Milk-Roasted Chicken with Garlic & Lemon

I don’t often use the word ‘mouthgasm’ to describe an incredible eating experience, but when I snaffled a wing of this milk-roasted chicken, its skin crisp and golden, interestingly ‘mouthgasm’ was the first word which popped into my mind, quickly followed by the experience itself.

Describing a mouthgasm is somewhat obscene, so bear with me dear reader. First, there’s a pause as your brain seemingly wades through treacle, trying to catch up with your mouth. Then, there’s the impact, and in that moment there might be an explosion – I certainly laughed which was weird – as you register the intense sensation of flavour, texture, and then flavour again.

milk-roasted chicken

Then, all hell breaks loose, and you can’t really hold back any longer. Your salivary glands are going haywire as you wrestle with the chicken, ripping off chunks of meat, all that crispy salty skin, and dipping pieces in the milky lemony sauce at the bottom of the pan. When I first made this milk-roasted chicken, I wasn’t expecting to share the recipe, but then the above experience happened and here we are.

Ok, cooking a chicken in milk?!

The thought of roasting a chicken in milk most likely causes confusion for the flagrant misuse of ingredients, or if you are led by your stomach, as I am, then you might be cautiously curious. Maybe just roast a couple of chicken legs in this milk-bath, don’t waste a whole chicken on it, you know?

I completely understand, and furthermore, I had an additional concern. In France, the milk in most shops, including the Lidl closest to my home (which I’ve actually been on two adventures to today) is UHT milk. I’m used to fresh dairy milk, so there is a distinct difference in taste, and it’s the main reason why I don’t drink much tea anymore. (To me it’s slightly plasticky, but feel free to disagree.)

The only milk we had in the flat was UHT milk, and I need to restrain myself from going to Lidl all the time, and so I was wary of this milk-roasted chicken. I didn’t really want to eat a plastic-flavoured roast.

However, as I noted after that later mouthgasm, I clearly had no need to worry.

milk-roasted chicken

How to make milk-roasted chicken

As with any roast chicken, you unwrap it from all its packaging, then pop it in a roasting dish. You then season it with salt and pepper, which at this stage, is the lazy roast chicken, yet is still delicious, moist and succulent. With this recipe, though, that chicken gets a body rub with some butter, mixed with crushed garlic and lemon zest. It’s thickly smeared all over the bird, and when it looks waxy and yellow you know it’s enough.

Then, you pour milk all over it. It sits, a little ashamedly I think, in this pan of milk as you add a couple of bruised garlic cloves and some lemon quarters, and then into the oven it goes.

As it roasts, and the rich fragrance of chicken, garlic and lemon fill your home, you grow increasingly hungry, especially when you take it out a couple of times to baste the meat with the juice and lemony milk at the bottom of the pan. The more basting, the more succulent.

milk-roasted chicken

Finally, at long last, the chicken skin is golden and so crispy from the butter that there are air bubbles standing to attention, desperate to be popped, and you pull out the roasting tray. The milk has thickened and curdled, and the garlic and lemon have softened into basically intensely flavoured pulp. So you pull off some meat and skin, dip it in the rich gravy, and as I write this my mouth is watering at the memory, and eat it. A punch of tangy lemon is soothed by the milk, yet underneath there are creamy buttery notes throughout the flesh, and it is so moist you barely need to chew.

Roast your chicken in milk and I wish you many happy mouthgasms.

Milk-roasted chicken with garlic and lemon

I made this chicken twice (mouthgasms are addictive), and the second time I added a spice mix of coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, white pepper, and caraway to the butter. I highly recommend it, however, it’s entirely optional. But this also explains why the butter rub in my pictures is yellow!
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: British, French
Keyword: butter, chicken, garlic, lemon, milk, roast
Servings: 2 (with leftovers)
Author: Adapted from Diana Henry’s recipe


  • 1 1.3kg free-range chicken
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 25 g soft unsalted butter
  • 150 ml milk
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F. Put the chicken in a roasting tin and generously season with salt and pepper.
  • Finely chop or crush a clove of garlic, and zest the lemon. Mix them into the soft butter with a pinch of salt. Using your hand (it’s easier) spread the butter all over the chicken. It will be messy and the butter won't want to stick, but persevere.
  • Pour the milk over the chicken. Gently bruise the remaining garlic cloves, cut the lemon into quarters, and scatter them around the roasting dish.
  • Put the roasting dish in the oven and roast for 1 hour, regularly basting it with the milk and juices.
  • Once the chicken skin is crispy, the meat is fully cooked, and the juices are running clear, it is ready. Don’t hold back, and rip off that wing as a chef’s perk. Enjoy your mouthgasm.

4 responses to “Milk-Roasted Chicken with Garlic & Lemon”

  1. chef mimi Avatar

    Beautiful. I think I’d prefer it with the spices!

    1. Nigella Eats Everything Avatar

      Yes! Those spices really added extra depth, try any spices you like!

  2. Monch Weller Avatar

    How about the leftover drippings in the pan? That would definitely make a good cream-based gravy, I reckon!

    1. Nigella Eats Everything Avatar

      Honestly those pan drippings are unbelievable, there is such intense flavour in there, so yes you’re right you could definitely do something with them! The milk curdles so it’s a bit firm but you could probably push it through a sieve then add more milk or some cream!

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