If you want to learn how long to roast a chicken, the tips below will show you how to roast a perfectly tender whole bird.
Keyword chicken, comfort food, how to roast a chicken, roasting, turkey
Prep Time 15minutes
Cook Time 1hour30minutes
Resting time: 15minutes
Total Time 2hours
Author Stephanie Stiavetti
Roasting pan or cast iron skillet
1wholechicken3 to 4 pounds
1teaspoon brown sugaroptional
1/2teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoonsbutteror olive oil, at room temperature
Larger birds meant for roasting have a heartier taste, while smaller fryers tend to be less flavorful. Organic chickens taste a little better to me, though most people won’t be able to tell the difference.
Don't worry about trussing your chicken. It's a total pain. Instead, stuff it with a quartered onion or lemon to keep internal airflow to a minimum.
Some argue that rubbing the entire bird with fat, inside and out, doesn’t affect the flavor, but I disagree. It depends on the fat, though — butter mixed with a heaping dose of salt and herbs will yield a tasty dish indeed.
Stuffing some flavored fat (such as butter with salt and herbs) under the skin will help flavor meat, but don’t go overboard. Too much fat will just just make the meat greasy. A dab under the skin of each drumstick, thigh, and side of the breast is all you need.
If you're cooking hard vegetables under the chicken, like potatoes and carrots, they'll often take longer to cook than the chicken. I solve for this by starting the veggies 20 minutes earlier than the chicken. Throw your veggies in the roasting pan or cast iron skillet, then slide them into a hot oven. After 20 minutes, give them a good toss with a spatula to keep them from burning, then set the chicken on top and slide it back into the oven.
You want the entire bird to roast evenly and have crispy skin all over, so consider elevating it off the surface of the roasting pan or cast iron skillet. A small roasting rack will do the trick, which allows air to circulate under the bird – crisping it all the way around. Or get one of those pokey racks that holds the chicken upright, crisping all possible skin. (YES!!!)
The jury is in: 400°F (204°C) is the perfect temperature for cooking a whole chicken. You’ll get crispy skin and a fairly quick dinner without compromising tenderness.
GET A DECENT OVEN THERMOMETER. ‘Nuff said. Oven thermostats LIE... and can be up to 40° off. I'm not kidding.
The proper cooking time depends on the size of your chicken. A 4-pound chicken should take about 1 to 1-1/2 hours to roast at 400°F (204°C). I highly recommend a probe thermometer, one that stays in the chicken while it cooks and lets you set an alarm for when it reaches the proper temperature. This keeps you from continually opening the oven door, which will greatly increase your cooking time.
Basting the bird with the runoff juices won’t give you crispier skin. In fact, you’ll get limp, soggy skin because it's mostly water you're dumping on the surface of your chicken.
Don’t waste the juices in the bottom of the pan! Throw some veggies under the chicken to soak up the juices while it cooks. Or reduce in a saucepan with a little white wine, and you’ve got an amazing sauce.
They (whoever “they” are) say that you’re supposed to cook a whole chicken to 180°F (82°C), but I find that 160°F (77°C) yields a perfectly moist bird that’s still cooked completely through. This means you need to remove the chicken from the oven when it's at about 150°F (66°C) and then let it carryover cook on its own to 160°F. I promise, it will work.Also, make sure to measure in the thickest part of the breast.
Let your bird rest for 15 minutes after you take it out of the oven. A good nap will allow carryover cooking to finish its job, while also allowying moisture to redistribute through the bird.
The easiest way to guarantee that pieces of breast will be moist is to let them soak in the chicken’s juices for a few minutes after they’ve been cut. This includes the fatty runoff from what you’ve rubbed over the surface or stuffed under the skin.