Roast chicken cooked with lemon and garlic.

Roast chicken cooked with lemon and garlic.Getty.

A traditional British roast chicken dinner is more than just a meal; it's a cherished ritual that brings warmth and joy to any gathering. Whether you're preparing it for a Sunday family feast or a special occasion, this recipe ensures a delicious and memorable dining experience. Enjoy the process of cooking, and relish the satisfaction of serving a classic dish that has stood the test of time.

Few meals embody the essence of British comfort food like a traditional roast chicken dinner. This beloved classic has graced Sunday tables for generations, bringing families together with its inviting aromas and hearty flavors. Here, we explore the history of this quintessential dish and provide a step-by-step guide to preparing your own perfect roast chicken dinner at home.

The tradition of the British roast dates back to medieval times, when large joints of meat were roasted over open fires. The Sunday roast, in particular, became a cornerstone of British cuisine during the reign of King Henry VII in the late 15th century. It was during this era that the custom of "Sunday Roast" began, partly due to the mandated observance of Sabbath, which forbade hunting. Instead, families would gather and roast meats at home.

Roast chicken, favored for its tenderness and affordability, became a popular choice. Accompanied by a variety of sides—roasted potatoes, seasonal vegetables, and rich gravy—this meal evolved into the comforting, celebratory feast we cherish today.

Preparing Your Perfect Roast Chicken Dinner


For the Roast Chicken:

  • 1 whole chicken (about 1.5-2 kg)
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil or melted butter
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 bulb of garlic, halved horizontally
  • A small bunch of fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, and sage work well)
  • For the Roast Potatoes:
  • 1 kg potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 3 tbsp duck fat or olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Vegetables:

  • 300 g carrots, peeled and cut into batons
  • 300 g parsnips, peeled and cut into batons
  • 200 g green beans, trimmed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Gravy:

  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • Juices from the roasting pan


1. Preparing the Chicken:

Preheat your oven to 200°C (180°C fan/gas mark 6).

Remove the chicken from the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking to bring it to room temperature.

Pat the chicken dry with kitchen paper. Rub the olive oil or melted butter all over the chicken, ensuring an even coat. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper, both inside and out.

Insert the halved lemon, garlic, and fresh herbs into the cavity of the chicken.

2. Roasting the Chicken:

Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan. This allows the hot air to circulate and the chicken to cook evenly.

Roast the chicken in the preheated oven for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a skewer. Baste the chicken occasionally with the pan juices for extra flavor and a golden, crispy skin.

Once cooked, remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest for at least 15 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute, ensuring succulent meat.

3. Preparing the Roast Potatoes:

While the chicken is roasting, prepare the potatoes. Place them in a large pot of cold salted water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes until slightly tender.

Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Shake them around to roughen the edges—this

helps to create a crispy exterior.Spread the potatoes on a baking tray, drizzle with duck fat or olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven (alongside the chicken if you have space) for 45 minutes, turning occasionally until golden and crispy.

4. Roasting the Vegetables:

Toss the carrots and parsnips with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them on a baking tray and roast for about 30 minutes, until tender and caramelized.

Steam the green beans for 5-7 minutes until bright green and tender, but still crisp.

5. Making the Gravy:

Once the chicken is resting, pour the pan juices into a bowl and let them settle. Skim off the fat.

Place the roasting pan on the stove over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes.

Gradually add the chicken stock, whisking to prevent lumps. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until thickened. Add the skimmed juices back into the gravy for extra flavor.

6. Serving:

Carve the rested chicken and serve with the crispy roast potatoes, caramelized vegetables, steamed green beans, and a generous helping of gravy.