This AMAZING Roasted Chicken recipe is so easy that even the most amateur cook can knock it out of the park! Plus step by step tutorial and video for how to cook it perfectly in the oven (or the slow cooker!). 
What I love most about this roast chicken is just how simple it really is! We don’t brine it, cook it upside down or anything weird, and the outcome is a super moist and flavorful chicken, with cooked potatoes, carrots and onion, making it a complete meal!
A roasted chicken on a bed of vegetables in a white 9 by 13 inch baking dish.

Roast Chicken

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?

Yes, you can cook the chicken in the slow cooker, but I will say I think it tastes better in the oven (and you won’t get the crispy skin if you cook it in the slow cooker). Prepare the chicken the same way and cook it on low for 4-6 hours.

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.

Side by side photos of a raw chicken on a white cutting board, a hand removing the giblets from the cavity and then patting the chicken dry with a paper towel.

  • 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.

Overhead view of a whole chicken with a hand loosening the skin on the breasts, next to another photo of a basting brush brush herb butter over 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.

Overhead view of a white baking dish with chopped carrot, red potato and onion next to another photo of a whole raw chicken sitting on top of the vegetables.

  • 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!

Overhead view of a roast chicken on top of chopped potatoes, carrots and onion, in a white baking dish.

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.

A roasted chicken in a white baking dish and a knife carving a chicken leg off, and then carving the chicken breast meat.

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.

Overhead photo of a white plate with the carved meat from a whole chicken, cooked carrots, potatoes and onion.

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Recipe

A roasted chicken on a bed of vegetables in a white 9 by 13 inch baking dish.
Prep 15 mins
Cook 1 hr 20 mins
Total 1 hr 35 mins
Add to Meal Plan

Ingredients
  

  • 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)

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 174kcalCarbohydrates: 198gProtein: 31gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 113mgPotassium: 686mgFiber: 4gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 6261IUVitamin C: 23mgCalcium: 34mgIron: 1mg

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I originally shared this recipe December 2013. Updated August 2019. 

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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  1. Hello! So I bought a fresh chicken (just under 5lbs, will this work (I might have to adjust time)? Also, could I prepare and season the chicken today, then freeze it and thaw it a couple days prior to baking? Thought it might be easier that way with one less thing to prepare, but I’m not sure how it will freeze with the butter mixture? Can I substitute anything else for the dried rosemary? Thank you so much and happy holidays!!

  2. I tried this recipe with lime zest instead of lemon zest…the flavor was still out of this world and the juices made the most delicious sauce imaginable. Will definitely be making this again!

  3. 5 stars
    I am the world’s worst cook and hate cooking anything. Baking I don’t mind but cooking has always been my nemesis! THIS however was the BEST thing I have ever made!!! It was so so simple!! I wish I could share a photo. The Lemon and the herb butter really make it! We used creamer potatoes and left the onion chunks pretty good size. I will be making this again and again. Thank you!!! And my husband, who pretty much gave up on me ever cooking anything edible, also thanks you!

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