Perfect Roast Chicken

dinner entree roasting seasonal eating Feb 18, 2022

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Roast Chicken is one of the simplest meals to pull together. Depending on the size of your family, think about doing two at once. Left over roast chicken is a great addition to salads, quick soups, pasta dishes, etc.

Gussied up, it's fit for a party. Follow the recipe for this perfectly done, simple roast chicken. Add extra flavor and aesthetics by adding additional steps below marked with >>.

Read through the recipe before you start to decide what steps you’ll follow so that you can pull out all of the ingredients you’ll need. This is known as “Mise en Place” or “everything in its place” which will speed up your cooking time.

Chicken is done at 165ºF. I pull it out of the oven at 160ºF to rest. Use an instant read thermometer and insert it into the thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone. Loosely cover it with foil and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. The bird will continue to cook to 165º while also allowing the meat to “relax” and reabsorb the juices. If you’re nervous about undercooked meat, roast to 165ºF.

The key to perfection is to roast the chicken for a total of 45 minutes + 7 minutes per pound [e.g. a 4-pound chicken = 45 + 7 times 4 (pounds) = 73 minutes

Is an entire chicken too much? Buy a full chicken at places with a butcher such as Whole Foods and nicer stores. In California I buy Mary’s Chicken which is an excellent brand with free range and organic options. And, you’ll save money buying a whole chicken. Ask the butcher to cut the chicken in half for you. You can freeze one half and cook the other. Half a chicken takes about 25 to 35 minutes at 450ºF.

Start checking for doneness about 15 minutes prior to when it should be done. I use an instant read thermometer which is a fantastic and inexpensive tool for checking meat for doneness plus other uses. Stick the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone. I use this thermometer.

PS: I learned the method of timing your roast from Chef Thomas Keller. It works perfectly.


  • Serve Salsa Verde on the side (recipe below) or, stuff the salsa verde in-between the skin and the meat.

  • Simply rub the skin with olive oil to help in crisp and then season liberally with your favorite herb or spice blend.

  • Make a Compound Butter and slather the chicken skin with soft, room temperature Compound Butter. The recipe is here.

  • Brine Roasted Chicken is an extra step but adds loads of flavor. It’s also perfect for the grill. Get the recipe here.


  • One 4- to 4 1/2- pound chicken, more or less will serve 4 to 6 people

  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Fresh thyme or rosemary sprigs, lemon or orange halves, garlic cloves, etc.

  • 4 large carrots, left whole

  • 4 celery stalks, left whole

  • 1 small yellow onion, trimmed, leaving root end intact, and cut into quarters

  • Kitchen twine

  • 1 Tbls. olive oil 

  • 1 to 2 cups white wine, broth or water (or a combination)

Chicken ready to roast on a bed of vegetables. After rubbing with olive oil, rub with a blend of dry herbs and spices.

For serving: Salsa Verde  (recipes below and optional)

For perfect crispy skin, prep ahead several hours or overnight: 

  • If your chicken was purchased in plastic packaging, remove the chicken from the packaging and rinse well. Pat dry with paper towels. Make sure to clean your sink to remove raw chicken juices and bacteria. If your chicken was purchased at a butcher counter you can skip the rinsing step.

  • Optional: Place the chicken in a gratin or baking dish with sides and allow it to air-dry in the uncovered dish that will not allow raw chicken juices to escape. Set in the fridge overnight to “air dry.” This step will give you extra crispy skin.


  1. To Roast, start one hour before roasting: Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature for one hour or until it comes to room temperature and preheat the oven to 475° F.

  2. Optional: Using a paring knife, cut out the wishbone from the chicken. This can be found by running your finger along the neck cavity. (This step is not necessary but will make it easier to carve the chicken).

  3. Optional: Fill the cavity with the herbs, citrus halves, garlic cloves, etc. to infuse it with the flavors and plump the bird. 

  4. Tie the legs together at the ankles with the twine.

  5. Place the whole vegetables in the center of a roasting pan to act as a shelf that will lift the chicken up off the pan. This will help it to be evenly brown and crisp. 

  6. Place the chicken on your “vegetable shelf” and rub the skin with olive oil. Roast for 25 minutes.

  7. Add 1 cup of water, wine, 50/50 water, apple cider, or broth to the roasting pan.

  8. Reduce the heat to 450°F and roast until done. 

  9. Remove the chicken from the oven when it reaches 160˚F in the meatiest portions of the bird which are the thighs and under the breast where the thighs and breast meat without touching the bone. Check to make sure the juices run clear and are not pink. If necessary, return the bird to the oven and check every 5 minutes or so. 

  10. Place the chicken onto a platter or cutting board. Let the chicken rest for 10 to 15 minutes. This will allow the protein/muscle to relax and the juices to absorb back into the meat.

  11. Meanwhile, squeeze the vegetables in the pan to remove the juices and then discard them. Warm the remaining juices over medium heat. Add the second cup of wine, broth, or water. Bring the mixture to a simmer and scrape all the bits from the pan. Serve with the chicken along with the juices and lemon wedges or one of the sauces.

To stuff the chicken with salsa:

  1. Put the chicken in a large roasting pan or baking dish. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Slip your fingers between the skin and flesh to loosen the skin. 

  2. Massage ½ cup of the salsa or chutney all over the meat, spreading to coat as evenly as possible. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and preferably overnight.

Salsa Verde to put under the chicken skin, serve on the side, or both:

Herbs add a lovely fresh taste to the bird along with umami from the anchovies.

¼ cup capers, rinsed 

4 anchovy fillets, drained (optional)

2 to 3 garlic cloves, crushed

2 cups of herbs using a blend of coarsely chopped arugula, parsley, basil, cilantro, tarragon, and chives

  1. Using a mortar and pestle or food processor, blend or mash the capers with the anchovies and garlic until a paste forms. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in the remaining 1 cup of olive oil. Stir in the herbs and season with salt to taste. The salsa verde can be refrigerated overnight and is best served at room temperature. 

Roast Chicken with Compound Butter and Roasted Apple Wedges, Brussel Sprouts, and Fingerling Potatoes

Salad ideas with leftover chicken-

“Use left over chicken for soups and salads and freeze the bones for broth.”


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