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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.


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


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
  • 1½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter


  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

Powered by Edamam

  • 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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  • Hi Jenn,

    I came across your website by accident and I am so glad I did. Everything I have made from your site has come out wonderfully! Thanks for sharing your expertise!
    I’m curious on the Sunday Night Roast Chicken…The picture shows what I believe to be lemons and apples mixed in with the chicken. Is that correct and did you roast them in the pan with the chicken? Thanks again for posting your wonderful recipes! Jennifer

    • Hi Jennifer, glad you’re enjoying the recipes! I actually just added those already roasted lemons and apples into the picture because I thought they looked nice; they’re not actually part of the recipe!

  • IN beginning for the sauce it calls for broth. At the end it calls for stock, which is better?

    • Hi Judy, Thanks for catching that. Either is fine but I use broth.

  • Is there anyway I can use only thighs? My family is not big on white meat…

    • Sure Shannon, just make sure to get the bone-in variety. Hope you enjoy!

  • Amazing!

    • — Christine Laney
    • Reply
  • Do I place the chicken right on top of the shallots and garlic?

    • Yep– hope you enjoy!

  • If I spatchcock the chicken is it the same temp and roasting time?

    • Hi Tori, if you spatchcock the chicken, you probably will only need to cook it for 35-40 minutes (but use an instant-read thermometer make sure the temperature of the meat has reached 165°F before removing from the oven). Enjoy!

  • Hi – LOVE all your recipes. Quick question on the herb butter – when putting on chicken. You said to use soup spoon to rub all over chicken……. is the butter melted or keep it “paste like” consistency?

    • Hi Randi, It should be paste-like. Enjoy!

  • My husband loved the chicken. It was moist and flavorful!

  • I made this chicken dish last night and it was delicious. Tender and very flavorful.
    Will definitely be made again!

    Thanks for all the beautiful and delicious recipes !

  • I can’t have dairy. Can I sub olive oil for the butter?

    • Steph, could you use non-dairy butter or margarine?

  • I made this a few weeks ago and it was divine! I used dairy free butter under the skin and it worked just as well, so moist! The bird looked beautiful too, perfect crackly golden skin. My husband approved!

  • I’ve used this recipe before and I loved it! Thank you for all you do. Publish a book already!

    I was thinking I could maybe use this recipe on my thanksgiving turkey? I bought a bone in 5.4 lb turkey breast. (There’s only two of us.) will the cook time and butter work? And is it safe to butter the night before?

    • Thanks, Tori! Hoping to have good news about a book to share soon 🙂 I think this recipe would work really well with a turkey breast. Cook time will be about the same but keep an eye on it; hard to say for certain. And yes, fine to butter the night before.

      • Delicious!! Food coma! Thank you so much ? We had a lot of left over turkey so I’ll be using your quesadilla recipe tonight! Thanks again!

  • Hi Jenn,
    Made this for dinner tonight using half a roaster chicken but with full amounts of everything else. It turned out delicious and so moist and tender! Served with a side of mashed potatoes, rice, and roasted broccoli. Thank you for an awesome recipe!

  • Hi Jenn-
    I’ve had great success with many of your recipes and plan to try this next. If I substitute dried poultry seasoning as you mentioned, what amount do I use?

    • Hi Sharon, Sorry for the confusion — I meant the poultry fresh herb blend, not dried.

  • Can this be prepped the night before & kept in the fridge before popping in the oven when company arrives?

    • Absolutely 🙂

  • RE the Sunday night Roast Chicken:
    1. Does the chicken get covered with a lid/foil in the oven while roasting?

    2. Is the roasting temp/time for regular or “convection” roasting


    • Hi Karen, No lid and the temp/time is for regular roasting.

  • Jenn
    enjoy your site and recipes, in this recipe what is the point of an entire head of garlic.
    It’s not inside the chicken just in the open pan, will it add any flavor at all to the roasting chicken, wouldn’t it be better inside the bird.

    • Hi Jim, Glad you are enjoying the recipes. Good question. The garlic simply flavors the juices in the pan. You could definitely put it inside the bird, if you use the whole bird rather than chicken pieces.

  • Will this recipe work on turkey?

