Roasted Lemon and Rosemary Chicken

Roasted Lemon and Rosemary Chicken and root vegetables

A small whole chicken with carrots, sweet potatoes & parsnips, smeared with lemon and rosemary compound butter and roasted together for a simple dinner.

It has been happening gradually over the years that we have decided not to attend the occasional family gatherings. In the past we would hop in the car and get ourselves to whatever Thanksgiving, birthday party or Christmas dinner that was being hosted.  Sometimes it was a ten hour drive from New Hampshire, sometimes it was a 30 minute drive from Barrie to Elmvale or Midland. Now it is a 3 hour drive from Waterloo. Sure we missed some due to work or some other reason that prevented us from being available but, by and large, we made the effort.

One of times we bowed out of going ‘home’ for a major holiday was the Thanksgiving that occurred about 3 weeks after Timothy was born. I was barely keeping my s#!t together, so a two or three hour drive with a newborn was not even an option for me.

The next Thanksgiving we missed was a couple of years later. George had had major surgery to fix holes in his lungs. It is a crazy story for another time. Suffice it to say, we almost lost our beloved boy and travelling in the car would have been a tremendous stress on him. We stayed home and revelled in having our dear, naughty boy home with us. It was a warm Thanksgiving and we had Peach Margaritas on our back patio.

George, the dog, sipping a margarita

Don’t take your eye off your drink when George is around, even if he just had major surgery and nearly died.

This Easter we didn’t go to our parents’ houses for an Easter meal. We made the decision to stay home and do our own thing for a quiet, family weekend. We didn’t want to spend most of Easter Sunday in the car even though we were missing a big family event at Simon’s dad’s house. When I proposed to Simon that we not go this year he agreed quite readily when I laid out the math of what the day would entail. We would drive 3 hours there and then 3 hours back with a tired and cranky child who was missing out of having a proper Easter egg hunt and playing with his new toy because he was stuck in the car. It was a realization that we are grown-ups and we have to do what is best for our little family. We didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to create memories for just us and enjoy being home together.

As much as I wanted to go out for dinner on Easter Sunday, I knew that I should really make something at home. I really didn’t feel well and didn’t relish the idea of cooking, but a roast chicken is pretty much one of the easiest meals to put together. The day was full of an Easter scavenger hunt, watching the new cartoon that we got Timothy and Simon taking him out for an adventure on his new scooter. I stayed home and did manage to throw dinner together despite the pervasive grossness I was feeling. I was quite proud of myself for getting a proper meal put together. I was too lazy to squish the compound butter of rosemary, lemon zest, salt and pepper, under the skin of the chicken but nobody in my house would notice the difference besides me if I had managed to go the extra little bit.

How long did it take you to start declining extended family events in favour of your smaller family unit? Do you still always make the trek if your family lives far from you?

Yields 4

Roasted Lemon and Rosemary Chicken with Root Vegetables

Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary Butter roasted with carrots, sweet potatoes and parsnips.

15 minPrep Time

1 hr, 30 Cook Time

1 hr, 45 Total Time

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    Lemon and Rosemary Compound Butter
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • Roast Chicken and Vegetables
  • 1 4 lb whole chicken
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 carrots, peeled
  • 4 parsnips, peeled
  • 3 sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 1 lemon, the zested one
  • 3 sticks of celery to use as a rack for the chicken


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place the celery on a roasting pan as a sort of rack and put the chicken on top.
  3. Cut the carrots and parsnips into similar sized sticks. Cut the sweet potatoes into larger pieces as they take less time to cook than the carrots and parsnips.
  4. Surround the chicken with the root vegetables.
  5. Take about half of the compound butter and smear it all over the chicken. If you feel like it, get some of the butter under the skin of the chicken.
  6. Put half a lemon or two halves into the cavity of the chicken along with the two garlic cloves.
  7. Take the rest of the compound butter and dot the vegetables with it.
  8. Put the pan in the preheated oven. After 30 minutes take it out and turn all the vegetables over so that they get coated in the melted butter.
  9. After about an hour, sqeeze the juice of the remaining lemon over the chicken and vegetables for some extra flavour.
  10. Roast for approximately 1 hour 30 minutes or until the juices run clear in the chicken. To be safe check for an internal temperature of 185 F.
Recipe Type: Main


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  1. Heather says

    We opted out of going this year (a 4 hour drive to either of our parent's houses) and my hubby cooked a chicken too - luckily he made chicken pies with the leftovers (and froze them), as I ended up with a stomach flu that left me unable to eat "real" food for almost a week! I'll have to get him to try your recipe next time :)
    • says

      It is an easy one to make. When in doubt, use lots of butter in a recipe and everything will turn out just fine. :) I was so lazy when I made this. Notice that I couldn't be arsed to truss the chicken. The legs were left flopping around. Lol! It has been a slow process turning down family dinners and staying home. We are happier for it. The long drives can be such misery if we have to do a lot of them.

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