Traditional recipes

Roast Chicken Legs with Lemon recipe

Roast Chicken Legs with Lemon recipe

  • Recipes
  • Ingredients
  • Meat and poultry
  • Poultry
  • Chicken
  • Cuts of chicken
  • Whole chicken
  • Whole roast chicken

A moist and tender roasted chicken recipe. For maximum flavour, allow the chicken legs to marinate overnight.

Quebec, Canada

14 people made this

IngredientsServes: 4 - 6

  • 6 whole chicken legs
  • Seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons white wine
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  • 250ml lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornflour
  • 2 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil

MethodPrep:5min ›Cook:50min ›Extra time:30min marinating › Ready in:1hr25min

  1. Using a sharp knife, make a few slashes in the chicken legs.
  2. In a large shallow dish, mix together the white wine, butter, garlic, lemon juice, salt, sugar, cornflour and thyme. Add the chicken, turn to coat and allow to marinate for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 220 C / Gas 7.
  4. Place the chicken legs in a roasting tin with a rack. Cover the chicken with sliced lemon and sprinkle with basil. Cover the roasting tin with foil.
  5. Roast the chicken for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and lemons. Turn the chicken legs over and roast for another 15 minutes.
  6. Turn the chicken again and increase the oven temperature to 250 C / Gas 9. Roast the chicken legs until they are golden brown, around 15 minutes. Serve hot.

Watch how!

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(4)

Reviews in English (4)

Delicious meal. Concerned over use of rack as the marinading juices dried up when cooking. Alternatively it could have been the very high heat used. Will definately do again without the rack.Marinading overnight gave the meat a real depth of flavour.-31 Mar 2013

Nice crispy skin, but perhaps a bit too strongly flavoured with the lemon. Are the quantities right? Tablespoons seem a bit much.-13 Feb 2011


Step 1

Preheat oven to 325°. Place chicken in an 13x9" baking dish and season generously all over with salt. Add garlic, lemon, chile, bay leaves, and a few grinds of pepper. Pour in oil and toss everything to coat. Turn garlic heads cut side down so they are in contact with the baking dish (this will help them brown).

Step 2

Roast chicken, rotating pan once, until meat is almost falling off the bone, 75–90 minutes. Let chicken cool in pan 10 minutes, then serve with bread.

How would you rate Roast Chicken Legs with Lots of Garlic?

Really awful recipe. The temperature and timing made for flabby skin and gummy fat. Also the instructions are incredibly vague.

I used bone-in chicken thighs and this was fab. I added more oil than the recipe calls for, it went up about halfway to the top of the chicken, and created a bit of a confit result. After about 80 min, I added some butter to the skin and broiled for five minutes. Absolutely perfect. A fall/winter staple for sure. Do NOT forget good crusty bread and a simple green salad with a tangy vinaigrette. it brings it together!

Delicious! I salted the chicken and air dried it in the fridge overnight so the skin would be crispy. I used 2 meyer lemons and both bay leaves and thyme. Next time I would make mashed potatoes to go with all the beautiful roasted garlic. The skin was crispy and delicious.

AMAZING RECIPE!! I did put the oven slightly higher at 175 celsius for 80 mins, then set it on broil (190-200c) for 5 mins just to crisp up the skin a bit more. This works well for me and my oven. But the flavors here are awesome. Would make the whole thing just for the buttery garlic :)

Followed the recipe exactly but my skin never crisped up and my garlic never browned also did'nt enjoy the flavor of the chicken all that much

Can I make this in a slow cooker? And how do I adapt the recipe?

This chicken is amazing! Has become a regular dinner at my house because of how easy it is to make while also being delicious.

This is my go to chicken leg recipe. We cook it covered for 90 minutes and uncover it for an additional 20 minutes to crisp up- it's fabulous. Thanks Andy :)

Terrific, easy & few ingredients . what is not to love? Perfect to increase or decrease the recipe depending on the number of diners. Love this dish!

This recipe is really delicious and doesn't require a lot of prep. This makes it a winner! I followed another commenter's advice and cooked uncovered on high heat for the last part of the recipe to get nice crispy skin on the chicken. Served with a side of brussels sprouts. Will definitely make this again.

This recipe was super easy and delicious! Remember to let the chicken rest outside of the refrigerator (completely unthawed if frozen) until room temperature (about 30-60 minutes). Season well with salt (sea, kosher or pink Himalayan) and use plenty of garlic. I added rosemary alongside the thyme to the dish. I’ll make this again for my family! Thanks Andy!!

Delicious. Everyone favorite part was the roasted garlic. Definitely will make again with more garlic heads.

