Skip to content

Whole Roasted Lemon Rosemary Chicken with Root Vegetables

November 15, 2012

Whole Roasted Lemon Rosemary Chicken with Root Vegetables

I’m not a vegetarian, but turkey is my least favorite part about the traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Roasted vegetables and baked chestnutty stuffing make for some tempting side dishes, especially when they’re topped off with tart homemade cranberry sauce. That alone would be enough to make me very happy. (That and pie.)

Also: I hope no one jumps down my throat to disagree with me here, but… I usually find turkey to be too dry. (Maybe I’m just picky though; I often have the same complaint about the white meat of chicken– give me a drumstick over a slice of chicken breast and I’ll be a happy camper.)

Roasted Chicken with Purple Potatoes, Parsnips, and Leeks

So with all this turkey apathy in mind– that and the fact that our Thanksgiving guest list so far includes just me and my girlfriend– we will be roasting a chicken instead of a turkey this year!

New potatoes, purple potatoes, parsnips, and leeks for roasting

We started this tradition last Thanksgiving, and have made this roasted chicken with purple potatoes, parsnips, and leeks several times since then.* It’s the perfect turkey substitute (unless you’re more of the Tofurkey persuasion…).

New potatoes, purple potatoes, parsnips, and leeks for roasting

A whole roasted chicken– with savory, browned, irresistible roasted root vegetables– is not only surprisingly easy to make, it also makes for a memorable meal that is festive, affordable, and delicious.

Whole Roasted Lemon Rosemary Chicken with Root Vegetables

Just one word of warning, though… this recipe (preferably) “requires” a meat thermometer. And I say “requires” because that’s the one thing we didn’t have. After TWO out of TWO kitchen thermometers broke on us, we are currently in between thermometers (anyone want to recommend a good brand they like?).

Roasted Chicken with Purple Potatoes, Parsnips, and Leeks

Of course we only realized this halfway through roasting the chicken (how could I have forgotten that the second one had broken as well?!?). Luckily this didn’t spell disaster for the dinner; we just roasted it for a little extra time, and then my girlfriend cut into the chicken to make sure the juices ran clear.

However, this did spell disaster for something else… maybe you’ve noticed by now how few photos I have of the entire chicken from above… That, my friends, is because this is what happens when you don’t own a meat thermometer:

Whole Roasted Chicken with Purple Potatoes, Parsnips, and Leeks

After having what can only be described as a melodramatic reaction to my girlfriend’s (overzealous) attempt to make sure the chicken was fully cooked and safe to eat, I reluctantly continued to take photos of the finished product, though with significantly less enthusiasm about sharing this blog post with you… Oh well. It still tasted wonderful.

* Last Thanksgiving we spent half the meal– in between bites– exclaiming things like “this is awesome!”; “and it was so easy!”; “why don’t we make this every weekend!?”; “or we could at least roast a chicken once a month?!” We never managed to take it up quite that frequently last year, but there’s always the year to come…

Roasted Chicken with Purple Potatoes, Parsnips, and Leeks

p.s. This time, we used the leftover chicken to make Layered Chicken Enchiladas!

Print this recipe. (PDF)


Whole Roasted Lemon Rosemary Chicken
with Root Vegetables

(Serves 4-6)

~ a 4-5-lb. whole organic chicken
~ 2-3 parsnips (or other root vegetable)
~ 2-3 leeks (or other root vegetable)
~ 10-15 small potatoes (we used purple potatoes and red new potatoes)
~ 5-6 cloves garlic, peeled
~ olive oil, salt, and pepper, to taste
~ 1 lemon, quartered lengthwise
~ large bunch fresh rosemary (about 1 oz.)
~ 2-3 Tbsp. butter, melted

Purple potatoes and leeks for roasting

How to make it:

1. Clean and prepare the chicken for roasting; rinse it, dry it, and remove excess fat if necessary. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Roughly chop the root vegetables and toss them into a large cast iron pan or a roasting pan. Add 3-4 whole, peeled cloves of garlic. Season with a few glugs of olive oil, tossing to coat the vegetables evenly, then sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

3. Place the whole chicken on the bed of root vegetables, and stuff the empty cavity of the chicken with the lemon quarters, a clove of garlic, and several sprigs of rosemary. Gently rub the outside of the chicken with a halved clove of garlic (if desired) and with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Optionally brush on– or pour over– melted butter for a crispier, browned skin.

4. Add any extra rosemary to the root vegetables. Cover the entire thing with tin foil, and roast for 1 hour. After an hour, remove the tin foil, give the root vegetables a quick stir, and continue roasting (without tin foil) for another 30 min. to an hour, or until a meat thermometer registers an internal temperature of over 165 degrees F (75 Celsius), and the juices run clear. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before carving. Serve warm!

Print this recipe! (PDF)

Whole Roasted Lemon Rosemary Chicken with Root Vegetables

Roasted Chicken with Purple Potatoes, Parsnips, and Leeks

Related recipe posts:
> Purple Potato Gnocchi and Basil Pesto
> Roasted Delicata Squash with Chickpeas, Potatoes, and Broccoli or Kale
> Easy Korean Broiled Bulgogi Chicken

42 Comments leave one →
  1. November 15, 2012 9:03 am

    Such gorgeous pictures, really works of art :) The colors of the root veggies really pop!

