This roasted chicken meal is my idea of the perfect Sunday dinner, and I’ll tell you why: there’s little prep involved, it’s pretty inexpensive, feeds a group, and the oven does all the work! Smear it in an herb butter mixture, surround it with vegetables, and roast it in the oven for about an hour! It’s one of the easiest meals you’ll ever make but it tastes amazing!!
My hope with this post is to help you feel confidant in your ability to totally knock this out of the park! The process is so SIMPLE that you don’t even need any special equipment, a basting brush, or even a roasting pan!
The key to success is to not overcook it (an overcooked chicken means a dry chicken, and a sad dinner party!). Grab your meat thermometer, and let’s walk through the steps!
Do’s and Don’ts for a perfect Roasted Chicken:
Thaw the whole chicken ahead of time.
Make sure your chicken is completely thaw before you begin, so if you bought a frozen chicken, allow it to thaw in the fridge 1-2 days ahead of time.
Don’t wash the chicken.
So maybe this may seem weird at first, but please avoid any inclination to wash your chicken in the sink, as it will contaminate your sink! Remove the chicken from its packaging and dry it off well with paper towels. Any bacteria on the chicken will be killed in the hot oven while it bakes.
Don’t baste the chicken.
Basting is really unnecessary to produce a chicken with crispy skin. It also requires you to constantly open the oven, which causes the oven to loose heat and the chicken to take longer to cook–which could lead to a dry chicken. By smearing an herb butter mixture over the outer and inner skin of the chicken you will ensure the skin will brown beautifully, and taste amazing.
Roast the chicken uncovered.
If you want to know how to get that beautiful crispy skin on your roast chicken, don’t cover it during the first part of cooking! The butter mixture that we smear on the outside of the chicken will help the skin to get nice and crispy, and the butter that goes under the skin of the chicken breasts will help protect the meat from overcooking and drying out.
After the skin gets golden you can then add a piece of tinfoil to cover the top of the bird, if you want.
Calculate how long to roast the chicken.
Start roasting the chicken at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes. Then, reduce the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees and roast it for 20 minutes per pound. So, if your chicken weighs 4 pounds, cook it for about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Do test the chicken with a thermometer.
Take the guess work away by using a meat thermometer (I love this one). Insert it into the thickest part of the thigh of the bird (make sure it’s not touching bone). Cook the chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). This is the recommended safe internal temperature for white and dark meat.
I usually take it out of the oven when it’s just shy of 165 degrees, and I cover it with tinfoil to allow it to rest and continue cooking the extra 1-2 degrees.
Do let the chicken rest.
After removing the chicken from the oven, let it rest for about 10 minutes before carving it. Carefully lift it to a cutting board and cover it with tinfoil. While it rests you can remove the veggies to a serving dish, and make chicken gravy with the drippings and juices that are left in the pan.
Can I make Roast Chicken in the Slow Cooker?
How to roast a chicken, step-by-step:
- Remove the chicken from its packaging and remove the neck and giblets from the cavity.
- Pat the chicken dry all over with paper towels.
- Combine butter, lemon zest, rosemary, and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Use your fingers to loosen the skin on top of the chicken breasts and smear some of the herb butter underneath. Season the outside of the chicken with salt and pepper.
- Microwave the remaining herb butter, just for a few seconds, to make it soft. Smear the butter all over the outside of the chicken. Add any extra butter mixture inside the cavity. Cut the lemons in half and place them inside the cavity fo the chicken.
- Add the chopped vegetables to the bottom of a 9×13 inch pan or large baking dish. Drizzle olive oil over the veggies and season them with salt and pepper.
- Place the chicken on top of the vegetables in the pan and season it all over with salt and pepper.
- Place the chicken into the oven and roast (uncovered) at 450 degrees F for 10-15 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and continue cooking for about 20 minutes per pound, or until an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Skin should be golden brown and the juices should be sizzling and run clear.
- When your chicken is finished cooking, remove it from the oven and cover it loosely with a sheet of tinfoil. Allow it to rest for about 10 minutes before carving to allow the juices to settle. If you cut it right away, the meat will loose that juice and be more tough and chewy.
