Roasted Saffron Lemon Chicken Recipe

If you want to improve your roast chicken game, make this recipe. Roasted saffron lemon chicken has. changed. my. life. period.

I don�t cook much with saffron but I think I may need to change that. This recipe came from Savuer Magazine, right smack on the front cover. It has made its way from my coffee table, to the bathroom, to a corner somewhere, and then back to my coffee table.

I have glanced at the recipe many times but finally decided to make it�so glad I did. I do not roast chicken often, but I was intrigued to give it a shot.

For this particular recipe, I followed the Zuni Cafe method for roasting chicken.

You salt your bird for 2-3 days. I did not have that much time, but salted it overnight and still had great results.

Since I salted my chicken, I omitted the salt in the recipe and just muddled together the saffron and black pepper. Brought my chicken up to room temperature, grabbed a few lemon slices, and rosemary sprigs, and tucked it until the skin and into the cavity.

Very hot oven, like 450 degrees breast side up for 30 minutes. Flip and then cook for another 20-25 minutes and flip again, breast side up for another 10-15 minutes.

Game changer.

The best part? The gravy. Have this with some delicious roasted potatoes and tzatziki or lemony yogurt on the side and everyone will love you.

Roasted Saffron Lemon Chicken Recipe

Servings: 4-6


  • 1 whole chicken
  • kosher salt for seasoning
  • 6 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 lemon thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon minced rosemary


  1. Measure out 3/4 teaspoon of salt for every pound of chicken. Slide a finger under the skin of each of the breasts, making 2 little pockets. Now use the tip of your finger to gently loosen a pocket of skin on the outside of the thickest section of each thigh Rub the outside of the chicken with the salt mixture, making sure to get under the wings and drumsticks and sprinkling heavily over the thicker parts of the breasts and thighs. Twist and tuck the wing tips behind the shoulders.
  2. The chicken should be covered, but still with some air circulation around the bird. Chill for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. (I let the chicken dry-brine for 1 day and it came out moist).
  3. Preheat the oven to 475�F.
  4. Cook saffron lightly in a dry skillet until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Let cool and transfer to a mortar and pestle. Add the black peppercorns and grind into a coarse powder. Wipe the chicken dry slide fingers under the skin of the chicken breast and rub spices over and under the skin and inside the cavity. Place rosemary and lemon slices under the skin and inside the cavity. Tie the legs together using butcher twine.
  5. Preheat the pan roasting pan over medium heat. Place the chicken breast side up in the pan. It should sizzle.
  6. Place the chicken in the pan in the center of the oven and listen and watch for it to start browning within 20 minutes. If it doesn�t, raise the temperature progressively until it does. The skin should blister, but if the chicken begins to char, or the fat is smoking, reduce the temperature by 25 degrees. After about 30 minutes, turn the bird over�drying the bird and preheating the pan should keep the skin from sticking. Roast for another 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size, then flip back over to re-crisp the breast skin, for another 5 to 10 minutes. The chicken is done once an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165�, let rest for 10 minutes before carving.
  7. Lift the chicken from the roasting pan and set on a plate. Carefully remove the clear fat and leave the drippings. Add about a tablespoon of water to the hot pan and the butter. Whisk and add 1 teaspoon of minced rosemary.�
  8. Serve chicken with your sides of choice and the pan drippings.