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Favorite Roast Chicken

Fridays can only mean one thing at my house.  It's roast chicken night!  Roast chicken is something I really love to eat and it's something I really love to make, because it is comfort food at its best.  The aroma that wafts from the oven as the plump, juicy bird roasts is unlike any other.  This recipe is one that I turn to every single week because my family loves it.  The bird always comes out juicy and succulent, never dry or tough. 

One thing I strongly recommend is that you buy a free-range, organic chicken from a reputable butcher or supermarket.  I'm lucky to have several sources, including my local Whole Foods.  However, any good chicken that's humanely raised will undoubtedly make a delicious main course. The great thing about this recipe is that it can be customized to your family's liking.  Add some spices to give it some zip, tuck in some herbs underneath the skin or change the citrus to a lime or orange if you wish. 

Make this tonight!

 The Ingredients
  • Organic free-range chicken (3 1/2 to 4 lbs.)
  • One large onion peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 4 sprigs of Italian flat leaf parsley or other fresh herbs
  • 1 lemon well washed
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • salt and pepper
Fresh Herbs: flowering oregano & basil.

Favorite Roast Chicken How-to
  • Pat the chicken dry and let it sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Preheat your oven to 350° F.  Line the bottom of your roasting pan or other oven-proof dish with sliced onions and place the chicken on top.  Lift the skin from each breast and tuck a teaspoon of butter on each side, along with some salt & pepper.  Massage it in very well.  Salt and pepper the cavity and tuck in the sprigs of parsley or other herbs.  With the heel of your hand, roll your lemon on the counter back & forth (this helps release the juice) and then pierce it about 20 times with a paring knife.  Stuff it in the cavity. 
  • Rub the remaining butter all over the chicken (if it's at room temperature it will smear nicely). Salt and pepper well.  Truss your chicken and tuck the wing tips underneath.  Don't forget to salt and pepper the onions.
  • The chicken is ready to be put into the preheated oven.  I'm using a 12" stainless steel All-Clad frying pan for this.
  • As soon as you put the chicken in the oven, set your timer for one hour.  After the hour is up, immediately raise the oven temperature to 400° F  and set your timer for 20 minutes.  The higher temperature will brown & crisp the skin beautifully. 
  • Remove the chicken & test for doneness.  An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh should read 180° F according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  I take it out at 170° F because it will continue to cook as it sits.  
  • The chicken should rest for 10-15 minutes before you carve into it.  

I hope my family's favorite roast chicken soon becomes a favorite of yours.  You really can't beat having this once a week, because it is always welcomed at the table.  What I love about roasting whole chickens is that there are inevitable, tasty leftovers which can be made into a number of dishes like my Fried Rice or some chicken salad.  When you're done picking the bones clean, place them in a freezer bag and save them for making my Chicken Stock 101.  You'll be glad to have a few of these carcasses in the freezer for stock.

Cheers and bon appetit!


  1. Hi David,

    I'm not going to say much this time. You never cease to amaze me. Amaze me!!! I've been wanting to make roast chicken, but because it's so cheap to buy, yes at Sam's ($4.88 here in St. Louis) I have put the endeavor on the back burner. I am always inspired by your writing and sharing and now will put this back on the fall/winter to do list for the family. Perhaps I should make up to 3 for our family. I loved seeing the pic of the bird sitting on onion slices. I can eat onions almost any time and garlic too. I now grow all of that.

    Thanks for AGAIN inspiring me. I have yet to make your egg salad, carrot cake, your birthday dinner, and so much more. I am looking forward to all of the above. It's truly amazing that I am only a wee bit heavier that I should be because of my love of good food. Thank God I cook and rarely eat out!

    John P.

  2. John, please try this roast chicken recipe! I guarantee you'll forgo the pre roasted chickens at Sam's after making your first. What's nice is that you can always alter the recipe by adding spices or other herbs to suit your tastes. I've even smothered a whole bird in mustard, which is out of this world!


  3. Okay, now I have a hankering for a roasted chicken; something I haven't made in a while. I usually put a lemon in the cavity but I cut it in quarters. Why the piercing, David? I'm intrigued. How do you smother a whole bird in mustard?

  4. Hi there, I tend to pierce the lemon so that the juices can flow out of the lemon as the bird roasts. If I'm in the mood, I give the lemon a good squeeze over the chicken before I stuff it in the cavity.

    As for the mustard: replace the butter with equal parts dijon mustard, rubbing it under the skin & all over the top. I only pepper the chicken because the mustard is pretty salty already (maybe drizzle a little bit of olive over the smothered chicken). Voila!

    Keep in mind though, if you're thinking of saving the carcass for chicken stock, omit the mustard or heavy spices, as this can greatly affect the flavor of your stock.

    Try it.

  5. I meant drizzle "olive oil" after the chicken is smothered! Sorry for the error!

  6. I'll give the mustard a try sometime but first I'll try the recipe you posted. It sounds very good.

  7. This looks awesome! I will have to try this on Sunday! Friday's are usually our homemade pizza and movie night, but this may become our Sunday dinner. What other spices have you tried with this? The mustard sounds really good too.

  8. Reynaul, I've mixed marmalade with Chinese 5 spice powder and some sesame oil, along with chili flakes as a coating. This chicken is WONDERFUL!!

    You can also try paprika, chili powders or just about anything you like.

    It can take on various flavors nicely.


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