Lavender, Hold the Cocoa

It is hard to believe now, but there was a day when I never imagined cooking with lavender. Or rosewater... but that is a story for another day.

To me, lavender was for the after-bath splash my mother put on our backs on hot, sticky, summer days to ease the heat and humidity.

Lavender was the scent of a sachet in my Aunt Rae's linen drawer, where she kept placemats and napkins.

Lavender was the fragrance of the first cologne I was given as a high school teen (Pour Un Homme by Caron) - a Christmas gift from my friends Linda and Cathy. I felt quite grown up.

At that time, I would never have imagined I’d have a blog named Cocoa and Lavender, or that one day lavender would figure in my culinary creations.

Today's recipe is nothing earth-shattering. It is a simple roasted chicken with thyme and lavender. There are times when a simple meal is the perfect meal. Today was one of those days.

My inspiration for this recipe came from a restaurant in Provincetown, Massachusetts. My friend Michael had dined at the Marten House back in the early 90s and told me of their lavender roasted chicken.

I waited at least 20 years to make it for the first time. And, on this same day, I share it with you.

I wish you a very happy holiday season, celebrating whatever it is that touches your heart. Don't forget to hold your loved ones tight, and let them know you love them each and every day.

Onward to 2013!

~ David

Lavender-Thyme Roasted Chicken

One 3 to 4-pound fresh, organic chicken
1 tablespoon culinary lavender buds
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Wash chicken and dry completely with paper towels.

Mix the thyme, lavender, salt, and pepper in a mortar, and combine using the pestle to break down the lavender buds. Set aside.

Using a dull butter knife, separate the skin from the breast meat. Rub the lavender-thyme mixture under the skin and into the flesh of the chicken, reserving 1 teaspoon of the herb mixture.

Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and rub the oil all over. Sprinkle with reserved lavender-thyme mixture.

Place in the oven and reduce heat immediately to 325°F. Cook for 14-15 minutes per pound, until juices run clear. Let sit on the carving board for 10 minutes, tented with foil, to let juices settle into the meat.

Carve and serve!

Serves 4.


  1. Your photos are always stunning. I would love to try this chicken! I'll never forget the first sip of a Lavendar Martini I had in Napa one year. Beautiful taste. And I'd love to hear what you do with rose water - we use it all the time in our cooking!

  2. Simple meals are usually the best, they are about comfort or flavors, nothing fancy. Roasted chicken with lavender, now that´s an interesting recipe! And the fact that lavender is good for humid days, really? I should get some lavender soap. Have the best Christmas my friend, and enjoy the company of loved ones!

  3. I posted a recipe last summer for a lavender chicken with honey and thyme which was a revelation to me. Every since I discovered the recipe in a lovely cookbook, it has become a staple dish in my home.
    Try adding honey, it will become wonderfully sticky and delicious!
    Happy holidays David!! My best to Mark!!

  4. How utterly divine David. I love lavender in cooking but had never thought to try it with Chicken. I have some lavender at home and I will definitely make this over the Christmas break. Happy Holidays David!!

  5. A lavender martini, Ahu? Sounds amazing. You might also like my lavender spritz - a cap full of lavender syrup in prosecco - a delightful summer apéritif. Rose water (and rose) recipes to come!

    Thanks, Paula - I hope your holidays are good, too.

    Magda - I will definitely try it with the honey! Sounds great (I even remember the post!).

    Anna - hope you have a great and warm holiday Down Under!

  6. I only recently began cooking with lavender (added it to some shortbread) so it's great to see it took you some time to come to it too. I would have never contemplated a lavender roasted chicken but it looks so great, I've bookmarked it for the new year! :)

  7. Thanks for visiting C&L, LLL! I, too, love lavender shortbread - it is the best! I am also enjoying pairing lavender with other flavors - thyme, rosemary, pepper, lemon and lime. If you have any other ideas, let me know!

  8. I have been making lavender tea. Had never thought of it until I was in one of my favorite tea shops in NYC,The Tea + Honey Store, and the very knowledgeable sales clerk recommended it for a relaxing drink. I tried it and really liked it, so I am making it regularly now.

    Your chicken looks divine!

  9. Susan - I love lavender in just about anything. Maybe your tea would make a good rub for the chicken?

  10. I love the subtle, elegant aroma of lavender, too. I've recently been making lavender biscuits every week as my boyfriend loves them so much. So check my recipe if you're intrested. http://eatwithnamie.com/2013/01/26/lemon-lavender-shortbread-biscuits/

    By the way, I like your photography style,simple and alive. It's as if I'm looking at the food for real. Inspiring!

  11. Namie - thank you so much for your compliments on my photos. I love the sound of your lavender biscuits, and the recipe sounds delightful. I have to wonder if you prefer making them with syrup or dried lavender buds...

  12. I so agree. I have taken to Lavender Fudge! I love it, most people are very skeptical about eating Lavender. It tastes as tantilising and it smells. Try Provencal Lavender Honey - to die for.

  13. Celia - I just made some lemon-lavender marmalade and people are quite skeptical! Your lavender honey sounds amazing - do you ship to the U.S.?


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