Roast Chicken

I love roasting chicken. It takes a while, but the leftovers also last for a few days and you can do a lot with them so it’s worth it to do once in a while if you have the time. It’s also awesome because it’s versatile, it is chicken after all, so it can be absolutely basic OR more complicated (or sophisticated, if that makes you feel better about it) and still be dericious (that isn’t a typo).

Click here for the Allrecipes.com way of making roast chicken, the below cooking chart is from their website as well as some of the steps I outline.
Click here for an awesome video on how to roast a chicken. Jess Dang has her own cooking blog that is instrumental to how I cook without recipes. It looks pretty intimidating, but it’s worth browsing because her JOB is to teach people how to cook from the beginning.

You’ll need:
A strong stomach. This is a real chicken. Not chicken breast, not boneless and skinless chicken thighs, the WHOLE chicken. With innards (aka giblets), an empty chest cavity, and intact neck. It’s pretty much the size and shape of a small baby, so steer clear if that’s going to freak you out.
A chicken, obviously (any size works but keep in mind that larger chickens will take longer to cook, refer to the chart below for cooking times)
Meat thermometer (I cannot stress how important meat thermometers are for something like this. No one likes slicing into a chicken and then realize it’s undercooked. If you pop it back into the oven after taking a giant slice into the flesh, the juices will run out and chicken will be dry. Your best best for undercooked chicken is to slice it anyway and pop it in the microwave for one minute intervals. Also, larger chickens aka “roasters” will already come with a single use meat thermometer that pops up when the chicken reaches the optimal internal temperature).
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons of butter

Optional (but ideal):
A small onion, quartered, and a bulb of garlic. These will go a long way to making the chicken more flavorful
Butcher’s string, also known as kitchen twine. ABSOLUTELY DO NOT use regular string you get from an office supply store. The purpose of this string/twine from the grocery store or cooking supply store is that 1) there are no toxic chemicals or dyes that can leach into the food or alter the taste and 2) it won’t burn/melt to a crisp in the oven.
Herbs! (dried or fresh) As long as you have salt and pepper, you can pretty much use whatever combination of herbs you want. Want to make it Indian inspired? Use cumin and curry powder! Jerk chicken, Thai chicken, go for it! Personally, I like fresh sprigs of rosemary, dried thyme, paprika, oregano.
Diced vegetables to bake with the chicken. I like to stuff the chest cavity with a peeled and quartered onion and then surround the chicken in the pan with other veggies. Suggestions: parsnips, potatoes, yams (aka sweet potatoes), butternut squash, carrots, celery, etc. As long as it doesn’t burn to a crisp when you bake it at high heat. Don’t be a dummy and use lettuce or something lame like that.

Now you’re ready to conquer this!

STEP ONE: Release the chicken from it’s plastic bondage. Be careful that you don’t get the nasty chicken juice everywhere. You’re also going to retrieve the giblets from somewhere inside the cavity or packaging; it may come in a little baggy or be on the loose and running amok.

STEP TWO (optional): Brine the chicken. Brine (a verb AND a noun) is just salt water. You’re soaking the chicken in salt water. This makes the chicken juicier and more flavorful. Don’t ask me how it works, but it works and questioning it won’t make it any more awesome. The catch is that brining takes a lot of salt, a lot of fridge room, and a lot of time, which is why it’s optional. NOTE: you do NOT need to brine a kosher chicken because it will have already been brined. Make enough brine/saltwater to submerge your chicken with the following ratio: 1/2 cup salt for every 2 quarts of water aka 8 cups of water. Brine for a least an hour, but no longer than 6 hours (Fun Fact: a quart of water is 4 cups, thus quart as in a quarter, which is a quarter of a dollar. Is your mind blown yet?? Consequently, a pint is 2 cups, which is half of a quart but you would never know that without looking it up. The imperial system of measurement is a fickle thing).

STEP THREE: Pour the brine down the drain, rinse the chicken with cool water (warm water will already start to cook the chicken), and pat dry with paper towels. Patting it dry is key for a chicken because then it won’t be too salty and the herbs will adhere better to the skin rather than bunch together in clumps.

STEP FOUR (optional): Return the chicken to the fridge (uncovered) for at least an hour up or for as long as overnight to dry. This allows for crispier skin. DO NOT leave it on your counter to dry, this is a serious food safety violation. PUT IT IN THE FRIDGE. Don’t have the space? Good thing this is optional.

