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How To Make Perfect Roast Chicken

5 from 3 votes

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A simple recipe for one the most delicious foods — roast chicken.

A simple meal like roast chicken is so easy and comforting when the cupboard is bare.

All you need – besides the chicken of course – are basic seasonings, a hot oven or, if the weather is nice, an outdoor grill.

I don’t know why, but the thought of cooking a whole chicken (yes, with the bones!) can seem daunting to some cooks.

For instance, my mother hardly ever served roasted chicken when I was growing up – instead, it was saved for special occasions at a restaurant.

And I know how convenient it’d be to pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, but I have a problem with those.

By the time you get it home, the chicken has been stewing under a heat lamp for hours; dried out and overcooked.

I’ve been making a version of this chicken recipe for years. It’s simple, easy and classic.

To roast a chicken in an outdoor grill

  • Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for indirect cooking.
  • On a gas grill, turn the two outside burners to medium and middle burner off.
  • For a charcoal grill, push the hot coals to either side of the grill, leaving the middle empty.
  • Season the chicken inside with salt (1-2 teaspoons) and a chunk of butter. Rub the skin with olive oil and sprinkle the skin with more salt and freshly ground pepper.
  • Place chicken breast up directly on the grill rack and roast 25 minutes. Turn the chicken and continue roasting 25-35 more minutes, or until temperature reaches 150F.

What’s the best roast chicken temperature?

First, if you don’t already have an inexpensive instant-read thermometer, please go get one! It’s a simple tool that will change your chicken-roasting life.

How to use an instant-read thermometer to test the temperature of roasted chicken

Insert an instant probe thermometer into the breast meat parallel with the rib bones (not touching them).

Look for a temperature of 150-155F. Keep in mind the chicken will continue to cook when you remove it from the oven or grill.

Sometimes we roast it on the grill, which produces an even better chicken with crisp, golden skin and a delicious smoky aroma.

The method is from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, a cookbook I consider an absolute necessity in the kitchen.

What to do with leftover roast chicken

  • Make a chicken taco with some shredded chicken.
  • Pile chunks on some crusty bread and make a panini with basil, goat cheese and slow roasted tomatoes.
  • Mix shredded meat with homemade aioli or your favorite mayo. Add some chopped celery, green onion and parsley to make chicken salad.

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How To Make Perfect Roast Chicken

Karen Tedesco
An easy recipe for simple whole roasted chicken with crisp skin and juicy meat.
Print Pin
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 10 mins
Total Time 1 hr 20 mins
Course Meat
Cuisine chicken
Servings 4 servings


  • 1 3-4 pound whole chicken
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • Optional seasonings, depending on what you have on hand:
  • Handful of fresh herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, tarragon or
  • One or two garlic cloves


  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Put the chicken in a shallow roasting pan or casserole and pat the skin dry with paper towels.
  • Mix together the salt and pepper in a small dish; season the chicken on all sides, rubbing over the skin into the cavity.
  • Poke about a dozen holes in the lemon with a fork or a skewer and place in the cavity. Tuck the herbs and/or garlic in with the lemon, if using, and tie the legs together with a 12-inch-long piece of kitchen twine.
  • Arrange the chicken breast side up and roast for 25 minutes. Turn the chicken over on its side and roast an additional 25 minutes.
  • Raise the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Roast 10 more minutes, or until the skin is golden and juices run clear from the thigh when pierced with a fork.
  • Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing or carving. Save the juices that run out and serve with the chicken.

Karen’s Notes and Tips

  • To roast this chicken in an outdoor grill, prepare grill for indirect cooking and heat to medium-high. Place chicken directly on the grill rack and roast as described.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 14kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1745mg | Potassium: 67mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 18IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 1mg
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Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about creating elevated dinners with everyday ingredients. Find simplified recipes made from scratch and enjoy incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This is a great recipe! I have started making it about once a week…since it’s a bit of a time commitment for a weeknight, I have taken to roasting 2 birds at a time, side by side in a large roaster; we eat one for dinner & pull the meat from the other for the next night’s dinner (quesadillas, pot pies, casseroles…). This chicken easily tops any grocery store rotisserie bird. THANKS for such a great staple recipe!

  2. swirlingnotions says:

    I’m right there with you Karen. In fact, I’ve got a sort of “ode to roast (or in this case, rotisserie, but still) chicken” on my blog here if you want to check it out. I’m enjoying your blog!

  3. Your chicken could not look any more perfect! 🙂

  4. Maria. That is quite a compliment.

    Thanks Joe, Valentina and Pilar. It’s not like I can use the word “perfect” just any old time, but this seemed — well, perfect!

    Lisa, yes, yes! Nice to have Keith around — Tom is really the expert on chicken on the grill at our house.

    Thanks Kristen and Shayne! Happy chickens…

  5. This is how I do my roast chicken and it is GREAT every time. Thank you for sharing


  6. That is one gorgeous looking chicken Karen!

  7. Oh yes, yes, yes. Isn’t roasted chicken such an easy comfort food? (I hope it took some of the sting out of being home from vacation.) Keith has taken charge of roasting chickens and he does them on the grill — so good. We also put a lemon, cut in half, inside, along with herbs.

  8. This is a really good looking roasted chiken!!!

    It seems so perfect that I can smell it through my computer….

    Best wishes from Spain

  9. not only is the chicken in the photo wonderful…the chicken you get when making this is superb. i never thought of the flipping thing…but now i am a convert. thanks bazillions.

  10. valentinA says:

    I love your photo, Karen! I agree with the others: the chicken’s PERFECT!

  11. Okay, I have to say – that does look like the *perfect!* roasted chicken. Well done!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Hello, Karen:

    The chicken looks wonderful, and I know it must taste super! It reminded me of the ones we had on Sundays with oven broiled potatoes when I was growing up.

    Maria S.

  13. Deborah, I got lucky with this photo since it was still light out when the chicken was done. Natural light really makes a difference.

    Liza, start with the prosciutto, and he’ll come around to the flexitarian way.

    Thanks, Andreea!

    Patricia, the skin is such a treat. My kids even like it sometimes.

  14. Patricia Scarpin says:

    It looks wonderful, Karen! So nicely browned, that would be a hit at home. 🙂

  15. this looks so very, very delicious!

  16. this looks SO good. I wish I could convince S to eat it!

  17. Deborah Dowd says:

    That is a beautiful roast chicken- picture perfect! I’m sure it is as delicious as it looks!