Everything You Need to Know About Roasting a Chicken!
Roasted chicken floats my boat. It rocks my world, makes my taste buds do a jig and if I am being truthful the aroma of a roasting bird causes my salivary glands to do their job very, very well…in other words, I drool. Roasted chickens are easy to make, pretty foolproof to cook, fairly budget friendly, extremely versatile, make delicious leftovers, not to mention when you serve one everyone will sing your praises. I mean really, look at this exquisite bird! So here is everything you need to know about roasting a chicken, plus eight recipes!
(This post contains affiliate links. I may make a commission from sales but your price remains the same.)
Handling Raw Chicken: Breathe, It’s All Going to be OK
I get it. Touching raw meat freaks some people out. That is ok. Trust me, you will get over it. I don’t say that to be glib, I say it because it’s true. Most of us have an aversion to touching raw meat at first but after the first one or two times we get over it. So take a deep breath, be sure to wash your hands well before and after handling, and dive right in.
Preparing Your Bird for Cooking
It’s best to remove the bird from the refrigerator at least an hour before cooking. This allows the bird to cook more evenly. Then remove giblets from the cavity (setting aside for later use in broth), remove any quills left in bird, if needed cut off excess fat from around the cavity, rinse bird inside and out, then pat dry with a paper towel.
Choosing a Roasting Pan, Lid or No Lid? Using a Rack, Trussing
Whether you use a roasting pan with a lid or a pan without a lid (affiliate links) will completely depend on the recipe you are following. Generally chickens roasted in a pan with a lid are cooked at a lower temperature for a longer time and are ‘fall off the bone’ tender. Those roasted in a pan without a lid are cooked at a higher temperature for a shorter amount of time and aren’t quite as tender but have a delicious crispy skin! You can also roast a chicken in a cast iron skillet! (affiliate link)
To cook two birds at once use a turkey roasting pan.
Using a rack:
Most roasting pans come with a rack. Some racks are flat, others are in the shape of a ‘V’. The purpose of a rack is to lift the chicken off the pan. Is using a rack necessary? It just depends on what you want. If I am roasting a chicken by itself, I will place it on a rack. If I am roasting it surrounded with vegetables I like to have the chicken nestled right in the veggies. Either way, you can’t go wrong. The rack does make the skin on the bottom of the chicken crispier because it isn’t sitting in the juices, so if that is important to you, use a rack.
Trussing simply means tying the legs together using trussing string or reusable silicon bands (affiliate links). Trussing and tucking the bird’s wings behind it’s back makes for more even cooking and make the bird look a little prettier.
Size Matters: Cooking Time
One of the most frequent questions I get about roasting chicken is “How do I know if it’s done?” This is a great question! If you are following a recipe, hopefully it’s pretty accurate, that said, oven temperatures vary and if the person that developed the recipe hasn’t had their oven calibrated recently or you haven’t, or altitude is a factor, there can be a discrepancy in cooking time.
Another factor when it comes to cooking time: size. I have had people tell me their chicken took a half hour longer to cook than I stated in a recipe. I then ask if they bought a 4 lb chicken like the recipe called for and more often than not they answer with “No, my store didn’t have one so I bought a 5.5 lb chicken.” DOH! Try to purchase a chicken as close to the size in the recipe as you can, especially if the recipe calls for roasting veggies in the same pan. If you don’t have a choice here is the general rule: if the chicken you buy is larger than called for in the recipe allow 15 minutes more cooking time per pound. If the chicken is smaller than the recipe calls for subtract 15 minutes cooking time per pound. You will know if the chicken is done when thigh juices run clear. I have roasted enough chickens that I know when a chicken is done but if you need some reassurance an “insta-read” meat thermometer (affiliate link) is a tool you will want to invest in, it takes all the guess work out of the equation and only costs a few bucks!