    • November 15, 2012 9:07 am

      Thanks, Ashley! That’s extra nice to hear for this post, since I almost gave up on posting it after that giant gash appeared in the chicken out of nowhere, since it turned out my girlfriend wanted to make extra sure that it was cooked through…

      The root vegetables photos are definitely the best of the bunch! :) I love that mix of purple and red potatoes and leeks, for the color (and flavor) combination.

      • November 15, 2012 10:23 am

        I never log into WP so I didn’t realize you’d been responding to me, hehe! Yeah I was kinda blown away by the pictures–and super jealous. My pics have been super sub par lately. Gar.

        Silly girlfriend, gashing your chicken! You gotta guard that thing better next time!

  2. November 15, 2012 9:14 am

    I always take my pictures before I cut into anything, sip, etc.–even if I have to put it back in the oven or change the drink a bit, pictures first!

    And between brining the turkey for 24 hours before-hand and using our counter-top roaster which manages to cook a 17# turkey in about 2 hours(!) we’ve had excellent results with our Thanksgiving birds. I love the idea of a Thanksgiving for 2, though… sometimes family can be a bit much.

    • November 15, 2012 5:54 pm

      Whoa, that’s some fast turkey-cooking… I’m not sure I’ve seen a counter-top roaster before– do you only use it once a year for turkey? (Doesn’t it take up a lot of room in your house?)

      Thanksgiving for 2 is nice, and it’s also the only option sometimes since flights back to the midwest from California around the holidays are shockingly expensive… Even though it’s not about a big family gathering this year, I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving being a nice long weekend of staying home, cooking, and eating.

      • November 15, 2012 6:03 pm

        Yeah, we were a little shocked at it’s speed, too, the first time, lol. We use it for other holidays & events (hams, leg of lamb, roast duck have all gone in there), it can double as a 3-tray steamer buffet, and we store it in the garage when not in use. Plus, having it means we have the oven free for pies, casseroles, etc. for the big family meals.

      • November 15, 2012 6:09 pm

        Nice! There’s no garage for storage in my current apartment situation, but I can definitely see the advantage of having a separate roaster to keep the oven free for other things.

  3. November 15, 2012 9:16 am

    I love the photos, even the one from the top! It makes it look real, like you just cut into it for serving :) Great alternative to a turkey, I’ll admit to not being an overzealous fan either. Once year my family roasted cornish game hens instead!

    • November 15, 2012 5:55 pm

      Thank you! I appreciate that comment even about the photo where you can really see that the chicken’s been cut into :) That’s awesome that your family didn’t hesitate to substitute something for the turkey– I’ve never had cornish game hens, but that sounds really good!

  4. November 15, 2012 9:35 am

    Looks absotely amazing, bet tastes great too: ) loved the flavor combinations, thanks!

    • November 15, 2012 5:57 pm

      Thank you, Ozlem! Yes, I love this flavor combination (…sometimes I feel like I’m very boring in my frequent use of lemon, garlic, and rosemary). And I love the color combinations of all the vegetables, too!

  5. November 15, 2012 9:38 am

    Oh my goodness, that’s a gorgeous bird! I agree with you in that I find turkey a bit dry. I always prefer dark meat over white mainly because of the dryness. My sister did brine her turkey one year and I have to say everything was super juicy. I started to brine my white meat since then. That is if I’m having chicken/turkey breasts for dinner. Anyhoo…. the chicken looks fabulous and beautiful photos too! :) I love me a juicy drumstick! ;)

    • November 15, 2012 5:59 pm

      Thank you! We definitely share the same taste… I should really start to brine white meat, too– if I ever have chicken breasts for dinner. (I usually try to get chicken thighs only for most dishes, but my girlfriend likes to use breast meat for chicken tacos.)

  6. November 15, 2012 11:26 am

    The colors of those root vegetables look awesome! So varied!

    • November 15, 2012 6:00 pm

      Thank you! I thought so too. This is the first time I’ve tossed in some red potatoes– the other few times we made this it just had purple potatoes, parsnips, and leeks– but they added that much more color! :)

  7. November 15, 2012 1:37 pm

    I’m not a big fan of turkey either. I just really enjoy the flavor of it but I will eat it once a year. Could be the reason why I always make a ham too. The colors of the pototoes are gorgeous and I would take a lovely roasted chicken over turkey any Thanksgiving. But no can do in my household because the fiance has to have Turkey for Thanksgiving.

    • November 15, 2012 6:01 pm

      Aw, too bad you’re limited to turkey, but at least you have the option of also making a ham, etc., if you’re not that into the turkey itself… I guess a roasted turkey plus a roasted chicken would be a little bit overkill, huh!? ;)

  8. November 15, 2012 1:58 pm

    It seems like you are reading my mind because I have had such a craving for rosemary chicken as of late. This looks so so gorgeous and yummy! xx

    • November 15, 2012 6:02 pm

      Thanks! I can see how if I made this regularly enough it would develop into a craving… actually I’ve been craving it too, since this morning when I posted these photos! Good thing Thanksgiving will be here soon! :)

  9. November 15, 2012 3:23 pm

    I have never seen purple potatoes before! But they look amazing! Do they taste the same as normal potatoes?

