The Unorthodox Epicure — Meyer Lemon & Thyme Roasted Chicken

What does one do when nature gives lemons? Well, quite a bit actually, considering my Meyer Lemon tree tends to produce enough luscious fruit to start a roadside stand.

But my first harvest this season resulted in some divinely succulent yard bird.

If you can get your hands on Meyer Lemons, do it. Do what you can with them while they’re fresh. Zest the rest, then squeeze the juice — freezing both for future recipes. If you can’t find Meyer Lemons in your neck of the woods, standard (Eureka or Lisbon) lemons work fine with this recipe.

Why are Meyer Lemons so special? Get the skinny right here.

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Meyer Lemon & Thyme Roasted Chicken

Meyer Lemon & Thyme Roasted Chicken

Meyer Lemon & Thyme Roasted Chicken — This is some divinely succulent yard bird.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Meyer Lemon & Thyme Roasted Chicken
Recipe type: Main
  • 1 – 3½ to 4½ lb Chicken
  • ¼ cup (4 TB) – Butter
  • 4 – Fresh thyme sprigs -plus- 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 – Garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 – Shallots, minced
  • 1 TB – Kosher salt
  • 1 – Meyer Lemon, zested then quartered
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
Prepare the baste
  1. In a small bowl, add Meyer Lemon zest and butter; microwave for about 45 seconds, or until melted.
  2. Add garlic and half of the minced shallot to the butter mixture, stir and set aside.
Prepare and roast the chicken
  1. Remove giblets and freeze for another use (such as chicken stock).
  2. Wash and dry chicken. Trim extra fat (which is mostly at the cavities) and pin feathers.
  3. Loosen skin above breast and rub salt on meat (below the skin).
  4. Place the quartered lemon, thyme sprigs and half of the shallots in the cavity.
  5. Truss the chicken entirely, or just tie the legs together with kitchen twine (optional).
  6. Place chicken in roasting pan or cast iron skillet (breast side down if you want the most tender white meat; breast side up if you want chicken to look like the photo).
  7. Pour butter mixture over the chicken, brushing it to ensure that everything is coated.
  8. Roast the chicken, uncovered – basting every 15 minutes with the butter mixture in the pan – until juices run clear (where the leg meets the thigh) or a thermometer registers 165°F, about 1 hour. (Sprinkle 2 tsp of thyme leaves over the chicken during the last 10 minutes of roasting.)
  9. Remove from oven and allow to rest for about 15 minutes before carving.



  1. OMG this would make the best chicken salad!! I love meyer lemons but I don’t run across them very often here, so I’m gonna need you to send me a shipment soon 😉

    • adamjholland says:

      Thanks, Shea. I agree. It would make a good chicken salad. You can have the chicken, so long as I get to eat all the skin. 😉

  2. What a beautiful chicken! I love using lemons on chicken and Meyer lemons are so beautiful with their strong floral scent and milder acidity. Super recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  3. As usual, you’ve produced another killer recipe, Adam! Merry Christmas Eve!

  4. Oh, you are way too cool. Seems like everyone is showing cream puffs and you have Meyer lemons. I much prefer yours. Hope you are back with your loved ones and having a walloping good Christmas! Merry Christmas Adam! May all your wishes come true! I be though that the Jimmy Rockford is pretty lonely!

    • adamjholland says:

      Thank you, Abbe. Catherine and I will be heading down Sunday to drop off all my citrus trees and a few other odds and ends. Hopefully all of Jimmy’s tires are still inflated and he hasn’t sprung a leak. 😉

  5. This looks so good after all the rich food we’ve been eating – a classic lemon chicken would be a great change……….just chicken, sitting around the kitchen table with the family picking the chicken to pieces. YUM!

    • adamjholland says:

      I must confess, Kelli. This bird was vacuum packed and is in the freezer so that Cat and the kids can have some home cooking while I’m at the Jimmy Rockford. You know what though? I harvested more than 30 lbs of Meyer Lemons this year and I think Baby Girl and I could do just what you mention!

  6. Hi Adam!
    This looks great.
    I love Meyer lemons.
    When they were here I bought a bunch and was going to make lemon curd, but only got one batch made.
    I turned the rest into syrup.
    This should work with the chicken. How much would you suggest?

    Have a Joyful Day :~D

  7. No I didn’t save the zest. Every thing was crazy around here.

    This is the recipe I got from
    Meyer Lemon Syrup
    Yield: 4 half pint jars


    2 1/2 pounds Meyer lemons
    2 cups sugar

    Prepare a boiling water bath canner and four half pint jars. Place lids in a small saucepan and bring to a low simmer.
    Juice the lemons and measure out 2 1/2 cups of juice. Pour it into a saucepan and add the sugar.
    Stir to combine, bring to a boil and simmer for two minutes.
    Funnel into the prepared jars, wipe rims, apply lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.
    When time is up, remove jars from canner and let cool. Sealed jars are shelf stable for up to one year.

    • adamjholland says:

      I love the syrup recipe, but it work work for this roasted chicken. Instead, use a standard lemon and a sweet orange. Zest half of each into the butter, then place the quartered fruit inside the bird. It should produce similar (if not almost identical) results. Please let us know.

  8. Thanks Adam
    Will let you know

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