If there is one recipe that every home cook should know, it's this baked chicken recipe. All you need is chicken, olive oil, salt, and pepper (and maybe some stock or white wine for gravy).
How to Make Baked Chicken Breast, Thighs, Wings, or Legs
We usually buy whole chickens and either cut them up ourselves or have the butcher do it for us. It's cheaper that way, and we get giblets for gravy. You can do that or just use a package of whatever chicken parts you like—make baked chicken breasts for white meat, and baked chicken thighs and legs for dark.
This way of cooking chicken couldn't be more straightforward. It's especially welcome on days when you're busy and just want to put good food on the table.
Video: How to Make Baked Chicken
Classic Baked Chicken
Making Gravy from a Whole Chicken
If you bought a whole chicken to start with, the chicken may have come with the neck and gizzards (often in paper in the cavity of the chicken). Use the chicken back and these giblets to make stock for gravy.
Chop up the back a little, and put the back, gizzard, and neck into a small saucepan and cover with water by a half inch or so. Bring to a simmer and let simmer while your chicken is baking. Then strain and use the stock for making a richly flavored gravy.
Heat the drippings from the roasted chicken with some stock or white wine for a simple gravy.
Making Baked Chicken With the Skin On
This recipe works best using chicken with the skin on. Even if you intend to eat the baked chicken without its skin, leave the skin on for baking. It prevents the chicken pieces from drying out while they bake.
What to Serve With Baked Chicken
My mother made this baked chicken at least once a month when I was growing up, and still does! It's terrific with her Spanish rice and a little mango chutney on the side. We also love serving it with a garden lettuce side salad and some easy steamed broccoli.
5 Easy Baked Chicken Recipes
- Lemon Chicken
- Baked Chicken with Cherry Tomatoes and Garlic
- Chipotle Salsa Baked Chicken
- Spanish Baked Chicken
- Baked Chicken Parmesan
How to Defrost Chicken
How many times have you realized that you've forgotten to thaw your chicken right at dinner time? If I had a dollar for every time this has happened to me, I'd be a rich woman!
Of course, the best way to defrost chicken is overnight in the fridge. But if you didn't plan ahead, there's still hope for a chicken dinner, using a water bath or a microwave oven.
The Best Herbs and Spices for Baked Chicken Recipes
This simple baked chicken recipe is so easy to customize. You can chopped fresh herbs, like rosemary, thyme, tarragon, marjoram, sage, parsley, and oregano. Other flavoring options include minced garlic, paprika or even lemon or orange zest. Or get fancy with spice blends like dukkah, berbere, baharat, or garam masala.
For a really herb forward flavor, you can use as much as a 1/4 cup of chopped fresh herbs or as little as a tablespoon of dried spices. It's up to you how much flavor you want to add to your chicken.
How to Store and Reheat Leftover Baked Chicken
Refrigerate leftover chicken for 3 to 5 days in an airtight container or zipper bag. Cooked chicken can also be frozen for up to 6 months, but it's best to defrost and eat within 3 months.
Oven: Place the chicken pieces on a wire rack over a baking pan (to allow for good heat circulation all around). Then bake for about 15 minutes in a preheated 400°F oven, until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
Air fryer: Set the air fryer for 320°F and reheat for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Microwave: Place your chicken pieces on a microwave safe plate, sprinkle the chicken with some water and cover with plastic wrap or a paper towel. Reheat on high for 2 minutes. Remove, flip the pieces, and microwave in 30 second bursts, until the pieces are heated through.
Delicious Sides for Baked Chicken
- Roasted Baby Carrots
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan
- Roasted Winter Squash
- Roasted Fennel
Classic Baked Chicken
Even if you intend to eat the baked chicken without its skin, leave the skin on while baking. The skin prevents the chicken pieces from drying out while they bake.
1 (3 to 4 pound) chicken, cut into 8 parts (2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 legs, 2 wings), excluding the back
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock or white wine for the gravy, optional
Trim and salt the chicken:
Trim the chicken pieces of excess fat. Pat the chicken pieces dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle all sides with salt. Let the chicken pieces sit for 15 to 20 minutes to take the chill off.
Preheat the oven:
Set the oven to 400°F (205°C).
Prep the chicken:
Pat the chicken pieces dry with a paper towel. Rub olive oil all over the chicken pieces and on the bottom of the roasting pan.
Sprinkle the chicken pieces all over with black pepper and a little more salt.
Arrange the chicken pieces in the pan, so that all the pieces are skin-side up, and the largest pieces (the breasts) are in the center of the pan.
Don't crowd the pan. Allow room in between the pieces for the heat to circulate.
Bake the chicken:
Bake (uncovered) in the oven for 30 minutes at 400°F (205°C). This initial high heat will help brown the chicken.
Then, lower the heat to 350°F (175°C) and bake for an additional 10 to 30 minutes until the juices run clear (not pink) when poked with a sharp knife or the internal temperature of the chicken breasts is 165°F (74°C), and of the thighs is 170°F (77°C) when tested with a meat thermometer.
If the chicken isn't browning well enough, place the chicken under the broiler for the last 5 minutes of cooking until browned sufficiently.
Let the chicken rest:
Remove from oven and transfer the chicken to a serving dish. Tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Make the gravy:
If you would like to make gravy with the drippings from the chicken, place the roasting pan with all its drippings on the stove top and set the burner to medium heat.
Use a metal spatula to scrape up the stuck drippings from the bottom of the pan. When the pan is hot, pour in some white wine or chicken stock to help loosen the drippings from the pan.
Transfer the drippings and stock/wine mixture to a saucepan and heat on medium high until reduced to your desired thickness.
If you want the gravy even thicker, you can make a slurry with a little cornstarch or flour (a teaspoon) and water (1/4 cup), and add that to the gravy while it cooks.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 27g||34%|
|Saturated Fat 7g||35%|
|Total Carbohydrate 0g||0%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||1%|
|Total Sugars 0g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|