Simple Roast Chicken + Helpful Tips

Roast chicken is a classic meal. There’s something so satisfying about your house smelling unbelievably good and the dinner tasting even better. I know now that roast chicken is easy enough to make for a weeknight meal, but truthfully I was always a little intimidated by it. Not only for the fact that I had to pull out the gizzards and liver, but I really wasn’t even sure where to begin. With a few helpful pointers, I was on my way to making one of my favorite meals.

Helpful Tips:

  • Thoroughly wash and pat dry the chicken, and season the inside and outside liberally with salt and pepper. Ensuring the chicken is dry will make for a brown and crisp skin.
  • Add “stuffing” into the cavity of the chicken. I either add savory ingredients like celery, carrots, onion and garlic or fresh herbs and citrus. As the chicken cooks, the “stuffing” will infuse the bird from the inside out.
  • I’ve tried rubbing softened butter or a homemade herb butter all over the chicken, but I found that to be challenging since most of the butter slid right off.  Now, I melt the butter and brush directly onto the chicken and season with chopped fresh herbs on top.
  • You can roast the chicken on top a bed of chopped potatoes, carrots, onion and other veggies.  Veggies are a nice compliment with the roast chicken.
  • I don’t have a rack, so my chicken isn’t elevated when cooking. You don’t need to use a rack, I simply cook my chicken in a roasting pan. Use the smallest roasting pan that will comfortably fit the chicken. If a larger pan is used, the juices in the pan may burn.
  • If roasting at a high temperature, the pan juices may begin to smoke. Add a little water or wine (red or white) to the pan to reduce the smoke.
  • General rule of thumb is cooking chicken for 15 minutes per pound. The chicken is done when it registers 165 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh. Or you can cut between the breast and thigh to check that the juices run clear. If they are still pinkish, the chicken has not yet cooked all the way through.

I would love to hear your tips below. Do you brine your chicken first? How about adding a spice rub? Do you baste your chicken throughout cooking?  What other tips would you add to the list.

Cutting board with onions, lemons, garlic and fresh herbs

Roasting pan with whole chicken stuffed with lemons, onion, garlic and fresh herbs

Roast Chicken with Fresh Herbs and Citrus

Yield: 3-4 servings (2 1/2 – 4lb chicken)


1 whole chicken, gizzard and liver removed from cavity, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
Salt and pepper
1 lemon, quartered
1/4 large onion
Half a head of garlic, cut in half (I left papery skin on)
6-8 springs thyme
3-4 springs rosemary
6 tablespoons butter, melted
Optional: thyme and minced rosemary*


Preheat oven to 400 degrees and arrange rack in the lower third of the oven. Liberally salt and pepper the inside and outside of the chicken. Place chicken in roasting pan.

Add the lemon quarters (I usually squeeze my lemon into the cavity before adding), onion, garlic, fresh rosemary and thyme sprigs into the cavity. Truss (tie)legs with cooking twine and tuck wings under the bird.

Brush melted butter all over the chicken. *Optional: sprinkle thyme, fresh minced rosemary and/or sage on top of the melted butter.

Cook chicken until the temperature reaches 165 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh. Once chicken registers at 165 degrees, let cool on a cutting board and tent with foil. The chicken needs to rest to allow the juices to redistribute or else they will end up all over the cutting board. Let cool for 15 minutes, carve and serve.

Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze leftovers for up to 3 months.

Recipe Source:

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