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best easy roast chicken method?

I've been getting really good organic pasture-raised whole chickens at my farmer's market and I'm looking for your suggestions for roasting them. I've been using Jamie Oliver's recipe which involves stuffing butter, lemon zest, thyme, garlic, and prosciutto under the breast skin -- it is fantastic but a little fussy. I want to be able to come home from work and have the chicken in the oven in 5 or 10 minutes, and not have to do much else other than take it out. I'm willing to do a little prep the night before.

What are your favorite easy chicken-roasting methods?

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  1. my go-to simple chicken recipe - and don't be put off by it's simplicity - the recipe delivers:


    12 Replies
    1. re: jeanmarieok

      I just tried this recipe tonight. It was my first time ever roasting a chicken. It came out delicious. Delicious enough to never buy another rotisserie chicken from the supermarket again. It was so easy and my kitchen smells wonderful.

      Thank you so much for posting this!

      1. re: soypower

        Did your chicken smoke like crazy?!? I tried the recipe from Ad Hoc at home, looks pretty close to the epicurious recipe above, and I'm afraid I'll never attempt that again. Smoked so, so bad and I felt like the apartment reeked of chicken fat/smoke for days. I loved the result- but I'm afraid my conclusion was the opposite- I'll probably never roast a chicken again and may try out the store-bought version.

        1. re: mjhals

          I hear that the trick is to use the smallest pan that you can shove the chicken into

          1. re: mjhals

            I agree with jvanderh. My kitchen smoked up a bit, but it was so worth the end result. Try a smaller vessel next time.

            1. re: ludmilasdaughter

              Use a BIGGER pan!

              First off, make sure the bird is on a rack - it won't fry or stew in it's own juice.

              For the first 20 minutes or so, just pour a thin layer of water in the bottom of the roasting pan -- that's enough to keep it from smoking and spattering.

              After the first 20 minutes, dump some rough-chopped root vegetables - potatoes, onions, parsnips, carrots, leeks, maybe some mushrooms and celery, even though they're not root veggies, that have been tossed in a little olive oil, salt, and pepper -- under the chicken and let them roast for the last 40 minutes that the chicken's in the oven. Leave the water - it will help steam the veggies, and you'll get delicious vegetables roasted in chicken drippings. Yum.

                1. re: jvanderh

                  and it's one less pan to futz with later.

                  By the way -- after you serve/plate, and the roasting pan is empty, pour some water in it and set it either back in the warm oven or over a still-warm burner from the rest of your dishes (stove and oven are off by now).

                  The heat and water will soften all the caramelized bits and make the pan much easier to clean.

            2. re: mjhals

              I believe the smoke comes from the buildup of grease splattering on the walls. Luckily, we had just gotten a new oven when I started roasting chickens, so I have yet to experience the smoke issue...

              I know there was some info on the zuni chicken thread about how to reduce the smoke from the high heat cooking...I'll see if I can find it.

              1. re: soypower

                Thanks! My oven is also fairly new- about a year old, but very little roasting/spillage in that time.

                And for what it's worth- I roasted it in a big roasting pan with a rack. The drippings definitely fell into the pan and smoked. At the end I didn't even have usable drippings, they were all blackened/carbonized into the pan. I like sunshine's idea about adding water to the bottom of the pan, except the Keller recipe specifically recommends against doing anything (to include basting) that would cause the chicken to steam rather than roast. But I may just adopt the slower and lower roasted method for the sake of my sanity. There was a lot of smoke. A lot.

                1. re: mjhals

                  I'm talking just enough to cover the bottom of the pan and keep the drippings from spattering and smoking, not give the thing a bath.

                  I have yet to ever make roasted chicken this way (see my post downthread for more detail) that the skin didn't come out crispy and brown and tasty.

                  (it's actually a benefit - when you put the veggies in later, the hot water/steam speeds their cooking just a little and keeps them moist, instead of having dehydrated little chunks of mummified vegetables.)

                  1. re: mjhals

                    Here ya go...


                    I've yet to try the Zuni method as it requires a bit of pre-planning, so I stick with Keller's recipe for it's ease and deliciousness. Incredibly crispy skin, I tell ya...

            3. re: jeanmarieok

              I also love the Keller method.

              Not to sound condescending, but the key is a good quality bird. A great method can't make an average grocery store bird taste any better.

