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How to Roast a Whole Chicken

How to Roast a Whole Chicken

Whole chickens (or whole anything for that matter) seem intimidating.  I avoided them for quite awhile because I assumed they were too much work and they kind of freaked me out.  Then I started buying meat from the farmers market and was motivated to try some less expensive cuts because local free range meat can get expensive!  Whole chickens among the cheapest in terms of price per pound so we gave them a try and have never turned back.  They’re now one of our favorite go to dinners any day of the week.  Whole chicken is delicious, inexpensive, requires very little hands on time and is a great comfort food.  A roast chicken will yield a pile of delicious meat, pan drippings for gravy and if you’re feeling motivated, a carcass for making stock.  So impress your guests, your wallet and your tastebuds with this simple, wholesome technique.

Roast Chicken


  • 3 1/2 -4 lb whole chicken, thawed
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Optional – a couple pounds of vegetables such as carrots, onions, celery, potatoes, etc., chopped
  • Optional – fresh herbs of choice, garlic, citrus slices


  • Roasting pan or ovenproof dish


  • Remove the giblets from inside the chicken – often they’ve already been placed in a plastic bag in the chicken cavity.  If not, just take a spoon and scoop any extra bits out of the cavity.
  • Generously sprinkle the bird with salt (and a little pepper) inside and out – this step can be done up to 24 hours in advance for extra flavor.
  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  • If you’re using vegetables, toss them with salt, pepper and olive oil in the bottom of your roasting pan and settle your chicken (breast side up) on top.  For extra flavor you can stuff the cavity with any combination of fresh herbs, garlic, citrus slices, etc.  You can also slip herbs underneath the chicken’s skin.
  • Roast for about 1 hour until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through.  When it’s done the drumsticks will wiggle freely in their sockets and if you prick the chicken the juice will be clear, not pink.  Or you can just use a thermometer – the internal temperature should be at least 165 (the thighs are the last part to finish cooking so check there).
  • Remove chicken from the oven, place it on a platter, cover with aluminum foil and wait at least 10-15 minutes before carving.  If you’re dying to eat right away, that’s fine – it just won’t be as juicy.


  • If you’d like directions on making gravy from your pan drippings, click here:
  • Try to find a roasting pan/dish that holds your chicken somewhat snuggly (but without overflowing). Smaller pans help prevent the drippings from burning.
  • Taking you chicken out of the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking will help it to roast more evenly.

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