The Best Dry-Brined Roast Chicken

DinnerChicken Roast

Dry-brined roasted chickens are the best way to get succulent, juicy meat, and crispy, golden skin! The best part? You only need 5 minutes and some space in the fridge!

Dinner doesn’t have to be full of bells and whistles. As a matter of fact, sometimes it’s better when it’s not.

This whole roasted chicken recipe is easy to make, has only 6 ingredients (two of which are salt and pepper), and only takes 5 minutes to prepare.

The real secret to this chicken, however, is giving it a 24-hour rest (or longer!) in the refrigerator before roasting. This gives the skin a chance to dry out (dry skin=crispy skin) and for the seasonings to flavor the meat. If you can let it sit for 72 hours that’s even better!

I love this recipe because it gives me room for spontaneity. The chicken might be in the refrigerator for 24-hours, but if a friend calls and wants to go out to eat I can shift gears and roast the chicken the following night, and my home cooked meal will be all the better for it!

Oven Roasted Chicken Recipe - - whole chicken on platter

DRY BRINE FOR THE BEST CHICKEN

To make this chicken, we are actually combining two techniques:

  1. Dry brining (also known as curing), which we used for our Thanksgiving turkey
  2. Air drying, which we also used for our turkey and for some crispy skin experiments we did a while back.

Dry brining allows the salt and seasonings to penetrate into the meat of the bird without all the fuss of soaking it in salt water for 24 hours. Air drying reduces moisture on the skin and makes it extra crispy!

Curious about the methods of our madness? Check out those other posts linked above. If you just need a chicken recipe, then read on!

Go ahead and give the chicken a good rub down a day or three before you want to roast it. When you’re ready to make dinner rub a little additional oil on the outside of the bird, add another sprinkle of salt and pepper then pop it in a hot oven.

Dry Brined Roast Chicken - - whole chicken on platter Recipe

BASTE YOUR CHICKEN

I will freely admit basting keeps you in the kitchen and tied to the stove, but I think it’s worth it. Basting helps to keep the meat tender and moist, while flavoring the surface of it with those lovely seasoned juices. It also creates a more deeply colored bird that is a site to behold.

That showstopper moment is practically a requirement for Thanksgiving, but not so much for weeknight chicken. If you forget to baste or you just don’t want to do it, the chicken will still taste and look great.

Also, chickens are processed in different ways. Some chickens have more fat than others. Your chicken may or may not release a lot of juices in the first hour while it’s roasting. Either way is ok.

Once your chicken begins to release the juice, even if it’s at the 45- to 60-minute mark, start basting. If the juices release later rather than earlier baste every 15 minutes rather than every 20.

Brined Roast Chicken Recipe - - whole chicken on platter

OTHER WAYS TO SEASON YOUR CHICKEN

Consider this chicken your starter package! Dress up or add to the seasonings anything that suits your fancy. Try:

  • Orange, fennel and garlic
  • Thyme, parsley, rosemary, sage and lemon juice
  • Try using butter instead of oil

WHAT TO SERVE WITH THIS CHICKEN

And don’t forget to save the bones to make chicken stock! You can make your stock on the stove top, in the slow cooker, or the pressure cooker.

Need to know how to prep this chicken for the oven? Check out our guide on How to Truss a Chicken.

CHECK OUT THESE OTHER ROAST CHICKEN RECIPES!

The Best Dry Brined Roast Chicken Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Dry Brining time: 24 to 72 hours
  • Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 5- to 6-pound chicken
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons freshly cracked pepper
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons dried thyme

Method

1 Prepare the pan: Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set a baking rack on top or use a roasting pan with a roasting rack.

2 Make the spice rub: Zest and quarter the lemon. Combine the lemon zest, juice from 1/4 of the lemon, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, pepper and thyme together in a small bowl.

Save the lemon quarters (even the one you squeezed dry) to insert into the cavity.

3 Season the chicken: Pat the outside of the chicken dry with a paper towel. Slide your fingers between the skin and the breast meat to loosen the skin. Try to separate the skin from around the legs as well.

Rub 3/4 of the spice mixture under the skin and into the breast and leg meat. Rub the remaining spice mixture inside the cavity of the bird. Insert the lemon quarters in the cavity.

How to Roast a Whole Chicken - woman separating chicken skin from meat Oven Roasted Chicken Recipe - whole chicken being rubbed in herbs and oil

4 Truss the chicken: To truss the chicken, cut a piece of kitchen twine about 15 inches long. Tuck the wings under the bird as best you can. Center the twine under the back end of the chicken so equal lengths of twine are where you tucked the wings in.

Lift up each side of the twine crossing it over the top of bird’s body, wrap it around the legs. Tie the legs together.