            4. Here's mine:
              Preheat the oven to 475F
              A bit of olive oil in a cast iron pan and put some salt on it. (I often put a square of parchment first to prevent sticking)
              Put the chicken in the pan (I don't bother washing)
              Grab a head of garlic and cut in half around the "equator" and stick all of it in in the cavity (don't bother peeling).
              Squeeze lemon and/or lime juice all over (including the cavity)
              Add a good amount of kosher salt or coarse salt all over (I tend to use a lot - don't forget the cavity.)
              Stick it in the oven (even as it is coming up to temp).

              Check it once in a while - spoon or baste the chicken with its own drippings. Squeeze more lemon juice if you want. Tip out the juices that accumulate in the cavity into the drippings to further flavour the baste. After a while, the chicken is literally frying in its own fat.

              It should be done when the leg separates easily (about an hour) and when the skin is mahogany brown with some very dark areas. Turn on the broiler for a couple of mins at the end to enhance the colour. Here is a photo of one I did a couple of months ago for reference:

              1. One of my favorite methods is to butterfly the chicken (takes about ten minutes) and pop it into the refrigerator. Next day, lay it on a bed of veggies in a roasting pan and pop it into the oven. No muss, no fuss. Just good roasted chicken. You can stuff things under the skin if you want to. That doesn't take much time and it does enhance the flavors.

                5 Replies
                1. re: todao

                  Is there a reason for allowing the butterflied chicken to rest a day in the refrigerator before cooking?

                  1. re: comestibles

                    So you don't have to do it when you get home from work the next day.

                    1. re: Bryn

                      I think it also lets the skin dry out some so that it gets crispier.

                  2. re: todao

                    I have found that threading a few long metal skewers across the flattened bird makes it easier to handle and stay together while cooking. This is especially helpful if you are cooking it on a grill.

                    A benefit I have found is that if you usually make stock with the giblets and neck, the added 1" width of spine that you cut from the bird can be added to the stock pot so that you get more stock at the end. I'll get about a pint, maybe a pint and a half, of really good stock from a roaster that way, just simmering away on a back burner.

                  3. rinse chicken.

                    cut one or two onions in quarters, put some inside, some around the bird's legs and in the pan, add a little water (half a cup), cut an orange or lemon in half, squeeze over bird, put one half inside chicken, salt and pepper, any other spices and herbs you want (I like ginger powder and a little curry powder.
                    Roast at 350 for 2 hours.

                    If you ever want to finish up left over jars of dressings, mayos sauces etc just spoon onto the skin before cooking.

                    1. My favorite is the Zuni Cafe's recipe. Rub all over generously with salt and pepper, inside and out, drape lightly with plastic wrap, and stick in the frig for a day or two. When ready to cook, preheat over to 475. Heat up an oven-safe skillet on the stove until really hot, then stick the chicken in it, breast-side up. If the pan doesn't sizzle when you put the chicken in it it isn't hot enough.

                      Throw the skillet in the oven for about 20-30 minutes, then flip the bird over for another 10-20 min. Flip it over again and cook for another 5-10 min if the breast skin needs crisping. Otherwise, as long as it's done it's done.

                      As I recall, during the salting stage the recipe includes stuffing herbs in the chicken but I never bother.

                      1. Wash chicken and remove any obvious fat from the ends. Put it into a baking dish and season it with salt and pepper and whatever spices I desire. Turn the oven onto 400F and put the chicken in. Close the oven door and do not touch it for 60 minutes (for a small chicken) up to 90 minutes (for a big one). At the end it should have a nice crispy skin and be done to perfection without ever having been touched by human hands! People rave about my chicken and it's the simplest thing in the universe to cook.

                        (if you want you can put vegetables in with the chicken... a lot of the time I like it with salad so I cook it plain.)

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Kajikit

                          May sound weird but on a couple of occasions I have taken that extra fat from the ends of the bird and draped it across the breasts before popping in the oven..and the crisping seems better...fat begets fat however.

                        2. I just made Bouchon's roast chicken last week (jeanmarieok provided the link) and was wowed by the good chickeny taste this VERY simple method delivered. My go-to chicken has been one roasted with olive oil, lemon juice and garlic, basting every 15 minutes or so. That's a delicious chicken, but fussy so I thought I'd try Bouchon's method.

                          It is great! just make sure to really shower it with salt as he suggests. Can't get any easier and less fussy than this recipe.

                          1. I used to use the Cook's Illustrated method of cooking on each side, then the breast up, but I've cut it down to the following and I still get an evenly cooked bird w/o the breast drying out.

