The aroma and crackle of a chicken roasting in the oven promises a delicious meal to come. Follow our step-by-step instructions for roasting chicken to perfection. We'll give you tips and recipes for seasoning it, too.
To get started, decide how you'd like to flavor the chicken. There are many wonderful options for seasoning chicken, from herbs and spices to sweet and savory marinades. For inspiration, try this chicken recipe that's spiced with fresh thyme, onions, sage, celery, and bay leaves.
Step 1: Prepare seasonings for chicken
Using a rub is a simple way to infuse chicken with bold flavor. To prepare a rub, process the ingredients until almost smooth, scraping the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary. Loosen skin on chicken. Push paste under skin, smoothing as evenly as possible. Cover chicken tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Dilled Honey Mustard: In a food processor combine 1/2 cup snipped fresh dill; 1/2 cup sliced shallots; 1/4 cup snipped flat-leaf parsley; 3 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard; 2 tablespoons softened butter; 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed; 1-1/2 teaspoons salt; and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
Barbecue Bacon: In a food processor combine 4 slices bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled; 4 chopped green onions (white and green parts); 1/4 cup ketchup; 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley; 1 to 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce; 1 tablespoon molasses; 2 teaspoons chili powder; and 1 teaspoon salt.
Citrus Herb: In a food processor combine 1/2 of a Vidalia onion, coarsely chopped; 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil; 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley; 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint; 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage; 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper; 1-1/2 teaspoons salt; finely grated zest of 1/2 of a lemon; and finely grated zest of 1/4 of an orange. Pulse to finely chop. With processor running, add 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a slow, steady stream.
Moroccan Spice: In a food processor combine 1/2 of a yellow onion, coarsely chopped; 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds; 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley; 3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice; 2 tablespoons brown sugar; 2 teaspoons orange zest; 2 teaspoons ground cumin; 1-1/2 teaspoons salt; 1-1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric; 1 teaspoon ground coriander; 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon; 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves; and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
Spiced Apricot: In a small bowl soak 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots in 2 tablespoons bourbon, brandy, or orange juice. In a food processor combine soaked apricots and bourbon; 1/4 cup chopped red onion; 2 tablespoons softened butter; 1 tablespoon lemon zest; 1-1/2 teaspoons salt; 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon; and 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice.
Step 2: Preheat the oven and prepare the chicken
Preheat the oven according to the recipe directions (typically 375 to 425 degrees F).
Do not wash the chicken before you cook it. However, sometimes gizzards or other internal organs are stuffed in the cavity of the chicken; remove this packet before cooking. Set the chicken in a roasting pan, breast side up.
Step 3: Season the chicken
Follow the recipe directions for seasoning the chicken. Or for a simple roasted chicken, brush the chicken with olive oil or butter and season with salt and ground black pepper.
Step 4: Roast the chicken
Place the chicken (in the roasting pan) in the preheated oven. Cooking times vary by weight:
2-1/2- to 3-pound chicken: Roast 1 to 1-1/4 hours
3- to 3-1/2-pound chicken: Roast 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours
3-1/2- to 4-pound chicken: Roast 1-1/4 to 1-3/4 hours
4-1/2- to 5-pound chicken: Roast 1-1/2 to 2 hours
Step 5: Remove chicken from oven
The chicken is done cooking when the juices run clear, the chicken is no longer pink, and the drumsticks move easily in their sockets. The internal temperature -- measured by inserting a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh (thermometer should not touch bone) -- should be 180 degrees F.