Classic Baked Chicken

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Easy baked chicken recipe! How to bake chicken breasts, thighs, wings, and legs coated in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper in the oven.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Baked Chicken: A True Must-Have Recipe

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).

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 and is especially welcome on days when you’re busy and just want to put good food on the table.

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.

Classic Baked Chicken Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

Even if you intend to eat the baked chicken without its skin, leave the skins on for baking. The skins will help keep the chicken pieces from drying out while they bake.


  • One 3 to 4 lb chicken, cut into 8 parts (2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 legs, 2 wings) excluding the back
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup of low sodium chicken stock* or white wine for the gravy (optional)


1 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.

how to bake chicken - trim and salt chicken how to bake chicken - salt and pepper meat

2 Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C).

3 Oil and season the chicken, place in pan: Pat the chicken pieces dry with a paper towel. Rub olive oil 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 between the pieces.

4 Bake first at high temp, then lower the temp to finish: Bake 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 and additional 10-30 minutes more 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.

5 Tent with foil and let 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.

6 Make gravy: If you would like to make gravy with the drippings from the chicken, place the roasting pan with all its drippings on the stovetop and set the burner to medium heat.

Making Gravy for Baked Chicken Drippings from Baked Chicken for gravy

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.

How to bake chicken and make gravy from drippings

If you want the gravy even thicker, you can make a slurry with a little cornstarch (a teaspoon) and water (1/4 cup) and add that to the gravy while it cooks.

*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.

Serve with steamed rice, mashed potatoes, or Spanish rice.

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Baked Chicken served on platter

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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170 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Daniel

    I have lost track of all the times I have used this recipe. Always great!


  2. Jo

    This is my go to baked chicken recipe. I’ve made it multiple times, and it’s always so delicious. Picky husband even likes it. Sometimes it takes longer depending on the size of the chicken, what pieces I’m using, and the type of oven. Used all thighs last night and it took 45 minutes – perfect! So glad I found this site since I hate cooking.

  3. Evelyn

    I added onions, green bell peppers and McCormick Montreal chicken seasoning to give it more flavor. This recipe does not cook in one hour as specified. It took me one hour and forty minutes. The last forty minutes had to be cooked on 450 to finish. Very tiring and won’t make again. But very tasty after I added extra ingredients.


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  4. Robyn

    Perfect and simple to make. My huaband loved it!


  5. Sandi

    We really enjoyed it! I had 4 thighs and 6 drumsticks and wanted a way to cook them deliciously. I was surprised how perhaps taking the chill off the chicken in step one made a difference I think. I’d never done that before. I prepared it to the letter with the exception of using a roasting pan vs baking sheet and added red, yellow and green bell pepper slices (about 1/3 of each). Highly recommend! Pairs so well! It forms a bit of a tasty jus, if you will, that adds the basting of the chicken technique. I did so by first roasting the chicken solo for 30 min uncovered as recipe indicates, then added the bell peppers and covered the chicken as suggested at the 2nd temperature. Tip- if you use add peppers, during the last 5 minutes uncovered under broiler to crisp the skin, tuck the peppers underneath. Delicious!


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Baked Chicken pieces ready to serveClassic Baked Chicken