Sunday Night Roast Chicken with Herb Butter

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From Laurie David’s book, The Family Dinner, this roast chicken is a great dish for creating cozy family moments around the table.

This roast chicken comes from Laurie David’s cookbook, The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time.  The book is so much more than just a collection of interesting recipes — though there are many by co-author Kirstin Uhrenholdt — it’s an inspirational guide to making dinnertime a special ritual in your home.

 

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David, best known as the producer of An Inconvenient Truth and ex-wife of Seinfeld creator Larry David, understands that dinnertime is not always easy: life is busy, kids are antsy or texting, husbands are distracted, and a meal that takes two hours to prepare is inhaled in less than ten minutes.

To help, she offers lots of recipes and fun ideas like theme nights, table games and conversation starters to make dinner fun and encourage families to linger at the table. She also shares traditions and candid stories from her own parenting journey—from babies to teenagers to divorce—and shows how the simple ritual of dinner kept everyone connected and together through it all. I’m a big fan of hers (and her ex) and loved how the book felt like chatting over coffee at her kitchen table.

If you take only a few ideas from the book, I think you’ll find it worthwhile. For me, the “aha moment” was the chapter on gratitude. I realized that dinner is not just about the food—you need rituals to set the tone. Taking a moment to appreciate the meal and people around us helps us disconnect from our busy lives and ease into quality family time. And it doesn’t have to be religious. David offers pages of suggestions, from prayers to quotations to funny childhood poems (my kids liked the old camp blessing, “Rub a Dub Dub, Thanks for the Grub, Yea God!”)—mix it up, come up with your own, whatever works for you.

To be honest, I loved the message of this book so much that I didn’t even care about the recipes, but I tried and few and, to my delight, they were delicious. I felt this one for Sunday Night Roast Chicken really captured the essence of the book, which is about creating cozy moments for your family around the dinner table. Try serving it with my Parmesan Smashed Potatoes and Roasted Carrots with Thyme. Enjoy!

You can purchase The Family Dinner Book here, or check out the website.

Note: I’ve taken some liberties in adapting this recipe. The original version calls for a whole chicken, but I prefer a cut-up chicken instead because it’s much easier to serve. I’ve also made some minor changes to the ingredients and method, but the finished product is pretty much the same. If your grocery store carries a “Poultry Blend” herb mixture, buy that–it contains all the herbs you’ll need.

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Sunday Night Roast Chicken with Herb Butter

From Laurie David’s book, The Family Dinner, this roast chicken is a great dish for creating cozy family moments around the table.

Servings: 4

Ingredients

For the Herb Butter

  • 5 3-inch sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 3-inch sprig fresh rosemary
  • 5 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the Chicken

  • 6 shallots, peeled and halved
  • 1 whole head garlic, clean, unpeeled and cut in half horizontally
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 chicken, 4 – 4 ½ pounds, cut into pieces (or 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts)
  • Herb butter (above)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the Sauce

  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Make the herb butter: Pull herbs from the stems and chop finely. Combine the chopped herbs, shallots, lemon zest, honey and butter in small bowl and blend well. Set aside.
  3. Place the shallots and garlic in a roasting pan and toss with the olive oil (it's okay if the garlic breaks apart a bit). Pat the chicken VERY dry with paper towels (this will help the skin to crisp) and place in the roasting pan; do not crowd. Use a soup spoon to rub the herb butter all over the chicken and under the skin too (if you don't eat the skin, rub a lot of it underneath!). Sprinkle the kosher salt evenly all over the chicken and season with fresh pepper to your liking. Place the chicken in the oven and roast for 35-40 minutes, or until the skin is golden brown. Turn the heat down to 375 degrees; continue to roast for 15-20 minutes more, or until done. Chicken should be done in less than an hour; do not overcook.
  4. Transfer the chicken and the shallots to serving platter to rest and cover with foil. Discard the garlic. Pour off all the fat, leaving the brown baked-on bits in the bottom of the roasting pan. Add the chicken broth and place on the stove over high heat; bring to a boil and whisk in Dijon mustard. Using whisk or wooden spoon, stir up and combine the brown bits with the broth and continue to cook until the liquid is reduced by half, 5-8 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the butter. Pour the sauce into a gravy boat and serve alongside chicken. (If you want to get fancy, you can strain the gravy but I never bother.)

