This Thyme Roast Chicken is my speciality! I make it often and will never roast a chicken any other way. When it comes to herbs, thyme is just the perfect compliment to roast chicken. Adding it to butter and slathering it under the skin, not only gives the chicken a flavour boost but helps to keep the chicken juicy and stop it from drying out.
And yes, that may seem like a bit of a fiddle but trust me it is well worth it! I also always add a layer of streaky bacon over the chicken skin, for two reasons. My family loves a little crispy bacon with their roast chicken, and the second, it helps to baste the chicken through the first part of the cook. Another thing I do to keep the chicken from drying out is to add some chicken stock to the roasting pan. That’s also helpful if you want to make your own gravy.
If you have a toddler, weaning baby or fussy eater and are wondering how to adapt this recipe for your family, see here >
Making my Thyme Roast Chicken
Watch me make my Thyme Roast Chicken step-by-step here, before or as you cook.
My Thyme Roast Chicken Pairs Perfectly With…
Save Money at Christmas
If you are on a budget for Christmas or Thanksgiving, roasting two extra large chickens instead of a turkey is cheaper! And this Thyme Roast Chicken is the perfect jazzed up chicken to serve. To keep costs down, you can just use the thyme butter, you don’t have to add the bacon. Read here how to feed more people with roast chicken and how to logistically do it with limited oven space.
FAQ’s For My Thyme Roast Chicken
What Size Chicken do I need?
Based on what my family eat as just the four or us and when we have extended family or friends over, this is how much chicken I recommend:
4 adults - 1 large chicken weighing 1.5kg - 1.9kg / 3.31lb - 4.19lb
5 adults - 1 extra large chicken weighing 1.9kg - 2.3kg / 4.19lb -6.61lb
6-8 adults - 2 large chickens weighing 1.5kg - 1.9kg / 3.31lb - 4.19lb
For 9-10 adults - 2 extra large chickens weighing 1.9kg - 2.3kg / 4.19lb -6.61lb
If you are roasting two chickens you can do so side by side in an extra large roasting tray, like the one that came with your oven or this one here.
How Long do I Roast my Chicken for?
When roasting a chicken at 200ºc / 180ºc fan/ 400ºf / gas mark 6, you’ll need to cook it for 20 minutes per 500g / 1.1lb weight of the chicken, PLUS an additional 20 minutes. So for example, you’d roast a 2kg / 4.41lb chicken for 1 hr 40 mins.
Can I prepare the thyme butter in advance?
Yes, it can made in advance, just leave it out at room temp, covered. If you make it the day before, refrigerate it and then take it out a few hours before you want to use it so it softens and is spreadable again.
Can I feed more people with this recipe?
Yes! For larger family gatherings you can roast two extra-large chickens. Just double the recipe and you’ll need to use your largest roasting tray, probably the one that came with the oven. Or you can invest in these XL roasting pans that I have, they fit two extra large chickens side by side and double the roast potatoes. Read the next question for my recommendations on having limited oven space.
I have limited oven space, how can I roast a chicken and as well as sides?
You can roast your chicken a little earlier on, take it out to rest and then put your side dishes into the oven. If you do this, you’ll want to rest the chicken loosely covered in foil for about 15 minutes, then top the foil with a several layers of newspaper or a few tea-towels to keep warm while your sides cook.
Do I have to top with bacon?
No, you don’t have too! If no one wants crispy bacon with their roast, then I wouldn’t bother. Bear in mind though, the bacon is also great for basting the chicken during the initial part of the cook, so you might want to baste the chicken a couple times instead of just once as the recipe recommends.
How can younger children help make it?
You can get the kids to help you make the thyme butter.
Can I Store Thyme Roast Chicken leftovers?
You can store any Thyme Roast Chicken leftovers in an air-tight container or resealable food bag in the fridge for up to 3 days (cook day + 2). You can also freeze them, just defrost for 24 hours in the fridge and reheat in the microwave, stirring halfway, until steaming hot all the way through.
For more on safe food storage and reheating read here >
What diets is this recipe suitable for?
My Thyme Roast Chicken is gluten, egg and nut-free.
Adapting My Thyme Roast Chicken For Your Family
Eating together is beneficial for families of all ages and stages, for a multitude of reasons; nutritional, behavioural, psychological and for healthy family functioning. This section will show you how to tweak this Thyme Roast Chicken recipe for sharing with a weaning baby, toddler or a fussy eater, which will help make it easier to eat together as a family.
How to Serve to Babies & Toddlers
Slice their chicken into finger size strips.
Put some chicken for baby into your stick blender pot, along with your potatoes (scoop out the inside) and vegetables and purée. Add a little low or no salt chicken stock or warm boiled water.
Transfer baby’s chicken into your mini food chopper, along with the potatoes (scooping out the inside) and vegetables you are serving it with and pulse until finely chopped. Add a little gravy and warm boiled water.
Gradually pulse baby’s chicken, along with the vegetables you are serving, in your mini food chopper, until you reach a lumpy, chopped consistency. Add a little gravy and warm boiled water.
1 YEAR +
Chop into small bitesize pieces using a sharp knife and a fork. Serve with bite-size veggies and drizzle with a little gravy.
I’ve also added these notes to the bottom of the recipe so you have them to hand when you come to cook. For more info on how I keep my family meals suitable for baby weaning, read here >
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Thyme Roast Chicken
- Chopping board
- Mezzaluna or knife to chop the thyme
- Large jug
- Mini wire hand whisk
- Medium-large roasting tray
- Silicone pastry brush
- 1.5 - 2.3 kg large or extra large whole chicken
- 60 g salted butter at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- Salt & black pepper to taste
- 350 ml chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 5 rashers smoked streaky bacon optional (see notes)
- Pre-heat the oven to 200ºc/180ºc fan/400ºf/gas mark 6.
- Put the chicken into a roasting tin. Using a metal spoon turned upside down, slide it under the chicken skin and carefully loosen it across the breast and legs (see video for help). Try not to rip the skin. Then using your fingers carefully push some of the thyme butter under the skin covering the breasts. Pressing with your fingers on top of the skin, spread the butter around under the skin. Carefully turn the chicken over and repeat for the legs.
- Then put the chicken back breast-side up and using a silicone brush, baste all the exposed chicken skin with the oil. If using, lay the bacon rashers over the chicken breasts side by side from top to bottom, tucking the ends down the sides of the chicken. Pour in the hot chicken stock into a corner of the pan so it surrounds the chicken.
- Transfer the chicken to the oven and cook for the time calculated for your size of chicken (20 mins per 500g / 1.1lbs + 20 minutes). Halfway through, take the chicken out and baste it with the stock using a spoon, then put back in.
- Once the chicken comes out, test it’s cooked by inserting knife tip in the thickest part of the breast and thigh, and make sure the juices run clear. You can also check the temperature is over 75º in those places with a food thermometer. Remove the bacon (if using) and set aside. Leave the chicken out to rest on a plate for at least 20 minutes, covered loosely in foil. If you need to take the chicken out earlier to make room to roast your veg, after 15 minutes, top the foil with newspaper or a few tea towels to keep in the heat longer. I like to pop the bacon back in the oven, on top of any veg roasting in there for the last 5 minutes or so to reheat.