    • November 15, 2012 6:04 pm

      Yes, they basically taste the same, but I assume they are richer in nutrients (as with sweet potatoes– or any vegetables, really) because of their dark color (vs. vegetables that are lighter or white).

      If you’re interested, you should check out my post about Purple Potato Gnocchi!

  10. November 15, 2012 5:29 pm

    I do think your roast chicken looks great, good enough to make me want to roast one for dinner sometime this weekend! Perfect timing reading this post :)

    • November 15, 2012 6:05 pm

      Thank you! That makes me happy to hear you say that (since I knew most people would see this post and still go right ahead with their turkey plans for Thanksgiving, so I thought the timing might actually be a little bit wasted…).

      Hope you enjoy your roast chicken! It’s soooo easy and worth it! :)

  11. November 15, 2012 6:06 pm

    Delish and beautiful

  12. November 15, 2012 9:05 pm

    I think the best turkey I ever made was the first year I made it when I accidentally (blonde moment?) roasted it upside down! Oops :)

    I’m all for non-traditional poultry… and the bright side is you probably don’t have a giant bird taking up half of your fridge!

    • November 16, 2012 2:25 pm

      True– a whole chicken isn’t bad at all in terms of the amount of fridge real estate it takes up before it’s cooked.

      That’s so funny that it worked out well to roast a turkey upside down! Have you ever thought of repeating that on purpose? (I guess you miss out on more crispy brown skin that way, even if the rest of the meat tastes better…)

  13. November 15, 2012 9:46 pm

    It still looks great! And the purple potatoes are beautiful. And we feel the same about turkey, but choose to roast pork shoulder (although a good roast chicken rocks).

    As for a thermometer, we can’t say enough about our thermapen. They cost about $100, which is steep, but they help with all proteins and they are amazing with baking. It takes time to use the thermapen with baked goods, but once you get the temperatures and starches figured, everything gets better…

    • November 16, 2012 2:27 pm

      Thanks for the reassurance and for the thermometer recommendation!
      $100 is indeed steep, but I will keep the thermapen in mind for someday… I do like that it could be used for baked goods as well as meat.

      And I agree with you– I think purple potatoes are so beautiful! :)

  14. walgenbe permalink
    November 16, 2012 9:42 am

    The purple potatoes are such a good idea! I haven’t gotten a farmer’s market chicken in a long time, and might have to splurge for this :)

    • November 16, 2012 2:29 pm

      Yes, I love purple potatoes! We’ve been using them for this recipe every time– I hadn’t added red potatoes too until this time around. I think this type of meal is worth a splurge for an organic farmer’s market chicken… especially because it’ll probably leave you with a few more meals worth of leftovers! :)

  15. November 16, 2012 4:08 pm

    Looks fantastic!! Beautiful photos :-)
    Happy weekend!

  16. November 16, 2012 7:06 pm

    Sorry about the gash, I just really didn’t want us to eat under cooked chicken.

    It was tasty though.

  17. November 17, 2012 2:53 am

    Looks great ….truly irresistible!!!!

  18. November 17, 2012 11:09 am

    We are always invited to friends for Thanksgiving but I think I’ll make your roasted chicken for the weekend. It sounds delicious.

    • November 17, 2012 5:10 pm

      Yay, I’m happy to hear it! It’s a great dish to make on the weekend (since it’ll probably leave you with some healthy, filling leftovers for the week). Hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving with friends, too!

  19. November 17, 2012 6:01 pm

    Cooke my first turkey in October…and I wasn’t too happy. It was a young turkey and yet it dried in no time at all. I much prefer a chicken like you…it tastes so much better too!
    Your chicken looks gorgeous and I love those purple potatoes.

    • November 18, 2012 1:44 pm


      Yep, I much prefer chicken, no matter how delicious people claim a turkey * could * be if prepared correctly… In my opinion, chicken is easier to cook, and tastes better, so it’s an obvious choice. (Guess I’m just not a die-hard traditionalist who absolutely needs turkey to have a good Thanksgiving!)

  20. petit4chocolatier permalink
    November 18, 2012 3:46 pm

    This is absolutely delicious! Love the root veggies. So colourful!!

  21. Jayne permalink
    November 28, 2012 9:07 pm

    Exactly the kind of flavours I love! Lemon on poultry always hit the spot. Cuts the oiliness and richness so well.

    • November 28, 2012 9:54 pm

      I think so, too! If it’s not obvious enough from my blog, I love anything with lemon and/or rosemary flavors in general. Not that this was very lemony, but we made it again on Thanksgiving and went way more all out with (the butter and) the lemon and the rosemary (chopped up another few sprigs of rosemary and sprinkled it over the whole thing before it went in the oven…) and that one was even better.


  1. Lemon Roasted Broccoli with Pine Nuts « spontaneous tomato
  2. Avgolemono (Egg & Lemon) Soup | spontaneous tomato

I love, love, love reading your comments!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: