Marcella Hazan’s Roast Chicken With Lemons Recipe (2024)



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Best practice nowadays is not to wash poultry, as water sprays contaminates a large area including work surfaces, the sink and faucet handles. Just remove chix from packaging, drain liquid into sunk and thoroughly pat dry inside and out with paper towels. proper cooking kills all the bacteria. Be sure to wash hands, sink and faucet thoroughly after handling any raw poultry or eggs.

Gordon Wassermann

The first time I made this, I found it boring, but I cooked it again last week and was amazed! What I did differently the second time was to squash the lemons more forcefully to let the juices flow freely, and to use a baking dish barely larger than the chicken to collect the delicious sauce. It was so good that I am repeating the meal this week.

A wonderful accompaniment is Melissa Clark's butternut squash with brown butter, sage and pecans. The lemon sauce complements this very well.

Bart Cheever

We have been cooking this recipe for many many years and I appreciate the NY Times for giving it it's due. But I would urge you to read the actual recipe in Marcella's cookbook "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking". She is so descriptive with her words and clearly so passionate about creating great food - unlike any other cookbook I've read.


You absolutely do not need to sew up the chicken, and you don't need to truss the legs.

You also do not need to wash the chicken. Cooking the chicken in a 350-400 degree oven for 50 or 60 minutes will kill any bad stuff. Washing the chicken actually just spreads salmonella and e coli all over your sink, hands and the nearby area.

I toss a few veggies in the pan, and set the bird on them. A couple small potatoes, carrots, whatever. This allows heat to circulate under the bird.


This recipe is always delicious. Besides roasting, the recipe also works in a tightly covered dutch oven on top of the stove. Just add a bit of olive oil to the bottom of the pot first. For occasional variety, a bit of white wine. Effortless.


For extra flavour - add 3 cloves of garlic, 1 walnut size blob of butter and a sprig of rosemary to the cavity with the lemons. Makes a delicious pan sauce. Also extra crispy skin can be achieved by massaging a little lemon juice and then seasoned olive oil onto the skin before roasting.

See Stephanie Alexander's great recipe:


Oh my god. This was the best chicken I’ve ever made. Shockingly good for a recipe so simple. Made an a delicious gravy with the dippings and juice. Sautéed a shallot, two cloves of garlic, 2 ts of thyme with the drippings . Add 2 ts of Dijon mustard and 1 c of chicken stock. Reduce to 3/4c Then add 2 tbls butter, finally a splash of the lemon juice from the chicken. The complexity that pairs beautifully with the simplicity of the chicken. Best dinner I had in a long time.

Doug Graiver

I made this a few times. Always amazingly luscious due to the lemony flavor. Once I was greedy and squeezed the lemons into the sauce after it finished cooking. DO NOT DO THIS EVER. Doing this wrecked the sauce. It was searing tart and bitter.Enjoy Marcella's brilliance. Miss her!


This incredibly simple recipe makes astoundingly moist chicken. But because it is so simple, with very few ingredients, it relies a great deal on a flavorful bird. Suggest getting a high quality chicken when you make it.

Bruce Leimsidor

If you want this chicken to taste Italian, prepare it exactly (minus the washing) as Marcella Hazan recommends: chicken, salt pepper, two lemons. Nothing else! Americans and other foreigners tend to overly complicate Italian recipes. This may produce tasty results, but it's not Italian. The essence of Italian cooking is simplicity, so the taste of all the high quality ingredients comes out.

David Bonfiglio

Like most MH recipes, if followed to the letter (no comment on others opinions) it is anagolous to a minimalist poem, an Italian haiku. I actually prefer this room temp. Which Mrs. Hazan endorses in her book. It is excellent on a picnic.

arizona al

I have been making a modification of this based on one of her books for a number of years. The only modification that I make is to stuff some fresh thyme in the body cavity along with the lemons and to squeeze a little lemon juice and add a little olive oil to baste the bird before it goes in the oven.


First, you are not supposed to wash a chicken - too easy to contaminate other items in the kitchen. I make roast chicken in a similar way, but I think is easier and tastier -- instead on piercing a whole lemon, cut it in half. Put the half lemon plus half an onion and some fresh dill in the cavity. Tightly cover the pan with foil to make sure no steam escapes. Roast for 1 hour or so. That's it.


I wash the chicken, inside and out in the sink. I then pour boiling water over everything that came in contact with the bird. Simple and effective.


