Easy Moist Lemon, Rosemary and Cider Roast Chicken Recipe

“If the home is a body, the table is the heart, the beating centre, the sustainer of life and health.” 
Shauna Niequist


I’m still getting over the flu, so I’m tired and useless and have no energy or brain for anything much at all. But we had friends arriving home to our village who’ve just been away at a family funeral. The thought of them arriving to a cold dark house and an empty fridge was just wrong. Anyway, they’re the kind of friends who don’t mind if I’m in my pyjamas or if I served them toast for dinner. Don’t you just love friends like that!

So I roasted some chickens and teamed it with baked vegetables and coleslaw. A simple meal. Easy to prepare and delicious. It also has the added benefit of giving me leftovers, and chicken frames to make stock tomorrow. Here’s my easy chicken stock recipe. I love cooking more than we need. That way the leftovers give me easy meals for days without much effort. I can have a plate of cold roast vegetables, chicken and salad for lunch, or put them in a wrap or sandwich. I can use the chicken meat in curries, pasta, soups and stir-fries for dinner. I can even use the leftovers in an omelette or frittata. Sounds good, doesn’t it!.

The butter, herbs and cider in this recipe keep the chicken moist and tender, and the flavour is fantastic. (So is the smell of the chicken roasting!)

Confession – my coleslaw is a packet of shredded raw ingredients from the supermarket tossed with some dressing, and Ben has chopped up the vegetables for me. But easy is good and if it means healthy eating I’m all for that! Prep time for the entire meal was ten minutes.

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and this meal is easy enough for non-cooks to create with confidence. Maybe you can bake it for your mum, or for you!


  • 1 or 2 whole chickens – preferably free range (I used two 1.5kg birds)
  • fresh rosemary – enough for a tablespoon of chopped leaves and a sprig to place in the cavity of the chicken (Want to use another herb? Try Thyme, Sage or Parsley)
  • 1 large lemon or two smaller ones – juice half and chop the other into quarters
  • 1 small onion cut in half (I used half an enormous onion and cut that in half again)
  • 2 tablespoons of butter per bird
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 small bottle of cider (about 1 and 1/2 cups)
  • olive oil


1.Preheat your oven to moderate (180 degrees celcius or 350 degrees fahrenheit) – a little less if fan-forced.

2. Estimate your cooking time. You need 30 minutes for every 500 grams of body weight so a 1.5kg chicken will take 90 minutes to cook.

3. Lightly grease a large baking pan big enough to hold your chicken/s with olive oil

4. Wash the chickens well under cold running water, including the cavity and pat dry with a paper towel

5. Place chickens into the baking tray. Add the lemon, onion and sprig of herb to the cavity.

6. In a small saucepan (or you can microwave!) place the butter and lemon juice and gently melt together. Throw in the chopped herbs, mix well and then spoon over the chicken.

7. Season the top of the chicken with salt and freshly ground pepper.

8. Pour the bottle of cider into the bottom of the pan and place in the hot oven for thirty minutes.

9. After thirty minutes baste the chicken liberally by spooning the pan juices over the bird. Add any vegetables to the oven if you’re baking them.

10. Continue to baste the chicken at intervals of about fifteen minutes. This helps keep the meat moist and flavourful.

11. If the top of your chicken is browning too quickly cover with some aluminium foil and return to oven. (No need to baste further of you do this.)

12. After your cooking time is up check the chicken is cooked by seeing if the juices run clear when a knife or skewer inserted into the part of the chicken where the thigh meets the body. You can also test by gently easing the drumstick and thigh away from the body of the chicken and looking at the juices. There should be no pink at all.

13. Let the cooked chicken stand for ten minutes, and then serve. This helps the juices settle back into the meat so they don’t run everywhere when you carve the chicken, and it keeps the meat juicy and tender.

14. You can make a simple gravy with the pan juices if you want.

Simple Roast Chicken Recipe

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“Cooking well doesn’t mean cooking fancy.” ~ Julia Child


I was about to roast a chicken yesterday morning when a friend popped in. “Can you wait just a minute while I get this roast ready” I asked her.

She looked at me as if I was from another planet. “Seriously? How long will that take?”

And then I found out she had never, ever roasted a chicken. She had only ever bought cooked birds from the supermarket.

Roasts are one of the simplest and fail-proof meals you can make. I roast a lovely little organic chicken weekly, and then turn the frame into a good fast chicken stock to use for the rest of the week. This one roast will give us a hot meal, and then meat for soups, sandwiches, curries or stir fries as well as a pot of nutritious stock. It’s an economical and easy method of cooking.

Nothing beats the flavour of a home-cooked chicken, and it is surprisingly easy. I taught my friend yesterday, the way my grandmother showed me. And tomorrow I’ll show you how to make simple bone broth – a good chicken stock from the leftover roast bones.


1 x 1.5kg organic or free-range chicken, a little olive oil, salt and freshly cracked pepper, and optional but good extras are a lemon, some fresh herbs (I used parsley, lemon thyme and a little sage), and a few garlic cloves


Let the chicken come to room temperature.

**Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius (400 degrees fahrenheit)

Lightly crush three garlic cloves with the back of a knife (no need to remove skin), juice half a lemon, and wash and dry your fresh herbs.

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Wash chicken, including the cavity, and pat dry with paper towels.

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Trim any excess fat around the cavity. Then place chicken on a rack or trivet inside a suitable baking pan. (If you don’t have a trivet you could use some chopped up vegetables – or just place it in the pan, but it might stick a little.) Pour a little lemon juice over the chicken, front and back. Use your clean hand to rub it over the skin.

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Then pour a little oil over the bird and once again use your hand to rub the oil over the entire bird before placing breast up on the trivet.

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Stuff the garlic, herbs and the lemon (squeezed and unsqueezed) into the cavity. Season with a little salt and pepper.

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I never bother to truss my chicken. Place in the over for one hour and fifteen minutes. The chicken will now be crispy skinned, fragrant, juicy and delicious.

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Test that the chicken is cooked by gently pulling a leg away from the body. It should come easily and the juices between the leg and the body will run clear. If the juices are pink put the bird back in the oven a little longer.

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Tomorrow I’ll show you how to use the pan juices (all that lovely caramelised goodness in the bottom of your pan), and the leftover bones and frame, to make an easy good stock.