                            Wash and dry bird, if desired. Rub outside with some olive oil, then salt and pepper generously, including in the cavity. If desired, add things to the cavity (lemon, garlic, etc.) and veggies to the pan - I often skip both of these.

                            Place the bird breast side down on a rack and cook at 375-400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Turn bird breast side up and finish cooking - time depends on size of bird, I use a thermometer to test the temperature.

                            1. salt, pepper and dried thyme all over the bird. let it sit, uncovered in the fridge a day or two. this evaporates moisture and will make the skin very crispy.

                              heat oven to 450.

                              brush dijon mustard all over bird and squeeze lots of fresh lemon juice on it. place on a rack, in a roasting pan. depending on size of bird, cook 60-90 minutes.

                              very important!! let the bird rest before you start carving it up. take it out of the oven and finish everything else. give the bird at least 10-15 minutes before you start to cut it.

                              1. I love this easy, flavourful recipe for Paprika Roast Chicken With Sweet Onion.

                                Nigella Lawson has a simple recipe for a really yummy Za'atar Chicken. Mix up the marinade before you go to work and just stick the chicken in thew oven when you get home.

                                1. I love Jamie Oliver's, but this one (below) from Mark Bittman is my absolute fave -- a go-to that is totally flexible when it comes to flavors/ingredients/spices and one that has never failed me. The other night, I did it up with a coconut-miso-peanut marinade, and it was as delicious and successful as the straight-up rosemary-garlic-lemon version.

                                  At this point, it takes me only about 45 minutes from chicken being in the fridge, to being on my plate (when I'm in a hurry and don't want to let the marinade really set, which is still delicious). If you were to prep and marinate overnight, you could fire this puppy off and get it on the table in 35 minutes flat. It's a great weeknight meal.


                                  (I buy split roaster for this, and you could even do a couple of full legs, or split breasts, if you didn't want to do the whole bird.)

                                  1. I can't believe that no one has mentioned Beer Can Chicken - so simple and almost totally foolproof. Buy one small can of your favorite beer, drink 25% of it and with a can opener (churchkey) punch holes around the top. Season the bird and fire up your grill. Set the bird atop the beer can, forming a tripod with the two drumsticks and the beer can, set the bird on indirect heat and roast for about an our (depending on weight), surning the bird once halfway through. Delicious!

                                    1. From the Frugal Gourmet: mix equal parts soy sauce, honey, and toasted desame oil. Rub on the skin before, and baste with more, during roasting.


                                      Instead of a typical vertical roaster, put the chicken NECK SIDE DOWN onto an angel food pan after covering the center hole with tin foil or a metal jar cap. This way, the breast is somewhat protected from the maximum oven heat, and the juice from the legs runs down, keeping the breast moist. I put chunks of onion, celery, and carrot in the bottom of the pan, which helps in making gravy from the drippings. If your angel food pan has a removable tube, just use the tube set into a casserole or baking pan instead.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: greygarious

                                        Both of these sound quite brilliant, must try!

                                      2. I like Ina Garten's roast chicken recipe (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/in...). I've made this recipe twice now with fabulous results. Super easy and satisfying. I don't bother with roasting the vegetables underneath. Instead I make a pan gravy which is delicious.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Green Omnivore

                                          I tried your link and got a page not found error. Any chance there's a better source?

                                          Thanks in advance, your pal in the novice meat cooking camp,

                                            1. re: toveggiegirl

                                              Thanks toveggiegirl. My original link included the ")." from my sentence.

                                          1. re: comfortfood77

                                            I REALLY like that video/method too! And what a doll that guy is, no? I might try searing the bird first as he recommends.

                                          2. I roast chicken several different ways, but the easiest and quickest is to get a Popiel Rotisserie oven, then "set it and forget it" (not really, they warn you in the manual, someone must have sued). I have a jar of "rotisserie chicken seasoning", but of course you could make up a jar of your own spices to have on hand. Spray with Pam, throw on some seasoning, stick a lemon or lime or orange inside, tie up simply ( just so the edges don't burn), then go do something for 45 minutes or so, and dinner is served. They even have a rack for roasting vegetables and potatoes in the dripping juices at the same time. It's not the only way I make chicken, but whenever I'm busy and in a rush, I mentally thank the person who gave it to me as a housewarming gift.

