Perfect Roast Chicken

There are so many ways to roast a chicken that one could almost argue that there is no wrong way to do it. You can roast it at 350 the whole time. You can start it high and end low. You can cook it on high heat the whole time. You can flip it, or, not. You can gently place garlic and herbs under the skin. You can stuff citrus and herbs inside the cavity. Roast it on a bed of onions and root vegetables. You can truss it, brine it, baste it, or smother it with butter a la Julie Child.

I’ve tried all of the above, and honestly, they’ve all come out great. The only way I can measure which is best is by the amount of chicken that doesn’t make it to the platter when I carve it. By far, the following method results in the [ahem] “smallest chickens”

Salt it, put it in a hot oven, and walk away. Doesn’t get any simpler.

my favorite vessel for chicken roasting: cast iron dutch oven

crispy skin perfection

Perfect Roast Chicken

1 organic or pasture raised chicken
sea salt

Preheat your oven to 425°

  • Rinse your chicken and dry it well, inside and out
  • Salt it liberally; a good coating. If you’re salt phobic, use more than you feel comfortable with.
  • Place in a roasting dish, or ideally, a cast iron dutch oven.
  • Insert into the hot oven, uncovered, legs first
  • Set a timer for 1 hour 15 minutes and WALK AWAY.
  • Go read a book, start a movie, waste time on Facebook or Pinterest, anything that makes you happy. Just don’t fanatically open the oven door and inspect the bird. It’s fine in there, I promise.
  • After an hour, check the temperature with a meat thermometer, if you have one. Insert it into the thigh, be careful to not contact the bone. Cooked chicken should be 165°, so you can take it out at 160 and it will continue cooking about 5 degrees.  If you don’t have a meat thermometer, wiggle the leg. No seriously. It’s a good indicator, because once the chicken is cooked, the leg will wiggle freely, as if it’s ready to be ripped off and eaten.
  • Using a pastry brush, baste the chicken with the fat (schmaltz!) in the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking for 5-30 minutes. (It could take as long as 1:45. My average chicken cooking time is between 75 and 90 minutes, depending on the size of the bird.)
  • Once cooked through, remove from the oven and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.

Enjoy!


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  2. I made the chicken…followed your recipe to the letter – even added extra salt to adhere to the “more than you feel comfortable with” directions. And, wait for it….BCE!!!! Which stands for best chicken ever. I am actually not sure if we have enough for sandwiches tomorrow. Lovely, lovely chicken. Thank you, Simone! You completely rock.

  3. Hey, I’m confused about that last step when you coat it with the basting fat…. how long should I cook it for after that? 5 mins? 1 hr and 45 mins more?? That seems too much. Thanks

    • Sorry if that’s confusing. After you baste the chicken, cook it for 5 to 30 minutes more, depending on how done your chicken is at that point. It’s tough to pinpoint the exact cooking time because each chicken is different, depending on size, how fatty it is, etc. The TOTAL cooking time will probably be somewhere around 75-90 minutes, but checking the temp with a meat thermometer is a good bet to be sure it’s cooked through.

      Does that help?

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  8. !!!

    First roast chicken that worked for me! Incredibly tasty (and you’re absolutely right about tons o’ salt), crispy skin, juicy meat. 😀

  9. I just made this for recipe for the 3rd or 4th time and I got amazing chicken out of if, every single time! An added bonus is that my boyfriend constantly tells me how delicious the chicken is, while devouring it 😉

  10. I have a new Staub dutch oven and I wanted to roast a turkey. Can I COVER the chicken so that it will baste well in the dutch oven…or do I need to keep it uncovered as in your recipe. Also, would I reduce the cooking time. Please advise…i love the simplicity of your recipe. Thanks so much!

    • Without trying it, I can’t really say for certain. I’m guessing since a turkey takes a bit longer to roast, it would be a good idea to cover it for a portion of the time, and uncover for the last hour or so. In regards to cooking time, I would go with the minutes per pound that is recommended for turkey, and check the temperature once you suspect it’s about half way done, and go from there.

  11. Any estimate of the amount of salt for a 4-5 lb. chicken? Made this once and it was perfect, but the second time I think I busted out of my saltaphobia too much.

  12. I have made this multiple times and it has always turned out perfect. The left over chicken has made some great soup too! Thank you for such a simple yet delicious recipe!

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  14. I’ve made this several times and it’s always turned out great. Now I’m wondering if the same deliciousness will result when just using chicken legs…

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  16. Just made this with a mix of lemon, rosemary and sage salts (from Practical Paleo)… turned out great! I was so excited I forgot to take a pic for Instagram before carving it. This will be my to-go roast chicken recipe from now on. Thanks!

  17. Hi Simone,

    Your roast chicken recipe was the very first thing I made in my nifty new Lodge Dutch oven and it was perfect. Even though I completely forgot to baste. This bird is a bit bigger so I’m giving it an hour before basting and I’m thinking another 20 to finish. My husband thinks it’s hilarious I’m so exciting about cooking a chicken LOL.

    Thanks for the lovely dinner!!
    Natalie

    • Thanks, Natalie, I’m so glad to hear it! I’m honored that my recipe was the one to welcome your new Dutch oven into your kitchen :)

  18. I LOVE this chicken recipe. Thank you so much for sharing it. It has become my favorite go to recipe for making chicken. Scrumptious!

  19. I love the simplicity. FYI, a 5.5 lb chicken in my 6qt dutch oven didn’t brown much, so I might trying adding rack if I can find one that fits, just to raise the bird up a bit. Also, I did something you didn’t mention and put salt under the skin over the breast. That made the breast meat saltier than the rest, which wasn’t bad but I don’t think is necessary. Just mentioning, in case anyone was wondering since most baked/roast chicken recipes say to put seasoning going under the breast skin.