How to Dry Brine a Chicken - trussing a whole chickenHow to Brine a Chicken - trussing a whole chicken How to Brine a Chicken - trussing a chicken How to Roast a Whole Chicken - raw whole chicken and butchers twine

5 Let the chicken air dry for 24 hours: Place the bird, baking sheet and all, into your refrigerator uncovered for 24 to 72 hours. If you don’t have the room in your refrigerator it’s ok to put the chicken on a plate and transfer it to the baking sheet when you’re ready to roast the bird.

How to Roast a Whole Chicken - whole chicken dried

6 Prepare the oven: When ready to roast, move your oven rack to the second lowest spot in the oven. Preheat the oven to 375° F degrees.

7 Add extra seasonings: The chicken will look a little desiccated after the 24-72 hour rest. That’s a good thing! It means your chicken will have crispy skin!

Transfer the baking sheet from the fridge to the counter. Rub the outside of the chicken with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt, and a few cracks of fresh ground pepper.

How to Roast a Whole Chicken - pouring olive oil over chicken

8 Roast and baste the chicken: Place the baking sheet into the oven and roast for 1 hour at 375° F degrees. Then turn the oven up to 425° F degrees for the remaining 20 minutes or until the temperature in the thickest part of the breast reaches 160° F degrees.

Check the chicken at the 45-minute mark and baste it. You may have to tip the pan a little to the corner to get to the juices. If you don’t have a baster don’t worry, just use a long-handled spoon to scoop up and pour the drippings over the chicken.

Continue to baste every 15 to 20 minutes until it reaches a deep, rich, golden color, the skin is crispy, and the chicken has finished cooking through.

How to Roast a Chicken - basting a whole chicken

9 Rest the chicken: Remove the chicken from the oven when the temperature in the thickest part of the breast reads about 160°F. Let it rest for 5 minutes. The temperature will continue to rise to reach 165°F.

If you don’t have a thermometer that’s ok. The chicken is cooked through when you slice into it and the juices run clear.

Oven Roasted Chicken Recipe - - whole chicken on platter

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Summer Miller

Summer Miller is an Associate Editor for Simply Recipes based in Nebraska. Her work has appeared in Bon Appetit, Eating Well, Grit, SAVEUR, and Every Day with Rachael Ray, among others. Her first book is New Prairie Kitchen (Agate Publishing, 2015).

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8 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Dawn

    Wow, this is a great starter recipe. There are only 2 of us, so I adapted it for a game hen. I also wanted to use a vertical roaster. I made the same quantity of rub as for a large chicken. I found my herb racks were out of thyme (need to run to Penzeys), so I used Herbes de Provence instead. We have a Ponderosa lemon tree in the back yard, so I picked a plump lemon – probably at least 50% bigger than most grocery store specimens.

    I followed the preparation as described, except that I used about 1 teaspoon of rub inside the game hen, and one teaspoon under each side of the breast skin. I left it in the fridge for just 2 hours, because we were hungry! I stuck a 1/4 lemon wedge into the center of a wire vertical roaster, as the roaster would be occupying the cavity. I made sure that the cut surface of the lemon was up against the inside of the breast part of the cavity to keep it moist. I put the roaster into a small ceramic roasting dish, with about 1 cup of wine and 1 cup of water – enough to make a 1/4 inch depth of liquid.

    I then parboiled some red and white creamer potatoes for 10 minutes, and tossed them with 2 tablespoons of the rub. Everything went into a 375F oven for 40 minutes until my Thermapen showed 160F in the breast. I did have to tent the upper breast for the last 15 minutes, but that often happens.

    I let the hen rest, and poured the juices into a fat separator. I made some haricot verts, tossed in skillet tomatoes and chopped olives while the game hen rested. I didn’t have the energy to thicken the juices, but when we served half a hen each, I poured the defatted juice over the meat.

    Wow, it was amazing! Using a little of the rub on the potatoes really brought it all together. I have frozen the remaining rub, and will certainly make this again. Two hours in the fridge worked, but if I was a little more organized, I would probably leave it 12 hours or overnight. Nevertheless, it was very moist and utterly delicious – thank you Summer!

    xxxxxyyyyy

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  2. Dot Thrall

    Have not tried the chicken yet, but I sure will, just wanted to tell you I have been receiving Simply Recipes for a long time, love them. And also the dry brined turkey I fixed for family
    at Thanksgiving was the best ever!!!! Simply Recipes is my go-to website for anything I want to cook. As a very senior citizen, I don’t cook much anymore but I will fix something that will be for a few meals, not just one. And you have lots of recipes that will do that. Again, my congrats on the best ever recipe website!!!!

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  3. Rodger

    I love your recipes, and I use them often. Roasted chiks are a family favorite, espically my wife’s. My grandkids somehow are tuned into my thoughts when I’m thinking of roasted chicken, because they always show up, “just in time” my wife and I love it, of course. I’ll give this recipe a spin around the block in probably, oh———72 hours or so. Thanks, I’ll let you know how the kiddos like it.

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Dry Brined Roast Chicken - - whole chicken on platter RecipeThe Best Dry-Brined Roast Chicken