Pair with

Nutrition Information

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  • Calories: 1,237
  • Fat: 85 g
  • Saturated fat: 28 g
  • Carbohydrates: 27 g
  • Sugar: 10 g
  • Fiber: 5 g
  • Protein: 91 g1
  • Sodium: 1,376 mg
  • Cholesterol: 371 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Reviews & Comments

  • HI Jenn!
    What would happen to the approx. cook time if I used the skin-on breasts only, but had the butcher take out the bone?
    Thanks again,
    Elise

    • — Elise on April 9, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Elise, I wouldn’t recommend cooking the chicken with the bones removed and the skin on. That said, if you’ve already had the bones removed, I would roast them at 450° for about 30 minutes. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on April 12, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn!
    I am anxious to try this dish, but was going to use an aluminum roasting pan, because I do not have a stainless steel pan that could sit atop the stove for making the gravy. Is it possible to scrape the brown bits off of the aluminum pan and transfer the pieces to a skillet, and continue the preparation of the sauce that way? Any other suggestions?
    Thanks much!
    Elise

    • — Elise on April 9, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure, Elise, I think that should work. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 10, 2021
      • Reply
  • This was the best chicken I have ever cooked for my family.
    It was tender and delicious and the sauce really made it a holiday meal. It will be one of our staples!!
    Thank you!!

    • — Cara OReilly on April 7, 2021
    • Reply
  • Jenn Segal, I like your recipes. This Sunday Night Roast Chicken with Herb Butter is perfect. The Beef Stew with Carrots and Potatoes tasted exactly like my Mom cooked on cold winter weekends. I appreciate you sharing your expertise as a classically trained chef; you write recipes clearly with helpful tips. I like the reference to other chefs and their books. Thank you.

    • — Mary Heyens on April 4, 2021
    • Reply
    • My pleasure — so glad you like the recipes!

      • — Jenn on April 5, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    We made this last year for Christmas and plan to make it for Thanksgiving this year. The sauce is absolutely excellent, but I’ve got a request to make it a little thicker this year, almost like a gravy. Would you suggest adding a little cornstarch to the chicken broth to achieve this, or start with a roux?

    • — Valerie K. on November 8, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Valerie, to thicken the sauce, I’d combine 2 tablespoons of softened butter with 2 tablespoons of flour and instead of just adding butter when making the sauce, I’d add half of the butter/flour mixture and stir it until the sauce starts to thicken. Add the remaining half of the mixture if you still want it thicker.

      • — Jenn on November 10, 2020
      • Reply
  • My husband said the was the best roast chicken he ever had. It was a little too salty though, probably because I got Morton’s Kosher salt, which was the only one at my store at the time. I used to have David’s and that always worked well. I think Diamond Crystal is the salt of choice and will look to buy. But a great dish and recipe! I made with the excellent smashed parmesan potatoes and steamed carrots. Thank you!

    • — Janet on November 1, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi Jennifer,
    I made this chicken tonight and it was delicious. I did find that 450 for 35 minutes was a bit too long in my oven and most of the shallots were burned to a crisp! But the chicken was still wonderful and is a new favourite, next to your Peruvian chicken. Thank you so much!

    • — Caroline on October 4, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Caroline,
      Wish I read your review before I cooked the chicken. I left it for 35 mins at 450 and the skin was almost black. So for the second part I covered with foil to keep it from cooking the skin any more. Still the chicken still came out great (except for the skin) and the gravy was to die for!

      • — Henri on October 30, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jennifer

    I made the herb butter chicken tonight exactly as per recipe but roast as a whole chicken. The chicken turned out perfectly and was the best roasted chicken dinner. The family loved it! Thank you for this awesome recipe!

