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New at roasting a whole chicken....advice?

I know there are many recipes for roasting a whole chicken, but, for reasons to lengthy to write here, I don't have time to do the usual looking around.

I have a 4.5 pound whole chicken with giblets. I am planning to wash it, reserve the giblets, rub oil on outside, salt and pepper in and out, and put some onion, lemon, and thyme sprigs in the cavity.

Not sure on roasting temp.

If this is a bad plan, would you please advise? I need to get it in the oven in about two hours.

Many thanks!

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  1. If you need it in a short while I'd do it at 350 F. I slip a few chunks of apple and onion into the cavity and baste with melted butter and wine. Freeze the carcass for stock.

    1. I would suggest mixing some of the thyme, salt & pepper w/ olive oil (or butter) and rubbing it between the skin and meat. It yields a very moist bird and the flavor of the seasonings get into the meat better that way, and you don't need to baste it either. I would do it around 425 and start checking it at around 45 minutes.

      1. Your plan is fine. In a 350 degree oven, your chicken should be done in about 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 hours. There has been a lot written on this board about the "best" way to roast a chicken but there is no need to obsess over all those posts. It's one of the easiest and tastiest dishes around. My mother never put anything in the cavity of the bird and simply seasoned with salt and pepper, and her chicken was great.

        1 Reply
        1. re: masha

          I agree. Nothing beats roast chicken and it is so easy to do.

        2. Sounds like a nice bird. I usually brine poultry for juicer meat and crisper skin. But given your timetable I would just suggest using a V-shaped roasting rack if available and cooking breast side down for the first 20 min to prevent drying out the more delicate white meat.

          1. and I roast at 375 for about an hour.

            1. Salt the bird with kosher salt all over and give it a chance to dry the skin out a bit, it will crisp and brown better while roasting. And if you have convection, use it.

              I have done birds at 350, 375, & 400 degrees. Just depends how much time you have and how brown you want it. I always figure about 20 minutes per pound of chicken.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                I just arrived home to your wonderful replies! Thanks to all for replying. You supplied just the info I need.

                Just to clarify, I don't have to finish it in a short time, but I do have to get it in the oven very soon so I can get to another commitment.

                1. re: laredo


                  Please let us know, at your leisure, what method you used and how your chicken turned out.

              2. The Barefoot Cantessa has a recipe for a roasted chicken, and she calls her recipe, engagement chicken. It is similar to your recipe. I believe she roasts over 400. As well Martha Stewart years ago had a show on roasting chicken with some chefs and they all recommended roasting at a high temperature. I roast mine at 425.

                1. Next time you want to roast a chicken, try Thomas Keller's favorite roast chicken, which is simply roasted at 450. I've experimented with this method because I was reluctant to roast at 450. I've tried 375 degrees, 400 degrees, and 425 degrees, and finally concluded that there was no reason to fear 450 degrees. It gives me the best result without overcooking or burning.

                  Basically, you dry the chicken (2 to 3 pound bird) well, inside and out, season the inside with S&P, truss (or not, or just tie the legs together), shower the bird with Kosher salt (about a tablespoon), season with pepper and roast in a preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour. That's it. No basting, no turning. Put the chicken in the oven and leave it alone. For a larger bird, say 3 to 4 pounds, add a few minutes to the cooking time.

                  Remove from the oven when done, baste with pan juices and allow it to rest for 15 minutes or so. Keller adds chopped fresh thyme to the pan juices before basting, which makes for an especially delicious chicken, but the bird is equally good without the thyme. Keller serves the chicken with dijon mustard and soft unsalted butter, which I never do. I tried it once with mustard and butter, but I prefer without.

                  You can dry the chicken early in the day or early in the afternoon, and refrigerate until an hour or so before cooking. Drying it hours ahead of time makes for especially crispy skin, but it is equally good without the extra resting time. I pat it dry one more time with paper towels before salting and roasting.

                  This bird is the epitome of good roast chicken. The quality of the cooked flesh is perfect - juicy but not soft, the skin is deliciously crispy and salty, the unctuous pan juices get concentrated to what I think of as chicken essence from the high roasting temperature and are so good I could eat with a spoon.

                  My go-to roast chicken used to be one similar to the plan you outlined, which I made with lemon juice, olive oil and a head of garlic cloves, sometimes with added rosemary. I thought it the ultimate roast chicken, until I discovered Keller's recipe. Since making Keller's (with or without the thyme) numerous times, I went back to my old go-to, and it paled in comparison. Flabby flesh and skin, and flavor just not that chickeny. Now I make Keller's simple roast chicken exclusively.

                  So do your tastebuds a favor and try Keller's next time. Here's a link:


                  3 Replies
                  1. re: janniecooks

                    I, too, have found Thomas Keller's method to be the best I've ever tried. Great post Janniecooks.

                    1. re: janniecooks

                      Hi, janniecooks:

                      Yes, Tom Keller's recipe is fantastic, but it is a little more complicated than you suggest. (A) The full-on version requires a 6 hour herbed brine (and making and cooling the brine itself takes hours); and (B) the bird is seared, back-down, on the stovetop before going in the oven.

                      I have found that, while the recipe in Bouchon implies that this sear is quite fast, the dish benefits from 2-5 minutes before the transfer. Likewise, it has turned out better (crispier skin), if the bird is removed from the brine and allowed to air-dry on a rack for at least an hour before cooking.

                      But this is the best chicken roti I have tried.


                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        You are discussing a different recipe that is more complicated than the recipe I am discussing. It is not the same recipe. If you follow the link I provided in my post, you will see that Keller's "My Favorite Simple Roast Chicken" does not require a 6 hour herbed brine, has no searing step, and is indeed almost as simple as I've described.

                        In fact, I discussed the liberties I've taken to make it even simpler than Keller (omit trussing, omit thyme, omit mustard, omit butter). So it truly does become dry the chicken, salt the chicken, put it in the oven and forget it for an hour.

                        It really doesn't get any easier than I described, and it hardly gets better. But that's my opinion.

                    2. Sara Moulton's rule: 4.5# chicken at 450F for 45 minutes.

                      1. just remember - if at first you don't succeed, try try again!