Seasoning, Stuffing, Glazing, Browning and Basting
When it comes to using seasonings there are several options. Some recipes call for seasoning the outside of the bird and some call for seasoning the inside and the outside. Another delicious choice is using your hand to separate the skin from the meat and placing the seasonings in between. One way to make seasoning a raw bird easier, especially for those concerned about cross contamination is to designate one hand for touching the chicken and one hand for handling spices. This makes the process go much faster because you won’t have to stop and wash your hands over and over. Having a battery operated pepper grinder (affiliate link) is really convenient! No need to grind with two hands, allowing you to have one hand free, again preventing the possibility of cross contamination.
Another way to add flavor to roasted chicken is by stuffing it with herbs, spices and or fruit. The flavors permeate the bird during roasting!
Glazes are a great way to flavor a chicken as well as create a beautiful brown skin. Usually glazes are brushed on the last few minutes of cooking. Basting the chicken also creates a golden crispy skin and make the final outcome more moist and tender.
Allowing Chicken to ‘Rest’, Carving
After removing a chicken from the oven it is important to let it ‘rest’ for at least ten minutes before carving. Resting allows the juices to redistribute so the meat is super moist.
Now after creating a roasted chicken masterpiece you don’t want to rip it to shreds. Watch this video tutorial to see how to carve a bird so it looks as pretty when serving as it looked when it came out of the oven!
Broth: Waste Not, Want Not
Back in the day your grandma (or great grandma for you young un’s) didn’t waste any part of a chicken. After carving she would put that chicken ‘frame’ in a stock pot with giblets, water, whatever vegetables and herbs she had on hand and make a broth. Broth has many healing properties and is great for the belly. Broth can be sipped like a tea or used in soups and other recipes. One chicken frame can make about 16-18 cups of rich brown broth. Click to see how to make homemade broth on the cooktop or in the Instant Pot!
I think I have covered just about everything! I hope those of you that weren’t sure you could roast a chicken have gained some confidence and those of you that are already sold on roasted chickens learned something too! Now on to the recipes. Here are my favorites.
Eight Roasted Chicken Recipes!
Roasted Citrus Herb Chicken~
Roasted in sweet onions and glazed with an herb citrus butter!
Amazingly Easy Roasted Chicken
~ only four ingredients and 10 minutes prep. The perfect roasted chicken for the beginner!
Apricot Roasted Chicken with Herbs De Provence~
Tender, juicy chicken roasted in a pan with a lid surrounded by carrots, rose potatoes, celery and shallots. Seasoned with Herbs de Provence and glazed with an orange apricot sauce!
Maple Roasted Chicken with Seasonal Vegetables~
A glazed sweet and spicy roasted chicken atop butternut squash, shallots, brussels sprouts and potatoes.
Chicken al Mattone (Chicken under a Brick) ~
This bird is laid flat and roasted under a foil covered brick!
Roasted Chicken Stuffed with Apples, Citrus and Herbs~
This a favorite shared from one of my favorite restaurants, The Communal!
Roasted Garlic Lemon Chicken~
This is a family favorite, I usually make two at once cooking them in a turkey roasting pan.
Cornish Game Hens with Roasted Veggies
Two birds, one pan and a whole lot of delicious veggies!
MAY I PLEASE ASK A LITTLE FAVOR?
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How to Roast a chicken
This is great! I LOVE roasted chicken and have enjoyed all of the recipes you post for them. Such great tips in this post. Thanks for sharing it with us!
I love this post LInda! I am always looking for tips when cooking meats and poultry as I still feel very much like a novice when it comes to these preparations. Beautiful pictures. I am hungry now! Sharing with my readers too!
Thank you Raine!
Love this! I was always afraid to roast a chicken but I am so glad I learned.
I am so glad you learned too! Such a staple at our house:)
I just LOVE your roasted chickens! They are beautiful! I love your method – I haven’t basted in a long time – I think I might have to do it next time 🙂
I baste or glaze…one or the other! Thanks Rene!
Oh, I love all your tips. I am passionate, too, about roasted chicken and the crispy skin. You’ve mastered it. 😉
You are so sweet. Thank you.
Thank you Linda! I really appreciate all the step by step pics for us visual learners 😀
I am a big fan of pictures too! I learn best when I see and hear/read:)
Roasted chicken .. we’re rocking in the same boat here Linda! Learnt some new tricks today and I just love those silicone bands will have to get me some.. 🙂
They are handy!
