A good roast chicken should be a mainstay of every kitchen. Simple, delicious, and endlessly comforting, it's the perfect meal to make on a Sunday night to share with the whole family.
A roast chicken is one of those classic meals that every aspiring home chef should know how to make. The trouble is, it is sometimes really difficult to make it perfect.
Whether from over-cooking or under-cooking, preparing poultry for the family is sometimes a bit daunting. So, to make it easier here is a simple guide for how to make a delicious, albeit super simple roast chicken.
Ingredients for Roast Chicken
This is just a quick list of the ingredients, please see the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post for the exact amounts.
- Whole chicken
How to Make Roast Chicken
- If needed, remove the giblets from the chicken, then salt the cavity and the outside of the bird.
- Add the garlic and chopped up citrus to the cavity.
- Separate the skin from the breast meat using your fingers, then rub in the herbs and butter, spreading it around the outside of the skin as well.
- Place in a rack in a roasting dish, tie the legs together and bake for 15 minutes per pound.
- For extra tenderness, baste the bird every 30 minutes.
- Once internal temperature at the thickest part of the thigh reads 160 Fahrenheit (use a meat thermometer to determine this) , pull the chicken and cool for 10 minutes before slicing.
How to Tell if Your Roast Chicken is Done
The biggest thing that people are often scared about when it comes to eating poultry is the risk of food-borne illnesses. Under-cooked chicken has a pretty bad reputation thanks to salmonella and other potential illnesses, so some people get stressed about making it.
If you are lucky enough to have invested in a quality instant-read thermometer, you can stick it into the bird to find out just how cooked it is. To test, stick the thermometer into the deepest part of the thigh meat, as this is going to be the coldest part of the bird.
Making sure your thermometer isn’t touching bone, check to see if the meat is at 185 Fahrenheit. Once it hits that temperature, you can take it from the oven and then get ready to serve.
The official safe temperature for chicken, the temperature at which all food-borne pathogens are killed, is 165 Fahrenheit. however for texture, the thigh meat should be at least 185 °F.
How to Make a Tender, Juicy Roast Chicken
Another big problem when making roast chicken is trying to keep the meat tender and juicy. The problem comes from the fact that the breasts and thighs are different kinds of meat and require different amounts of cooking.
If you really want to try and go the extra step for juiciness, there are a few things you can do.
- Firstly, you could try cooking the chicken upside down! Placing the chicken on a wire rack or on a sheet pan breast-side down allows the thighs to be exposed to the hotter temperatures a lot easier than the rest of the meat. You can then temp check your chicken’s breasts, only pulling when the breast meat hits 165 °. This should result in your chicken thighs and dark meat sitting around 180-190 Fahrenheit. However, before you worry that this temperature is too overdone, remember that dark meat is different. When it overcooks, it starts to fall apart like barbeque and doesn't become hard and tough to eat like chicken breasts tend to.
- You could also try making spatchcocked chicken, which is where you cut out the spine with a pair of sharp kitchen scissors or poultry shears. This lets you place the bird flat on the pan, allowing for even cooking and ensuring you will hit the same temperature across the entire bird.
- GRAVY – this is a citrusy based roast chicken recipe and the droppings will taste that way. If you are going to make gravy, replace the orange and lime with a white onion cut into quarters and place that into the cavity.
What to Serve with Roast Chicken
Try some of these side dishes that are reader favorites!
Looking for more delicious chicken recipes? Try these:
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- Prep Time
- 20 minutes
- Main Course
- Karlynn Johnston
- one 3-4 pound whole chicken
- 1 lemon
- 1 orange
- 1 lime
- 6 sprigs rosemary
- 3-4 sprigs sage
- 4 cloves garlic smashed flat
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon salt
- Clean the chicken, then remove giblets and neck from cavity
- Salt the cavity of the bird, saving half of the salt for the outside of the bird later one.
- Add the garlic cloves to cavity
- Chop citrus and add to cavity
- Butter the outside skin of the chicken. Sprinkle the remaining salt on top.
- Using your fingers, gently separate the skin from the breast meat and place the herbs and some butter under the skin.
- Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting dish.
- Tie the legs together with the kitchen twine as show in the photos.
- Place the chicken in the 350 degrees F oven . Cook 20 minutes per pound. Calculate this AFTER the first 15 minutes of cooking.
- After 30 minutes begin basting the outside of the bird if desired with any drippings in the pan. You can baste it every 30 minutes until done.
- Chicken is cooked when an internal meat thermometer reads 185°F in the thigh area.
- Pull the chicken out of oven and let sit for 10 minutes before slicing.
- If making a gravy from drippings, omit the orange and the lime and replace with a large white onion cut into quarters and place into the cavity.
All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.