This delicious Thanksgiving Chicken Recipe is perfect for those wanting a similar Turkey taste but on a smaller scale and that is easier to cook! With an herb butter rub you will have a delicious juicy, and perfectly cooked chicken!
I know a long-standing tradition for Thanksgiving is Turkey but sometimes you just don’t want to deal with such a large bird. With this recipe you have all the tasty flavors of herbs, citrus, and lemon, but without the wait of cooking a huge turkey!
In the past I’ve shared my beer can chicken, smoked spatchcock chicken, smoked chicken legs and quarters, and these favorite grilled chicken sandwiches. Chicken is definitely one of my favorite meats to cooks, simple because it’s easy and versatile!
When you add the herb butter and cook this chicken over a few onions, carrots, and celery, the flavor of Thanksgiving comes through nice and strong! And if you miss seeing a turkey on the table try making this fun Turkey Cheese Ball for a tasty fun treat!
What you need for this Thanksgiving Chicken Recipe:
For the Herb Butter: Butter, Garlic, Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Salt, and Pepper
For the Chicken: Chicken, Onion, Lemon
For the Roasting Pan: Onion, Celery, Carrots
Roasting Pan: You can use metal, or glass. Just make sure it's big enough for your chicken.
Thermometer- I like to have one in the chicken as it bakes and then another to spot check when it’s done baking. Linked are the ones I use. (affiliate links)
Sharp Knife for Carving- I like to use a chef’s knife
How many servings is a whole chicken?
A 4-6 lb chicken will feed 4-6 people. Keep in mind they won’t each get a 1lb of meat though.
If you buy your whole chicken frozen make sure to thaw it in the refrigerator. This may take several days depending on the size of the chicken.
A general rule of thumb is 24 hours of thawing in the refrigerator for every 5lbs.
Do you need to rinse the chicken after thawing?
No. Rinsing the chicken just spreads the bacteria from the chicken to other areas of your kitchen.
When you properly bake the chicken all the bacteria will die.
How to make herb butter?
- Allow butter to come to room temp or microwave at 30% power at 15 second intervals until soft and malleable but not melted.
- Mix in the minced garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, salt, and pepper.
How to prep the chicken?
- Remove the neck and giblets from the cavity of the chicken. Not all store-bought chickens will have these.
- Some are just inside the cavity; some are in separate pouches. You can use the neck and giblets for making gravy or if you are making homemade chicken stock!
- Just make sure the cavity is cleared out.
- Remove any trussing from the legs. This allows proper air flow when baking.
- Remove any plastic thermometer poppers too.
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. This helps make a crispier skin.
How to make Thanksgiving Chicken?
- Put a quarter chopped onion and lemon inside the chicken cavity.
- Now, gently separate the skin from the breast muscle. It’s easy to peel it back and then work your fingers in-between the two to pull them apart.
- Take ⅓ of the herb butter and rub it in between the skin and muscle. Then rub the remaining butter over the entire outside of the turkey. You don’t need to worry about getting the bottom.
- Coarsely chop your other onion, celery, and carrots and place in a roasting pan. If you have a roasting rack, you can place that over the veggies and then place the chicken on that, but if you don’t have a roasting rack, you can simply place the chicken on top of the veggies.
- Tuck the wings under the chicken as best as possible (this prevents burning of the tips).
- Now it’s time to bake!
How long to bake chicken?
The rule of thumb is 15-18 minutes per pound of chicken. A 6lb chicken will typically take 1 hour and 20 minutes. The most import factor when cooking chicken is getting it to the correct temperature.
The FDA recommends cooking the chicken until the thickest part of the breast is 165°F.
Once the chicken is done baking, allow it to rest for 15-20 minutes. This will help it retain all the juices when you cut it.
Should you cover your chicken with foil?
When your chicken is half-way to three-quarters of the way through baking check to see if the skin is browning too much. If that’s the case, carefully cover it with foil, then continue baking until done.
How long does chicken last in the fridge?
Chicken lasts 3-4 days when cooked and refrigerated.
Can you freeze leftover chicken?
Yes! Freeze leftover chicken in a freezer safe container for up to three months!
How to use up leftover chicken?
If you are eating this chicken for Thanksgiving, you might not have any leftovers- but if you do I recommend to use it in enchiladas or tacos!
If you like this recipe, make sure to check out all my Thanksgiving recipes, but especially my cream cheese green beans, Thanksgiving corn, cranberry relish or sauce, and these tasty make ahead mashed potatoes!
Watch how to make this recipe!
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Thanksgiving Chicken Recipe
- ½ cup butter softened
- 1 ½ tbs garlic minced
- 1 tbs fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 tbs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 teaspoon fresh sage or ⅓ teaspoon dried
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 Whole Chicken 4-6lbs*
- ¼ onion
- ¼ lemon
Roasting Pan Veggies
- ½ onion chopped
- 2 celery ribs chopped
- 2 carrots chopped
- In a medium sized bowl combine softened butter, garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, salt, and pepper. Set aside.½ cup butter softened, 1 ½ tbs garlic, 1 tbs fresh rosemary, 1 tbs fresh thyme, 1 teaspoon fresh sage, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Peel and cut your onion, celery, lemon, and carrots.
- Remove chicken from packaging. Check the chicken cavity for the neck and giblets, set them aside for making gravy or toss them.1 Whole Chicken 4-6lbs*
- Pat the outside of the chicken dry and remove the trussing around the legs (usually a bit of plastic or twine).
- Place ¼ of onion and ¼ of a lemon inside the chicken.*¼ onion, ¼ lemon
- Gently separate the skin from the breast by lifting up on the skin and then pushing your hand in between the skin and muscle.
- Rub about ⅓ of the herb butter under the skin.
- Rub the remaining butter over the outside of the chicken. Making sure to get the drumsticks and wings.
- Place your remaining onion, celery, and carrots in your roasting pan.½ onion, 2 celery ribs, 2 carrots
- Place your chicken on top of the veggies OR on top of a roasting rack that is placed over the veggies. Tuck the wings under the body if you can (to prevent burning).
- Bake in preheated oven until the internal temperature reaches 160°F. You will want to cook the chicken for 15 minutes per pound of weight. Check the chicken frequently once it’s ¾ done baking. If the top is browning too much, cover it with aluminum foil. Stick the thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh, making sure you don’t hit any bone or go through to the cavity. Also check the thickest part of the breast.
- Once the temperature reaches 165°F remove from oven. Allow chicken to rest for 15-20 minutes, then carve and enjoy!
- If you have fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme you can put some of that in the chicken cavity along with the onion and lemon.
- Use chicken drippings to make my easy gravy (just use in place or in addition to broth).
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