Thank you so much for this post! I love cooking whole chickens for soup, but I’ve never been super comfortable with knowing how to roast a chicken. Pinning this.
Oh, my goodness. Pinned! Roast chicken made successfully always makes me feel like a domestic goddess…
lol right?! I feel the same way!
Love this and love the site!! Lindsay is a dear friend and she turned me on to it! Congrats on spreading the wellness word!!
Aw thanks Vanessa:)
How do you keep it from burning the skin. Do you put foil on it for a certain amount of time in the beginning or the end. Mine was burning in about 10 minutes.
Hi Shelly. The oven is only at 350 so the skin never burns. And when you sear it in the pan it is flesh side down so no worries there. I have never had a problem with burning.
I love your writing style- makes it so fun to read. And I am totally one of those people that is intimidated by any chunk of meat larger than a steak or pork chop. This is exactly what I need. And PS its a good freakin thing I dont have to take close ups of my oven like that!! (cause, ewwww, its definitley not that clean).
Lol Cherry if it makes you feel better I have a cleaning lady or mine wouldn’t be that clean either!
Fabulously helpful tips! I’m so surprised that so many people think roasting a chicken is so tough, when it’s really a simple and delicious meal!
This is very useful. Great tutorial.
This is a fantastic post on how to roast a chicken, great tips and what beautifully and perfectly roasted birds you have here.
We love a roast chicken in this house!
I added water to my roasted chicken was that wrong.
I guess it would depend on the recipe, but usually you don’t need to:)
I’ve been roasting chickens for 40 years, but in the last 10 years or so, the juices that collect inside the cavity cause the gravy to get a VERY bitter taste. Why? It seems to me that it’s a bloody taste. Do they not drain the birds like they used to? How do I get rid of it? I’m very careful now, not to allow those juices to escape the cavity and pollute my gravy drippings. But , I never had to do that years ago.
Interesting. I have not noticed that. Sorry I am of little help here.
It was kind of you to reply. Thanks, anyway. I used to make roasts all the time, but, having the gravy ruined turned me off. It seems like they still have blood in them. In fact, NONE of the chicken is like it used to be, sadly. Stringy fibers, added water, etc. Sad because I used to love chicken. I think they are rushing things, and it shows in the quality. I don’t blame the farmers. I blame the big companies.
Maybe you can find a local organic farmer that will sell you chicken straight from the farm? Good luck:)
Thank you. No chicken farmers near me, sadly. Going to try a local butcher.
I want to know when to use the taller or the shorter rack when roasting chicken in the convection microwave oven.
I am sorry I don’t use a microwave so I have no idea. Google is always a friend in these situations!
What is the difference between roasting and baking a chicken?
Same/same, different lol. Usually when we roast, we use higher temperatures than when we bake, and while roasting can be done in an oven, it can also be done over an open flame. Also when baking you aren’t usually looking to caramelize, while when we roast we definitely want that crispy golden skin or browned edge on vegetables. When referring to treats like cupcakes, cakes, pies, etc we exclusively use the word bake. And yet…you can bake chicken too, like when you place chicken breasts in a dish with a sauce let’s say, and cook it at a lower temperature. Hope that helps:)
Such a great tutorial! Thanks for this. Can’t wait to roast a whole chicken myself.
What a wonderful post with SO MANY great details.
Appreciate all the ideas and step-by-step.
Your roasted chickens are very inspiring!
Thanks. I am sincerely going to learn how to make a super juicy tasty chicken with your help!
Thanks for all the info! I forget how easy it is to roast a chicken and I use roast chicken in so many recipes!
It’s always nice to have a good roasted chicken recipe in your back pocket! Your bird looks fab!
I agree. Definitely a staple food!
Your chicken looks perfect! So juicy and tender. I’m definitely going to be using your tips…
I always learn so much when your post gets back to the basics. Now I just need to practice my carving!
Carving was a little tricky to learn, but once you get it, you get it 🙂
I love tender and juicy roast chicken! So many delicious possibilities with the recipes!
thanks for the tips, I have NEVER roasted a whole chicken and now am inspired to do so!
Get it girl!