Learn how to make a perfect roast chicken, with tender, juicy chicken meat and irresistibly crispy skin. Whether you opt for a convection or conventional oven, I'll walk you through exactly how to roast it in the easiest way possible. Read the full post for plenty of tips, seasoning options and serving ideas.
With the unmistakable aroma of a perfectly roasting chicken filling your kitchen (and maybe a batch of sourdough stuffing in the slow cooker), you'll instantly feel like a seasoned chef.
From the savory dark meat (my favorite part!) to the tender white meat, every part of this whole chicken is infused with flavor and topped with a crispy skin.
Whether it's your very first time attempting to roast a whole bird or you're a seasoned cook looking for the best roast chicken recipe, you've come to the right place.
I'll walk you through, step by step so that you can be confident opening your oven door to a delicious roasted chicken.
So let's get cooking!
- Whole Chicken: Ensure your chicken is fully defrosted.
- Onion and Aromatics: Aromatics add flavor to your chicken and drippings. At a minimum, I recommend using an onion but you can also include carrots, apples and lemon. I like to add a few to the bottom of the roasting pan as well to help the chicken sit up a bit from the juices.
- Butter: Butter (salted or unsalted) adds richness and helps to achieve a golden color with the skin. If you need the recipe to be dairy free, you can use avocado oil or leave it off and just make a dry rub from the seasonings.
- Salt: This will be used in the butter rub and to generously season the cavity. I prefer fine sea salt but table or kosher salt will work as well.
- Black Pepper: This is used both in the butter rub as well as to generously season the cavity.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic cloves provide a wonderful flavor to the butter mixture but it can be left out. Alternatively, you can use 1 teaspoon of garlic powder.
- Poultry Seasonings: A blend of thyme, sage, rosemary and sometimes marjoram and nutmeg is classic for poultry seasoning. If you would like to use freshly chopped herbs, you will need ¼ cup.
1. Preheat the oven. Move your oven rack to the second lowest position to allow plenty of room for your roasting pan and set the oven temperature to 350 F.
2. Prepare chicken. Place the chicken on a large baking sheet, remove the giblets from the chicken, pick off any remaining feathers and dry chicken by patting with paper towels.
3. Make butter mixture. In a small bowl, melt butter and mix with garlic and seasonings.
4. Season and stuff the cavity. Place the onion and any other aromatics you are using into the cavity of the chicken. Generously sprinkle with salt, pepper and seasonings.
Brush the butter mixture evenly over the chicken.
5. Roast. Place some aromatics (such as sliced carrots, onions and apples) on the bottom of the roasting pan (be aware of the size of the bird and make sure you choose a large enough baking pan). Place chicken on top (breast side up), taking care to tuck the chicken wings so that they don't dry out.
If your oven has a "Convection Bake or Roast" setting, turn it on to 325 F and cook for 1.25-1.5 hours until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the chicken taken with an instant-read thermometer reads 165 F and the skin is golden brown.
*Some convection ovens automatically set the convection temperature 25 degrees lower, in which case you may have to set it to 350 F in order to have it be at 325 F CONVECT.
The cook time will vary depending on the size, but as a general rule, I find a 4 pound chicken to be done around 1.5 hours. If your chicken is larger than that, you would need to extend the cooking time.
6. Rest. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for a minimum of 10-15 minutes. If planning to make gravy, you can move it to a large, rimmed cutting board in order to remove the drippings from the bottom of the pan.
7. Carve. If you have never done it before, this is a great chicken carving tutorial.
Leftovers and Storage
To Store: Store leftover oven-roasted chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
To Freeze: Chicken can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
To Reheat: Rewarm in the oven at 350 F or in the microwave.
Make it Your Own
While I love the classic, Thanksgiving-style seasonings written in the recipe card, you can use this roasting method with alternative seasonings for a different flavor profile. Here are some ideas:
- BBQ: Rub the chicken with 2 tablespoons of your preferred barbecue seasoning blend (or my go to dry rub- 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon chili powder, ¼ teaspoon cayenne) and serve with extra Barbecue Sauce.
