Learn how to roast a whole chicken plus get tips and tricks for flavoring and cooking the most tender whole roasted chicken.
Table of Contents
Why Make a Whole Roasted Chicken
A delicious herby whole roasted chicken recipe made with a whole head of garlic and lemon is the perfect weeknight meal that the whole family will love.
We love roasting whole chicken at the beginning of the week because not only is it delicious to eat the day of, but it’s so delicious as leftovers, too.
- High protein dinner: per 4 oz. serving, there are around 21g protein in cooked chicken making roasted chicken an excellent main at any meal.
- Easy to make: once you’ve got your chicken seasoned and in the pan, you just let the oven do its thing. Pretty hands off of you ask me.
- Serves a crowd: a 3 lb. bird will feed around 6 people. SCORE.
- Lots of leftovers: if you’re a single person or a couple, you’ll have leftovers for days. Eat it as is, put it in a soup OR make chicken broth!
How to Flavor Chicken for Roasting
The best oven roasted whole chicken recipes are flavorful on the outside and tender on the inside. Here are some flavor tips for the best roast chicken recipe.
Fat: Whether you use butter or olive oil, fat is an important part of roasted chicken. The fat helps turn the chicken golden brown and gives the skin that perfect texture. It also offers a lot of flavor.
Seasoning: We are all about the seasoning. For this recipe, we did a dry rub (mixed with butter) on the outside and fresh herbs on the inside. By doing both, you really get a yummy flavor in not only the chicken, but the broth/gravy, too!
Citrus: Don’t skip the citrus! By adding that whole lemon to the roasting pan, flavors become amplified.
Salt: Salt adds flavor, but also helps tenderize the meat.
How to Roast a Whole Chicken (step by step)
Here is a quick guide to how to roast chicken in just 6 steps! For a more robust tutorial, pop down to the recipe card.
- Remove Moisture: before doing anything, remove the chicken from the packaging. Use paper towel to blot the chicken to remove as much moisture as possible.
- Season: Mix together softened butter and seasonings and then slather the chicken with the mixture. Make sure to cover every nook and cranny…even under the wings!
- Stuff: Stuff the bird with fresh herbs and diced onion. This is going to create the most flavorful gravy in all the land.
- Add Moisture: Pour wine and chicken broth on the bottom of your pan. This helps add moisture to the cooking process, but is also the foundation of a delicious gravy at the end.
- Roast & Baste: Roast chicken at 400ºF for 60-90 minutes, basting every 30 minutes. Roast chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF.
- Rest: Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before slicing and eating.
How long to roast a whole chicken? A 2-3 lb. whole chicken will take around 75 minutes at 400ºF.
Have a bigger chicken? If you have a whole chicken 4 lbs. or greater, start with 10 extra minutes. The goal is to reach 165ºF at the thickest part of the chicken. So continue cooking in increments of 10 minutes until it reaches that temperature.
Whole Roasted Chicken Tips
Here are a few pointers for the best roast chicken recipe on the internet!
Middle of oven: Make sure to place your pan on the center rack of your oven so that it cooks evenly.
Basting is key: Make sure to base your roast chicken recipe every 30 minutes. Suck the juices from the bottom of the pan and pour it oven your bird. This will add flavor and tenderness to the chicken.
don’t have a baster?
Don’t have a baster or meat brush? Simply use a measuring cup or large spoon instead!
Don’t skimp on salt: Salt is an important part of cooking poultry. It helps break down the meat to make it ultra tender, but also adds flavor too!
165ºF: In order to safely eat your chicken, make sure that the thickest part of the bird reaches 165ºF. You can take the chicken out at around 160ºF because it will cook around 5ºF more as it rests on the counter.
While I love slicing and eating roasted chicken as-is (bigggg fan of both the breast and chicken legs!), there are so many different ways to serve it! Check out some ideas below:
Slice & Serve: Keep things simple and simply remove as much meat from the carcass as possible and slice and serve! Whatever you do, DO NOT throw out the skin. It’s the best part!
Shred & Flavor: Once your roasted chicken has cooled completely, remove as much meat from the carcass as possible. Then, use 2 forks to shred the chicken. Season it with your favorite sauce and voila! Here are some sauce ideas:
Nachos: When in doubt, top your nachos with shredded roasted chicken and all the nacho fixings.
Soup: Either shred/chop your roasted chicken and add it to a soup or chili for some extra protein and flavor.
Save the carcass!
Once you’ve removed as much meat as possible from the carcass, save it so you can make homemade chicken broth! Check out our Chicken Broth recipe HERE.
If you’re looking to make a smaller bird for Thanksgiving, roasted chicken is a great idea! A 2-3 lb. bird will feed around 4-6. Here are more recipe pairing suggestions to complete your meal:
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- 2–3 pound whole chicken, innards removed
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 medium white onion, chopped
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 medium lemon, sliced into three pieces
- 1 whole head of garlic, one end sliced off
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- First, preheat the oven to 400ºF and oil a large dutch oven with olive oil or cooking spray. Set aside.
- Remove moisture from the chicken by patting the chicken down with a paper towel. Set the chicken aside.
- Next, place the softened butter, minced garlic, chili powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper into a bowl. Use a spoon to mix the butter and seasonings together.
- Place the chicken in the oiled casserole dish and carefully slather the seasoned butter under the skin and all over the chicken. It is ok if some of the butter falls into the bottom of the dutch oven.
- Then, place the onion, fresh rosemary, and fresh thyme into the cavity of the chicken.
- Add the lemon and head of garlic (sliced end down) into the bottom of the dutch oven.
- Finally, pour the white wine and chicken broth over the chicken and place the dutch oven into the oven on the center rack, uncovered, and roast for 30 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the oven and baste the chicken with the liquid at the bottom of the dutch oven. Be sure to baste the whole chicken.
- Place the dutch oven back in the oven and bake for another 30 minutes, uncovered.
- Remove the chicken from the oven and repeat the basting process. Check the temperature of the chicken.
- Roast for another 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165ºF.
- Remove from the oven and let the chicken rest for 10 minutes.
- Carve the chicken and enjoy.
Tips & Notes
- Nutrition is for a 2 lb. bird.
- This recipe was updated on November 1, 2020.
Serving Size: 1/6 Calories: 434 Sugar: 1 Fat: 33 Carbohydrates: 3 Fiber: 1 Protein: 28
Keywords: whole roasted chicken, roast chicken
Photography: photos taken in this post are by Erin from The Wooden Skillet.