This isn't just any roast chicken, it's a roast chicken that is special enough for Christmas dinner. This Christmas chicken is moist and juicy on the inside, with a hint of citrus flavour, with a delicious crispy herb butter skin.
I think roast chicken can be passed over when it comes to a Christmas dinner meat, but we are big fans of chicken for Christmas dinner. It's usually pretty cheap, it's big enough to feed a big family without too much leftovers and everyone likes it (in our house at least).
You can make it a little more special with a good butter rub and a few extra ingredients. Chicken at Christmas can be a real crowd pleaser with this recipe.
Why you will love it
- A special roast chicken recipe - Roast chicken is always a classic for a Sunday roast, but when you want something a little bit special, this Christmas chicken recipe ticks all the boxes.
- Lots of ways to use leftovers - Depending on how many people you are feeding, you might have some leftover. But, we have loads of ideas of how you can use it below.
- Makes the best gravy - The juices that come out of the Christmas chicken when cooking make an amazing gravy, so make sure you don't throw them.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Chicken - We used a 2kg chicken for this recipe and that will give enough enough for about 6 portions. A different sized chicken would need cooking times adjusted. Try to get the best quality chicken that you can, as you really can taste the difference. A free range organic chicken is the best option, however a high welfare chicken is a good affordable option.
- Butter - This is what the rest of the ingredients are mixed into, to coat the chicken and give it a real rich flavour.
- Orange and Lemon - These add that lovely citrus flavour that feels really festive. They are stuffed into the chicken and give the chicken a wonderful infused citrus flavour.
- Carrots and onion - These are chopped and put in the baking tray so the chicken can sit on it.
- Garlic - Fresh cloves of garlic to stuff inside the chicken.
- Rosemary, thyme and parsley - The perfect mixture of herbs for a Christmas chicken. The woody rosemary and thyme blend well with the freshness of the parsley.
- Salt and pepper - Generously season.
- Stock - You can use vegetable or chicken stock, but we find that chicken stock gives a much richer flavour. The stock just adds to the juices which makes a delicious gravy.
A full ingredients list with measurements is in the recipe card below.
How to make Christmas chicken - Step by step
Prep: Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6.
One: Mix together the butter, herbs and orange zest.
Two: Put the carrots and onions on a baking tray (a). Put the chicken on top of the and use your fingers to carefully loosen the skin by sliding it under the skin (b). Season with salt and pepper.
Three: Spread half of the herb butter under the skin of the chicken and the rest all over the skin. Push the oranges, lemons and garlic into the bird's cavity. Pour the stock into the tray.
Four: Roast for 2 hours.
Roast chicken cooking time
The time your chicken takes to roast will depend on the size of your chicken. We used a 2kg chicken, which took 1 hour and 55 minutes at 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6.
You will know that your chicken is cooked when it has an internal temperature is 75°C/165°F (get yourself a good Meat Thermometer as they are a kitchen essential) or until juices run clear. As a general rule, if cooking at gas mark 5, you cook a chicken for for 25 minutes per pound (450g) plus 10-20 minutes extra.
Remove the chicken from the fridge 30 minutes before you are going to start prepping it, to allow it to come to room temperature.
How to carve a chicken
- To carve a chicken, take off the wings and set aside (you can add them to gravy for extra flavour which is a tip that I picked up from Jamie Oliver). Using a sharp knife, carefully cut down between the leg and the breast of the chicken. Cut through the joint and pull the leg off.
- Do the same on the other side of the chicken, and then cut each leg between the thigh and the drumstick. You will end up with four portions of dark meat and this can be moved onto the plate you will be serving all the chicken on.
- You now need to carve the rest of your chicken. Angle the knife along the breastbone and carve one side off, and then repeat with the other breast.
- Whatever you are left with, use your fingers to pull all the meat off as it will be easier than using a knife. Don't throw the carcass away, as this can be used to make homemade chicken stock.
