Basic Roast Chicken

I’m breaking my hiatus briefly because several people have asked me how to make roast chicken, and I thought this would be the easiest way to post my recipe. Or perhaps I should call it a technique instead.

I love making roast chicken, it’s probably one of my favorite foods to both make and eat. Once you learn to make a basic one, there’s unlimited possibilities in what you can do to mix it up.


Here’s what you need to get started:

5 lb whole chicken (usually called a roaster at your meat counter, doesn’t have to be exactly 5 lbs)

Fresh Herbs (I usually use rosemary and thyme, but use what you like. Many stores sell a “poultry mix.”)

2 Onions, big chunks

Garlic, how ever many cloves you want

Veggies–This is where you get to mix it up. Root veg is traditional. Carrots, baby potatoes. Last night I used apples. You could use lemons or oranges, fennel. You want something you can put on the bottom of the pan to lift up the chicken, and the juices will run all over. Sometimes you may want to eat them later, like the roots, sometimes you may discard them, like the citrus. Up to you. Be creative.

Salt, pepper, spices.


Ok, now you’re ready to get started. Adjust your oven racks so you’ll have space and preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Get out a big pan–for a chicken, you don’t necessarily have a fancy roasting dish like if you were doing a turkey, but you need something heavy enough to hold in the juices. I usually use a shallower broiling pan without the grill topper. I’ve seen people use a wide cast iron pan too.

Place most of your veggies in the bottom of the pan. Save some of the onion, garlic, and herbs.

On a clean cutting board, prepare your chicken. Pat it dry with a paper towel, then salt and pepper heavily. Use whatever spices you want. The salt is going to help the skin crisp and trust me–it’s the best part, so you want it to be flavorful.

Stuff the cavity with onions, garlic, herbs. You can also stick citrus wedges or apples up there. Anything flavorful that is going to give off steam and flavor. That cavity may look gross but IT IS YOUR FRIEND.

Put your chicken on the veg in the pan breast up! I don’t truss up my bird with twine, I just make sure everything is tucked in close–the wings usually come folded already, the legs you can lean in the ankles together.

Pop it in the oven for 20 min a pound. For a 5 pound bird that is usually a little over an hour and a half. The temp should be 180 at the thigh, since the breasts take a little bit longer to cook. When you are getting close to that temp, you can turn the broiler on to crisp the skin for 2-3 min. Just watch it, it happens FAST.

Once you take the chicken out of the oven, leave it to rest in the pan for 10-15 min. Remove to a clean cutting board and carve. Often the meat may just come apart in your hands, so be careful with the knife! There are plenty of videos on youtube if you aren’t sure how to approach this.

Spoon up your veg, plate with the chicken, and wha-la! Dinner. See, that wasn’t so hard! It just takes time, and there are lots of steps. But when stores put whole chickens on sale they are CHEAP, and it makes a good hearty dinner with lots of leftovers for two of us.

Plus…chicken skin, people. CHICKEN SKIN.

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