Our simple roast chicken recipe is an easy way to create a home-cooked meal wherever you are in the world. Read on to learn how to roast a chicken with just a handful of ingredients.
Roast chicken is one of those dishes that intimidates novice chefs but is actually easy to cook. Beyond a small list of ingredients, you just need basic kitchen tools like a chef’s knife, roasting pan and oven.
Though not mandatory, we recommend using an instant-read thermometer for more precise results. The last thing any cook wants is an undercooked chicken.
Buy a thermometer from Amazon for this and other recipes.
Why We Love Cooking Simple Roast Chicken
We missed certain food favorites while we lived as digital nomads – especially American hamburgers and Mexican tacos. However, we could always find ingredients to roast a chicken since people eat chicken pretty much everywhere in the world.
Having a decent kitchen with an oven was not always the case during those nomadic days. Since this is no longer an issue now that we have a permanent home base in Lisbon, we can cook whatever we want. Sometimes we want to roast a chicken.
When we’re not traveling, we like to roast a chicken every week or two. It’s an easy and cheap dinner option that fills our apartment with happy smells and our bellies with wholesome food.
If you’ve followed a recipe for roasted chicken before then you know that roasting a chicken makes the entire house smell good. For us, the aromas bring back childhood memories of our mothers roasting chickens for Friday night family dinners and holiday meals.
Since we’re just two people and can’t eat a whole roast chicken in one meal, we often enjoy leftovers the next day or repurpose the meat into a different dish.
One of our favorites is to shred the chicken and saute it with sliced red bell peppers and onions. We enjoy this dish in a Mexican-style dinner with fresh tortillas, avocados, cilantro, salsa and homemade Mexican crema.
Freeze the chicken carcass for chicken stock if you have room in your freezer.
Ingredients for Roasting Chicken in the Oven
Beyond a whole chicken, our simple roasted chicken recipe includes items that you probably have in your fridge and pantry – rosemary, butter, garlic, black pepper and salt. You can also add root vegetables like potatoes and carrots to the roasting pan. Some chefs go even further.
At the bistro NoMad, world-class chef Daniel Humm served his birds stuffed with a melange of beautiful fresh flowery vegetation like lavender and sage. Humm’s recipe involves stuffing the skin with brioche and foie-gras but you certainly do not need to go that far and probably won’t.
Marcella Hazan stuffed her bird with lemons and the result is wonderful. As for us, we like to simply stuff our chicken with whole cloves of garlic and a variety of fresh herbs.
Roast chicken is a dish that celebrates simplicity and rewards creativity. In our recipe, you can replace the rosemary with tarragon, parsley or your favorite herb. You can also use olive oil instead of butter. However, we don’t recommend replacing the garlic cloves since roasted garlic is one of the greatest joys of home cooking.
How to Make Simple Roast Chicken
With some advance planning, roasting a chicken is easy to do. We like to buy whole chickens at our favorite local butcher since they source their birds locally. But you can buy a decent bird at any local market.
Most chickens in the United States are a little lighter than the kind we buy in Portugal. The hen in our photos was big – around 5+ pounds. Most American birds typically weigh about 3.5 – 4.5 pounds.
This chicken, a robust, slightly older bird, was a challenge to carve since it was difficult to separate the leg and thigh joints from the body. You generally won’t have that problem with an American chicken.
Our roast chicken recipe is easy. It requires a minimal amount of active cooking time and no special equipment.
And the best part? This recipe gets easier every time you make it. You’ll discover new ways to make a pan sauce. We like adding wine and butter to ours.
Simple Roast Chicken Recipe
Daryl created this simple roast chicken recipe based on years of cooking. Not only is it easy to follow, but it’s also inexpensive. In fact, the entire recipe cost us less than 8€ (around $9 US) to cook in our Lisbon apartment.
- 1 whole chicken (approximately 4 pounds or 2 kg)
- 5 rosemary springs, 2 whole and 3 finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened or 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 8 garlic cloves, whole and unpeeled
- black pepper
- Dry chicken with a paper towel and place it in a roasting pan. Liberally sprinkle salt and black pepper all over the skin and inside the cavity. Rub finely chopped rosemary on and inside the chicken.
- Place chicken in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours and no more than 24 hours.
- When you're ready to roast the chicken, preheat oven to 450° F or 230° C.
- Remove chicken from the refrigerator. Tie legs with butcher string using a simple knot.
- Rub softened butter or olive oil onto the chicken and fill its cavity with rosemary springs.
- Spread garlic around the chicken. (You can optionally add carrots and/or root vegetables based on what's in your pantry.)
- Cook chicken for 45 minutes. Since ovens and chicken sizes vary, begin checking the temperature of the bird every 10 minutes starting at the 30-minute mark. Measure doneness by inserting an instant-read thermometer into the deepest part of the thigh. The temperature should read 160-165 ° F or 71-74 ° C.
- Remove the roasted chicken from the oven. Cover it with tin foil and let it rest for 10 minutes.
- Carve chicken by slicing into the bird inside the leg, separating the thigh from the body by popping out the thigh joint. Separate the breast meat by slicing it away from the body along the breast bone on both sides. Remove the wing from the body by turning the bird over, slicing the wings off behind the wing joint.
- Serve with green beans, potatoes or your favorite side dishes.
- You don't need to baste the chicken with this recipe.
- You can use olive oil instead of butter depending on preference and availability.
- If you add potatoes, either use small potatoes or cut large ones so that they cook thoroughly.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
Original Publication Date: April 13, 2020