Fool Proof Flat-Roasted Chicken

This wonderful recipe is based on one by Donna Hay. It’s fast, fool proof and fail safe. I promise it will deliver perfect, succulent, roast chicken every time in half the time of a regular roast.

My friend Tash uses this recipe whenever she has a cook off with her brother (and she wins every time – sorry Alex!).


  • 1 whole raw chicken
  • 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 lemon – sliced
  • 8 cloves of garlic (skin on) – squashed or cut in half
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil


  • Oven tray
  • Kitchen scissors
  • Baking paper (if you line your tray well you can actually avoid dishes altogether!)
  • Digital meat thermometer (optional but recommended)
  • Paper towel


  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Take chicken out of fridge and allow to stand for 10 to 15 minutes to warm closer to room temperature.
  3. Clean inside of chicken and pat dry with paper towel.
  4. Trim any excess fat on chicken (optional).
  5. Using kitchen scissors cut along one side of the backbone. See a video here if you need help. No need to cut entire backbone out.
  6. Use your hand to press chicken flat (skin side up) to ensure it is nicely flattened (try not to be put of by any crunching sounds!).
  7. Line oven tray with baking paper. Place chicken in tray (skin side up).
  8. Under the chicken place garlic, lemon and thyme sprigs.
  9. Rub skin with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper.
  10. Place in hot oven for 35 to 45 minutes. Once cooked, allow to rest for at least 15 minutes.
  11. How do you know when it’s cooked?
  • its skin is golden brown
  • juices run clear if you choose to prick it with a skewer (select the thickest area)
  • your digital thermometer reads 74 degrees Celsius (make sure you don’t push the thermometer the whole way through the chicken). I’d select this option over the skewer technique.

Tip and science stuff

  • Resting the meat allows it to reabsorb liquid (juices) back into the muscle which makes for a significantly juicer and more tender meat.
  • If you find you’re detecting a bitter flavour in the chicken meat, remove the rind from the lemon before placing it under the chicken and cooking.
  • The citrus is the key to keeping the chicken moist.
  • Try experimenting with other flavours like orange and thyme or Asian influenced lime, garlic, ginger and chilli (perhaps with some sesame oil brushed over the skin).