Crispy sage & lemon roast chicken

Rub salt into the skin of the roast chicken and leave it overnight for a lovely crisp finish. Chicken and sage are a classic pairing for this Christmas main

  • Prep:30 mins
    Cook:1 hrs 30 mins
    plus overnight chilling and resting
  • Easy

Nutrition per serving

  • kcal 537
  • fat 37g
  • saturates 15g
  • carbs 3g
  • sugars 0g
  • fibre 1g
  • protein 47g
  • salt 3.1g


  • 1½kg whole chicken
  • 1 heaped tbsp sea salt flakes
  • 2 small lemons, halved
  • 70g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • ½ small bunch of sage, finely chopped
  • ¼ small bunch of thyme, leaves picked
  • 3-5 fresh bay leaves


In step three, instead of using garlic and sage, finely chop 70g smoked pancetta and ½ bunch of rosemary leaves and mix with the butter.
Mix ½ tbsp smoked paprika and 2 tsp dried oregano into the butter before rubbing into the chicken.
Or, squeeze the sausagemeat from 2 pork sausages and mix with ½ bunch of sage or thyme leaves, finely chopped, and 2 chopped shallots.


  1. The night before, put the chicken in a medium roasting tin. Rub the salt generously over the skin and into the cavity, then grind over some black pepper. Push one half of a lemon into the cavity, then tie the legs together with kitchen string. Cover and chill overnight.

  2. Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Dab a little of the excess salt from the skin using kitchen paper.

  3. Mix the butter with the garlic and sage. Push the herby garlic butter under the skin using your hands and rub it over the flesh, making sure it’s evenly spread out. Stuff the thyme and bay leaves into the cavity, then put the remaining lemon halves in the tin around the chicken. Roast for 1 hr, then baste the chicken with the buttery juices from the tin. Roast for a further 20-30 mins, or until cooked through. Check the chicken is cooked by inserting a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh – the juices should run clear.

  4. Transfer the chicken to a board, cover and leave to rest for 20 mins before carving. Slice and serve on a warmed platter.

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