    • — Helen on August 3, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi there,
    1.Seemed the herb butter does not coat exterior on skin evenly? Any pointers or tricks ?
    2. What would be the equivalent in ‘dry herbs’ to substitute for the fresh amounts in this recipe?—

    • — JooJoo on July 2, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi JooJoo, I find a large spoon works well for me but if you have a pastry brush, that would work nicely too. And regarding the herbs, I would estimate that you’d need about 1-1/4 tsp. of dried thyme, a generous 1/4 tsp. of both dried rosemary and sage. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on July 4, 2020
      • Reply
      • How about if I want to use McCormick Gourmet “Italian seasoning” which is a mix of the dry herbs in this recipe plus basil, Oregano and Marjoram? How much should I use ?–thank u.

        • — JooJoo on July 5, 2020
        • Reply
        • I’ve never used that so hard to say for sure, but I’d guess you’d need about 1-3/4 teaspoons. I’d love to hear how it turns out!

          • — Jenn on July 5, 2020
          • Reply
  • Tender, juicy, full of flavor! Another new family favorite!

    • — Lisa Cronin on May 16, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hello,
    I’d very much like to make this chicken for our Sunday diner this Sunday. Can you answer a Q for me? The recipe says to pat the chicken pieces very dry and place in the roasting pan with the garlic. It then says to rub the herb butter on/under the skin. Do I brown the chicken pieces and THEN take them out of the pan and rub on the butter or do I first rub on the butter and THEN place the pieces into the roasting pan? Thanks in advance for any guidance.
    Greg

    • — Greg on May 7, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Greg, Once you put the chicken in the roasting pan, you rub the herb butter onto the chicken (and under the skin) before you put it in the oven. Hope that clarifies and that you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on May 7, 2020
      • Reply
  • Are the carbs here somewhere and I am missing that? This was amazing with the carrots too.

    • — Ines Malardino on May 6, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Ines, I just added the nutritional info. Each serving has 27 grams of carbs. Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

      • — Jenn on May 8, 2020
      • Reply
      • I’m trying to figure out why the carbs are so high. This looks like it should be Keto friendly. Chicken, butter, herbs are all very low in carbs. I’m confused but I was hoping to make this recipe for YK next week (just quadruple the recipe for my crew).

        P.s. I made your kugel recipe today and it was a huge hit! ❤️

        • — Lulu on September 18, 2020
        • Reply
        • Glad you enjoyed the kugel! Regarding the carbs in this recipe, because I’m not a nutritionist, I use an online tool to calculate the nutritional information for the blog. When I plugged in the ingredients for this recipe, those were the results. I agree that the carbs sound a bit high, but I just double-checked it and am getting the same numbers. Hope you enjoy if you make it!

          • — Jenn on September 19, 2020
          • Reply
  • Jenn, thank you for all the delicious recipes. I have yet to make anything from your site or cookbook that wasn’t good. I have a question about roasting chicken. About two weeks ago I made your Peruvian chicken with great results. We enjoyed a tender and juicy bird with beautifully crisp skin. That recipe directs us to first roast the chicken at 425°F for 20 minutes, then turn the heat down to 375°F and continue roasting for 1 hour and 10 minutes more. This is 90 minutes of cooking time total for a 4-pound bird. In contrast, this recipe directs us to roast for 35-40 minutes at 450°F, turn the heat down to 375°F, and continue roasting for 15-20 minutes more. This is 60 minutes total, also for a 4-pound bird (the same size as the Peruvian chicken recipe). From the reviews for this recipe, it looks like this 60-minute time is working well for everyone, but I’m curious about the time difference between the two recipes. It’s a 50% difference, which surprised me. My guess is that this is because it roasts for twice as long at a high temperature in comparison with the Peruvian chicken, and therefore takes less time to finish. But does it have anything to do with the type of fat used? This one is butter-based while the Peruvian chicken’s is olive oil-based. Since the Peruvian chicken went so well for me I’ve been thinking about just using those same roasting directions for this recipe. I’m curious to hear what you think, given the significant time difference between the two recipes. Thanks!

