How to Roast a Chicken

How to Roast a Chicken

You’ll never buy a rotisserie chicken again.

Many say a roasted chicken is the one dish all cooks should know how to make. Fortunately, roasting a chicken is easy! Follow these simple steps to serve up a juicy bird perfect for a casual weeknight meal or worthy of a dinner party. The only hard part will be choosing what to dig into first, dark or white meat?


Remove a 3 to 4-pound whole chicken from the packaging. Check the body and neck cavity for giblets, remove and discard them if you find any.

With paper towels, thoroughly pat both the outside and inside of the chicken dry. Removing the moisture from the skin helps the chicken roast better, making for a crisper skin.


Rub the entire outside of the chicken with about 1/4 cup canola oil or softened butter. Season both the outside and inside of the body cavity generously with kosher or sea salt and ground black pepper, using about 2 to 3 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons pepper for a 3 to 4-pound chicken. Be sure to thoroughly coat under the wings, thighs, and the bottom of the bird.

A roasted chicken seasoned solely with salt and pepper tastes fabulous. If you want to add more herbs and spices consider using garlic, lemon zest, lemon pepper, thyme, or rosemary.

Next, season the inside of the chicken by placing 1 halved lemon and 2 smashed garlic cloves inside the cavity. Be sure to loosely place only a few seasoning items within the cavity. Cramming the cavity full will impede even roasting and increase the cooking time.

  TIP For crispier skin, allow the seasoned chicken to rest uncovered in the refrigerator for about an hour. Along with the added benefit of letting the seasoning flavors penetrate into and meld with the meat, this allows more moisture to dry from the skin, creating a crisper result.


Trussing the chicken yields moister breast meat than roasting the bird untrussed. For a simple trussing method, tie the chicken’s legs together at the ankles with a piece of cooking twine and tuck the wings up under the breast.


A roasting pan with a rack allows air to circulate all around the chicken while it cooks, which helps the skin brown. However, any oven-safe pan that comfortably holds the chicken—rimmed baking sheets, casserole dishes and even cast iron skillets will work.

Place the trussed chicken in the pan. If you’re using a pan without a rack, line the pan bottom with a layer of chopped onions, carrots, and/or potatoes to prop the chicken up and keep it out of its cooking juices as it roasts.
  TIP Roasting pan or not, adding potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and/or onions cut in chunks to the bottom of the pan makes for an easy and tasty side dish.


There are two options when it comes to roasting the chicken, depending on the result you’d like. 

Low and slow yields tender fall-off-the-bone meat with softer skin. For low and slow, roast the chicken at 300 to 350 degrees F for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

High and fast yields firmer meat with crisper dark brown skin. For high and fast, roast the chicken at 425 degrees F for 45 minutes to 1 hour.


The best, most accurate way to tell if a roasted chicken is done is to use a thermometer. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, being sure to not touch the bone. The chicken is done when the thermometer registers 165 degrees F and the juices run clear.

Once done, remove from the oven, loosely cover with aluminum foil and let the chicken rest for 15 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat — this will keep your bird juicy. 


Use a sharp knife to carve the chicken into drumsticks, thighs and breast pieces. Place on a serving platter, along with the roasted vegetables from the bottom of the pan if they were included and enjoy!


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