Photo by Sonia Mendez Garcia

Roast Chicken with Lemon and Annatto

Cuisine: Latin
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Try this delicious roasted chicken infused with lemon, herbs and spices for your special family dinners.

Although it may seem ordinary and simple, a whole roast chicken recipe can be the perfect choice for your family gatherings. You can find a chicken large (or small) enough to suit your needs and you only need a few ingredients to make it delicious. For this recipe, I paired my chicken with some vibrant annatto, smoky paprika, chile ancho powder, parsley and fresh lemon. The herbs and spices gave my dish a wonderful flavor and aroma, and the chicken came out perfect!

I always look forward to leftovers when roasting a whole chicken. Remove any remaining meat from the bones and repurpose them in a tasty chicken salad, tacos or flautas!


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  1. In a bowl, combine the lemon juice, zest, annatto powder, chile ancho powder, paprika, garlic powder, parsley and olive oil. Mix to make a paste, set aside.
  2. Carefully pull the skin up on the chicken as much as you can without removing it, and season with salt. Season the cavity of chicken with salt and pepper. Slice one of the reserved lemons and stuff into cavity. Rub chicken with reserved annatto/lemon paste all over. Place chicken onto a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for a few hours or overnight.
  3. Remove chicken from refrigerator. Prepare roasting pan. Season the outer part of the chicken with a little more fresh cracked pepper and a little salt on the spots that did not get salt under the skin. Let sit out for 1 hour. Place chicken on roasting rack in the pan. Add 1 cup water to bottom of pan. Season water with 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  4. Preheat oven to 425º F. Drizzle some olive oil over chicken and place in oven. Reduce temperature to 375 ºF. Roast for 1 hour uncovered. After an hour, you can begin basting the chicken every 15 minutes with water from bottom of the pan. The drumsticks tend to cook faster so, you can wrap or cover with a little foil paper as it finishes roasting.
  5. The chicken is done when the internal temperature reads 165 º F in the deepest part of the leg. This roaster was almost 8 pounds and had a pop up thermometer. It roasted for 2 hours and 45 minutes.
  6. An average-size whole chicken is 4 to 5 pounds, so roasting times will vary depending on the size of chicken. When done cooking, remove from oven and let sit for 20 minutes before slicing. Garnish with extra lemon slices and parsley.

Chef Notes

If you can't find annatto powder, you can combine 1/2 tablespoon of annatto seeds with the olive oil and cook on low for 5 minutes. Let cool, strain, and add to the recipe as directed.

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