How To Roast The Perfect Whole Chicken
Find out how to roast a chicken to juicy perfection.
- whole chicken
- -roasting pan
- -meat thermometer
All you need is a roasting pan (or a baking sheet in a pinch) and an instant-read thermometer.
Using a roasting rack set over the pan will help the chicken cook more evenly, since air can circulate freely. With a roasting rack, the chicken won't be resting in its own drippings, which will give you crispier skin. For easier cleanup, you can line the pan with aluminum foil.
2Dress it up:
A chicken roasted with nothing but salt, pepper, and butter is very tasty indeed. But it's also easy to build on these basic flavors. Chop up fresh herbs and tuck them under the chicken's skin along with a few pats of butter, or stuff sprigs into the chicken cavity along with quartered onions and cloves of garlic. Wedges of aromatic fruit such as lemons or oranges will perfume the bird as it roasts, infusing the meat with extra flavor.
3Rub It Down:
Many cooks use a dry rub: a blend of dried and ground spices, rubbing them under the chicken's skin and inside the cavity. Since they're under the skin, the flavorings won't burn; plus they'll infuse the meat. This is a great way to add some spice if you'll be discarding the skin.
•For a Southwestern flavor, try chile powder or pureed fresh chiles, cumin, and sage.
•For an Indian-inspired bird, mix together equal parts ground coriander and cumin, plus turmeric and a pinch or two of cardamom or garam masala.
•To give the chicken a Thai flair, try a paste of ginger, lemon grass, green chilies, cilantro and lime juice.
4Skin is in:
Crispy, fragrant roast chicken skin is delicious. It is a bit fatty, though. But whether you eat it or remove it, always roast with the skin on, as it holds in moisture and keeps the meat from drying out.
5A Bird You Can Truss:
If you like, truss the bird before roasting it--that is, tie it with butcher's twine to keep the legs close to the body. This is not an essential step, but it does make the chicken slightly easier to handle, and it helps hold the stuffing in if you've stuffed the chicken.
•To truss a chicken, cut about a 3-foot length of heatproof butcher's twine.
•Lay the chicken on a clean surface with the breast facing up.
•Hold one end of the string in each hand, and loop the center of the string underneath the chicken's tail.
•Catch the ends of the legs inside the string, then cross the string over the chicken's breast, making an X.
•Loop the string under and around the wings, then tie the string snugly in a knot across the middle of the breast. Make sure that the ends of the wings are tucked in.
There are two methods for roasting a whole chicken:
•Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
•Roast whole (thawed) chickens for 20 minutes per pound, plus an additional 15 minutes.
High heat method (this creates a crispy, darker skin):
•Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) and cook whole (thawed) chicken for 10-15 minutes.
•Then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and roast for 20 minutes per pound. (Do not add the extra 15 minutes to the cooking time as with the regular method.)
7Is it Ready Yet?
Regardless of the method used, a whole chicken is ready when a meat thermometer inserted into the inner thigh (close to but not touching the thigh bone) reads at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C).
•The temperature of the meat will continue to rise slightly when you pull it out of the oven (this is called "carryover cooking"), so if the thermometer shows a few degrees below the target, give it a few minutes--the internal temperature might still rise to at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C).
•When you remove the chicken from the oven, cover it loosely with a doubled sheet of aluminum foil, and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing. This redistributes the juices and results in moister chicken.
8Use this chart to determine how long to roast your chicken: (high heat method is the second time listed)
--2.5-3lbs=1 hour/15 minutes=1 hour
--3-3.5lbs=1 hour/25 minutes=1 hour/10 minutes
--3.5-4lbs=1 hour/35 minutes=1 hour/20 minutes
--4-4.5lbs=1 hour/45 minutes=1 hour/30 minutes
--4.5-5lbs=1 hour/55 minutes=1 hour/40 minutes
--5-5.5lbs=2 hours/5 minutes-1 hour/50 minutes
--5.5-6lbs=2 hours/15 minutes=2 hours
--6-6.5lbs=2 hours/25 minutes=2 hours/10 minutes
--6.5-7lbs=2 hours/35 minutes=2 hours/20 minutes
--7-7.5lbs=2 hours/45 minutes=2 hours/30 minutes
NOTE: These times are for unstuffed birds. Add 15 minutes to the total cooking time if you're roasting a stuffed chicken. And as with the chicken itself, make sure the stuffing reaches a temperature of at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C).