STEP FIVE (optional): What to do with the giblets? You can throw it away, or cook them up and give them to your dog/cat, or make gravy, or use them to make stock, or use them for a meal in a slow cooker. I just bake them and eat them because they’re perfectly edible and I’m not bothered by stuff like that because I’ve grown up eating chicken feet and cow organs. I mix it up with melted butter, salt, pepper, and garlic. Then I make a small sachet of aluminum foil and set it aside for later.

STEP SIX: Preheat the oven and season the chicken. Reference “roasting methods” below for oven temperature. If it’s NOT brined: I would suggest about 1.5 tablespoon of salt, half of table spoon of pepper, and half a tablespoon of whatever other dried herbs you want to use. If it’s brined: then half a tablespoon of everything is perfect. With salt, less is more because you can always go back and salt more if you need to but you can never un-salt a chicken. Repeat until you have enough dry rub for the whole chicken, depending on size. Remember to put it all together in a separate bowl rather than dipping your fingers in the individual jars. Let’s not spread germs around. Sprinkle it in every crevice you can find, inside the cavity, under the skin (use a knife to cut the sinew attaching the skin to the body), over the skin, under the wings and legs, over the wings and legs, on the back, on the tail. EVERYWHERE.

ROASTING METHODS (from Allrecipes.com):

Regular method:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  • Roast whole (thawed) chickens for 20 minutes per pound, plus an additional 15 minutes.

High heat method (this creates a crispy, darker skin):

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) and cook whole (thawed) chicken for 10-15 minutes.
  • Then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and roast for 20 minutes per pound. (Do not add the extra 15 minutes to the cooking time as with the regular method.)

STEP SEVEN (optional): Stuff and truss the chicken. I like to line the cavity with sprigs of fresh rosemary. And then stuff it with smashed cloves of garlic and quarters of onion, alternating between the two. With that butcher’s twine, bring the legs together by wrapping the string around the legs in a figure eight. The end product will look something like this:

Trussed Chicken!

Trussed Chicken!

STEP EIGHT: Place and baste. Now that the chicken is seasoned and maybe stuffed and/or trussed, put that bad boy in your baking pan (roasting rack optional) and melt about 2 tablespoons of butter. Using a basting brush, spread that melted butter over every surface you can see. Don’t baste the bottom, but definitely the sides, in the crevices, etc WITHOUT clumping the dry rub. Apply generously and dab constantly. If you’re using vegetables, surround the chicken with those diced veggies.

STEP NINE: Roast. Follow those roasting methods instructions. Here they are again:


Regular method:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  • Roast whole (thawed) chickens for 20 minutes per pound, plus an additional 15 minutes.

High heat method (this creates a crispy, darker skin):

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) and cook whole (thawed) chicken for 10-15 minutes.
  • Then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and roast for 20 minutes per pound. (Do not add the extra 15 minutes to the cooking time as with the regular method.)

STEP TEN: Check on the chicken for with that meat thermometer towards the end the inner thigh will read at 165 degrees F if it’s cooked. If you plan on eating the giblets, throw that sachet in the oven about 30 mins before you plan on taking the chicken out of the oven. Allrecipes.com says:

“When you remove the chicken from the oven, cover it loosely with a doubled sheet of aluminum foil, and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing. This redistributes the juices and results in moister chicken.”

Use this chart to determine how long to roast your chicken:

Roasting Times Chart

Weight (in lbs.)

Regular Method

High Heat Method

2.5 to 3

1 hour 15 minutes

1 hour

3 to 3.5

1 hour 25 minutes

1 hour 10 minutes

3.5 to 4

1 hour 35 minutes

1 hour 20 minutes

4 to 4.5

1 hour 45 minutes

1 hour 30 minutes

4.5 to 5

1 hour 55 minutes

1 hour 40 minutes

5 to 5.5

2 hours 5 minutes

1 hour 50 minutes

5.5 to 6

2 hours 15 minutes

2 hours

6 to 6.5

2 hours 25 minutes

2 hours 10 minutes

6.5 to 7

2 hours 35 minutes

2 hours 20 minutes

7 to 7.5

2 hours 45 minutes

2 hours 30 minutes

That’s it! Okay, well it’s pretty complicated, but it’s worth it. If you try it, let me know how it turns out. If you have your own way of doing it, don’t be afraid to mention how YOU do it!