Perfect Roast Chicken calls for just 3 ingredients, chicken, salt, and pepper, yet is the most tender and juicy roast chicken you’ll ever eat.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever seen a whole chicken under the packages of chicken breasts at the grocery store and totally loved the price, but had no idea what to do with it?
Maybe you waved it off saying next time, and bought the chicken breasts or maybe even a rotisserie chicken instead. Totally fine, but I’m going to show you how to take advantage of that great price AND make a roast chicken that not only calls for just three ingredients, but is going to make you fly off the handle over how delicious it is. I have to hold myself back when my Perfect Roast Chicken comes out of the oven, skin audibly crispy and meat tender and juicy. This is must-have chicken recipe to keep in your back pocket at all times!
First thing’s first – the price. I got the whole chicken you see here for $2.29/lb. That’s over 50% less than I pay for a package of TWO CHICKEN BREASTS. Buying a whole chicken is incredibly economical – you get way, way more bang for your buck.
Second of all, roast chicken is extremely versatile. Season it simply like i’m going to show you, then shred or chop the meat and add it to soups, salads, wraps, casseroles, scrambles, hashes, tacos, etc. We make a roast chicken almost every Sunday then use it all week long. That’s actually a lie – the chicken is so good it’s usually gone by Tuesday. Regardless, I’ll give you 10 ideas for using the chicken and it’s meat at the end of this post.
Lastly, and pardon my French, roasting your own chicken makes you feel like a total badass. Like you are a freaking cooking goddess. Barefoot Contessa’s muse, even! Hey, the first step is dressing like her, the second is cooking like her! ;)
This method of cooking a whole chicken comes from Thomas Keller of French Laundry fame. Talk about cooking gods! Ben and I have been roasting chickens using his method for years. Thomas is known for using simple techniques to turn good ingredients into great dishes (amen,) which couldn’t be more evident in this recipe.
You’ll need a 3.5-4lb whole chicken. If you can only find larger or smaller, that’s totally fine, just adjust the roasting time accordingly.
I like to place the chicken inside a plastic shopping bag or two in the sink then use a knife to open the packaging. Once you’ve removed the chicken from the packaging, rinse it inside and out under a stream of cold water. Then, this is the most important step of the recipe, pat the entire chicken, inside and out very, very dry with paper towels. The dryer the chicken, the crisper the skin. Just remember that!
Next, season the chicken very generously inside and out with salt, and then add a few dashes of pepper. Add more salt than you think you should. Trust me! You could add other seasonings or herbs, but try this recipe at least once with just salt and pepper. You’ll be amazed at how delicious the simple seasoning combo can be.
Next step is to tuck the wings under the body. If you left them hanging there, they’d burn. So, take the tip and fold it up and over the wing, and then make sure it’s snug against the body.
Last step is to tie the legs together with kitchen twine. You can buy this in the baking aisle at the regular grocery store, or at any specialty grocery store.
Place the chicken inside an oven-safe skillet (this is enameled cast iron,) roasting pan, or on a cooling rack set atop a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the chicken at 450 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is deep golden brown, then turn the heat down to 425 and roast for an additional 20-30 minutes.
Can you EVEN?! The blast of super high heat at the beginning makes sure the skin gets nice and crispy, while the extended roast at a lower temperature ensures the meat cooks through without burning the skin. It is so mouthwatering!
Now, I knew my chicken was done at an hour (30 mins at 450, 30 mins at 425) by pressing on the breast and not getting too much spring back (like I said, we’ve roasted a LOT of chickens at our house!) but a couple other ways to ensure your chicken is cooked through is to wiggle the thigh. If it’s loose, the chicken is done. You can also insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. The chicken is done when it reaches 165 degrees.
Quick tip: if the legs begin to burn before the chicken is cooked through, just lightly wrap a little piece of foil around them.
Let the chicken sit for 10 minutes before carving, then watch your family feast!
Perfect Roast Chicken (3 Ingredients!)
Easy Roast Chicken calls for just 3 ingredients - chicken, salt, and pepper - yet is the most tender and juicy roast chicken you'll ever eat.
- 3.5-4lb whole chicken, giblets removed
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Rinse chicken inside and out with cool water then pat entire chicken, inside and out, very, very dry with paper towels. Season chicken generously with salt and a little pepper inside and out (use more salt than you think you should - trust me!) Tuck wings underneath the bird (see picture) then tie legs together with kitchen twine.
- Place chicken breast-side up in an oven-proof skillet, roasting pan, or onto a cooling rack set atop a rimmed baking sheet then roast until the skin is deep golden brown on top, 25-30 minutes. Reduce heat to 425 degrees then continue roasting until the chicken is evenly browned and cooked through, 20-30 additional minutes. Test for doneness by wiggling the thigh - if it's very loose, the chicken is done. Or, insert a thermometer into the thickest part of thigh, which should read 165 degrees. Let chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving.
- My 3.94lb chicken roasted for 30 minutes at 450 and 30 minutes at 425.
- Easy side dish idea: Toss chopped potatoes with extra virgin olive oil, garlic salt, and pepper then spread onto a foil-lined, nonstick-sprayed baking sheet and place into oven with the chicken after turning heat down to 425 degrees. Roast for 25-30 minutes, stirring/flipping once.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.
I love serving our chicken with roasted potatoes. I just chop up a mix of sweet and Yukon Gold potatoes, toss with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper, then pop them into the oven on a foil-lined baking sheet when I turn the heat down to 425 degrees.
They are usually done exactly when the chicken is. Add a side salad and dinner is done!
10 Ways to Use Roast Chicken
If you’re feeding under four people you’ll likely have leftover chicken. Here are 10 great ways to use it:
- Make Homemade Chicken Enchiladas with Gluten-Free Enchilada Sauce for an easy dinner.
- Toss shredded chicken with BBQ sauce and shredded cheddar cheese, then cook quesadilla-style between two tortillas.
- Chop chicken then make Mayo-Free Chicken Salad for a quick lunch.
- Chop chicken then toss with baby spinach, the roasted vegetables, and a dollop of hummus, then dress with drizzles of fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
- Make Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup even easier.
- Make homemade chicken stock: remove all the meat from the bones then add the carcass to a large soup pot with a handful of garlic cloves, 2 stalks celery, 1 carrot, 1 chopped onion, salt, pepper, and a bay leaf. Cover with water then simmer for 4-5 hours. Skim fat from the top after it’s cooled then chilled.
- Toss chopped chicken with Caesar dressing, sliced cherry tomatoes, romaine lettuce, and shredded parmesan cheese then pile onto a wrap and roll.
- Add chopped chicken to this healthy, delicious Kale and Wild Rice Bowl.
- Shred or chop chicken then add to Fried Rice or stir fries.
- Toss chopped chicken with buffalo sauce then add to lettuce wraps with chopped bacon, tomatoes, and avocados.
What’s your favorite way to use leftover roast chicken?