Garlic Rosemary Roast Chicken

So here’s the deal – I really want to give you all a week’s worth of Easter-inspired recipes.  But, the thing is, I am just not at all in the mood for the usual Easter foods.  It may be because I’m on call during the actual Easter holiday so I won’t be cooking for it, but I think it’s more an issue of the weather.  Spring has sprung (at least a little), and this has me in the mood for all kinds of fresh, light foods – ham is not one of them.  The whole typical holiday spread just isn’t inspiring me at all this year.  But who says you have to have ham on Easter?  I say make whatever you like.  And what I’ve been making and loving lately is this roast chicken.

To me this seems a more fitting centerpiece for an elegant spring meal, though really it would be great in any season.  It is light, tender, and packed full of flavor.  This recipe involves brining the chicken, which I think makes all the difference in producing a tender and moist meat.  If you’ve previously been intimidated by roasting a whole chicken, don’t be!  It’s really not complicated and the end result is impressive and delicious.  Yes, I get the heebee jeebees wrestling around with the raw chicken while prepping it, but it is totally worth it in the end.  You may notice that the exact time for roasting the chicken isn’t listed below – this is because it is so important to cook the chicken until a thermometer reads the correct temperature.  Simply basing doneness on time is not adequate and unsafe.  For me, it probably took an additional hour after lowering the oven temperature, but it will vary so be sure to check the temperature!

Garlic Rosemary Roast Chicken
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For the brine:
½ cup table salt
10 cloves garlic, unpeeled
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 cups hot water
1½ quarts cold water

1 whole chicken (3½-4 lbs.), giblets discarded

For the garlic-rosemary paste:
2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/8 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

For the sauce:
10 cloves garlic, unpeeled
½ tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1¾ cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
½ cup water
¼ cup dry white wine
1 spring fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper, to taste

To prepare the brine, combine the salt, garlic and rosemary in a air-tight plastic bag, sealed with excess air pressed out.  With a meat mallet or a rolling pin, pound the garlic cloves until smashed.  Transfer the mixture to a large Dutch oven, bowl or stockpot.  Stir in the hot water and let stand 10 minutes to release the flavors.  Mix in the cold water and stir to dissolve the salt.  Immerse the chicken in the brine, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels.  With an oven rack in lower-middle position, preheat the oven to 450˚ F.  With a rack inside a roasting pan, spray the rack lightly with cooking spray.

To prepare the garlic rosemary paste, combine the rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small bowl.  Mix well.  Rub 1½ teaspoons of the paste inside the cavity of the chicken.  Gently loosen the skin over the breast and thigh on each side of the chicken.  Divide the remaining paste between the two sides of the chicken, slipping it underneath the skin.  Rubbing over the surface of the skin, distribute the paste over the breast and thigh on each side.  Tie the drumsticks together with kitchen twine.  Brush the surface of the chicken with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil.  Season with freshly ground pepper.  Place the chicken breast-side down in the roasting pan and bake for 15 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, toss the garlic cloves with the oil for the sauce.  After the chicken has roasted for 15 minutes, toss the garlic cloves into the roasting pan and bake for 15 minutes more.

Remove the pan from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 375˚ F.  Rotate the chicken so it is breast-side up.  Brush the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil over the breast.  Add 1 cup of the chicken broth and water to the roasting pan.  Return the pan to the oven and continue roasting until the chicken is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breast reads 160˚ F.  Transfer the chicken to a large serving platter and cover loosely with foil.

Transfer the roasted garlic cloves to a cutting board.  Pour the liquid from the roasting pan into a liquid measuring cup; let sit a few minutes, then skim the fat off the surface.  You should have about 2/3 cup of liquid (add water if needed).  Peel the garlic and mash the cloves into a paste with a fork.  Combine the roasting liquid in a small saucepan with the mashed garlic, the remaining ¾ cup broth, wine and rosemary.  Heat over medium-high heat until simmering.  Reduce heat and continue to simmer about 8 minutes, until partly reduced.  Discard the rosemary sprig and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper to taste.  Carve the chicken and serve with the sauce.

