Simple Whole Roasted Chicken
Simple whole roasted chicken just might be the easiest roast chicken recipe. It’s incredibly simple to make, in fact, all the prep work is done the night before and results in juicy meat and crisp skin.
What is Simple Whole Roasted Chicken?
If this is your first time cooking a whole chicken, you’re going to be shocked at how simple it is and what you’ve been missing from your life!
Just like our Herb Roasted Turkey Breast, this recipe is perfect for a weeknight dinner or dressed up and served for a holiday meal.
What makes this recipe so easy? The chicken is doused in a lemon and fresh herb mixture the night before and roasted the next day (in the same pan too). Resulting in the most tender and flavorful chicken meat.
Salting the Chicken Overnight is Key
The key to tasty and juicy chicken is salting the chicken ahead of time. Not just sprinkling a little salt on top of your chicken before roasting but really seasoning every surface of the meat, including skin along the backbone, inside the cavity, and under the wings.
This should be done at least up to 1 day before roasting the chicken. Be sure the chicken is thawed and ready to go by then.
Salting the chicken ahead of time will draw the moisture out of the chicken but then the chicken will absorb all of that moisture and flavor back resulting in the most tender bird ever.
Pretty much anything! This simple whole roasted chicken is the ultimate comfort food for a Sunday night dinner or a holiday main dish. Here are some delicious sides that serve well:
Seasonings to Use
The best roast chicken recipe uses herbs and spices to flavor the meat.
You can use all different combinations of spices and herbs. Depending on the holiday, your family traditions, or your favorite flavors, you can mix and match these ingredients to make your own spice blend.
- Herbs: Marjoram, tarragon, cilantro, sage
- Spices: Dried basil, onion powder, curry, chili powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, ginger, cumin, nutmeg
- whole chicken
- olive oil
- lemon juice and zest
- fresh rosemary
- fresh thyme
- fresh parsley
- garlic powder
- kosher salt
- black pepper
A Few Notes & Tips
Before you get started, here are a few tips to ensure a foolproof whole roasted chicken:
- No fresh garlic. Avoid using fresh garlic as it burns easily in the oven.
- Don’t skip on fresh herbs. For best flavor, use fresh herbs.
- Salting is the key. Take your time seasoning the chicken with salt. You want every inch of the chicken well seasoned.
- Cover with aluminum foil. If the chicken begins to brown too much on top, loosely cover it with aluminum foil.
- A perfect size pan makes a difference. Use a pan with some room around the chicken. Do not overcrowd or use a really big pan either. A 9X13 baking dish works great for a four-pound chicken.
- Rest before carving. Allow chicken to rest for 10-15 minutes before carving and serving.
How to Make Simple Whole Roasted Chicken
Here’s a quick summary of how to make a roast chicken recipe:
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, rosemary, thyme, parsley, and garlic powder.
Place the chicken into a roasting pan or a baking dish breast side up. Pat dry with paper towels and pour the oil and herb mixture over the chicken covering all over, including the inside of the chicken cavity.
Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to roast, uncover the chicken, tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken.
Roast breast side up for about 1 hour at 425F. Let rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.
How to Get the Skin Crispy
The key to getting the skin crispy without making the chicken dry out is to slowly cook the inside and then quickly crisp the outside.
Start by thoroughly drying the outside of the chicken with paper towels and then spreading it with a fat like olive oil or melted butter.
If the top begins to darken faster than the inside is cooking, cover the top with aluminum foil.
Also, if you’re basting the chicken with its accumulated juices, you may want to broil it right before serving. This will ensure it doesn’t dry out and still give you golden brown chicken skin.
The Best Way to Check the Temperature of a Whole Roasted Chicken
It’s important to check the temperature of a whole chicken to ensure it’s reached the proper threshold for killing bacteria with an instant-read thermometer.
The best place to do this is in the thickest part of the thigh since this is where it takes the longest to cook.
The temperature should reach 165°F, which has been determined to be the optimal temperature for cooking chicken.
Allow the chicken to rest for 10 – 30 minutes in the shallow roasting pan or on a ridged cutting board after it’s cooked. This will allow the juices to recirculate and make for a juicier bird.
How to Cut a Whole Roast Chicken
It may seem intimidating to cut a whole chicken, but it’s really very easy.
When the chicken has cooled enough to handle, using a large sharp knife, start by pulling the leg away from the body. Use your knife to gently rotate the thigh bone and pull it free from the body of the chicken. Repeat with both chicken legs.