                                            1. I do mine breast side down in a slow oven (200-250) all day, and I like that much better than the myriad of other things I've tried. It is not okay according to the food-safety police, but I like it so much that I take the risk. I've been meaning to experiment with propping it up in a crock pot. I don't want it sitting in a bunch of liquid, but it makes me nervous having my oven on all day while I'm away.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: jvanderh

                                                I do this all the time... You don't need any liquid at all. Just some veggies (onions and carrots- for flavor only) and it'll cook all day. Honestly, though, the result isn't a "roasted" chicken. More like cooked chicken. Basically I let it cool and shred it and use it for recipes that call for cooked chicken. I'd never carve it up and serve it... Though I do usually give a drumstick to whatever kid wanders into the kitchen :)

                                              2. I know this is an old post, but I'm shocked no one mentioned the amazingness of covering the breast with bacon. It's the most amazing chicken ever (and you can't beat crispy bacon either)...all I do is turn the bacon over after 20-30 mins in a 425 degree oven. Then remove after another 10 mins so the skin can get crispy. Delicious and super easy!
                                                We usually roast carrots, parsnips, and butternut squash in the pan too. The we use the pan drippings to make a gravy (usually with the help of a buerre munie).

                                                1. True believer of Thomas Keller's simple roast chicken recipe. Dry the chicken, put some salt on it, throw it in the oven (450 degrees for about 20 min per pound). Don't open the oven at all - just let it cook. Your kitchen may get smokey, but it is worth it!

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: kws123

                                                    That was the one I tried a couple days ago. I liked it so much I roasted another one today! And my kitche didn't get smoky at all - though that may be due to our new oven.

                                                    1. re: soypower

                                                      Yep, make enough of them and your house will need to be temporarily vacated while the chicken is cooking! It is worth it though - best chicken ever. Making it now as we speak!

                                                      1. re: kws123

                                                        If you have a gas grill, you can make the Thomas Keller recipe on that and avoid the smokey house issue altogether. Yum. Think I need to make one tonight!

                                                  2. Slow roasted chicken with garlic and lemon- cut a couple of lemons into eighths, separate a couple of heads of garlic into bulbs (without peeling), fresh thyme, white wine (about 1/2 cup), kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, about 3 TBS EVOO --
                                                    preheat oven to 300. Put chicken in a roasting pan and pour over oil, mix in the lemons and garlic and fresh thyme - mix all well with the oil then S+P. Pour wine over and cover with foil for
                                                    2 hours. Remove foil, turn up oven to 400 and cook for another 45minutes. Finger licking good - not as crispy as some other methods but should get nicely browned. Garlic and lemon are delicious straight from the pan! Enjoy!

                                                    1. I love the Zuni Cafe method - it's done in a hot cast iron skillet! First on top of the stove then in a hot oven. Divine. Also, you put fresh herbs under the skin a day or so before roasting and it makes it taste soooo good.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: bayoucook

                                                        Roasted a phenomenal chicken last night using Steve Raichlen's simple rub (see recipe below).

                                                        Lathered it with a bit of butter and in the oven at 400 (used part of Jamie Oliver's recipe and chopped up a few carrots, onions, celery and garlic to throw in the pan added some water before and during, preheated to 450 and turned down to 400 once the chicken went in).

                                                        Chicken was almost 4 lbs and cooked it for just a bit over 90 mins to get the thigh to about 165-170 internal temp.

                                                        For those with a convection oven do you use the convection setting when baking your chicken?


                                                        3 tablespoons coarse salt
                                                        3 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
                                                        3 tablespoons paprika
                                                        2 tablespoons ground black pepper
                                                        1 tablespoon garlic powder
                                                        1 teaspoon ground cumin


                                                        1. I just randomly made the best chicken I've ever made . I broke the chicken down into parts and dusted the parts in a simple seasoning of garlic salt and tossed it into the center of a 300 degree oven for 80 minutes . let the chicken rest and voila , it doesn't get much better. I've made dozens of famous chefs recipes and this was the most memorable .

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: withplesur

                                                            Many years ago, the mother of a friend of my girlfriend, a woman I met just once, and one who obviously cooked only because she had to, did this: took a bird out of the fridge, cut it up (while smoking a cigarette!), threw it in a pan, sprinkled salt, pepper and wine vinegar over it and popped it into the oven. Then she washed her hands and told us to take it out in 45 minutes, and that there was a salad in the fridge AND she'd counted the beers so that if we had more than one each she'd know, and left.

                                                            The chicken was amazing. The only improvement I made was slicing an onion really thin and strewing it over before doing the vinegar. Okay, it's not the BEST chicken maybe, but it's damn good. And a piece of cake.

