Roast Chicken with Lemon and Herbs a la Julia Child

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Roast Chicken with Lemon and Herbs has become our usual Sunday dinner. I generally just season it with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and brush it with melted butter. Adding lemon and herbs takes this dinner to a whole new level.

Overhead photo of roast chicken.

Julia Child exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum.

August 15 is Julia Child’s birthday. She is an American icon. The impact she had on cooking, food, wine, and the enjoyment of cooking, wine, and the food lives on in the food bloggers around the world. As a young girl, I remember hearing about her shows.

Then when I was older I got to watch her on PBS. My favorite show was with Jacques (Pepin) and Julia. Their show was Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home.

A companion cookbook to that show was published and my wonderful Mom bought me an autographed copy. It’s that cookbook I used to find this recipe for Julia’s chicken. A recipe all of us thoroughly enjoyed.

Julia Child's kitchen at the Smithsonian Institution.

A few years ago we were in Washington, DC and I got to fulfill a bucket list item by visiting the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. I’ve been to this museum since I was a child but not since Julia’s kitchen has been added.

It was beautiful. Even my family enjoyed seeing her entire kitchen displayed. We marveled at all her copper pots and pans and how the things she used in her kitchen were not different at all from the things I use in mine. Except maybe the copper pots.

Overhead photo of roast chicken

We eat a lot of chicken and our Sunday meal is often whole roast chicken. This was an easy pick. Roast chicken with lemon and herbs is a more sophisticated version of the roast chicken I normally make.

A few notes about how I changed her recipe up:

  • I did not roast any vegetables with it.
  • I used herbs de Provence because it’s what I had and we like it best.
  • I did truss the bird. It’s not something I ever do but this time I did. I actually made two roast chickens this particular night. I have teenage boys, need I say more? They were hungry.

Ok, maybe that last one isn’t so much a change from the recipe but it is a change for me!

Roast Chicken with Lemon and Herbs Pinterest image

Roast Chicken with Lemon and Herbs a la Julia Child

Roast Chicken with Lemon and Herbs has become our usual Sunday dinner. I generally just season it with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and brush it with melted butter. Adding lemon and herbs takes this dinner to a whole new level.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes
Course: Chicken Recipes
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 servings


  • 1 fresh 3 1/2 pound chicken
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 fresh sage leaves or 4 sprigs of fresh tarragon or 1/2 teaspoon dried herbes de Provence
  • 1 large lemon cut in 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature


Preparing the chicken:

  • Set the rack on the lower middle level and preheat the oven to 425°F.
  • Rinse the chicken thoroughly, inside and out, under hot water, then dry it with paper towels. Remove any lumps of fat from inside the cavity near the tail opening.
  • To make carving easier, remove the wishbone. Lift the flap of neck skin and insert a thin, sharp knife into each end of the breast; then slice diagonally along both sides of the wishbone. Use your finger and thumb to loose the bone, pry it out at the top, and pull it down. If it breaks, carefully wiggle out the pieces.
  • Fold the wings up against the breast, where they will be held in place by the V-rack.
  • Salt and pepper the cavity and stuff it with the sage leaves and 3 or 4 thick slices of lemon; give the slices a squeeze as you put them in. Massage the butter over the entire chicken skin, including undersides, then salt generously.
  • Arrange the chicken breast-up on the rack in the roasting pan. Squeeze the juice of the remaining lemon pieces over the top.

Roasting the chicken:

  • Set the roasting pan in the oven. After 15 minutes, lower heat to 350°F. When the chicken is beginning to brown rapidly, baste with accumulated pan juices. Roast for an hour. Very carefully test for doneness, checking for easy movement in the leg joint and clear color in the juices. Return it to the oven if there is any sign of pinkness. (A small chicken will roast in about 1 1/4 hours, a larger one may take 1 1/2 hours or more.) When done, remove the chicken from the rack and set it on a board to rest for 15 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to retreat back into the flesh.

Recipe Notes

A roasting pan 2 inches deep; a V-shaped roasting rack
A board or platter for resting and carving

Originally published August 15, 2017, updated August 28, 2020

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  1. Wow! Love what an easy recipe this is. I avoided making roast chicken for years but in the past year or two, it’s also become a Sunday dinner tradition for me. I look forward to trying out your version for something a little different.

  2. I have a chicken in my freezer that needs to be acknowledged! My only problem is that I would have to deal with Brenna in my kitchen the whole time it is cooking. Sitting in front of the oven…screaming…give me chicken!!! That little kitty can smell chicken as soon as it enters the house! Seriously though…I think I’m just going to have to suck it up and make this chicken!!!

  3. I love your story about going to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History! It sounds amazing, and it has been on my bucket for a while now! Your chicken looks perfect and delicious! What a great recipe choice!

  4. Roast chicken is the best, isn’t it? I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Julia Child & her birthday. Don’t you love the Smithsonian exhibit? It’s so amazing to see Julia’s kitchen recreated.

  5. My family i much like yours, we often have a roast chicken on Sunday. There are so many ways to cook it. This recipe will be one I have to try. I love all of the leftovers you can make with the chicken too!

  6. Pingback: Julia Childs Roast Chicken, the best you will ever have

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