Slice the breast meat from the bird by gently sliding your knife along the bone at the top toward the bottom. You’ll need to slice it the rest of the way off when you reach the end.
You can choose whether you want to eat the wings or save them to make chicken stock.
Once you’re done pulling any remaining meat from the body, use any juices left behind to pour over the chicken meat or make a sauce or gravy.
Save the bones to make a chicken broth by placing them in a large bag in the freezer for up to three months.
How to Cook Vegetables with Roast Chicken
Root vegetables are some of the best vegetables you can cook with a roast chicken.
Prepare russet or red potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, acorn squash, or parsnips by removing the skin and cutting them into two-inch pieces.
Place the vegetables around the chicken in the pan and then put the whole dish in the oven to cook.
The vegetables will be wonderfully roasted and flavorful from the pan drippings.
Recipe Variation: Try our Roasted Half Chicken. It’s incredibly easy to prepare!
How to Stuff a Chicken
You might want to stuff your chicken with herbs, vegetables, or a prepared filling.
This is a tradition often seen for holidays that does double duty. It increased the flavor of the chicken and makes the stuffing rich and savory.
You have two options when it comes to stuffing your chicken. The first is to eat the stuffing when the chicken is done cooking, and the second is only to use it for flavoring.
This is an important distinction because you’ll need to do an extra step if you plan on eating the stuffing.
As the bird cooks, the juices will fall through the stuffing in the chicken cavity and flavor the ingredients. Keep in mind it’s dripping raw chicken juice, which needs to be fully cooked before it can be safely eaten.
You’ll need to ensure both the chicken and the stuffing inside are fully cooked before eating them. You can check the temperature of both by using a meat thermometer. They will both need to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F before coming out of the oven.
Refrigerate: Store leftover chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days.
Reheat: You can heat up this chicken in the microwave in 30-second increments until it’s warmed all the way through. Or on the stovetop in a skillet with a little broth over medium-low heat. Also, feel free to eat it cold or put it in a chicken salad.
Freeze: Freezing chicken is a great option if you want to save it to eat for later. It thaws well as long as it’s protected from freezer burn.
To prevent this, wrap the chicken in plastic wrap before putting it in a large freezer bag. The chicken will stay fresh for up to three months. To thaw, place it in the refrigerator overnight.
You can roast or bake anywhere between 325 and 450 degrees F. For this recipe, 425 degrees F is the sweet spot.
It takes around one hour to cook a regular-size chicken (about 4+ pounds). This can vary depending on a few different factors, including the temperature of your oven if the chicken is cold or room temperature, or if the chicken is stuffed.
Basting chicken is an excellent way to ensure it’s moist and cooks evenly. You don’t need to baste if you don’t have the time or aren’t able to.
Simple Whole Roasted Chicken
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Main
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: American
Herb roasted chicken just might be the easiest roast chicken recipe. All the prep work is done the night before.
- 4 lb. whole chicken
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 large lemon, juiced and zested
- 1 tsp. fresh minced rosemary
- 1 tsp. fresh minced thyme
- 1 Tbsp. fresh minced parsley
- 3/4 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. kosher salt (tablespoon and NOT teaspoon)
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, rosemary, thyme, parsley, and garlic powder. Set aside.
- Discard giblets inside the chicken cavity and pat dry the chicken with paper towels, including the inside of the cavity. Place the chicken in a 9X13 deep baking dish or similar size roasting pan. Pour the oil and herb mixture over the chicken spreading all over, including the cavity. Liberally season the chicken with salt and pepper all over, including the skin along the backbone, inside the cavity, and under the wings. Take your time as you want every inch of the chicken well seasoned.
- Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Uncover the chicken and tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Make sure the chicken is laying breast-side up. Let stand at room temperature while the oven preheats.
- Roast for 1 hour basting halfway through or until juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken from the oven and cover loosely with aluminum foil for about 10-15 minutes before carving and serving.
- Do not use fresh garlic as it will burn.
- Take your time seasoning the chicken will salt. Not only will it add flavor but also make the chicken incredibly tender. Use all of the salt.
- Roast chicken on the middle rack. If it begins to brown too much on top, cover loosely with aluminum foil.
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 711
- Sugar: 0.3 g
- Sodium: 2530.2 mg
- Fat: 30.6 g
- Carbohydrates: 1.8 g
- Protein: 102.2 g
- Cholesterol: 330.9 mg
Keywords: roast chicken, easy chicken, holidays
Originally published November 2021