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Roast Chicken quandary

Hi folks,

I'm on what seems to be a lifelong quest to produce a perfect roast chicken (I roast probably at least one a week), and while I come very close on many occasions, I seem to always have a problem producing and maintaining crispy skin. Even when skin is crisp as bird comes out of the oven, it usually gets soft while resting, as I make jus or whatever. Anybody have any tips or suggestions? Thanks.

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  1. My first suggestion would be to leave the raw chicken uncovered in the fridge overnight. This is what Cooks Illustrated recommends for ensuring that a brined turkey will have crisp skin when roasted. I've done it with brined chickens but not unbrined.

    Their current issue has instructions for crisp-skinned stovetop roasted chicken parts - you could check if the details are free online. It calls for browning 3-1/2 pounds parts skin-down in 2 tsp oil in a big nonstick skillet, not moving the pieces until golden brown. Reduce heat to med-low, flip skin side up, add 6 ounces low-sodium chicken broth, cover, and cook 15 min or so, till dark meat is 170 degrees and breast 155. Put pieces on plate, skin up. Pour off liquid and reserve, wipe out the pan, add 1 tsp oil and turn to med-high until shimmering. Put pieces skin-down and don't move them, 4-7 min until meat reads 175 and 160. Transfer to platter and tent. Make a sauce with reserved cooking liquid and pan juices. The idea of covered cooking in liquid is to render fat while remaining juicy. I haven't tried this recipe but it sounds promising.

    1. I went through technique after technique, from butterflying it, to high heat lower to low, to using a rack to using a lot of vegetables as a base to beer can checken to rotisserie on the grill, etc, etc. and the best one has been the Zuni chicken. Honestly, after trying that, I was done looking because I couldn't ask for anything more.


      While it's in the dry brine, I have it vertical in a tall tupperware container, with paper towels below. That way, anything I don't dry w/ the paper towels drips down and it's perfect (dry) when I cook it. If not, you can get puddles of liquid and it doesn't work as well (though is still excellent) because the skin can stick when you flip it. I also like to add a handful of garlic cloves to the pan about 20 minutes before the chicken is done. Great roasted garlic.

      1 Reply
      1. re: chowser

        I dry brine as well. Leaving it in the fridge for a day to dry out. The skin is very crisp and the meat juicy and tender.

      2. Gas or electric oven? I've never been able to get a properly roasted exterior in a gas oven, but it's easy in an electric one.

        1. My favorite roasted chicken recipe is from Cooks Illustrated and calls for butterflying the bird after removing the backbone. The chicken is then left uncovered in the refrigerator to air-dry the skin. It's roasted on a perforated broiler pan (with a bed of sliced potatoes beneath the chicken to catch the drippings) in a very hot oven and results in the crispiest skin I've ever made.

          1 Reply
          1. re: btnfood

            BTW: Those chicken fat basted potatoes are TO DIE FOR

          2. My favorite method, and the fastest I've experienced, is butterflying, browning skin down on the stovetop in a cast iron pan with a weight on top, and finishing in the oven.

            1. Thanks for all of your suggestions! BTW I have a gas convection oven..

              1 Reply
              1. re: jbentley4

                The gas convection oven may be a problem. Most conventional gas ovens use natural gas whose main component is methane. When methane burns, it produces CO2(carbon dioxide) and water. Obviously, filling the oven with steam isn't going to help crisp the skin.

                Although I must say I'm not sure how great of an effect it is because the chicken will be giving off steam as well. So if the H2O from the combusted methane is negligible in comparison to the amount released from your cooking chicken, then it's probably not the cause of your problems.

              2. Hello,

                I think butterflying is the most foolproof way to get crispy skin, but if you want the chicken whole for presentation try this:

                First make sure the chicken is very dry, and then rub the skin with oil or melted butter. Roast it at your usual temperature, but place the bird directly on the oven rack, breast down (and pan underneath of course). Halfway through the cooking time the thigh skin will be crispy and the excess fat will have run out and over the breast, so flip the bird over for the rest of the cooking time. Now you have crispy skin top and bottom.

                1 Reply
                1. re: RealMenJulienne

                  Alternatively, use a vertical roaster or an angel food pan, but stick the chicken on it with the tail end UP. You'll have to shove it a little to get the neck end far enough down on the center post. The reason to do it this upside down way is so the juices from the legs run down keeping the breast from drying out. Most newer angel food pans have removable bottoms so you could use just the post part, set into a small casserole dish or oven-safe saucepan. Mine is one-piece. I toss chunks of onion, carrot, celery, and apple in the bottom, which flavor the drippings to enhance the flavor of the gravy made from them.