    • Sure, but you’ll need to adjust the cooking time.

  • Your recipes are amazing! I would like to try this one but I don’t have fresh sage. How much would I need if I use ground sage?

    • Hi Peachy, I’d use about a half teaspoon. Hope you enjoy it!

  • I’m so excited about this recipe! If making it using a full chicken, should I cook it the same way– at the same temp and approximately the same time increments?

    Thanks for sharing such wonderful recipes! I love your blog.

    • — Chrystie Swiney
    • Reply
    • Hi Chrystie, It will take longer to cook. Here are instructions: Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position, and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil for easy clean-up. Spray a rack (preferably a v-shape) with non-stick cooking spray and place the chicken on top. Tie the legs together with kitchen string. Roast for 20 minutes, until the skin is golden. Turn the heat down to 375 degrees, and continue to roast for about an hour and ten minutes more, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and thigh. (Keep an eye on it — if it’s browning too quickly, cover it loosely with foil.) Tent the chicken with foil and let rest for about 20 minutes. Tilt the chicken over the roasting pan to release the juices, then transfer to a cutting board. Carve the chicken and serve.

  • I made this ahead for the work week and popped it into the oven a few days later. FANTASTIC dish!! I made double the compound butter and stuck it into the freezer- I cannot wait to make this again!!!

  • I would like to make this recipe for guests and am wondering how it would be made in advance and then heated when guest arrive. Thank you. Marie

    • Hi Marie, You can make it ahead of time; the skin just won’t be as crispy. Also, be careful not to overcook it when you reheat it. Hope everyone enjoys it!

  • Is it possible to make this in advance and heat up for dinner?

    • Yes, just be sure not to overcook.

  • Thanks! Was a great favourite with the family. I added some whole local Cambodian pepper corns to the herb butter and served with parmesan mashed potatoes and carrots glazed in fresh lemon juice and palm sugar.

  • Hello,
    I want to try this recipe but I don’t eat dairy. What can I use to substitute for unsalted butter? Also, has anyone tried a substitution, and if so, how did it come out?

    • Lard? Oil? Not Sure, Good Luck

  • I want to try this recipe for my family’s Sunday Dinner- but I have 4 growing boys (2 are teens) and a husband. Any tips on doubling the recipe?

    • Hi Tammy, It should double just fine. Hope your boys enjoy it 🙂

  • I made this last night for my book club – including the carrots and the smashed potatoes and it was spectacular. I did the 4 bone-in chicken breasts as suggested instead of the whole chicken – it was easy, looked beautiful and was delicious. One of my friends snatched the discarded garlic clove to take home with her. I think she would have taken off with the whole platter if I’d let her… Thank you so much for yet another amazing recipe – as someone who has no culinary instincts, I so blog and your spirit.

    • That should have read “I so appreciate your blog and your spirit.” 🙂

      • Thank you, Elizabeth!

  • So yummy! This was the first recipe from “Once Upon A Chef” that I ever tried. This appears on our table for Sunday dinner at least once a month. I use any leftovers to make a delicious soup. Thanks for sharing your talent!

  • This is so delicious! I used chicken breasts, had all the herbs available in my garden, and served it with roasted carrots with peas and mashed potatoes. Used the leftovers the next day to make a shepherd’s pie.

  • This was absolutely delicious. I ended up using a whole chicken (what I had on hand), so I stuffed the cavity with lemon, garlic, and some of the extra herbs. I also forgot shallots at the store, left out the dijon mustard in the gravy (I don’t care for it), and I had a little extra herb butter leftover so I used that in the gravy instead of plain butter. Thanks to everyone for the tip of making extra herb butter and freezing it. Herbs are not cheap, so this was a great idea. Even with the changes I made, it was still the best roasted chicken I have ever eaten, and my husband agreed. Will definitely make this again.

  • This was a very good recipe. I made it with all chicken thighs and drumsticks. My husband usually only likes what we call chicken fried chicken (that’s what our kids call fried chickn), but he even ate the leftovers of this!

