Lemon Roasted Chicken with Garlic and Thyme

Having a small crowd and not a small army for a meal? Try this Lemon Roasted Chicken with Garlic and Thyme. All the flavors of a Thanksgiving turkey but so much easier to make and perfect all year round!

Lemon, Roasted Garlic, and Thyme Roasted Chicken

I know some might consider this suggestion sacrilegious but honestly, bear with me. Have you ever had a year or even more when the need for a monster turkey was overkill? When no relatives were coming and you and your small family decided to just veg for the day? When my children were younger and still living at home, I always did a huge meal even if only for the three of us. Traditions you know? Next time, try this Lemon Roasted Chicken with Garlic and Thyme!

My girls and I would have those days certainly when it really wasn’t necessary; we never lived near relatives and some years, we just decided to stay home and in our jammies all day while we cooked a Thanksgiving meal.

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I honestly wish I had thought of doing this Lemon Roasted Chicken sooner. I call this a Mini-Turkey. You know, a chicken. And when done with a bit of extra care? I think it was better! It was so easy, did not take all day to cook and with some flavors that elevated it a bit, we enjoyed it thoroughly for Thanksgiving this year.

Flavored with lemon zest and juice, roasted garlic and thyme (yes, from my garden and you can see it’s starting to turn it’s winter color), it tasted outstanding but took less than 15 minutes to get ready and less than 2 hours in the oven and that was for a 5 lb bird. Get a smaller one and it’s even quicker.

Lemon, Roasted Garlic, and Thyme Roasted Chicken

I wanted to make this really simple and it was. I served these fabulous roasted carrots on the side with simple Smashed Potatoes with Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs Cheese. If you’re not familiar with this cheese, you need to introduce yourself; we love it for appetizers too! Here’s a handy store finder to locate a grocer near you.

While I LOVE this Maple Roasted Turkey with Bacon and Sage, it’s often the sides that I really look forward to. In addition to the carrots and mashed potatoes I did make this Pumpernickel and Rye Stuffing too. It is so amazing, not at all like anything you might normally offer on Thanksgiving. Filled with onion, celery, and pecans along with the pumpernickel and rye bread cubes, the secret is the bourbon. Oh yes I did!

We didn’t put together a million sides, that was it. While I missed them a bit, for this meal it was perfect. The flavors of Thanksgiving without either the huge job to get it done or the huge job to cleanup…it was sort of nice. Not that I don’t enjoy the big family effort and big family meal but no more when there is no big family to eat it all up!

Here’s the ingredient list for what you’ll need for this chicken; it really is so easy! (Full recipe at bottom of post):

For the Roasted Garlic

  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 tsp olive oil

For the Roasted Chicken

  • 1 lemon
  • 3 Tbsp melted butter
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme, plus 3 springs
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 16 oz chicken stock (approximately 1 can or use homemade)
  • 1 4-5 pound chicken
  • 1 small-medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered, divided

For Garnish (optional)

  • 1 thyme sprig
  • Lemon slices

Still undecided and struggling with the overwhelming nature of a 20 lb bird for 2-4 people? Maybe consider punting like I did, keeping it simple AND delicious and make a Lemon Roasted Chicken with Garlic and Thyme!

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Whole Roast Chicken Leg with Lemon, Garlic, and Thyme on Platter with Carrots and Cranberries
Roast Chicken Leg with Lemon, Garlic, and Thyme
Lemon, Roasted Garlic, and Thyme Roasted Chicken

Lemon Roasted Chicken with Garlic and Thyme

 A roasted chicken that is good enough for company or a small Thanksgiving.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 45 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Course Chicken and Turkey, Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 4 Servings
Calories 715 kcal


For the Roasted Garlic

  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

For the Roasted Chicken

  • 1 lemon
  • 3 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme plus 3 springs
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 16 ounces chicken stock approximately 1 can or use homemade
  • 4-5 pound chicken
  • 1 medium yellow onion peeled and quartered, divided

For Garnish (optional)

  • 1 sprig thyme
  • Lemon slices


To Roast the Garlic

  • Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 400°F. (I have a toaster oven; it’s perfect if you have one). Rub off excess papery skin from garlic heads without separating the cloves. Slice the ends off the side opposite the root, exposing the cloves.
  • Place the head on a square of foil, drizzle with the olive oil and wrap into a package. Roast until very soft, 40 to 45 minutes. Unwrap the foil and let cool.

To Make the Chicken

  • Zest and juice the lemon; putting both into a bowl; reserving the lemon peels.
  • Add the melted butter, olive oil, chopped thyme, pepper, and salt to the lemon mixture. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins into the bowl. Mash with a fork and then whisk together until the mixture forms a paste.
  • Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees.
  • Remove the chicken from packaging and remove any giblets from cavity and use for gravy or discard. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and loosen the skin over the breast and thigh meat.
  • Rub the lemon garlic paste under the skin onto the breast meat and leg meat, a little inside the cavity and all over the outside of the bird. Tuck the wing tips under the chicken. Place the reserved squeezed lemon skins, thyme sprigs and 2 onion quarters in the cavity. Tie the legs together with kitchen string. Place the chicken breast-side up on a roasting rack set in a large roasting pan. Pour the chicken stock into the bottom of the pan (add additional water to the pan during roasting if necessary).
  • Roast the chicken for 1 and 1/2 hours, basting every 15 minutes with the stock/drippings in the bottom of the pan. Chicken is done when the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh without touching bone registers 165°F. Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes.
  • Remove foil and garnish with thyme and lemon slices if using. Serve.


If necessary tent the bird with foil to stop browning before roasting is done.


Nutrition Facts
Lemon Roasted Chicken with Garlic and Thyme
Serving Size
1 Serving
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Keyword bourbon, irish, lemonade, chicken, dinner, garlic, garlic, thyme, bread, holiday, lunch, roasted
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