Roasting a whole chicken is one of those big boy steps in your cooking career. For a first timer, it’s an intimidating process. First you have to go into the store, resist the urge to purchase those boneless tenderloins (again) and leave with the whole bird. Buying a whole chicken is just the first battle. Once you get it home. now what?
A whole chicken is big, oddly shaped, and filled with random, alien looking, parts in the cavity. While you could butcher it - that’s a whole other lesson - roasting it whole is a surprisingly easy, if you know what you’re doing.
If you’re a first timer, or even a semi-seasoned pro, we’re here to give you some of the basics on how to get the perfect roast chicken. Follow the steps below and we’ll guarantee that you’ll get a chicken that is crispy on the outside, moist on the inside, and perfectly cooked all of the way through. But if you’re more of a visual learner, we’ve got you covered too.
1 (4- to 5-pound) whole chicken, neck and giblets removed from the cavity
A couple of stalks of celery
1 tablespoon olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 medium lemon, thinly sliced (optional)
Fresh herbs, such as parsley, rosemary, or thyme (optional)
Here’s what to do:
1. Heat the oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
2. Place the chicken on a work surface or cutting board and pat it dry with paper towels. Cut off and discard any extra fat hanging around the body cavity.
3. Slice the vegetables into chunky pieces and place on a baking sheet.
4. Drizzle the oil on the chicken and rub it all over the skin. Season generously inside and out with salt and pepper. Place the lemon and herbs inside the cavity, if using. Place the chicken breast-side up on top of the vegetables on the baking sheet.
5. Roast the chicken in the oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375°F and continue roasting until the juices run clear and a thermometer inserted into the inner thigh (but not touching the bone) registers 165°F, about 50 minutes to 1 hour more.
6. Remove the chicken from the oven and place on a cutting board. Let it rest about 15 to 20 minutes before carving.
If you’ve followed the above, congrats, you’re now enjoying some of the best chicken of your life. Once you’ve practiced a few times and got the basics down, here are a few more ideas to test out with your newly found skills:
1. Roasted Rosemary and Lemon Chicken
Just like our basic roasted chicken recipe, only upgraded. Stuffed with lemons, garlic, and rosemary this chicken is a delicious alternative to our classic preparation. Get our recipe for Roasted Rosemary and Lemon Chicken.
2. Five-Spice Roasted Chicken
For an Asian take on roast chicken, try our version featuring five-spice powder - the Chinese blend of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper and fennel seeds. Get our recipe for Five-Spice Roasted Chicken.
3. Molly Ringwald’s Whole Roasted Chicken
Not only can Molly Ringwald steal your heart, she can also steal your stomach. Molly’s recipe for roast chicken takes the basic recipe and pumps the oven temp up to 500 for super crispy skin. Get our recipe for Molly Ringwald’s Whole Roasted Chicken.
4. Sumac Chicken with Bread Salad
Sumac, a Middle Eastern spice, is known for imparting a lemony, tart flavor in foods. It’s no surprise then, that sumac is the perfect seasoning to on roast chicken (see recipe above, chicken + lemon = deliciousness). Get our recipe for Sumac Chicken with Bread Salad.
5. Fake Tandoori Chicken
If you’re jonesing for some Tandoori Chicken but live in a Tandoor-less house - as many of us do, unfortunately - our recipe for Fake Tandoori chicken might just hit the spot. While not 100% authentic, the flavors are reminiscent of the South Asian classic. Get our recipe for Fake Tandoori Chicken.
6. Truffle-Roasted Chicken
For the fancy pants chef with a little extra money to spend, try our recipe for Truffle Roast Chicken. The earth flavors of truffles - fresh if you can afford them, canned if you must - and madeira make this a perfect dish for one of the cooler nights this spring. Get our recipe for Truffle-Roasted Chicken.