Amazing recipe. So simple and delicious this will become a new favorite. The garlic is amazingly mild and yummy as you spread it over grilled toast

THANKS, Andy, for this simple recipe! It was a MAJOR hit and it is the best chicken dish I’ve ever made! The whole lemon balanced out everything really well. I used halal chicken, baked it covered for 90 mins, then uncovered for another 20 (dropped it down to 280 degrees). This is now on my Sunday Gameday list!

For such a simple prep, the result was just incredible. My finicky family was quite impressed, with my son proclaiming it one of my top 3 chicken dishes ever. Would not change a thing.

No-Fail Roast Chicken with Lemon and Garlic

This roast chicken recipe is proof that there’s really nothing simpler, more delicious, or more comforting than a beautifully browned roast bird surrounded by a puddle of buttery, garlicky pan juices. While cooking a whole anything can feel intimidating, this recipe is dubbed foolproof for a reason—it’s converted many an intimidated meat-cooker by eliminating the uncertainty of knowing whether the chicken is done. We’ve made that point easier to identify with lots of visual cues that anyone can follow, and if you do have an instant-read thermometer, you can feel free to use that, too: Just remove the chicken from the oven when the thickest part of the thigh hits 160°.

And it’s not just easy—it’s also delicious. We take it to the next level with lots of lemon and garlic and a “healthy” pour of melted butter to crisp up the skin while keeping the meat moist and tender. Consider this roast chicken, a hunk of good baguette, and a simple green salad your Sunday dinner from now on.

Editor’s note: This recipe was originally published November 9, 2018.

All products featured on Bon Appétit are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through the retail links below, we earn an affiliate commission.

Recipe Summary

  • 3 pounds bone-in chicken drumsticks
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 ½ tablespoons chopped garlic, divided
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 pounds red potatoes
  • 2 lemons, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).

Mix chicken with paprika, half of the olive oil, half of the garlic, half of the salt, and half of the pepper together in a bowl until evenly coated. Toss potatoes with remaining olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in a separate bowl add lemon slices and toss well.

Arrange chicken in a roasting pan and surround chicken with potatoes and lemon slices.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes rotate and flip chicken and potatoes. Continue baking until chicken is no longer pink in the center and the potatoes are tender, 20 to 30 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted near the bone should read 165 degrees F (74 degrees C).

  • a Whole Chicken
  • 1 tablespoon Butter, at room temperature
  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 Lemons
  • 2 Oranges
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 tablespoon Oregano
  • 1 tablespoon Chopped Basil
  • 3 cloves of loosely chopped Garlic
  • 1 clove of finely chopped Garlic
  • 1 cup White Wine
  • about 2 cups Chicken Stock or Broth

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the giblets from the cavity and throw away. Remove any other packing materials. Rise the chicken in cold water - both outside and inside the cavity. Pat dry with a paper towel. Generously season the inside of the chicken with salt and pepper.

Slice one lemon and one orange in half, and squeeze the juice from one half of the lemon and one half of the orange. Remove any seeds and pour into a small bowl. Stir in the olive oil, finely chopped garlic, half of the oregano, and half of the basil. You will use this mixture to baste the chicken.

Loosely chop the remaining lemon and orange. Stuff the chicken with the loosely chopped garlic and the chopped lemon and orange. Tie the chicken legs together to help hold the citrus in place. You can use butchers twine, or you can fold up aluminum foil and wrap it around the legs and twist together.

Place the chicken breast side up on a roasting pan. In a small bowl, stir together the butter and the remaining oregano and basil. Rub the seasoned butter all over the chicken and then sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Brush some of the lemon and orange juice mixture over the chicken. Once the oven is preheated, place the chicken on a middle rack.

As the chicken roasts, you want to make sure that the pan drippings do not burn. Add chicken broth and/or white wine to the bottom of the pan as necessary to prevent the drippings from burning.

Baste the chicken every 20 minutes with the lemon and orange juice mixture.

The generally accepted cooking time for roast chicken is 20 minutes per pound. Julia Child used the formula 45 minutes plus 7 minutes per pound of meat. Regardless of the formula, you decide to use, you need to cook the chicken until a meat thermometer placed in the inner thigh reads 170 degrees. I like to use an in-oven thermometer that measures the temperature of the chicken while it cooks.

Remove the chicken from the roasting pan and tent with foil. Use the drippings from the pan to make gravy. Add any leftover basting mixture to the gravy. Let the chicken sit for a total of 10 minutes before carving.

  • For additional crunch or texture, add 1 cup of breadcrumbs to the spice mixture and coat the chicken generously.
  • Baking at 425 degrees like this recipe calls for, you’ll only need to cook for 25 minutes. If you cook at 350 degrees, cook the chicken for 40 to 45 minutes.
  • To make grilled chicken legs, heat a grill for 350 degrees F. Place the chicken on the grill and cook, flipping occasionally, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees when checked with an instant read thermometer.

