How to perfectly roast a chicken in the oven

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Amazon

There’s nothing quite as tasty and versatile as a whole chicken roasted to golden perfection. Add roasted potatoes and carrots, and you have a traditional Sunday night dinner that can’t be beaten.

You can also shred the cooked meat and add it to a green salad for a nutritionally complete lunch; make chicken salad with the diced meat, mayonnaise, chopped celery, and your favorite spices and enjoy it between slices of whole-grain bread; or combine cubed roasted chicken with bagged mixed cut veggies, chicken broth, and cooked noodles for the easiest-ever chicken noodle soup.

Whatever your intentions for the cooked bird, we break down the steps to achieve the tastiest results in this guide.

We also recommend a great roasting pan and meat thermometer to get if you don’t have them yet.

How to roast a chicken in the oven

  1. As a general rule, a three-to-four pound chicken will serve four, while a four-to-five pound chicken will serve five or six, so choose your poultry accordingly.
  2. Cut and remove the plastic supermarket wrapper from the raw chicken, and pluck out the bag of giblets from inside the chicken’s body cavity. You can save the giblets to cook in a soup or stew or toss them, depending on your preferences.
  3. Do not wash or rinse the raw bird. While this practice was often encouraged in the past, today the US Department of Agriculture recommends against it, as it isn’t likely to entirely remove bacteria from the raw meat, but may well spread harmful bacteria around your kitchen.
  4. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees, with the rack set in the oven’s center.
  5. Put the chicken in your roasting pan with the breast facing up. Blot the bird with paper towels to remove excess moisture. If there is any loose skin or fat, cut or pull that off. If you don’t have a roasting pan, we recommend this one from Cuisinart.
  6. For the perfect golden crust, you’ll need to rub some sort of oil into the chicken’s skin before roasting. Melted butter is one absolutely delicious option. Olive oil is another excellent choice, although you can also use vegetable, safflower, or sunflower oil. Whichever you choose, massage the oil over the outer surface of the chicken.
  7. Add extra flavor to the chicken meat with a handful of fresh herbs placed inside the bird’s body cavity. Fresh rosemary, sage, or thyme is especially good. You can also toss in a few garlic cloves, a sliced lemon, or even a few pieces of chopped celery. Don’t overstuff the bird, however, which can prevent it from cooking through evenly. For the final touch, sprinkle salt over the oiled surface of the chicken.
  8. If you want a full meal cooked in one pan, now’s the time to add cut up potatoes, onions, or carrots to the roasting pan. Spread them around the chicken, but leave some space between the bird and the vegetables for airflow.
  9. Pop the roasting pan into the heated oven. Do not cover the pan with foil, as that will cause the bird to steam, not roast.
  10. As a general rule, it will take one hour to one-and-a-half hours for the chicken to cook to perfection. You’ll know the bird is done when the skin is a golden brown, juices run clear – not pink or red – when you poke the chicken with a fork, and most importantly, a meat thermometer like the ThermoPro Digital Instant Read Thermometer reads at least 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh.
  11. Remove the roasting pan from the oven, and let it sit for at least 10 to 20 minutes before carving. This lets the juices settle evenly throughout the chicken meat for the most flavorful and tender results.
  12. Enjoy!

Buy the Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Stainless Roasting Pan on Amazon for $41.31

Buy the ThermoPro Digital Instant Read Thermometer on Amazon for $12.99

Read our guide to the best meat thermometers.