It's more delicious (and healthier) than store-bought—and easier than you think.

By Grace Elkus
December 08, 2017
Out of the hundreds of classic dishes Ina is famous for, her roast chicken may take the cake (but more on cake later).  We'd prepare our slow-roasted chicken, seasoned with fresh herbs and lemon zest.  Get the Recipe: Slow-Roasted Lemon Herb Chicken
Jennifer Causey

Rotisserie chicken is a weeknight game-changer. Shred it and add to chilaquiles, stuff it into sweet potatoes, or tuck it into a cheese-and-bean burrito (then pile leftovers into a mason jar for lunch). 

Because it's a shortcut, it may seem counterintuitive to make a rotisserie chicken yourself. But if you slow-roast it and shred it on a Sunday, it’s just as convenient as buying one at the store.

RELATED: 10 Recipe Ideas for Rotisserie Chicken

Most store-bought rotisserie chickens (including Costco’s, which has somewhat of a cult following), have a lengthy ingredient list containing some or all of the following: sugar, dextrose (a simple sugar derived from corn), autolyzed yeast extracts (a substitute for MSG), modified corn starch, calcium silicate (an anti-caking agent to prevent clumps from forming), and carrageenan (a thickening agent extracted from seaweed).

If you’ve ever wondered why those chickens taste so darn good, the answer lies in the sugar, salt, additives, and preservatives in the list above. Knowing there was a way to create an equally delicious bird at home, we took to the test kitchen and got to work. The result? A Lemon & Herb Chicken you’ll want to make every week.

According to our food director Dawn Perry, the trick to a foolproof, juicy chicken is slow-roasting it. You won’t risk overcooking it, because it cooks for a long time (2 1/2 to 3 hours) at a low temperature. The easiest way to tell when it’s done is to tug on one of the legs. If you can easily pull it off, your bird is ready to eat. 

RELATED: Zesty Chicken Enchiladas

As for the flavor, a combination of salt, fresh rosemary, fresh oregano, lemon zest, black pepper, and olive oil rubbed all over the chicken does the trick. While it’s roasting, throw in a sheet tray of fingerling potatoes or whole carrots alongside it. They’ll be deliciously tender when the chicken’s done cooking.