- Serve the roasted vegetables, and save the pan drippings to make chicken gravy!
How to carve a whole chicken:
Start by removing the chicken legs. Pull one leg slightly away from the body and carefully slice through the leg meat and skin. Then, use a little more force and pull the leg away from the body until you hear the crack of the hip joint. When the hip bone pops up, place your sharp knife between the hip bone and the rest of the body and cut to remove it. Repeat these steps with the other leg.
Now separate the drumsticks and the thigh by placing your knife on the natural line that separates the drumstick and the thigh. Cut through this joint, separating the two pieces. Repeat with the other leg.
Next carve along one side of the breast bone to remove one side of breast meat. Place your knife along the natural line that separates the two breasts of the chicken and cut from front to back while pulling the breast meat away from the bone. Remove all the breast meat from the chicken. Slice the breast meat into portions by laying it skin side up and cutting it into thin portions.
At this point you can discard the carcass or use it to make delicious homemade chicken broth.
Consider trying these popular dinner recipes:
- Slow Cooker Pot Roast
- Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas
- Honey-Lime Chicken Enchiladas
- Italian Grilled Cheese
- Gourmet Baked Mac N Cheese with Bacon
- Crispy BBQ Chicken Wraps
- 1 whole chicken
- 4 Tablespoons butter , softened
- 1 lemon
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary (or 2 tsp dried rosemary, finely chopped)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3-4 large carrots , chopped
- 1 onion , chopped
- 1.5 lbs baby red potatoes , halved
- chicken gravy (optional)
- If your chicken is frozen, be sure to thaw it 1-2 days in advance. When ready to prepare, preheat oven to 450 degrees F and adjust your oven rack so the chicken will sit in the center of the oven.
- Remove neck and giblets from inside the cavity of the chicken and pat dry all over with paper towels.
- In a bowl, combine softened butter, zest of the lemon, and chopped rosemary. Season the outside of the chicken and inside the cavity with salt and pepper. Cut the lemon in half and place inside the cavity of the bird.
- Use your fingers to loosen and lift the skin above the breasts (on the top of the chicken) and smooth a few tablespoons of the herb butter underneath.
- Microwave the remaining herb butter mixture for 10 seconds (it doesn’t need to be melted, just softened). Smear the remaining herb butter all over the outside of the chicken, legs and wings.
- Add the onion, carrot and potato to the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Drizzle a little olive oil over the veggies, season them with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Place the chicken on top, and tie the legs together with kitchen twine if you want (not required).
- Roast the chicken, uncovered, at 450 degrees F for 10-15 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F and roast for 20 minutes per pound, or until internal temperature (inserted on middle of thigh and breast) reaches about 165 degrees. Skin should be golden brown and the juices should run clear.
- *Check the chicken about halfway through cooking and if the skin is getting overly brown you can cover it with a piece of tinfoil to protect the breast meat from overcooking.
- Remove chicken from the oven and cover with tinfoil. Allow it to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Serve with the cooked vegetables at the bottom of the pan.
- Optional: reserve the drippings in the roasting pan to make chicken gravy.
- Thaw the Chicken completely before using. If you bought it frozen, allow it to thaw in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.
- Don't Wash the Chicken, because that will only contaminate your sink. Any bacteria will be killed in the hot oven while it bakes, so just dry it off with paper towels.
- Calculate How Long to Cook: After you decrease the temperature, you will bake it for 20 minutes per pound. So, if your chicken weighs 4 pounds, cook it for roughly 1 hour and 20 minutes.
- Use a Thermometer to test for doneness. Chicken is cooked when it reaches 165°F (or just shy of that, as it will continue to cook as it rests under the aluminum foil). If it tastes dry, it was overcooked.
- Rest: Allowing the chicken to rest after it has baked allows the juices to soak back into the meat, making it more moist and tender.
- Don't Baste the Chicken: Basting the chicken is unnecessary to get a crispy skin and can actually cause the chicken to be dryer since you are constantly opening the oven and letting the heat out, which will cause it to take longer to cook.
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I originally shared this recipe December 2013. Updated August 2019.