    • — Anne on April 18, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Anne, I’m so glad you like the recipes! The reason for the difference in baking time and temperature here is because the Peruvian chicken is baked as a whole chicken whereas this recipe has chicken pieces. If you do want to use a whole chicken here, just use the time and temperature guidance from the Peruvian chicken. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on April 21, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi, I love all your recipes. How would you make this one kosher? Can’t combine meat and milk products. TIA

    • — Lauren Mayer on March 26, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Lauren, I suspect a non-dairy butter or margarine would work here. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 26, 2020
      • Reply
  • This is THE BEST chicken recipe EVER. Love it with roasted sweet potatoes and asparagus or risotto. Seriously yum. Make it!

    • — Samantha Chambers on January 16, 2020
    • Reply
  • This was delicious. I used 4 chicken breasts with skin on and bone in. I didn’t have fresh herbs so used Italian mix of dried herbs in the butter.

    • — Andrea on December 14, 2019
    • Reply
  • Can I use 2 whole shallots and red onion? also can I use (minced) garlic in jar instead full garlic head

    • — Michelle on November 24, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Michelle, I think you can get away with the shallots and red onion, but minced garlic won’t work here. Sorry!

      • — Jenn on November 25, 2019
      • Reply
  • Do you think the butter would be good for a turkey?

    I’ve had the chicken before and the flavors were amazing! I’m trying to cook what I know this thanksgiving since this is my first time I’ll be making a whole turkey … please help!

    • — P on November 22, 2019
    • Reply
    • I do think it’d be delicious!

      • — Jenn on November 25, 2019
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I’m looking forward to making this chicken recipe. I bought chicken breasts w/bone in and thighs with bone in. The breasts are really big as they are these days. How do I make sure the thighs don’t dry out waiting for the breasts to cook….or will they still cook evenly together?
    Thanks so much!

    • — Rose on May 29, 2019
    • Reply
    • I think they’ll cook in about the same amount of time, Rose — but, if you’re concerned, you can always take the thighs out of the oven a little early if they look done. Hope you enjoy it!

      • — Jenn on May 30, 2019
      • Reply
  • Could you please tell me the dried herb equivalents as its hard to get fresh herbs where I live. Thanks.

    • — Lesley on May 5, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Lesley, I’d use 1 teaspoon each of the herbs. I would also finely chop the dried rosemary, as it tends to be very hard.

      • — Jenn on May 6, 2019
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn- I made this chicken and the flavor was amazing, however, the chicken was a bit dry. I think I overcooked it. I’d like to make it again. I usually boil chicken before I bake it so that it’s tender. Can I boil the chicken first and then bake it with the herb butter? If so, what do you recommend as the baking time and temperature?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Hannah, Sorry you found this a bit dry. I wouldn’t recommend boiling the chicken before putting it in the oven – I’m sorry! My guess is that it was slightly overcooked when you made it this time around; if it would be helpful, you could use a digital leave-in meat thermometer and remove the chicken from the oven when it reaches 165-degrees F.

    • Hi! I was just wondering if we have to cover the roasting pan and/or if it makes a difference to cover it with the roasting pan’s lid?

      • — Mrs. Marwaha on September 25, 2019
      • Reply
      • No, it’s not necessary to cover the roasting pan — keeping it uncovered lets the skin on the chicken become a beautiful golden color and crisps it up nicely too. Hope you enjoy!

        • — Jenn on September 25, 2019
        • Reply
  • Jen,
    I made this chicken for Rosh Hashanah and loved it. A perfect meal with the roasted carrots (can we talk about how good those were) and the Parmesan mashed potatoes (yum!) as you suggested.
    It was just two of us for dinner so I made this with two bone in chicken breast’s. I cut the butter in half, but for the most part used the same amount of herbs. I have fresh rosemary and thyme in my garden, so was happy to use those. The chicken was moist (yay!) and flavorful. I am trying to cut calories so put most of the butter under the skin as per your directions, and did not eat the skin at dinner. Even without, the chicken was still delicious and moist. I’ve baked a whole chicken before and it always seems to be dry. This recipe was not dry and is definitely a keeper. Thanks for a great recipe and meal suggestion with the roasted carrots and mashed potatoes.
    Vivian

  • Hi Jenn
    Can I use this recipe for Cornish hens. Thanks

    • Sure, Liz. 🙂

  • Hi Jennifer, As soon as I put my chicken in the oven, butter started burning and smoked up the whole house! I had to take it out and finish it on a stove top. Any ideas on what went wrong? Thanks!

