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!
Dry Brine for the Best Chicken
To make this chicken, we are actually combining two techniques:
- Dry brining (also known as curing), which we used for our Thanksgiving turkey
- 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.
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.
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
- I love mashed potatoes with anything, including chicken!
- Lemony Broccoli Rabe is always on the rotation at my house.
- Roasted Carrots go well with everything!
- The crisp, crunch of a Classic Wedge Salad is a refreshing side
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!
- Keller's Skillet Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables
- Honey Glazed Lemon Roast Chicken
- Roast Chicken with Carrots
- Herb Stuffed Roast Chicken
- Roasted Garlic Chicken
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.