Oven Roasted Chicken Legs (Thighs & Drumsticks)

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Oven Roasted Chicken Legs – either thighs, drumsticks, or even whole can be the easiest dinner one can make when the time is scarce. 5 minutes prep time is all you’ll need.

After you’re done with this recipe you may want to check my Slow Roasted Whole Chicken Legs witch is also super delicious but requires more baking time.

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read my disclosure policy HERE.

I decided to make this very easy Oven Roasted Chicken Legs recipe for the blog because a number of people have asked me how to cook a simple chicken in the oven. For some of you, this may seem fairly basic, but I know of more than a few vegetarians out there struggling to cook meat for their families. And if you’ve ever under/overcooked a chicken, perhaps this can be a help.

There are a number of questions and concerns that I often hear, like:

  • Which parts of chicken should I use to roast it in the oven?
  • When it comes to legs, should I use thighs, drumsticks or whole legs?
  • How long does it take to prep the chicken ready for the oven?
  • Do I need to marinate the chicken before I put it in the oven?
  • Does the chicken need to be brined before seasoning?
  • What seasoning should I use to make a tasty chicken?
  • Do I need to pan-fry the chicken before I put it in the oven?
  • Does the chicken need to be placed on a rack or in the ovenproof dish?
  • At what temperature should I roast the chicken?
  • How long should the chicken stay in the oven?
  • How do I know that the chicken is cooked through?

Alright, let’s try to answer some of the above questions/concerns.

Which parts of chicken should I use to roast in the oven?

If I have a choice I will always go for the dark meat (i.e., the legs) as it is tastier and not dry at all. You may roast the chicken breast, but it can be tricky as it has a tendency to become very dry. For me, chicken legs, either whole, thighs or drumsticks, is the way to go. As a matter of fact, one of these always finds its way onto our dinner table at least once a week.

When it comes to legs, should I use thighs, drumsticks or whole legs?

I love thighs and drumsticks, but whole legs are delicious too. However, if you chose to roast whole chicken legs, you’ll need more time in the oven. For this baked chicken recipe I used both chicken thighs and chicken drumsticks just because that was all I had at home, but you could go either way.

How long does it take to prep the chicken for the oven?

Literally, 5 minutes. I’m not joking. This recipe is very simple. The most difficult and time-consuming part will be the peeling 2 cloves of garlic and either chopping them or pressing them through the garlic press. Then you just add very simple ingredients: olive oil, lemon juice and spices (salt, pepper, sweet paprika, turmeric, cayenne pepper, oregano, and thyme). Mix & drizzle over the chicken. Done.

Do I need to marinate the chicken before I put it in the oven?

You don’t have to, but you can. It will definitely add flavor to your chicken. You can prepare the marinade with spices the night before, smother it all over your chicken and the next day simply put it into your oven.

Does the chicken need to be brined before seasoning?

I love brining the meat. It makes it so tender. You can read about brining the meat in this super popular post for Brown Sugar Pork Chops with Garlic & Herbs. However, it isn’t necessary to brine these chicken legs to make them super delicious. If you don’t have time, or you forgot to put it in a brine or marinade the night before….no big deal. Just smother the chicken with the spices, place them into your oven and enjoy this super simple, delicious dinner.

What seasoning should I use to make a tasty oven-roasted chicken legs?

You can use any spices you’d like. For this recipe I choose to use:

  • sweet paprika,
  • cayenne pepper,
  • turmeric,
  • dried oregano,
  • dried thyme and
  • salt & pepper.
Do I need to pan-fry the chicken before I put it in the oven?

Nope. You don’t have to. The oven can do the whole job for you. However, if you want to achieve a super crispy skin, you can always do this. I wanted to present a very simple recipe that doesn’t require any “hand-holding.” Simply season the chicken and place in the oven. Easy peasy.

Does the chicken need to be placed on a rack or in the ovenproof dish?

This recipe for Oven Roasted Chicken Legs is to be cooked in the ovenproof dish like a casserole dish or even the cast iron pan. You could also make an “oven-fried” chicken. This recipe from Cooking Light Magazine can give you some ideas.

At what temperature should I roast the chicken?

I recommend roasting the chicken at 425 F.

How long should the chicken stay in the oven?

Chicken thighs and drumsticks should be cooked for about 40-45 minutes. The whole legs will take approximately an hour.

How do I know that the chicken is cooked through?

The internal temperature should read 165F. Make sure to measure the temperature in the middle of the meat part of the leg and not close to the bone.

I hope this little guide will help anyone who is struggling with roasting chicken legs. I really love this simple and super quick chicken recipe. It can make any weeknight dinner a breeze.

