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May 10, 2008 11:03 AM

how to get crispy skin on underside of whole chicken


I've been making whole roast chickens for weekend dinners in my oven using the convection roast setting, but the underside is not getting crispy skin as is the top. I use a V roasting rack that I place in an aluminum pan plus some extra water added to cut down on smoke and spattering and place the chicken on the 2nd lowest oven rack. I set heat at 400 degrees and roast 15 minutes to the pound, unstuffed. The chickens are moist, tender, and delicious, but that pale underside really bothers me. Should I be using the convection bake setting instead of convection roast? My cookbooks give conflicting info. Anything else I should be doing to get evenly crisped skin? Turning over chicken? If so, when? I wash bird, pat dry, coat in olive oil and spices.

Thanks for your help!

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  1. Roast the bird bottom up for the first 30 minutes.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mrbozo

      Or, perhaps a better descriptor, breast side down. Simple and guaranteed to give that succulent crisp skin you'll peel off the bird and stuff into a fresh bun or two and devour while the guests are waiting. Then you can serve the cut up naked bird and claim that you are being health conscious.

    2. Don't put water in the pan - that is likely what is keeping the underside of your chicken from crisping.

      5 Replies
      1. re: janniecooks

        I use a device for beer can chicken. They sell them with prongs so the chicken stands upright. Don't get that one because it is harder to clean. The one I have is shaped like a can and then is supported by a flat piece of metal on the bottom. You won't have a pale chicken any more.

        I won't go back to a rack now that I started using this. It is so easy to clean and the bird comes out so moist and perfectly browned on all sides. I line a jelly roll pan with heavy duty tin foil and then put the chicken and holder in the middle of the pan. When I finish cooking I just wrap up the foil and throw it out. I boil hot water and pour it into the holder and let it soak and then put it in the dishwasher.

        I actually wouldn't mind getting a second one of these so I could cook 2 chickens at the same time. I would assume they would both brown nicely in a convection oven. Can anyone verify this?

        1. re: bearzie

          Does this device have a particular name? What company makes this? Does the chicken stand upright in the oven? I'm trying to picture how the chicken looks in the jelly roll pan - standing up on this device or lying flat. Sounds like a great invention. I'm ready to purchase one of these, but where? Also, what is beer can chicken? I've never heard of that. Thanks for your reply and thanks to mrbozo and janniecooks for your feedback.

          1. re: addicted2cake

            Beer Can Chicken
            Serves: 2

            In place of a “free standing“ chicken, a special combination beer can-chicken rack may be used. This “Chick-Can” rack can be purchased at Bass Pro sporting goods.


            • 1 whole 3½ to 4 pound chicken
            • 1 12 oz. can of beer
            • - Creole Seasoning (or salt and pepper to taste)


            1. Start with a hot grill (coals all white and ready to cook) or a 350° oven. (The oven works well and is what I use at home.)
            2. Get the chicken ready for cooking. Trim some of the fat and get rid of the giblets. Rub liberally inside and out with Creole Seasoning (or salt and pepper to taste)
            3. Open the beer and dispose of half of the beer in your own way.
            4. Carefully ease the chicken onto the can or Chick-Can rack.
            5. Stuff a small potato or onion in the neck cavity to seal in the vapors.
            6. Stand the beer can with the chicken on an aluminum pie plate. Make sure the beer can is completely covered by the chicken.
            7. Add about ½ cup water to the pan.
            8. Place the chicken on the grill with indirect heat or in a 350° oven and cook for 1¼ - 2 hours or until the skin is golden brown and very crisp.
            9. When done, using tongs and a long fork carefully transfer the entire chicken and beer can in an upright position to a platter.
            10. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.
            11. Carefully remove the chicken from the beer can or rack.
            12. Quarter or carve the chicken.

            Here's a link to the Test Kitchen video on cooking the chicken on a beer can:

            1. re: addicted2cake

              I've seen a bunch of differnt styles of "Beer Can Roasters" lately. I have two different ones, both take a little effort to clean, but it is THE BEST roasted chicken I've ever made. I found one the other day at The Grocery Outlet, seen one at Bed Bath & Beyond (I think, check their website). They are pretty inexpensive so I bought several and gave them to my friends.

            1. re: bw2082

              I agree.
              I always spatchcock, season and put it on a flat rack over a foil covered tray under the broiler.
              Maximum skin crispiness with no turning and shorter cooking time ;0)

                  1. re: fmed

                    I was wondering what the devil "spatchcock" is! I've called it "Frenching" a chicken for about fifty years now... '-)

                    If anyone cooks chicken often enough and really likes crispy skin, then I think it's worth investing in a counter-top convection rotisserie. I keep mine in the garage when not using it, but when I want a crispy chickie,I'm there! I think it was under a hundred bucks, but don't remember for sure. It's good for other things too. Great roast beef.

                    1. re: Caroline1

                      Those convection turbo broliers are great. My parents have one and use it regularly.

