Lemon Herb & Pesto Roasted Chicken

I'm anxious for March to arrive! Every March, the International Home & Housewares Associate has their convention here in Chicago and it's my opportunity to meet and greet some chef celebs who attend. The previous years I've gone, I got to meet Todd English a few times and receive some autographed cookbooks. Sadly, I never made any recipes from his cookbooks... until now.

In his cookbook, The Olives Table, I came across Todd's recipe for Roast Chicken with Herb & Lemon Paste. I love using fresh herbs in recipes and the paste was full of flavor and freshness combining basil, parsley, rosemary, mint, sage and lemon zest. However, when I made it the first time, although it was good, I wanted a bit more basil flavor to come through to compliment the lemon notes. I had some homemade pesto leftover and on a whim, I decided to make the lemon and herb paste again and combine it with the leftover pesto I had. Crossing fingers it would come out, it was a success! The chicken had the perfect balance of lemon and basil I was looking for and kept the chicken super moist and juicy.

Since I love making recipes in advance, this one definitely is make ahead and freezer friendly. Just prepare the paste and pesto, combine and allow your chicken to marinate in it either chilled in the fridge or in the freezer. When you're ready to cook it, just roast in the oven or even place on the grill. Voila... a flavorful roast chicken is never too much effort to make even on a weeknight!

Lemon Herb & Pesto Roasted Chicken
recipe inspired by Todd English

Lemon Herb Paste:

1 Spanish onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

To make the herb and lemon paste, place the onion, basil, parsley, rosemary, mint, sage, salt, pepper, and lemon zest in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. While the machine is running, gradually add the olive oil in a thin, steady stream and process until the mixture is smooth and emulsified.

Basil Pesto:
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves (2-3 bunches)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Place all the ingredients in a food processor; pulse a few times, then process until fairly smooth, or to the desired consistency, scraping down the sides occasionally.
2-3 pounds bone-in chicken breasts or leg quarters, rinsed and patted dry

Combine both the lemon herb paste and the basil pesto in a bowl.

Place the chicken in a large glass or ceramic bowl and cover with the paste and pesto; toss to cover. Cover and refrigerate for 6-8 hours, or overnight. Alternately, place chicken in a gallon sized storage bag and add paste and pesto to the bag. Seal the bag and distribute the paste on the chicken. The next day, remove the chicken from the bowl/storage bag and discard the excess paste.

Preheat oven to 375°. Place the chicken in a baking dish or roasting pan and roast in the preheated oven until the juices run clear, about 45-50 minutes.


  1. Lots of great flavors.You could probably make a nice pan gravy too!

  2. Wow! This looks like a fabulous weeknight dinner. I love the fact that it is so easy to prepare ahead of time! And I especially love herb-rubbed chicken.

  3. This looks so good! I bought this cookbook after eating at his restaurant in Las Vegas. The recipe for the olive tapenade (like what he serves) is so good!

  4. i bet this tastes fabulous! great flavors!

    ... and you and your signed cookbooks!! you have so many!

  5. looks really good! i have the same book & Todd English has many nice recipes in it. Im actually completing my internship at his restaurant in New York city right now. He comes by alot but i never saw him & hopefully i get to meet him one day & let him sign my book!