Sage-Scented Barbecued Chicken with Grilled Lemon

Enjoying an abundance of fresh herbs is one of the perks of fall gardening. The green beans have finished and the tomatoes are tapering off, but most of the herbs seem to thrive until the snow falls.

When I dedicated one of my raised garden beds completely to herbs this spring, I didn’t realize how they would take off and how much the plants would actually produce. I really need to share a recent photo, because everything ended up about two-and-a-half feet tall.

The basil flourished and provided more than enough for my winter pesto stash and the lemon balm was always in ample supply for infusing lemonade. As for the sage, it grew into a knee-high bush and provided more than I knew what to do with in the kitchen. So I naturally started experimenting with recipes.

Sage-Rubbed Barbecued Chicken with Grilled Lemon | Simple Bites

One sage recipe I fell in love with is similar to my classic roast chicken, but with the perfume of the bold herb and smoke from the grill. I remembered how well sage paired with chicken from a old recipe from my catering days, where we marinated the meat with loads of sage, lemon and garlic. This recipe is an updated version; it calls for ample amounts of both sage and garlic, and then grills the lemon alongside the chicken. As the chicken is resting, I squeeze the grilled lemon over the top for a final dressing. It’s a new favourite dinner, both for its simplicity and astonishing flavour.

Sage-Rubbed Barbecued Chicken with Grilled Lemon | Simple Bites

Grilled chicken with sage is a delicious pairing and one that lends itself well to fall root vegetables. I paired my dish with a few grilled carrots that we pulled from the garden that afternoon. It would also be delicious with my Simplest Scalloped Potatoes made with fresh garden thyme.

Harvest Dinner in the garden || Simple Bites

The last time I made this Sage-Scented Barbecue Chicken with Grilled Lemon, we took dinner outside to the garden. It was right near the herb bed, actually, where I was able to trim the sage plant even further and use the sprigs as a garnish for my platter of chicken.

You can find more details from our harvest dinner on a recent post as well as the recipe for Grilled Zucchini Salad with Hazelnuts, Feta and Yogurt Mint Dressing. Sure summer is nearly over, but this chicken recipe would be just as delicious roasted in the oven, so bookmark it for your fall dinner menu planning.

Sage-Rubbed Barbecued Chicken with Grilled Lemon | Simple Bites

Sage-Scented Barbecued Chicken with Grilled Lemon

Smoky chicken, bold sage and tangy grilled lemon make up the flavour powerhouse of this simple summer dinner.
5 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dishes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 330kcal
Author: Aimee


  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped sage about 3 large sprigs
  • 2 whole lemons
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 whole organic chicken patted dry (about 4 1/2 lbs)


  • Finely chop garlic on a cutting board. Sprinkle the salt and the chopped sage on top, then finely chop again. Pulverize with the flat part of a chefs knife to make a paste.
  • Transfer the garlic-sage paste to a small bowl. Juice in ONE of the lemons. Add the ground pepper and the olive oil. Mix well to combine the marinade.
  • Rub the marinade all over the chicken until thoroughly coated. Loosen the skin around the neck opening and rub a little marinade directly on the breasts.
  • Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
  • Preheat a charcoal grill to 450F with both direct heat over coals and indirect heat. Bring the chicken out of the fridge while the coals are heating up.
  • With a sturdy pair of tongs, place the chicken, breast side down, onto the grate and grill directly over the coals. Grill for 5-6 minutes, or until the skin is crispy and slightly charred. Extinguish any flames with a spray bottle. Flip the bird and grill for an additional 5 minutes. The bird should be lightly charred all over.
  • Slice the remaining lemon in half and add it to the grill, cut side down. Move the chicken off the coals, over to indirect heat. Close the lid of the grill and cook the chicken for about 15-20 minutes. The legs can indicate doneness, as per my Notes below.
  • Remove the chicken and lemon from the grill and place on a serving platter. Tent loosely with foil. Allow the bird to rest for 10 minutes before carving. (This is a good time to grill your side dish)
  • Squeeze the grilled lemon all over the chicken, garnish with a few more sprigs of sage and serve.


So how can you tell when your chicken is cooked? Pay attention to the legs and they will tell you everything you need to know:
- Juices run yellow, not pink, when drumstick is pierced.
- The drumstick wiggles freely at the joint when manipulated.
A meat thermometer registers 170°F when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (but not touching the bone).


Calories: 330kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 95mg | Sodium: 478mg | Potassium: 304mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 178IU | Vitamin C: 22mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 2mg


About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. 5 stars
    hey girl this looks so good! Love that your creative!

  2. Thanks for this dinner idea! It looks delicious 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    Amazing Recipe,
    It looks so delicious and I think it will taste great too.
    I am going to cook it tomorrow.
    Thank You!

  4. 5 stars
    Hi, my favorite lemon tint recipe here, loved it. I hope I can find same taste in some of the best electric smoker in smoked food?

  5. tausili logoleo says

    hey girl this looks so good!

  6. Great recipe Simply quick and delicious.This is a dish to be repeated! Thank you so much.

  7. 5 stars
    Great recipe Simply quick and delicious.This is a dish to be repeated! Thank you so much for shairing,

  8. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe goona try this for outdoor grill party

  9. 5 stars
    This is amazing and delicious recipe . I really like it. SO easy and quick way to cook, thank you for sharing this wonderful article.

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