Lemon Chicken Tray Bake is a healthy and easy weeknight dinner! Lemon slices, fresh rosemary, and garlic are tucked away under the skin to ensure lots of flavor, then roasted to golden brown perfection.
Brace yourself for an explosion of zesty, lemony, garlicky, and rosemary-infused deliciousness that will leave your dinner guests asking for more!
Why You'll Love This Chicken
You'll love this Lemon Chicken Tray Bake because it's super easy (roasted on a sheet pan!) and always comes out juicy and flavorful.
It's versatile, too. You could add quartered baby potatoes (or your favorite root vegetable) to the pan and bake everything at the same time!
This dish is packed with the irresistible zing of lemon, the aromatic allure of garlic, and the delightful essence of rosemary. It's a symphony of tastes that I simply can't get enough of. Get ready to savor every mouthwatering bite!
Why Bone-In Chicken?
Bone-in chicken tends to be more budget-friendly than boneless, skinless chicken. To save the most money, buy a whole chicken and cut it up yourself.
If you've never cut up a whole chicken yourself, it's not difficult. You just need to know where to cut. Eating Well has a great article, with pictures, to teach you how to cut up a whole chicken. See their article here: How to Cut Up a Whole Chicken.
Ingredients You'll Need
please scroll down to the printable recipe card for detailed ingredients
Whole fryer chicken - buying a whole chicken is way less expensive than buying it pre-cut. However, if you don't want to cut the chicken up, I understand! You can use your favorite pieces of chicken (be sure to use bone-in and skin-on).
Lemons - buy fresh lemons for this dish! You'll slice them, then place directly under the chicken skin. This ensures the meat has a nice lemon flavor, but lemon juice also helps to tenderize the chicken.
Rosemary - rosemary pairs extremely well with chicken because of its fragrant woodsy, peppery flavor. Its long thin leaves look similar to pine needles.
EVOO - extra virgin olive oil helps the seasonings to stick better to the chicken. It also helps to crispen up and brown the chicken skin.
Garlic - because garlic makes just about every food taste better! You'll place chopped garlic under the chicken skin for a flavor blast!
What's the Secret to Cooking Chicken
Here are some top recipe tips for cooking chicken in the oven.
- According to Chef Gordan Ramsey's Secret to Cooking Chicken, let the chicken come to room temperature before baking it. He also recommends skin-on, bone-in chicken making this recipe a great choice for flavorful, juicy chicken.
- The oven must be hot! The sweet spot is 400F (or about 200C).
- Let the chicken rest after it bakes! All it takes is just 5 minutes of rest time to make a big difference.
- Use fresh herbs and seasonings for the best flavor! I love growing my own herbs such as rosemary, parsley, basil, etc., but you can easily find fresh at your supermarket.
- Bake chicken for the right amount of time. Use an instant-read thermometer to ensure the chicken parts are cooked to 165F (74C).
How to Make Lemon Chicken Tray Bake
Here's a quick summary of the recipe steps - read the recipe card for all the deets.
Step 1 - Slice both lemons, then quarter one of them.
Step 2 - Place the quartered lemon slices, garlic, and some rosemary sprigs under the skin Drizzle with olive oil. Add the remaining lemon slices and rosemary.
Step 3 - Roast for 40-45 minutes.
If you want to roast some brussels sprouts while the chicken is baking, toss them with a little olive oil and add them to the pan about 20 minutes before the chicken is ready. These Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon are also delicious because bacon makes everything better, right!
- To further brown the chicken and crisp up the skin, place the tray of chicken under the broiler for 2-3 minutes. Oh, I love to eat the lemon slices, too!
- Lightly sprinkle salt and pepper under the skin and on top!
- Use a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper for easy clean up.
- Don't skip the resting process; this keeps the chicken nice and juicy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can use dried rosemary as a substitute for fresh rosemary. However, keep in mind that dried herbs are more concentrated, so you'll need to use less.
Yes, and it will make the chicken more flavorful, but don't marinate it for longer than overnight because the lemon juice will start to break down the chicken
The options are endless! You can't go wrong with this Easy Homemade Mac and Cheese! Some other popular options include roasted vegetables (such as potatoes, carrots, and Brussels sprouts), steamed or sautéed greens (like spinach or green beans), a fresh green salad, or even rice pilaf or couscous.
Store leftover chicken in airtight containers for up to 3 days. I like to use BPA-free glass containers with locking lids. Check out this 18-piece set of glass food storage containers with lids from Bayco.
More Lemon Recipes to Try
If you tried this recipe, please let me know by leaving a comment! I'd love to hear from you.
Lemon Chicken Tray Bake
- large rimmed baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- Sharp kitchen knife
- Basting Brush
- instant read thermometer
- aluminum foil
- 2 large lemons, preferably organic
- 4-5 large sprigs rosemary, divided
- 1 (4-5 lbs.) whole fryer chicken, cut into parts (bone in, skin on)
- Sea salt and black pepper, light sprinkling
- 3-4 large garlic cloves, finely minced
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Optional: quartered baby potatoes, baby carrots, sliced sweet potatoes, or Brussels sprouts (see recipe notes below)
- Preheat oven to 400ºF and line a large rimmed baking tray with a piece of parchment paper. Set aside.
- Cut both lemons into thin slices. Then further cut one of the lemon slices into quarter. Cut 2 of the rosemary sprigs into small pieces. Set aside.
- Arrange the chicken on the baking tray without overcrowding.
- Create a pocket under the skin with the knife (or your fingers) and insert the quartered lemon slices, minced garlic, and the small pieces of rosemary. Drizzle the olive oil onto the chicken skin and use a basting brush or your fingers to coat the chicken all over. Sprinkle with a little salt and black pepper. To add vegetables to the same tray and bake at the same time, see recipe notes below.
- Scatter the whole lemon slices and rosemary sprigs onto the baking sheet and place into the oven. Roast for 40-45 minutes, or until the chicken reaches 160°F on an instant-read thermometer and is nicely browned on top.
- Take the tray out of the oven and use a clean basting brush to brush the pan juices over the chicken (and veggies if using). Cover loosely the chicken with foil (or a plate) and let it rest for 5 minutes. Remove the covering and once again brush pan juices over the chicken.
- Serve with steamed or sautéed greens (like spinach or green beans), a fresh green salad, or even rice pilaf or couscous.
This recipe was originally published in 2020 and was updated in 2023.
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy to my readers. I'm not a nutritionist and I don't guarantee the accuracy of this data. The data may differ according to the brands I used versus the brands you use. To calculate the data yourself using your brands, try using an online nutrition calculator or app.