Source: adapted from The New Best Recipe

23 Responses

  1. That looks delicious and I would definitely have that for Easter instead of ham!

  2. yummo! great recipe

  3. That is truly one of my favorite dinners! There is nothing better than a roast chicken. Looks delicious!

  4. This sounds delicious. And perfect since I was just looking for a roast chicken recipe.

    Anyway, I’ve read through it twice now and I’m a little confused by one thing. It’s probably me just being stupid but I need to ask.
    In the ingredient list I see chicken broth mentioned once (1 3/4 cup). After turning the chicken around you say ‘add the chicken broth and water to the pan’. I assume that means all of the chicken broth (1 3/4 cup), right? Later when making the sauce you say ‘Combine the roasting liquid in a small saucepan with the mashed garlic, THE REMAINING 3/4 CUP BROTH, wine and rosemary.’ Clearly this is what confuses me. Should I have only added 1 cup of broth to the pan earlier? Or is the total amount of broth supposed to be 1 3/4 cup + 3/4 cup? Or am I just not reading this right?

    Anyway, like I said it sounds delish and I will try this next time I roast a chicken.

    • Elli,
      I’ve corrected it now. I went back and forth about how to word this late last night, and I think sleepiness got the best of me. It should be more clear now.

  5. I’m with you on not being in the mood for heavy foods on Easter. I made individual asparagus souffles one year, another year I served crab cakes for brunch. Who says we have to serve ham?!
    Loving your blog — and inspired by how frequently you post! Keep up the good work and cook what makes you feel good!

  6. I’ve made rosemary chicken many times and I usually brine my birds too, but I’ve never thought of adding rosemary to the brining portion too. Good idea. That bird looks nicely roasted, great job.

  7. That’s the good thing about being the cook in your house, you get to decide what to eat! Hehe. Though my husband is a big proponent of tradition when it comes to food.

    This chicken looks amazing! Especially the sauce. I can’t wait to try this!

  8. I LOVE roasted chicken! Yours looks and sounds so good!

  9. Oh my gosh, this looks and sounds delicious! I’ve never cooked a whole chicken before but after reading this I’m definitely going to give it a try! 🙂

  10. This looks delicious, Annie! Very elegant for any Easter table. I just did a roast chicken with a honey glaze and lemon-tarragon butter… You can check it out here:

  11. I am hosting Easter this year with 2 non-pork eaters, so I am making oven-roasted chicken too. I love roasting a whole chicken and I agree, spring calls for something lighter than the traditional Easter ham.

  12. This looks REALLY good. I’m going to try it, maybe not for Easter (I have a too strong a fondness for ham not to use any excuse to make it), but definitely the next meal I make after Easter. Can’t wait!

  13. LOVE LOVE LOVE roast chicken. It’s one of my favorite things to make, I love how it starts to fill up the house with a wonderful aroma with like 15 mintues of putting it in the oven, and I can usually get more than one meal out of it!

  14. made for our easter feast tonight and it was delicious! the meat was so tender and flavorful we didn’t even need the sauce — though it was also delish! thank you 🙂

  15. Looks awesome. I don’t have a separate rack for my roasting pan! Any suggestions or will just the roasting pan be fine?

    • Lauren,
      I’m sure it would work out okay without the rack, but I think it really helps to cook the chicken evenly and keep it up from the bottom of the pan. I’ve never seen a roasting pan that didn’t come with one so I’m not sure!

  16. OMG. I made this, this past weekend, and I have never baked/roasted a whole chicken (or anything for that matter). It was wonderful…I was so surprised! I have a few crutches when I’m cooking chicken – adobo seasoning salt with pepper and ketchup. Shame, I know. I let them go and followed your instructions and boy were we rewarded a scrumptious meal! Thanks 🙂

  17. This was wonderful! Thanks for sharing!

  18. This looks amazing. When you drop the temp down to 375 degrees how long does it usually take to finish the bird? This will be my first time roasting a chicken and I want to make sure it come out when the rest of my food comes out.


    • Unfortunately there is no exact time, which is why none is listed. It depends on so many factors (size of the bird, roasting pan, oven variations, etc.) The internal temperature is the important thing. You can always take the finished bird out of the oven and keep it covered until sides are done. Good luck!

  19. Have you ever done this recipe with a Turkey instead of a chicken? I am considering this for thanksgiving.

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