Roast chicken with herb butter

Sunday Roast chicken with herb compound butter

Roasted in the oven, chicken is garnished under the skin with butter flavored with fresh herbs, parsley and tarragon, giving an insanely delicious tender, juicy meat and a crispy skin.

Adding a stuffing under the skin of whole poultry is something often done in traditional French cuisine. The French technical cooking term for this is “contiser”. But don’t be afraid, you’ll see that there is nothing complicated here at all. It’s very easy to prepare, versatile enough for both simple lunches or dinner parties.

Stuffing with herb butter, here is how to get butter under the skin of chicken: in one hand, very carefully take the end of the skin next to the cavity, pull it towards you so that it don’t tear. With your other hand, get your gingers between the skin and the breasts so that they won’t stick together anymore. Eventually use a spatula to get right down to the end of breasts. Be careful though no to break the skin (as I did a bit here :-( ). Make a little pocket and pour in 4/5th of herb butter using your hands, a spoon or ideally a pastry piping bag. The remaining herb butter is used to cover the chicken. You’ll need to rub chicken with the compound butter to soften the flesh and grease and flavor the skin, kind of a massage.

With the heat, the compound butter will melt and as it is more or less blocked under the skin, it will gently permeate into the flesh and diffuse the aromas of herbs. Breasts of roast chicken are often dry. This method keeps the chicken so tender, juicy and flavorful while skin remains crispy.

Some butter will melt into the gravy. As you will use this sauce to spoon over and moist chicken regularly, it will be insanely delicious.

A few information on the recipe

  • Compound butter is prepared with soft room temperature easy to combine unsalted butter, very generously seasoned (salt, pepper and other spices of your choice, I choose South-West France Espelette pepper and nutmeg), a finely chopped shallot and rons of chopped herbs.
  • As for the herbs, choose the ones that go well with chicken. I suggest a mix of ⅔ flat-leaf parsley (much more flavorful than curly parsley) and ⅓ tarragon. It’s up to you, indulge yourself by using herbs according to your tastes: parsley, tarragon, chervil, chives, basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano… You can also add lemon zests.
  • Many recipes braise chicken in butter at the beginning. I don’t as I think it’s way too much butter then and prefer ro pour a bit of water in the pan all around the chicken (even if it is not very conventional) and start to cook chicken covered with aluminium foil and ncover at the end to get the crispy skin… Meat gets even more tender this way.
  • Finally, the recipe suggests to have garlic and onion in the dish around chicken. You can add potatoes cut into large chunks.
Sunday Roast chicken with herb compound butter

Roast Chicken with Herb Butter

Roasted in the oven, the chicken is garnished under the skin with butter flavored with fresh herbs, parsley and tarragon, giving an insanely delicious tender, juicy meat and a crispy skin.
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Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Main dish
Cuisine French
Servings 6


  • Oven


  • 1 chicken whole chicken of about 2 kilos
  • 50 gr butter unsalted, at room temperature
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley i.e. 1 very large handful of leaves
  • ½ bunch tarragon
  • 1 shallot large
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 onions
  • 1 head garlic small


  • Preheat the oven to 180 °C.

Start by making herb butter

  • Peel and very finely chop shallot.
  • Rinse, cut off sprigs and chop parsley and tarragon leaves.
  • In a bowl, combine the soft butter with shallot, chopped herbs and generously season with salt and pepper. Optionally add other spices of your choice and lemon zests.

Prepare the chicken

  • Using your fingers, carefully lift the chicken skin off the breasts (see precise directions in the article), to make a small pocket in which you will insert ⅘ of the butter, being careful not to tear or cut it.
  • With the remaining herb butter, massage all over chicken to soften and grease it.
  • Roughly chop large slices of onion, prepare garlic clove, separate them from the head, remove the rough external skin but leave garlic clove shin on.
  • Place chicken in an ovenproof dish, arrange onion and garlic all around. Pour a bit of water and cover with aluminium foil.

Roast in the oven

  • Cook at 180 °C for 1 hour 30 minutes (possibly a little more), regularly scoop gravy over chicken, onion and garlic (the cooking juice from the poultry mixed with the herb butter that has escaped).
  • Half an hour before the end, remove the aluminum foil, possibly put on the grill position for a few minutes) to obtain a very crispy skin.
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Bon appétit !

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