                                                            1. re: Will Owen

                                                              2 questions Will:
                                                              1. What temperature?
                                                              2. Is 2nd hand smoke a critical ingredient?

                                                              1. re: masha

                                                                1. It barely matters, but the Catchall Standby 350º does just fine. Sometimes I wonder why we even have temperature knobs on most ovens …

                                                                2. Emphatically not. Haven't smoked in ten years now and the chicken's still good.

                                                                Oh, BTW, a sprinkle of herbes de Provence after the vinegar doesn't hurt a thing.

                                                                1. re: Will Owen

                                                                  I suppose I should point out that this is NOT technically ROAST chicken, but BAKED. While someone earlier insisted that anything done in an oven, as opposed to over an open fire, is baked and not roasted, I think the common usage - cooking uncovered in dry heat - is close enough for our discussion. The dish I described is pieces in a pan, and they are not only sprinkled with vinegar but allowed to stew in their own juices, kind of an uncovered braise.

                                                          2. The easy, easy way (mentioned earlier) is beer can chicken. I don't have a grill, so I just make it in my oven. No basting, just delicious, moist chicken.

                                                            My go-to method is butterflying the chicken and then cutting it in half, searing, and finishing in the oven over a bed of veggies. You can switch out the veggies to make them seasonal, and change up the seasonings to stop from getting bored.

                                                            I'll be making Thomas Keller's version from Ad Hoc tonight; will update on the results!

                                                            1. I love this roasted chicken recipe:


                                                              It's fast and simple. Just roast it at 425 for about an hour. Works great every time for about a five pound chicken. You might want to go to an hour and 15 minutes if your bird is bigger than that.

                                                              1. Remove the back bone (easier than you think, just cut down each side with good kitchen scissors), and then cut the bird in half. Remove any extra loose fat. After marinating or seasoning chicken any way you like (S+P, Essence and Chili powder is great), place chicken meat side down on a foil lined backing sheet and roasted uncovered at 350F for 90 minutes. Fool proof, amazing crispy skin, fat all rendered, and moist tender meat.

                                                                Maybe even better than rotisserie!

                                                                5 Replies
                                                                1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                                                  In France, it's called a poulet crapaudine -- toad-shaped chicken. (so much for the French making everything sound lovely!) It's 'spatchcock' in English; much more fun to say!

                                                                  I roast chicken roughly following Joy of Cooking's Turned Roasted Chicken.

                                                                  Rub the chicken with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and lay on one side in a v-rack. Roast for 25 minutes for the first 3 pounds, plus 3 minutes per additional pound.

                                                                  With a long-handled wooden spoon and a paper towel, flip the bird over on its other side and roast for another 25 minutes for the first 3 pounds, and another 3 minutes for each additional pound.

                                                                  Withe the spoon (or a sturdy skewer) and paper towel, now lay the chicken on its back and roast until the juices run clear and the thigh registers 170-175 on an instant-read meat thermometer. Let stand 10 minutes and carve.

                                                                  Come out perfect EVERY time -- and picture-perfect, too.

                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                    sunshine - what temp are you cooking this for what seems like a long time?

                                                                    1. re: smilingal

                                                                      350F/180C -- and yes, it's golden and VERY juicy and tender. Probably the most sure-fire way I know to end up with juicy white meat every time.

                                                                      It's only about an hour...no longer than any of the other suggestions - and less than quite a few of them.

                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                        silly me - I read it as 25 min PER lb - as opposed to 25 min for 3 lb!

                                                                  2. re: PoppiYYZ

                                                                    For a Greek themed chicken, prep as above but squeeze juice of 1 lemon on top, and place lemon skins in pan, sprinkle chicken with onion powder, galic powder, oregano, and drizzle with olive oil.

                                                                    Awesome with a traditional Greek salad.

                                                                    Also use this method to make "indoor" (non rotisserie) Pollo a la Brasa. Recipe here - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/681455

                                                                  3. If I were gong to add some potatoes to the Keller approach (chicken into a pan @450 for about an hour), what would be the best way to incorporate them? I'm thinking about waiting for about 30 minutes for some of the fat to render then adding some red potatoes in that have been halved or quartered?

                                                                    1. When I stuff the chicken cavity with herbs -- like, say, rosemary -- only the part of the chicken under the cavity (e.g., the wings) get flavored by the herbs. Should I be rotating the chicken while roasting to ensure the herbs flavor the whole chicken?