What to serve with Christmas chicken
This epic roast chicken is a must when it comes to a Sunday roast dinner. But, what is a Sunday roast without all the sides? And do we have some side dishes for you! Take a look of some of these that go perfectly with a roast chicken:
- Easy Roast Potatoes
- Balsamic and Garlic Roasted Cauliflower
- Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes
- Easy Cauliflower Cheese
- Slow Cooker Red Cabbage
- Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes
- Minted Peas
- Mustard and Honey Roasted Parsnips
- Vegetable Mash
- Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts
- Garlic and Parsley Roasted Carrots
Store: You can store leftovers of Christmas chicken in an air tight container and it will keep well for up to 3 days.
Freeze: You can also shred the chicken and put it in a freezable container and it will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Defrost: You can defrost in the fridge overnight.
Reheat: Heat a little oil in a pan and heat through. You can also stir it into something like a pasta sauce and it will heat through in that.
Frequently Asked Questions
See all those amazing juices in the pan that the chicken has been cooking in? Don't you dare throw them away! They are liquid gold and make the most amazing, rich, full of flavour gravy.
For a simple, quick and easy gravy we use really good quality store bought gravy granules. We then add the juices from the chicken pan to them and then top it up with the water from the boiled vegetables that we serve with the chicken, until it gets to your desired consistency (we love thick gravy).
You could also add some butter and flour to the juices in the pan and make your own homemade gravy from scratch. Or why not try our Onion Gravy recipe?
We love having leftovers of this chicken in the fridge as it has SO many uses. Sometimes we just roast a chicken to carve it up and keep in the fridge for meals. You can shred it up and add to sandwiches/wraps and salads or throw it in to pasta dishes like our Leftover Chicken Pasta.
Why not use leftovers to make a chicken version of our Leftover Turkey Curry? You can also put it in our BBQ Chicken Salad, Chicken and Leek Pie, BBQ Chicken Pizza or Chicken Pasta Salad.
• Use a really good quality butter, as it's one of the main flavours for the rub.
• Try to always use fresh herbs if you can as they will have the best flavour. Dried herbs can be used if that's all you have though.
• Make sure to put the butter mixture under the skin and in the cavity as well. Don't just put it on top of the skin.
• Don't skip putting the chicken on top of the onion and carrot. This is so the air can circulate under the chicken and make sure it is evenly cooked.
• If your chicken starts to brown too quickly on top, you can add some foil loosely on top of it.
• For some extra flavour, add a splash of white wine to the bottom of the baking tray before it goes in the oven.
More chicken recipes
- 2 kg (4.4 lb) Chicken
- 4 tablespoon Butter - room temperature
- 1 Lemon - quartered
- 2 Oranges - quartered
- 1 tablespoon Orange zest
- 2 Carrots - chopped
- 1 Onion - peeled and quartered
- 2 cloves Garlic - peeled
- 1 sprig Rosemary - finely chopped
- 1 sprig Thyme - finely chopped
- 2 g (0.5 tablespoon) Parsley - finely chopped
- 1 pinch Sea salt and black pepper
- 200 ml (0.75 cups) Chicken stock
- Preheat your oven to 200°C/180°C(fan)/400°F/Gas 6.
- Mix together 4 tablespoon Butter, 1 sprig Rosemary, 1 sprig Thyme, 2 g Parsley and 1 tablespoon Orange zest.
- Put 2 Carrots and 1 Onion on a baking tray. Put 2 kg Chicken on top of the and use your fingers to carefully loosen the skin by sliding it under the skin. Season with 1 pinch Sea salt and black pepper.
- Spread half of the herb butter under the skin of the chicken and the rest all over the skin. Push 2 Oranges, 1 Lemon and 2 cloves Garlic into the bird's cavity.
- Pour 200 ml Chicken stock into the tray.
- Roast for 2 hours.
- Use a really good quality butter, as it's one of the main flavours for the rub.
- Try to always use fresh herbs if you can as they will have the best flavour. Dried herbs can be used if that's all you have though.
- Make sure to put the butter mixture under the skin and in the cavity as well. Don't just put it on top of the skin.
- Don't skip putting the chicken on top of the onion and carrot. This is so the air can circulate under the chicken and make sure it is evenly cooked.
- If your chicken starts to brown too quickly on top, you can add some foil loosely on top of it.
- For some extra flavour, add a splash of white wine to the bottom of the baking tray before it goes in the oven.
The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.