                      BTW - a quick way to spatchcock is to use poultry shears (scissors). Just cut the back off (use it for soup stock), cut a down the breast bone, then press down to flatten.

                      1. re: fmed

                        What! And miss the chance to seriously bruise my hand on the keel bone when I give it my best karate chop? I think not!

                        Actually, what I really do is just break the ribs on each side of the keel bone by "folding." Then it lays perfectly flat.

                        1. re: Caroline1

                          Oh man, you need to try doing this on a turkey!
                          I'm tiny (5', 100lbs) so using both hands and standing on a chair for more leverage and range of motion, my sis said I looked like I was pumping the turkey's chest for CPR.

                          1. re: chocabot

                            It has never occurred to me to French a turkey. But then I only cook turkey at Thanksfiving, and who wants to try to French a 22 pound turkey?

                            How do you cook it? I'm thinking the old Julia Child method of creating a mustard emulsion and painting a chicken before broiling might have some potential with a small enough turkey. How do you proceed once you've flattened its keel bone?

                            1. re: Caroline1

                              I also cook turkey only once a year but when I do I serve it cut up/sliced on a serving dish rather than as a whole bird to be cut at the table that presentation isn't an issue for me.

                              My turkeys are smaller - up to 15 lbs only. I've never done one as big as 22 lbs but i'm sure it's posible. if you cut the ribs out too.

                              I brine my turkeys whole (1 day), let it dry out of brine in the fridge overnight, let it come to almost room temp and spatcock it then. I lay it on a flat rack (like a cooling rack for cookies) set over a heavy duty tray lined in foil, then roast away. I find it cooks faster and more evenly and I have lower rack space in the oven to put other things. I glaze as well towards the 3/4 mark.

                              1. re: chocabot

                                Roast turkey is my favorite meat. As a result of that, my wife fixes the "Thanksgiving Dinner" every year for Father's Day. We even go so far as to put our copy of the Macy's parade on TV while we fix dinner. :)

                                1. re: speyerer

                                  that's sweet. I do it sometimes for Superbowl. We don't watch football but my occasional meat eating bf requests it for Superbowl weekend...

                                  1. re: speyerer

                                    If you want to double your booty, you could insist on a Father's Day cake and presents for Thanksgiving too, you know. '-)

                    2. re: speyerer


                      I bought my beer can chicken device at a kitchen shop in Martha's Vineyard but I found it on-line. Here's a link.


                      The brand I bought was Camerons Professional Cookware in Colorado Springs , CO. Phone: 1-888-563-0227 or 719-390-0505.

                      There are other types of products available but what is great about this is one is how easy it is to clean. I wouldn't purchase one of the other types because the beauty of this one is how easy it is to clean.

                      I put whatever I have on hand into the tube. I've actually only used beer once. I've used wine or orange juice more often. Then add whatever herb(s) I have left in the fridge and garlic. I just wing a recipe.

                      So the chicken just sits on this tube that I've placed on a jelly roll, it's as simple as that.

                      I'm assuming I can cook 2 birds at the same time, if I get another one of these. I thinking I could cook one with say Mexican seasonings and another one with Asian seasonings so I could use the cooked meat for other things. I haven't tried this yet but I don't think it would be a problem. Does anyone have any thoughts about how that would work? I would imagine I would need to add more cooking time.

                      1. re: speyerer

                        ...and by season, I meant salt and pepper and whatever other seasonings you like...

                      2. re: chocabot

                        Butterfly it and cook it under a brick

                    3. WOW!! All your replies are fantastic! I just went to the link for beer can chicken and the one for spatchcocking a chicken. Amazing what you hounds know and are willing to share. Thank you all for your great feedback, suggestions, and advice for my crispy skn dilemma. Next chicken will be roasted to perfection, inside and out. I'm so grateful for your help.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: addicted2cake

                        Use a vertical roaster .... no part of the chicken is submerged in water or juices, and the entire bird gets crispy and golden.


                        1. re: Cheflambo

                          That's exactly the gadget I'd avoid. You have to clean all those thin pieces. The gadet I recommended from Camerons is so much easier to clean. And the chicken doesn't get submerged in water or juices with this either. The steam from the liquid you put into the tube keeps the chicken very moist.

                          1. re: bearzie

                            Well, OK, but the verical roaster is VERY easy to clean (it goes in the dishwasher). Ease of cleaning is seldom my first priority when choosing a cooking tool. If it were, I would just eat out all the time and let someone else worry about cleanup.

                        1. re: speyerer

                          I have 2 of these and I got them at Walmart for under $5. Now that they are more common you can find them in the BBQ/Patio section of most places, and they are pretty cheap. I either use these Chick Cans or I spatchcock. No more roasting here!

                          1. re: danhole

                            dan, thanks for the tip. I went to Walmart and bought a "Bayou Classic 0880-PDQ Stainless-Steel Beercan ChickCAN Rack" for $3.92.