Roast Chicken Legs with Lemon recipe - Recipes

Every so often a little recipe comes along that is just a sheer stroke of brilliance. I love recipes like that. I live for recipes like that. The most recent one to make me do a double-take of glee is this one, from Bon Appetit's December 2012 issue (and shot by my friend, Brian Ferry!)

Okay, so you know how most chicken recipes make you first brown the chicken and then remove it from the pan to do a bunch of other stuff, then you have to put the chicken back in and yadda yadda yadda, it's done? I don't know why they bug me so much, but these kinds of recipes do.

Actually, maybe I do know why:

1. I am lazy (but you already knew this).

2. Mess, mess, messy. I dislike spattering cooking fat. 

And 3. Okay, fine, in addition to being lazy, I am also impatient and never brown the chicken long enough, so it's always a little flabby instead of perfectly crisp and wonderful.

This recipe, the darling thing, is all about making sure that the skin never veers anywhere even close to flabby. What you do is put the chicken, skin-side down, in a pan with a little bit of oil and then let it cook for a good long while without touching it, over medium heat, so that the fat renders out, slowly crispening and crispening the chicken skin (yes, I did just make that word up).

As it cooks, you can periodically get rid of the cooking fat, if too much of it renders out, but that actually never happened to my chicken. Once the chicken is halfway done, you throw in a whole bunch of lemon slices and stick the whole pan in a hot oven, where the lemons soften and the chicken roasts until the skin is perfectly crisp and of a deeply lacquered loveliness.

Then, all that's left to do is to remove that lovely chicken to a plate and scrape a bunch of different things (garlic, minced onion or shallot and oregano - the recipe calls for fresh, but I used dried and it was fine) into the pan that you cook on the stove top for a little while. In goes wine and broth, or just broth, if you'd prefer (which is what I did) and then you reduce this to a nice, saucy consistency and pour it over your lovely chicken and eat right away because oh my goodness it smells so good you simply cannot wait another second no sirree bob.

The lemons mellow and sweeten in the cooking process, and the soft lemons and velvety sauce contrast beautifully with the shatteringly crisp chicken skin. This was seriously delectable chicken, people. I'll never brown a piece of chicken any other way again.

(Note: The original recipe calls for deboned chicken thighs but I made it with bone-in chicken legs, cut through at the joint, and just added a few minutes onto all the cooking times.)

1 lemon
4 large or 8 small skin-on, bone-in chicken legs, cut in two
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 sprigs oregano
1 small onion, minced
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc) , optional
1/2 to 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth (larger amount if not using wine)

1. Heat oven to 425°. Very thinly slice half of lemon discard any seeds. Cut remaining lemon half into 2 wedges. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper.

2. Coat a large room-temperature skillet with the oil. Add chicken, skin side down. Place skillet over medium heat and cook, letting skin render and brown, until chicken is cooked halfway through, about 10 minutes. If there is a lot of fat in the pan, pour off the excess fat to maintain a thin coating in pan.

3. Scatter half of lemon slices over and between chicken. Transfer skillet to oven, leaving chicken skin side down. Roast until chicken is cooked through, skin is crisp, and lemon slices on bottom of skillet are caramelized, about 15 minutes.

4. Transfer chicken pieces, skin side up, and some of the lemon slices from bottom of skillet to a warm platter. (Leave a few softened lemon slices in the skillet.) Return skillet to medium heat. Add oregano sprigs, shallot, garlic, and red pepper flakes cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

5. Remove skillet from heat. If using, add wine cook over medium heat until reduced by half, 1-2 minutes. Add broth cook until reduced and thickened, 5 to 6 minutes. Squeeze 1 lemon wedge over and season sauce with salt, pepper, and juice from remaining lemon wedge, if desired. Return chicken to skillet, skin side up, to rewarm. Serve topped with caramelized lemon slices.

Recipe Summary

  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 lemons, washed and quartered
  • 1 whole chicken, (3 1/2 pounds), rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Stuff rosemary and 1 cut lemon into chicken cavity. Tuck wings under and tie chicken legs together with kitchen twine. Set chicken on a rack in a roasting or baking pan.

Rub chicken all over with oil, and season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees when inserted in the thickest part of the thigh (avoiding bone), 45 to 50 minutes. Serve with fresh lemon quarters.

More Chicken Recipes

    — Quick and easy whole chicken recipe with roasted root vegetables and a roasted lemon vinaigrette. — How to perfectly pan roast chicken breasts with butter and thyme. Quick and simple! — The chicken is juicy, ultra flavorful, and easy to make. Add this one to your rotation you won’t regret it!

Recipe updated, originally posted September 2009. Since posting this in 2009, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear. – Adam and Joanne

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