You will love this simple, healthy and delicious Lemon, Chilli and Garlic Roast Chicken. Flattening a whole chicken before roasting speeds up the cooking process, and also ensures it’s super juicy and flavoursome! This recipe is gluten, dairy and nut free.
Originally published November 2014. Updated September 2020
A good roast chicken is the centrepiece of a classic dinner – add your favourite sides like potatoes and a salad and you’ve got a delicious and balanced meal. This recipe uses lemon, chilli flakes and lots of garlic to add lots of flavour and make a simple roast chicken a little something extra.
How much garlic is too much? I feel like that’s a very person-specific question, so when you’re making this recipe yourself, please do feel free to be as wild or as restrained as you want to be on the garlic quantities. Same goes for the chilli – some like it HOT!
Now, you’ve probably already noticed in these photos that this chicken is roasted FLAT. The name for a chicken that has been flattened like this is a butterflied chicken or a spatchcocked chicken. It is done by removing the backbone from the chicken and then squishing flat so the legs splay out the side as you can see in the pictures.
I know that removing the backbone of a chicken may not sound like fun, but I promise you the task is really quite straightforward!
Number one tip: get yourself a good pair of kitchen scissors. Seriously, this is one small and relatively cheap piece of kitchen equipment that you will not regret purchasing. They are perfect for this recipe, for quickly cutting meat into strips for stir fries, and also (one of my favourite hacks) for chopping up dried fruit into smaller pieces like you need for my Peanut Butter Date Energy Balls.
Basically, kitchen scissors are amazing, you should get some.
Back to butterflying the chicken, using kitchen scissors you cut down either side of the backbone, pull it out, and then flatten the chicken. Tuck the wings underneath the chicken a bit to prevent them burning during cooking. Done. If you would like more detailed directions, I like this article with pictures by Good Food Guide or this video by Food Network. Or, if you buy your chicken from a friendly butcher, get them to do it for you!
Once you have mastered the art of butterflying your chicken, this recipe is so incredibly simple. Rub over all those delicious seasonings, pop the chicken in the oven and you’re done! While the chicken is roasting I recommend you make a couple of sides to go with the meat. Why not try some of the following:
- roast potatoes
- sweet potato mash
- cauliflower mash
- brown rice
- roasted wedges of pumpkin
- steamed or roasted broccoli
- steamed green beans
- a fresh green salad of rocket, cucumber, capsicum, olives and cherry tomatoes
This roast chicken produces lots of delicious pan juices so personally, I love to serve this with brown rice, broccoli and maybe some roast pumpkin, as that combination does a pretty good job of soaking up a lot of the sauce!
I hope you enjoy this simple but totally delicious roast chicken. If you’re only making it for 1 or 2 people, the leftovers are amazing and will keep in the fridge for around three days. You can reheat it or shred it up and use it cold in a salad, in a wrap or on a sandwich. Need a specific recommendation? Try some shredded chicken, tomato, lettuce, hummus and avocado all wrapped up in a pita bread. YUM.
If you make this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment below or take a snap and tag me on Instagram, you’ll find me over at @moniquecormacknutrition 🙂
- 1 small whole chicken butterflied – around 1.5kg chicken
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp chilli flakes – add more if you want it spicy
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 lemons
- salt and pepper to season
- Preheat the oven to 180˚C (350F). Line a roasting tray with baking paper.
- Make the chicken marinade. Peel and finely chop the garlic, or crush in a garlic press. Combine the olive oil, honey, garlic and chilli flakes in a small bowl. Cut one lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and then stir it all together. Set aside. Cut the second lemon into wedges. Set aside.
- Butterfly your chicken if it hasn’t been done already (this is sometimes called “spatchcocked” chicken). This means cutting into the chicken along either side of the backbone, removing the backbone, and then flattening it. It’s easiest done with kitchen scissors but a large sharp knife can do the job too.
- Place the butterflied chicken, skin side up, into a roasting tray. Pour the olive oil mixture all over the chicken, then use your fingers to massage it all over the bird. Arrange the lemon wedges in the tray on top of and around the chicken.
- Roast chicken until juices run clear and the skin of the chicken is starting to caramelise/blacken. For a 1.5kg chicken this will take about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
- Serve hot with your favourite sides. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Photography credit: by Create Cook Share