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Perfect Roast Chicken with Lemon Herb Pan Sauce

April 9, 2024

This perfect roast chicken will soon become your family’s favorite weeknight dinner. It’s juicy and flavorful, with a bright and buttery lemon-and-herb pan sauce.


cast iron skillet with whole roasted chicken topped with butter and lemon pan sauce

A Winner of a Chicken Dinner.

Dinner doesn’t get much more classic than roast chicken, and making it is really quite simple. But, the question that looms over this simple supper is how do you make the best roast chicken? And how do you make it as simple as possible, so that you can enjoy it over and over again for any occasion, with very little fuss? Well, our easy roast chicken with lemon and herb pan sauce answers these questions. It’s simple, delicious—it’s a platonic ideal roast chicken. End of story.

whole raw chicken in a cast iron skillet seasoned with salt and pepper

How Do You Make the Best Roast Chicken?

Roasting a whole chicken is not at all difficult to master, so don't let it intimidate you.

The perfect roast chicken is as easy as:

  1. Buy a chicken—any size will do! If you’re not sure how much to buy, just ask the butcher for advice.
  2. Prepare your bird by removing any leftover bits in the cavity.
  3. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  4. Bake the chicken in a preheated oven. Roasting a whole chicken in the oven doesn’t take terribly long, but the cook time does depend on how large your bird is.
  5. Turn the chicken’s pan drippings into the most fabulous “gravy” by adding a few simple ingredients, including our favorite...BUTTER.
whole roasted chicken in a cast iron skillet

Roasting A Whole Chicken—Let’s Talk Temperature.

Many recipes suggest cooking your chicken in an oven that is set to 350°F to 375°F, and then increase the temperature at the end of the cooking to crisp up the skin. While that certainly works, we prefer to have the oven set to a hot temperature at the start so the chicken doesn’t become over cooked and dry. Here’s what we want you to do instead:

  • Begin by cooking your chicken in a 450° F oven for 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, crank the heat down to 375° F.
  • After that, the remaining cook time depends on the size of your bird. The general rule is 15-20 mins per pound, but you can also check for doneness using an instant read meat thermometer.

When the internal temperature reaches 165° F and the juices run clear, your chicken is ready. Rest the chicken for 10 minutes before slicing into it to keep all those delicious juices sealed inside. This method results in a chicken that’s perfectly juicy on the inside, with deliciously crispy skin on the outside.

whole roast chicken in a skillet with a carving knife

How to Make the Perfect Pan Sauce from Roast Chicken Drippings:

This recipe for perfect roast chicken with a lemon and herb pan sauce is so easy to make. For the “gravy” you’ll want to these simple ingredients on hand:

  • A dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Fresh or dried thyme and parsley
  • Plenty of fresh garlic
  • Lemon
  • Butter (and a lot of it)

Pan Sauce 101

Making a pan sauce is really pretty easy to do, and a wonderful way to keep those delicious pan drippings from going to waste. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Remove the cooked chicken from the roasting pan.
  2. Carefully tip the pan and skim off the fat from the drippings.
  3. Put the pan over medium heat, pour a little wine into the pan and deglaze the pan—in other words, scrape all of the flavorful dripping bits from the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the herbs and garlic and bring the wine-garlic-herb mixture to a simmer.
  5. When the mixture is fragrant, turn off the heat and whisk in the cold butter. This will create a luscious and creamy butter pan sauce to accompany your chicken- which is our favorite way to serve it.
cast iron skillet with whole roasted chicken topped with butter and lemon pan sauce

What To Serve with Roast Chicken

spoon pouring lemon herb pan sauce over a whole roast chicken in a pan.

Love Roast Chicken? An Herb Pan Sauce Fan? US TOO.

We hope this perfect roast chicken with lemon and herb pan sauce (similar to our Lemon Butter Chicken) makes you a believer in a simple weeknight dinner that is fancy enough to serve to any guest, on any occasion. If you make this dish we’d love to hear about it! Be sure to snap a photo, add it to your Instagram feed or stories and tag @themodernproper and #themodernproper if you do!

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Perfect Roast Chicken with Lemon Herb Pan Sauce

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  10 min
  • Cook Time:  1 hr 25 min
  • Calories: 568


  • 1 (4-5 pound) whole chicken, gizzards and neck removed
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 cup dry white wine, such as sauvignon blanc
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley


  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F with a rack in the center position.

  2. Pat the chicken completely dry inside and out. Set the chicken, breast side up, in a large ovenproof skillet or roasting dish. If desired, tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken.

  3. Season the chicken all over, inside and out, with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

  4. Roast the chicken for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375°F. Cook 15 minutes per pound. Begin checking for doneness when 20 minutes remain (see Note). A chicken is done cooking when the internal temperature taken at the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165°F on an instant-read thermometer, and the juices run clear.

  5. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for 15 minutes.

  6. Meanwhile, make the sauce. If you are roasting your chicken in a cast iron pan, simply move it to a burner and turn the heat to medium. If you are using a roasting pan, transfer the drippings to a small saucepan and place it over medium heat.

  7. Tip the pan slightly and skim the oily fat off the top of the drippings. Add in the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour in the wine and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the wine is reduced by half, about 10 minutes.

  8. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the cold butter, lemon juice and parsley.

  9. Carve the chicken and serve with the warm pan sauce.

Note: As a good rule of thumb, chickens roast for 15 minutes per pound. If your bird is bigger or smaller than what a recipe calls for, you can just do the math!

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories568
  • Protein62 g
  • Carbohydrates3 g
  • Total Fat30 g
  • Dietary Fiber0 g
  • Cholesterol271 mg
  • sodium1974 mg
  • Total Sugars0 g

Perfect Roast Chicken with Lemon Herb Pan Sauce

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Francisca

    Hi! Love your recipes - wondering if you could put together a list of recipes that use the whole chicken. Thanks!

    That is a fun roundup idea! For now if you search "whole chicken" on our site that will bring up them up. there will be other ones mixed in but you'll be able to see them in there.

  • Murray

    Tried this recipe for the first time. Very juicy but would cut the recommended kosher salt in half.

    Gald you enjoyed murray!

  • Cat

    Can I do this same recipe with a big turkey? I assume so right?

    Sure! Hope you enjoy Cat!

  • Ann

    Would this work with a splatchcocked chicken?


  • Priscilla

    Can I use olive oil instead of butter to keep it dairy free?

    We wouldn't sub olive oil for this but you could use vegan butter. Hope you enjoy Priscilla!

  • Cindy

    Made this for Christmas dinner and it was a hit. Will definitely make this again!

    Thanks Cindy, so happy you loved it!

  • Anna

    Loved this recipe, the ‘gravy’ is perfect!

    Thanks Anna, so happy you loved it!

  • Khristy

    Excellent....and the family loved it. I actually made with skinless leg quarters. I prepared the chicken by removing the skin and trimming some excess fat away. Brushed each leg quarter with melted butter and seasoned as instructed in recipe with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Roasted chicken in oven at 300° until internal temperature of 165. I actually made with sour dough bread dressing and put dressing on the plate with a little of the lemon garlic pan sauce spooned onto the dressing and placed the leg quarters on top with another spoonful of lemon garlic pan sauce. The entire family LOVED this chicken.

    Thank you Khristy, we are so glad the whole family enjoyed it!

  • Elizabeth

    This was a crowd favorite at our house last week! I made it for a group of friends and my family loved it so much I made it again the same week. The pan sauce is the cherry on top!

    yay! I love hearing this!

  • Priscila

    Yum! This just convinces me not to use the pressure cooker for once 🤤!

    We are still getting to know our pressure cookers! Enjoy!