    • Hi Alisa, sorry to hear you had a problem with this. Did you place the chicken on a rack that was centered in the oven? The immediate smoking makes me think that the chicken was too close to the heating element.

  • Thanks for yet another delicious recipe! Make this last night for Rosh Hashanah, great way to kick off the New Year!

  • I make several of your recipes a week and made this for the first time tonight. It was fantastic! My husband loved it and he is picky…sigh…I even messed up the herb butter and couldn’t find sage. It was still delicious. My husband used the garlic from the pan to spread on a baguette. I didn’t even bother to make the gravy, but I will next tine. Served it with your make ahead mashed potatoes and thyme carrots.

  • Absolutely Amazing, did not change a thing, and my pickier little guy loved it!
    I definitely recommend this recipe.

    • — Ashley E. Menwer
    • Reply
  • Made this for Christmas Eve dinner. The flavor was great but I was disappointed that the chicken turned out a bit rubbery and I wanted your comment on what I did wrong. Here is what I did:
    – followed recipe using 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. The pan was a bit crowded with breasts snuggled next to each other.
    – for the initial roasting at 425 also had pan of carrots in oven for the Curried Carrot recipe.
    – I roasted for 35 min at 425 and then 15 min at 375. When I pulled out the temp of thickest part was 175 degrees.
    – chicken rested for 15 min before serving.
    Looking forward to your thoughts.

    • Correction to my question…..initial roasting temp was 450 degrees, not 425 degrees.

    • Hi Janice, Glad you enjoyed the chicken but sorry it turned out a bit rubbery. It doesn’t sound like you did anything wrong with the cooking process, but I’m surprised they reached 175 that quickly. Were they particularly small chicken breasts? The ideal temperature for chicken is 165, so it sounds like they were a bit overcooked.

  • Hye there! Any substitute for dijon mustard? Can normal mustard sauce do?

    • I don’t recommend normal mustard, Natasha – sorry! I’d just leave the Dijon out if you don’t have it. Hope that helps!

  • This was delish and filled the house with a wonderful aroma. My family came from all corners asking, “when’s dinner?”. I had to omit the garlic due to an allergy, so I added extra shallots and a quartered onion. We will definitely make it again.

  • Delicious. I used bone in breast and two quarter legs. As usual, a great recipe and made the entire house smell awesome. I paired with roasted garnet yams and your beet and goat cheese salad. Can’t wait for leftovers tomorrow- maybe all the ingredients on a bed of brown rice or quinoa. (Chicken, goat cheese, salad dressing, beets and yams.)

  • My kids are learning how to cook so this is the first roast chicken recipe my 16 year old attempted (while I peeled and chopped the root veggies we roasted along side the chicken). The chicken we roasted was appx. 10 lbs, so it took nearly 60 min in our convection oven. My son followed the directions as written. There is enough chicken left to make chicken soup. I’m talking two adults and two teenagers. We all went back for seconds. My son’s comment after first bite: “I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but this is *amazing*”. Given the amount of food we put away tonight, we all concur. We skipped making gravy and included the drippings in with the leftovers as it simmers for tomorrow’s lunch. I can only imagine how good the chicken soup we have tomorrow will taste.

    Thank you, Jenn!

  • HI Jenn, I love your recipes and have tried many. My only issue if there is one, is cooking any chicken skin period. I understand it adds flavor and keeps meat moist underneath and all but I can’t get myself around it. Is there anything us non chicken skin eaters can do to still make a good Sunday night roasted chicken?

    • Hi Luanne, Glad you like the recipes! I would prepare the chicken with the skin on (as it holds in moisture when roasting) and remove the skin before serving. When applying the herb butter, rub a lot of it underneath the skin so you get lots of that flavor.

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