Smoky Whole Lemon-Garlic Chicken


Making whole roasted chickens always, in advance, feels like a much bigger project than it actually is.
The truth is, it’s really simple, not very time consuming in terms of work, cheap, and not least: deee-li-ciouuus!
So do yourself a favor this week and cook yourself a whole chicken…or two!

I rarely plan for how to make my whole chickens, I just buy the chickens and then use whatever I have at home.
Below is the recipe of how I did it last time…hope you’ll enjoy it!

Smoky Whole Lemon-Garlic Chicken

Serves1/2 chicken per person
Prep time10 minutes
Cook time1 hour, 30 minutes
Total time1 hour, 40 minutes
Compliance Paleo, Primal, Whole30
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish
Main ingredient Chicken/Poultry
Little work, lots of flavor!

What you need:

    (Per chicken)

    • 1 whole chicken
    • 0.3 cup (0.75 dl) butter, clarified butter, ghee (room temperatured)
    • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 0.5 tablespoon liquid smoke
    • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
    • 1 lemon
    • 1 onion
    • 2 bay leaves
    • salt
    • crushed black pepper

    What to do:

    1Pre-heat oven to 440F (220C).
    2Rinse the chicken, inside and outside, under running water and pat dry with paper towels.
    3Rub the inside of the chicken with a generous amount of salt and black pepper, then place it on it’s back with the thighs/cavity facing you.
    4In a bowl, mix the butter/clarified butter/ghee, minced garlic, olive oil, the zest from the lemon, the juice from half of the lemon and the liquid smoke.
    5Slide one finger in under the skin of each breast, making two separate “pockets” (try to keep the openings as small as possible though).
    6Make two balls of 2/3 of the butter mixture (if it’s not thick enough to form balls, either add a bit more butter/clarified butter/ghee or just use a small spoon and scoop it in instead…), and place one ball in each “pocket”.
    Hold the opening closed "massage" each breast side so both chicken breasts are fully and evenly covered in the butter mix under the skin.
    7Stuff the inside of the chicken with the remaining half of the lemon, half of the onion (if both halves don’t fit) and the bay leaves, then tie it up tightly using a piece of butcher’s string.
    8Make three cuts in each thigh, all the way into the bone, and then rub the rest of the butter mixture all over the chicken.
    9Finally sprinkle salt and crushed black pepper over it, place it on a oven safe tray that is just slightly larger than the chicken(s) and put it in the oven for about 80-90 minutes.
    (Note: If only one of the onion halves fit inside the chicken you could cut the other half in pieces and place on the tray around the chicken…this would give even more flavor to the juices you’ll be scooping over it.)
    10Take it out for just a very short time after 30 and 60 minutes to scoop the juices that is gathered in the tray over the chickens.
    11If you have the time, let the chicken rest for a while before serving.


    For Whole30 compliance, use clarified butter or ghee and check the ingredients of the liquid smoke (anything but water and condensed smoke is unnecessary).


    …ready for the oven.

    …after 2nd scooping (i.e. after 60 minutes).

    …done and resting.


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    1. Pingback: Keepin’ it simple… Pt.2 | Strictly Paleo…ish!

    2. This looks and sounds delicious but I don’t think I would call Liquid Smoke healthy. Wonder if it will be good without it or what could be subbed?

      • Hi there!

        Thanks for asking, and for the kind words…really happy you like it! :)

        Regarding the liquid smoke…well, it most probably does not add any nutrition, so in that sense it maybe shouldn’t be considered “healthy”. That being said I really don’t consider it being unhealthy either (given that the manufacturer hasn’t put a lot of shady stuff in it)…
        It’s basically condensed smoke that is filtered through, and then stored in, water.
        Since it’s been filtered I actually guess it’s less unhealthy than the smoke consumed from an average barbecue.
        Here’s a short article that explains it quite well:

        If you decide to go with it, make sure the bottle only list smoke and water as ingredients.

        If you still don’t feel comfortable using it, I’m 100% sure you can just skip it and you’ll still have an awesome chicken for dinner! :)

        Please drop a comment if/when you try it out, would be really cool to get some input and hear your thoughts on it! :)

        • Thanks. I will check that out. I would think that it contains nitrites/carcinogens, no? Just trying to think if it would be good without it or what could be used instead.

          • Potentially…but as it’s filtered probably less than barbecuing/grilling.

            However, that’s just my opinion based on the information I’ve seen so far…I totally understand and respect your concern!

      • Oh….sorry I missed the substitute part of your question.
        The best substitute I can think of is probably to replace some of the butter with bacon grease. :)

        • That’s an interesting idea! The article said smoked salt, smoked paprika but I think those have nitrates too. I wonder if regular or spicy paprika would be good? Can’t wait to try it.

          • That’s the beauty of this chicken…this is just one version of it, and once you’ve cooked one version of it and are familiar with the steps…all you need is a chicken and you can make endless variations from what you’ve got at home for the moment! :)
            You can put all kind of herbs and spices in the butter, you can stuff the cavity with apples, oranges etc.
            Don’t think I’ve made the same seasoning twice, but I have never been disappointed with the result.

    3. Looks so good. A nice variation of lemon chicken but I’m wondering, why the three holes in the thighs? Thanks for all your recipes :)

      • Hi Patty!

        I always make 3-4 cuts all the way into the bone of the thighs (2 cuts in the “meatier” part of the thigh (ie above the joint) and 1-2 cuts below the joint (ie the “drumstick”)).

        The reason is simply because I like my chicken thighs to be slightly over-cooked, and the cuts make that happen.
        (So it’s really just a matter of preference…)

        Plus, presentation wise I think it looks great!
        (But that’s of course just a bonus.)

        Thanks for asking, and for the kind words!
        I’m happy to hear you like what you see here, and as always I would love to hear any thoughts or feedback if you do try any of the recipes out :)

        Take care Patty, wish you a great day!
        // Peter

    4. Pingback: Creamy Zucchini Salad With Green Apples And Almonds | Strictly Paleo…ish!

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