How to roast a whole chicken

The perfectly roasted chicken is like a mystical unicorn or an urban legend. It always seems to happen to a friend of a friend of your second cousin. A nicely roast chicken should be flavorful, juicy and should have a beautiful golden and crisp skin. Often times you manage the beautiful skin, but the meat is bland and dry. Today I’m going to share my secret for always perfect roasted chicken.

The beauty of it is that you can use any herb you like, or what’s available. The other wonderful thing about this chicken, is that… it is SUPER easy to make and requires no fussing about. I promise. Really. You can take my word for it or my name isn’t Anamaris! And it is.

The other  cool thing with roast chicken… leftovers! At the Price household, we’re not breast lovers, but the breast makes the most delicious chicken salad ever! I do have to admit that even I enjoy just eating the breast meat, and that’s saying something. Ok, I’ll stop gushing. On to the chicken business.

When it comes to roasting the bird, the first thing is to start on its tan early on. So you would roast it at a high temperature (450°) for about 15 minutes before reducing the temp to 325° for the long haul. On average, it takes about 20 minutes per pound to roast the chicken perfectly. If you have a meat thermometer, you’ll want to insert it into the thick part of the thigh–avoiding the bone, and it should read at least 165° C.

Perfect Roast Chicken

1 4-6lb whole chicken
3-4 tbsp butter, soften
Chopped herbs–I used rosemary, Italian parsley, garlic
Sea salt
Fresh black pepper, ground
Smoked paprika
1 lemon, quartered
Rosemary stems
10-12 garlic cloves, whole & unpeeled
2 carrots, quartered
1 large onion, quartered

Preheat oven to 450°. First, remove all the innards from the chicken. Usually, they tuck the neck and giblets inside the bird; you don’t want to roast it with those in there.  You can save them to make the gravy or to make broth later. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Pat dry with a paper towel.

Combine the chopped herbs, about 1/2 cp all together, with the softened butter and season with a bit of salt & pepper.

Pull away on the chicken skin and insert bits of the herb butter between the  skin and meat. Rub the skin with a bit of olive oil or leftover herb butter. Combine the salt, pepper and paprika, use it to season the cavity and the skin of the chicken. Fill the cavity with the lemon, some carrots, rosemary stem and whole garlic cloves.

Prepare the roast pan. Place the rest of the carrots, garlic cloves, onion, rosemary around the bottom of the roasting pan and rack. Place the chicken on the rack. I like to roast with the breast down, this way it benefits from the drippings from the skin and dark meat. Again, we are not breast lovers, so we choose to roast the breast at the bottom to keep it nice and moist, if you love breast and want the crisp skin on it, then roast it on top.

Pop it in the oven at 450° and cook it for 15 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 325° and cook for just under 2 hours (for a 5-pounder). Once done, remove the chicken from the oven and allow it rest for at least 15 minutes before  carving.

You can use the drippings to make a gravy.

Cookingly yours,


12 thoughts on “How to roast a whole chicken

  1. Jay-lo says:

    Thanks for sharing the herb butter recipe! I cook a lot of chicken, but have never rubbed it with herb butter, or roasted it with the breast down. Does this also work for cooking a turkey?

  2. I actually do like breast meat more, now! Especially when it is juicy. I’m not as advanced a cook to roast a whole chicken yet, but hopefully that will come up soon.

  3. Jayla – I also roast turkeys breast down. Really any cut of meat that is large, will be in the oven for a while and has considerable more fat on one side, benefits from having the fatty parts on top. All that goodness just drizzles down to the less fortunate bits.

    Abby – I would really encourage you to give the chicken a try, you really can’t mess it up and doesn’t require you to be an advanced cook. Just as long as you calculate 20-25 minutes per pound of chicken, you’ll be golden. Trust me!

  4. I roasted a chicken on Monday. But I cheated; I have a roaster pan so it cooks it just right every time. The part that boggles my mind is my seasoned butter didn’t do squat – no extra flavor on the bird [even though I rubbed it between the meat and skin]. I’m OK with this though; it was completely juicy and still very tasty.

    • A roaster pan? Inquiring minds… As for the seasoned butter, you do have overseason it because it has so much meat to cover. I season the herb butter, the inside and outside of the bird. It still turns out with a milder flavor than it would if say, I cooked it stove top, but it isn’t bland.

      …ahem, don’t hold out on the pan front

    • You’ve just made my day! Thanks for that wonderful compliment. If there’s one thing I want my blog to do, is to get my readers excited about cooking. Gracias! Gracias! Gracias!

  5. Hey Charlie, can’t wait to read more on your blog.

    Marcy, this is awesome if you use achiote paste. Which reminds me I need to get some more.

    Joan, what do you put in your herb butter?

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