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flattened chicken with herb sauce on cutting board
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4.93 from 14 votes

Lemon Herb and Chicken (with a cool technique)

Roasted or grilled chicken is smothered in a delicious herb sauce to create an aromatic lemon and herb chicken dish packed with fresh flavors. Check out the simple technique of mingling the chicken juices with a lemony, garlicky, herb-y sauce - so good!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings (change as needed): 4
Author: Cheryl


  • 1 whole chicken, 3 1/2-4 pounds (1.6 - 1.8kg) , spatchcocked/flattened (Note 1 and 2) I buy kosher chicken if possible (already brined)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • seasonings (salt, pepper, paprika)

Herb Sauce

  • 1 cup (20 g) fresh herbs Note 3
  • 2 green onions
  • 2 garlic cloves (2 tsp), grated or minced (or 2 frozen cubes)
  • lemon zest from 1 lemon (plus optional 1-2 tablespoon lemon juice)
  • 6 tablespoon olive oil you can use extra-virgin olive oil if you prefer (it has a stronger taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or less (optional)


  • PREPARE GRILL OR OVEN: You can grill or roast the chicken.
    °To grill: Clean and oil grill with cooking spray. Heat gas grill to medium high 375-425F(190-218C).
    °To roast: Heat oven to 400F/204C. Line a pan with or parchment sprayed with oil.
  • PREPARE CHICKEN: Optional 4-6 hours before or day before: To add flavor and juiciness to the chicken, brine it Note 4. Or marinate it Note 5.
    To prepare chicken for cooking (even if brined), rub olive oil over chicken and sprinkle on seasonings, front and back.
  • GRILL CHICKEN Place chicken pieces or spatchcock chicken, skin side up, on grill. Turn off burner under chicken. Try to keep temperature of BBQ at 375F-425F (190-218C). Close cover and grill for about 40 minutes or until instant meat thermometer reads 160F/71C in breast. Temperature will rise with resting. Optional: To increase browning on skin, flip chicken over, skin side down, turn on burner and grill for a few more minutes.) To grill on a cedar plank for a mild smoky flavor, here's a recipe for cedar planked chicken. Note 6 to roast chicken instead. 
  • MAKE HERB SAUCE: While chicken is cooking, chop all sauce ingredients finely and combine them in a small bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. It's a good idea to grate garlic or crush it with back of knife since it will be eaten raw. (Alternatively, pulse all ingredients in food processor - that's what I do.)
  • FINISH DISH: Spread 1/3 of aromatic smear on a large cutting board or platter. (If using platter, cut up chicken first). Place chicken on top of smear. Spoon rest of smear on top and sides of chicken. Cut chicken into pieces. Loosely cover with foil and let chicken rest for 10 minutes, allowing chicken juices to mingle with smear. Flip chicken around in the juices and herbs and serve. Garnish with fresh lemon slices if desired.


  1. Chicken options: instead of a spatchcock chicken, use bone-in chicken pieces or skinless boneless chicken breasts or thighs. These will cook more quickly. 
  2. To spatchcock or flatten chicken: Cut out the backbone by using kitchen scissors to cut down both sides of the back bone. Turn chicken over and press down hard to flatten. (Or ask the butcher to do it for you. Or buy one already flattened)
  3. Herbs that go well with chicken: any combination of fresh basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, parsley, cilantro, tarragon, dill, chives. If you don't have all fresh herbs, use some dried (about 1 teaspoon dried = 1 tablespoon fresh)
  4. To brine chicken (optional): place chicken in a container or ziploc bag filled with 4 cups (1 liter) water, 4 tablespoons kosher salt, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1-2 cloves garlic cut in half, 8-10 peppercorns and a sprig or two of rosemary or thyme. Brine for 4 hours for a flattened chicken or overnight for a whole chicken. Rinse and pat dry.  Lightly season and continue with the recipe.
  5. To marinate chicken ahead of cooking (optional): you will have to double the herb sauce and use half to marinate the chicken for 4-6 hours or overnight. Remove from fridge an hour before cooking to bring to room temperature. Before grilling or roasting, wipe off (and discard) the herbs as they tend to burn.
  6. To roast chicken (instead of grilling): Place chicken, skin side down on pan. Roast chicken for 20 minutes. Flip over and roast for another 20 minutes or until instant thermometer reads 160F/71C. Temperature will rise with resting.
  7. To Make Ahead: The aromatic smear can be made a few hours ahead (or longer if you don't mind the green colors turning dull). The chicken can be made ahead and warmed in a 350F/176C for 10 minutes. Or served cold. 
Nutritional information is estimated. 
Calories: 637kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 53g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 30g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 143mg | Sodium: 438mg | Potassium: 473mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1665IU | Vitamin C: 25mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 3mg