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How to Roast a Crispy & Tender Chicken in the Oven

With contributions from Chef Ellen Doerr
Roasted Chicken On Cutting Board

One of the best comforting meals to make for one's family is a delicious roast chicken. It's also an economical choice for meals as a large roast chicken can produce leftovers for future lunches and dinners.

How to Roast a Whole Chicken in the Oven

According to Ellen Doerr, of Chef Ellen, a personal catering and meal delivery service, the simplest method involves a few ingredients and varying the cooking temperatures to produce a nice, crispy skin.

Ingredients for Roast Chicken

  • A whole chicken
  • ½ cup of olive oil (mlted butter or other oils, such as canola, can be substituted)
  • 1 teaspoon dried or fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried or fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried or fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried or fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Equipment to Roast a Chicken

A roasting pan with a rack is the best option, says Chef Ellen, but any oven safe pan big enough to hold the chicken and with sides high enough to prevent leaking will work. You can also line the pan with foil for easier cleanup. If you prefer to use a dutch oven to roast chicken, Chef Ellen says to avoid adding any extra liquids to the chicken aside from the olive oil or melted butter.

Roast Chicken Cooking Steps

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Rub the olive oil all over the outside of the chicken and under the chicken skin on the breast as well. Chef Ellen says this will "keep the breast nice and tender."
  3. Place the chicken in a roasting pan. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after you have handled raw chicken and clean your kitchen surface areas to avoid potential foodborne illness.
  4. Roast the chicken for about 15 minutes or until you see "browning at the top." This will help "get the skin nice and crispy."
  5. Next, turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and roast the chicken for about 20 minutes per pound.
  6. Every 30 minutes check on the chicken and brush some olive oil on the top and sides.
  7. Check every 30 minutes with a meat thermometer close to the bone through the breast and the thigh. When the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit you can remove it from the oven.
  8. If you notice the chicken getting too brown, you can cover it with tin foil.
  9. If you see the wings getting too brown and crispy, you can tent them with foil as well. Chef Ellen also suggests you can remove them where the wing connects to the breastbone, but she does not because dark meat tends to stay juicy and doesn't dry out as fast as breast meat.
  10. When you remove the chicken, allow it to rest for about 10 minutes per pound. Keep it tented with foil while it rests. Chef Ellen advises that it's very important to allow the chicken enough time to rest. "If you slice it too soon, that will dry it out."

Stuffing the Roast Chicken

Chef Ellen says that you should make sure that stuffing in the chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit as well. She avoids stuffing chickens during cooking and instead cooks it separately. This avoids the problem of your chicken cooking faster than the stuffing and drying out. However if you want to stuff the chicken with an item to provide flavor, such as an orange, lemon, apple or onion, but you don't intend to eat the item, then it does not matter if that item reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

If You Prefer Less Crispy Chicken

If you want your chicken to be tender throughout with less crispy skin, Chef Ellen says to skip the higher heat in the beginning and simply cook the chicken at 350 degrees Fahrenheit the entire time and keep it tented with aluminum foil the whole time.

Spatchcock a Chicken in the Oven

If you want to make a chicken that's crispy throughout and less tender, Chef Ellen suggests using the spatchcooking, or "bistro style," method. This method will give the chicken "a nice even brown on the top."

Spatchcock Chicken
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Take a boning knife and cut through the ribs of each side of the backbone to remove the spine. You should be able to lay the entire chicken flat, with the breast in the middle.
  3. You can throw out the spine, or use it to make stock for soups, stews and gravy.
  4. Lay the chicken on a flat pan with a rack and with raised sides to prevent leaking of any juices out into the oven. Do not cover the chicken while it cooks.
  5. Rub the chicken with the oil and spices from the regular roasting recipe.
  6. Cook the chicken for about an hour or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Let the chicken rest for about 15 to 20 minutes before you carve it.

Using Spices and Marinades on Your Roast Chicken

Chef Ellen says you have many options for your chicken's flavoring. She suggests using bottled Italian dressing, BBQ sauce, lemon pepper seasoning mixes or even the seasoning packets for tacos. You can be creative and test out different flavor profiles with your chicken using store-bought and DIY marinades and spice mixes. Some excellent choices for herbs that go well with chicken include cilantro, tarragon, rosemary, sage, and thyme.

Roast Chicken Is a Perfect Meal

Learning how to roast a chicken can help you to provide nutritious meals for your family that also can work well for your household budget. Roasting a chicken properly is simple as long as you follow the steps to keep it from drying out. Roast chicken is also a versatile meal that can be paired well with many types of spices, rubs and marinades making for different flavored-meals using the same simple cooking method.

How to Roast a Crispy & Tender Chicken in the Oven