Looking for the perfect back pocket roast chicken dinner recipe? Learn everything you need to know about cooking this foolproof, perfect roast chicken with golden brown crispy skin that is easy to recreate even on the busiest weeknight!
I love roasted chicken. In fact, it’s probably one of the more popular style of recipes here on Bon Appeteach. While I’m partial to my Mojo Roasted Chicken, this Chicken Tinga inspired bird, and even a delicious Greek Roasted Chicken, nothing beats a simple bird basted in roasted garlic cloves and salt and pepper.
For most people however, the idea of roasting a whole chicken can seem intimidating even when you have the whole day to prepare let alone for a busy weeknight. Toss those ideas out the window and settle in for the easiest, foolproof roast chicken recipe you need to have on hand for the simplest meal that will always satisfy the whole family.
Work with a whole chicken is easier than you think. While you can whip this bird up in under 15 minutes, plan ahead in the morning to add the best marinade to really make it a show stopping dinner that really is very hands off.
No matter your comfort level or cooking skill as a home cook, I will walk you through the easy prep for this juicy chicken recipe below.
Grab everything you need to know below about preparing your bird, cooking it to get that perfect tender and juicy bite, and how to serve it all up.
- Large cutting board
- Paper Towels
- Chef’s Knife (sharp) or Kitchen Shears (I prefer this when butterflying the chicken)
- 13×9 Pan or Container
- Baking Sheet or Roasting Pan
- Cooling Rack
- Parchment Paper or Foil
- Instant Read Thermometer
Let’s dive into the prep, the flavor profile, the cooking tips and techniques, and everything else in between you need to know to get started on this recipe.
How to Butterfly A Whole Spatchcock Chicken:
When you think of roasting a whole chicken, you probably also think of the cooking time that you need to invest in to get that done. Which to most, would not make sense for a weeknight dinner.
While this recipe is hands off because the majority of the time is indeed spent on roasting this birdy in the oven, you can do so much faster with a few tips.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Follow the spatchcock method. This method is outlined in detail in my master post on How to spatchcock a whole chicken and it’s worth a quick read if you haven’t tried this technique yet. Why this method? It allows for you to butterfly the bird and cook breast side up, reducing the cook time.
- Don’t want to spatchcock a chicken yourself? Ask the butcher at the grocery store to do it for you. Most stores will absolutely accommodate you!
- Kitchen shears work best with this technique in my opinion, but can still be done with a chef’s knife.
- Keep the chicken elevated on your baking sheet with a cooling rack so the heat can penetrate all around the bird (speeding up the cooking time) and also helps with rendering the fat in the skin, yielding a crispier outside.
How To Marinade Your Roast Chicken:
I go over the basics of marinades in this 7 tips for grilling chicken post. While I love a marinade on a grilled chicken, you can’t go wrong with it on a roasted chicken but you do need to plan ahead.
Some general tips for marinating include:
- Include oil and something acidic in the marinade to help with tenderizing the chicken (olive oil and lemon juice are great for example).
- Make sure the marinade doesn’t just sit on the skin, but gets under the skin. Use your fingers to separate the skin on the top of the chicken so the herbs and juice’s can hit the actual raw chicken meat.
- Use fresh herbs to really pop the flavor. I love rosemary, thyme, or dill. Dried definitely still is a great option too however.
- Try brining the bird with kosher salt ahead of time (again, some planning involved here). You can learn more about dry brines here. This is a great technique for any chicken or turkey recipe for juicy meat!
- Marinades work best after at least 2 hours or even overnight. Prep in the morning or the night before you want to roast for best results.
- Try adding things like this smoked garlic confit to the bird or this delicious Basil Aioli recipe too.
How to Get Crispy Chicken Skin When Roasting:
Ok, let’s be honest. This is the number one thing we all want to know and we all want to achieve on a cooking a bird. Getting the crispiest, beautifully golden brown skin is what makes this a show stopping recipe and it’s really not hard to achieve.
Here are my best culinary teacher tips for golden brown skin:
- Most recipes have you roasting your chicken at 375 degrees F or 400 degrees F. Not me! I go all the way up to 425 degrees F. to really get that skin nice and crispy and help render the fat.
- Always make sure you preheat your oven first before adding the bird. This is better for even cooking.
- Elevate the bird on a cooling rack if you don’t have a roasting pan. Always cover the bottom of the pan with parchment or foil because it will make a pretty yucky bake on mess from the fat rendering (perfect for gravy though). Nothing ruins a quick weeknight meal like some terrible cleanup!
- Always remove as much moisture from the bird prior to roasting. Leave it uncovered in the fridge for a bit (sounds scary with raw chicken but it’s a great technique) and always remove excess juice or marinade with paper towels when you can.
- The baking time will vary depending on the size of your bird. I’d say a 4 lb. bird will take 60 minutes max. Keep an eye on the bird around the 45 minute mark to check the wing tips for overbrowning. If the skin at any point looks too dark, lightly cover it with foil so the chicken finishes cooking and the skin stays crispy.
Slicing and Serving Your Roasted Chicken:
When your chicken thighs read 165 F. remove it from the oven and lightly tent with foil and let it rest 10-15 minutes. This allows the juices to settle in the bird and prevents all of that deliciousness from going on your cutting board and not into you mouth.
To deconstruct your bird, you need a sharp slicing knife or chef’s knife to do the job. The chicken will still be pretty hot too, so be careful!
I start by easily slicing the thighs (has the thigh and drumstick attached) at the joint, then the wings, and finally the breast meat. The breast meat it usually the trickiest to do cleanly. Check out this video for help!
Plate on a large platter or cutting board to serve it up family style. Add in your favorite sides like the best roasted garlic and herb cauliflower mash, roasted tomatoes, low carb Focaccia Bread, or smashed radishes too!
- 1, 4 lb Whole Chicken
- 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
- 1 Lemon, juiced
- 1 tbsp.
- 1 tbsp. Black Pepper
- 1-2 tbsp. Fresh Rosemary, Thyme, or Parsley
- 3-4 Garlic Cloves, minced or Garlic Confit
- Begin by butterflying your chicken. Use a pair of high quality kitchen shears to remove the back bone of the chicken. Use your hands or a knife to crack or cut out the wish bone to help open the chicken up.
- Place the chicken in a wide container, skin side up ( 9x13 baking pans work well) and then pat the chicken dry with a paper towel.
- Coat the chicken in sea salt and black pepper. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, and rub the seasonings into the chicken so it is completely coated.
- Sprinkle with chopped rosemary or fresh thyme.
- Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours (you can prep this the night before or the morning of).
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare your pan by covering it with parchment paper or foil.
- Place the chicken skin side up onto the pan. Bake the chicken with the rack in the middle of the oven for 45 minutes.
- Check the temperature by placing the thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken. The temperature should reach a minimum of 165 degrees.
- Bake for additional time as needed until it reaches the correct temperature.
- Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. This help the juices rest and not run all over when you go to cut it into pieces.
- Slice the chicken into 6-8 pieces. I like to remove the wings, the drumsticks, the thighs and the the breasts. Slice the breast meat into thicker pieces so everyone can eat different parts of the white and dark meat.
Use a smaller chicken (under 4 lbs.) to achieve a well cooked bird! This way it cooks evenly on the outside and the inside!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1154Total Fat: 69gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 399mgSodium: 374mgCarbohydrates: 2gNet Carbohydrates: 1gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 124g