How To Roast A Whole Chicken: Perfect, Simple, Easy



When selecting a whole chicken to roast, keep it between a 3-pound chicken and a 5-pound chicken, this is about the average weight you will find at your local store. The size of the birds does matter, as larger birds will end up with tougher breast meat, no one wants that. If you are able to find one, a true pasture raised organic chicken really does make a difference. And buy fresh! No need for a frozen bird when fresh are readily available.

Prepping the Bird

Now that we have the bird home you want to carefully remove it from the packaging. I cut the top open where the drums are. I then gently pull up while holding the bag over a trash can. This way, any excess juices will go into the trash can and not all over your cutting board or counter top. I then use paper towels to dry the bird off both inside the chicken cavity and outside the chicken while also removing the chicken giblets. The bird is ready for seasoning!

We can approach this two ways. A Dry Rub which is a combination of dry herbs or a wet rub which we use Fresh Herbs. The recipe listed below will use the Fresh Herb approach but if you prefer the dry, simply omit this part and use your favorite poultry seasoning.

To begin the rub we will actually season the 5lb chicken with kosher salt only, rub it in and let it sit while we prepare the rub. This ensures we are able to evenly season the whole chicken.

For the wet rub we combine Olive oil with fresh thyme, rosemary, lemon zest, cracked black pepper and minced garlic and then massage that onto the outside of the chicken. Using the lemons you zested, cut a few slices, about ¼” thick and toss them into the cavity of the chicken.

Now using a large roasting pan, place a mixture of carrots, celery and onions and then lay the whole bird on top of this. This will reinforce the pan drippings which we can later use to make the sauce, it will also make for easier cleanup. If you are using, or want to use a roasting rack, go ahead but keep the mirepoix on the bottom of the roasting pan.


Cooking Time

To make this the perfect roast chicken, you will be cooking it at two different temperatures. We are going to roast the chicken at 300ºF for about 2 hours before turning it up to a higher temperature. After the first hour, baste some of the drippings onto the top of the bird, and keep repeating this every 30-45 minutes. We do this for a few reasons. The first is that high heat will only leave you with overcooked chicken in some parts and raw in others. A chicken will stay juicy and tender while cooked at 300 but the skin will be a sad mess, so thats why will turn it up later to finish.

We will then take an internal temperature using a  Place the thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh. We want this to be around 155. Keep the temperature at 300 until we get to this point. Then turn up the oven to a temperature of 375ºF to finish. The high temperature is what will give you a crisp skin. The final internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh needs to be 180º.


Finish Cooking

Now that this perfect roasted whole chicken is out of the oven, let it rest for about 15 minutes before carving into it. This helps keep it juicy. I don’t tent the chicken using aluminum foil as it can steam and all the work we put into creating the crispy skin by basting the bird will be for nothing. While the chicken is resting, drain the juices from the pan into a small bowl. In a small fry pan, saute some minced garlic and fresh thyme and then the pan juices. Bring to a simmer and then remove from heat. Spoon off any excess fat, but not all of it. Carve the roasted chicken into two chicken breasts, and then the chicken legs and thighs. Save the bones for making a homemade chicken stock. After you carve the bird, you will spoon this over the chicken pieces for that next level of flavor.


Notes: Even if you don’t like chicken breast meat as it can be dry and not very flavorful, you will love this traditional method of roasting a whole chicken. It is the closes thing you can get to a homemade rotisserie chicken. Also, as a general rule of thumb, cooked chicken does not reheat very well. Plan to shred any leftovers into a sauce like for a chicken tinga.

More Notes: This method will also work if you are looking for a spatchcock chicken recipe, you will need to adjust the cook time as the cooking process is slightly different but its a great way to get a roasted chicken cooked in a short time.