the oil, with the other half of the lemon zest and juice, half the garlic, pepper and sage in a bowl.
  • Pour the oil over the chicken.
  • Cut the used lemon into wedges and place inside the bird along with some extra sage leaves.
  • Cover the chicken and leave in the fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours
  • Preheat the oven to 200C
  • Remove the chicken from the fridge and leave to come to room temperature.
  • Uncover the chicken and place in the oven to cook for 20 minutes per 500g plus an extra 30 minutes at the end.
  • Once cooked, remove from the oven and cover with foil. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.  

Recipe Notes

See Recipe Guidance for More Details
  • Don’t wash the raw chicken.
  • Bring the chicken to room temperature before placing in the oven.
  • Cook uncovered for crispy skin. 
  • Leave to rest, loosely covered with foil, for approximately 15 minutes before carving. 
  • Save the cooking juices to make gravy or for other recipes. 

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 473kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 138mg | Sodium: 114mg | Potassium: 338mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 438IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 2mg

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