- Italian Inspired: Season it with 1 tablespoon each of dried oregano, basil, thyme, and rosemary along with salt and pepper and use olive oil in place of butter.
- Rotisserie-Style: In addition to the salt and pepper, rub the chicken with 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, and a pinch of cayenne to replicate the flavors of your favorite store-bought rotisserie chicken.
- Cajun: Give your chicken a spicy kick by using Cajun Seasoning in place of the seasonings in the recipe. Use about 1 tablespoon on the inside and 1 tablespoon on the outside.
What to Serve with Roast Chicken
Roast chicken is a versatile dish that pairs beautifully with various sides such as:
- Veggies: Roasted Carrots and Asparagus, Green Beans or Brussels Sprouts
- Homemade Gravy: Cornstarch Gravy is the best way to use up those pan drippings.
- Potatoes: Mashed Potatoes and roast chicken are a classic duo. But this chicken also pairs great with Apple Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Onion Roasted Potatoes or Baked Fries too.
- Rice: Pumpkin Rice or Lemon Herb Rice.
- Fresh Bread: Such as Honey Oat Bread.
- Stuffing: While the chicken cooks, whip up this simple recipe for Homemade Sourdough Dressing.
Uses for Roast Chicken
Don't let any leftover roast chicken go to waste. Here are great ways use it up:
- Add it to Salad, such as a Santa Fe Salad
- Make Chicken Pot Pie
- Tacos or Nachos
- Fried Rice
- Soup, like this Pumpkin Rice Soup
Tips For the Best Roast Chicken
For best results, be sure to follow these tips!
- Properly Thaw the Chicken: If using a frozen chicken, make sure it's fully thawed before roasting by placing it in the refrigerator 2 days before cooking. An hour before cooking, set it out of the fridge to allow it to come to room temperature.
- Use a Convection Oven: For crispy chicken skin, I love using a convection oven. The circulating hot air helps achieve that desired crispy texture so I highly recommend using the "convection roast" or "convection bake" setting if your oven is equipped. If yours isn't, not too worry, your chicken will still be delicious!
- Season Generously: Don't be shy with the salt and pepper. Generously season both the outside and inside of the entire chicken.
- Don't Overcook: I highly recommend using an instant-read thermometer and removing the chicken when the thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken reads 165°F (74°C). It is the best way to know that it is done without over cooking it.
- Cover If Needed: If your chicken seems to be browning too quickly on the top, you can loosely tent it with aluminum foil while it finishes cooking.
- DON'T SKIP Resting!: Allowing the roasted chicken to rest for at least 10-15 minutes before carving is arguably the most important thing you have to do to ensure a juicy result as it lets the juices redistribute.
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Roast Chicken (Convection or Standard Oven)
- 4 lb whole chicken
- 2 yellow onion cut into large chunks
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon ground poultry seasoning divided, or ¼ cup fresh
- 1 tablespoon salt divided
- 2 teaspoon pepper divided
- Move your oven rack to the lowest position to allow plenty of room for your roasting pan and set the oven temperature to 350 °F.
- Place chicken on a large sheet pan, remove giblets, and pat dry with paper towels.
- Melt butter, mix with minced garlic, ½ tablespoon poultry seasoning, ½ tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.
- Place onion and aromatics in chicken's cavity. Sprinkle with remaining ½ tablespoon poultry seasoning, ½ tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Brush the entire exterior with the butter mixture.
- Place the extra onion and additional aromatics (such as sliced carrots and apples) on the bottom of the roasting pan and place chicken on top (breast side up), taking care to tuck the chicken wings so that they don't dry out.
- If your oven has a "Convection Bake or Roast" setting, turn it to 325 °F Convection (If not, just roast it on regular at 350 °F). Cook for 1.25-1.5 hours until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the chicken taken with an instant-read thermometer is 165 F and the skin is golden brown.
- Let chicken rest for 15 minutes (don't skip!).