  • This looks like the perfect Sunday dinner meal! Maybe for this Sunday 🙂

  • I made this last night. I have to say it was one of the best roasted chicken recipes I have had the pleasure of attempting. I look forward to sharing it with friends and family

    • — Victoria N O'Connor
    • Reply
  • We love this recipe, it makes a regular appearance at our dinner table

  • This is now a go to dinner for company – you can prepare it and put it in the oven and visit and know a delicious dinner will go on the table. My family has loved every recipe I have ever tried from this site and I have tried many. Thank you Jennifer.

  • I made this last week for my family. It was delicious!

  • A year later this is still one of my favorite recipes! Thank you

  • I made this tonight along with the suggested sides. It was fantastic and received rave reviews. I used 4 bone-in chicken breasts.

  • I made this chicken for dinner last night; the flavor was fantastic! The skin was crisp and delicious, the meat was moist and juicy. We saved the roasted garlic and spread it on challah. As recommended by another reviewer, I made a large batch of herb butter and froze it in portions. I can’t wait to enjoy this recipe again!

  • Jennifer –

    The chicken was terrific! Everyone enjoyed it – it was juicy, flavorful and the sauce was great ). And, as you said, the reheated leftovers were great.

    I had the dish ready to go into the oven and it cooked during cocktails – when covered and resting while the sauce reduced, I put it (along with the completed smashed potatoes) in the warming oven set to “moist”. And when the sauce was done, I added that too. It was all probably there for 10 minutes while people were seated and we made kiddush. Everything was just right out of the drawer!

    Thanks again for your help and another great recipe!

  • Hi Susan,

    The roast chicken is definitely best served right out of the oven. Your instincts are right that the chicken would likely dry out. Also, the herbs and lemon zest get wonderfully crispy in the oven and that texture will get lost if it sits. If it helps, the sauce is actually really easy to make. Now that said, I will tell you that I’ve reheated leftovers in the oven with excellent results, so if you had to do it ahead of time I think it’s better to cook it then reheat it, rather than keep it warm for a long period of time but I’m not sure I’d risk that with company 🙂

    Hope that helps! Jenn

  • I’m planning to try your recent Sunday Night Chicken for a dinner party tomorrow and am considering how to handle preparation somewhat in advance utilizing my Miele warming oven. Do you think this is possible without compromising the look, taste and texture? Can the entire dish be done in advance (like 5 PM – 6 PM for 8 PM consumption?) and not have the chicken dry out? That is chicken kept covered (or maybe not??) and the reduced sauce both waiting in the warming oven?? Do you think it could be juicy after 90 minutes? I’d like to have the sauce reduced and the pan cleaned in advance – if possible. But – the chicken must be cooked to achieve this and I don’t want it to dry out or the herbs to look “olive” instead of green!

  • My husband is a huge fan of roast chicken. I have tried many other recipes but I have to say this was by far the best roast chicken ever. Thank you for sharing it.

  • So delicious!!! We love all your recipes!!! This was so good and I used some of the chicken to make soup. It was the best.

    • — Kim (your artist friend)
    • Reply
  • Made the chicken last night–yum! Thanks for sharing!

  • I made the roasted chicken last weekend. It was delicious. (I actually made 4 times the recipe for the herb butter and froze it. Fresh herbs are really expensive where I live, so I figured I should try to get a few uses out of it.) I’ve been looking forward to an occasion to make the Rosemary nuts as well — we’re planning on hosting some people for the football game this Sunday – a perfect excuse. Thanks again for these posts. I really enjoy the way you tell the stories – especially with step by step pictures.

    • What a great idea! Herbs are very expensive here as well, so I think I’ll try your tip of making extra and freezing it.

  • Ordered the book and made the chicken. Delicious!

  • I enjoyed your post about Laurie David’s cookbook and family dinners. It is true – you spend so much time planning, shopping, cooking, and then cleaning up all in the name of the family dinner. When they woof down or complain about your food, it is a bummer. I get through it because I know that what goes on at the family table is more than filling hungry bellies. I cannot wait to read this book. Thanks for the tip!

  • SOunds like a wonderful cookbook! And I totally agree..kids learning to swim…YES!!!

  • It sounds like a lovely book – I’ve been seeing it around a lot lately. Mealtimes are our favorite parts of the day (and not just because we’re eating!). The chicken looks amazing. 🙂

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