Made Nov 19, 2015 as directed except added a Rosemary sprig and 2 cloves of garlic in the gravity along with the 2 pierced lemons. Coated the chicken first with 2 Tbsp olive oil, then seasoned. The time directions were spot on for a 4 lbs organic chicken. Let sit for 5 minutes before carving. Fabulous!


This recipe is very easy and very tasty! ( I used garlic and rosemary in addition to the lemons, as did others.) I followed the suggested time and temp, and was impressed by how perfectly cooked the bird was--i.e., meat moist and succulent with neither a trace of pink nor a hint of dryness, skin sufficiently crisp.


I rinse chickens and turkeys (wearing disposable gloves), having removed the sink strainer beforehand, and avoid touching the faucet with my hands. I wash out the sink with hottest water and then go over everything (whether I think it was contaminated or not) with antibacterial cleaner. I also line my counter area with newspaper to keep things neater ( a Julia Child tip). My French husband finds this very paranoid, but at least I know everything is clean.

Queen B

First time trying this recipe. I roasted the chicken over some root veg and nappa cabbage. Otherwise I followed the instructions exactly. Like a lot of the comments, I found the chicken to be wonderfully moist. My only issue is that it didn’t brown as well as I would have liked. I will have to make some adjustments next time. Any ideas?

Queen B

Roasted over parsnip, rutabaga and nappa cabbage tossed with some olive oil and s & p. Followed directions. Need to brown more next time. Try rubbing with a little butter before s & p. Maybe increase the temperature. Had to cook veg in oven longer by covering with tin foil.


Pretty good. The meat was tender. Mine didn't puff up and the skin was not crisp to my liking but a solid recipe anyway. I will probably make it again but think I'll mostly stick to my tried and true roasted chicken stuffed with lemon onion garlic rubbed with butter and roasted at 425 on top of potatoes ,carrots and onions

mariko blouin

outstanding recipe - breast tender, not dry. skin could be a bit crisper. even good when used for chicken salad!


I’ve made this several times, and the last three times I placed the chicken on a rack in a 9x13 pan. Makes turning the chicken easier and the skin stayed intact. Any thoughts about convection or conventional settings in the oven?

Annee Hartzell

I have making this for many years. One day, I found I did not have lemons on hand, so, I used limes instead. I added some cumin and oregano (mexican oregano), salt and pepper. Now, I put a lemon chicken and a lime chicken out on my Traeger and have chicken for the week--two flavor profiles, starting from this beautiful base recipe.


People talk as though the recipe calls for veggies . . . but I dont see directions for that . . . ?


Chicken was perfect as directed. Including rinsing and drying chicken. I’ve always rinsed chicken in the sink and let dry on kitchen towels on the counter before seasoning. Somehow in 40 years of cooking chicken I’ve yet to poison family or friends. I suppose I should knock on wood on that. But I simply don’t want to cook packaged chicken that has been sitting it ‘goo’ before opening! And I’m not a germaphobe.


I'm with you. I always wash my chicken. And while it cooks, I have time to clean the sink, faucet and prep area. That's not germaphobia. That's hygiene.

Shanti D

This recipe, exactly as it reads, is pure deliciousness wrapped in simplicity. Some have commented that sewing up the cavity is not necessary, however it is part of what makes it such a beautiful presentation with wonderfully crispy skin: it puffs up like a puffer fish! As another poster commented, ensuring that the lemons are well-rolled prior to puncturing ensures that lovely hint of lemon. This is our “What’s for dinner” several times a month. Yum!

Wash Your Food

I'm not sure how 'washing chicken' came to be equated with turning a full force sprayer on it and blowing salmonella all over the kitchen. I rinse my chicken under lightly running water in a gigantic metal mixing bowl in the sink and tip the water out directly down the drain. Then I prop it on a rack in the same bowl to let it drain. I pat it dry and season it in the same bowl too. I understand that heat 'kills things' and yet I wash my vegetables too. And my sink and faucets!


I love this recipe and so many helpful tips! But can’t overstate the importance of a thermometer. Best advice I ever received when I first started cooking!

Will Hoye

Technique over more than minimal ingredients. This is terrific.


Washing chicken is no longer considered safe as it sprays salmonella all over the sink and whatever else is there. According to the CDC and USDA, do not wash chicken. But carefully wash everything else that touches raw chicken. This should not affect the recipe in the least.

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Marcella Hazan’s Roast Chicken With Lemons Recipe (2024)


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