How to Bake Chicken

Learn how to bake chicken, and you'll always have something quick and satisfying to bring to the table. Whether you wish to bake chicken breast, thigh, or leg pieces—or the whole darn bird—we've got all the know-how you need, plus must-try baked chicken recipes to get you started.

How to Bake Chicken Breast Halves, Drumsticks, and Thighs

Learning how to bake chicken pieces is easy! Whether you want to oven bake chicken breast halves or other parts of the bird, its good to know that all meaty, bone-in chicken pieces, including chicken breast halves, drumsticks, and thighs, can be cooked following these instructions:

Step 1: Prepare the chicken pieces Arrange chicken pieces, bone sides down, in a single layer in a 15x10x1-inch baking pan or shallow roasting pan. Brush chicken pieces with oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. You can also sprinkle the pieces with crushed dried herbs, such as thyme, oregano, Italian seasoning, or herbes de Provence, if desired.

Step 2: What Temp to Bake Chicken Breast, Leg, and Thigh Pieces Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake the chicken pieces, uncovered, for 45 to 55 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 180°F for dark meat, 170°F for white meat. Serve baked chicken immediately and refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.

TIP: We've found that the best temperature to bake chicken breast, leg, and thigh portions is 375°F. However, if you're in a hurry, here's how long to bake chicken at 400°F.: Follow step 1, above, Then, bake the chicken pieces, uncovered, in the 400°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until no longer pink, or until chicken is done (180°F for dark meat; 170°F for white meat).

Baking skinless, boneless chicken breasts? Here's how long to bake chicken breast at 400°F.

STEP 3: How to Store Baked Chicken

To freeze baked chicken, wrap chicken pieces individually in waxed paper. Divide wrapped chicken between two large freezer bags, removing as much air as possible from bags. Label and freeze the baked chicken for up to 4 months.

How to Bake a Whole Chicken

With its crisp and irresistibly golden-brown skin and moist, succulent meat, a whole baked chicken never fails to impress. Conveniently, it's one of the easiest entrées you can bring to the table. Note that a whole baked chicken generously serves four.

Step 1: Prepare the chicken  Before you oven bake chicken, remove the gizzards or other internal organs, if there are any. Discard the organs or save for another use. Place the chicken, breast side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.

Step 2: Preheat the oven and season the chicken Preheat the oven to 375°F. While the oven is heating, brush the chicken with olive oil or butter and season with salt, pepper, and any herbs and spices the roasted chicken recipe indicates.

Get the Herb-Roasted Chicken recipe pictured here

Step 3: Roast the chicken Put the chicken in the roasting pan into the preheated oven. Bake chicken uncovered. The chicken cooking times vary by weight and by recipe, but in general, follow these guidelines:

  • 2-1/2- to 3-pound chicken: Roast 1 to 1-1/4 hours
  • 3-1/2- to 4-pound chicken: Roast 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours
  • 4-1/2- to 5-pound chicken: Roast 1-3/4 to 2 hours

Step 4: Test Chicken for Doneness How do you know if a baked chicken is done? When chicken is done, the juices run clear, the chicken is no longer pink, and the drumsticks move easily in their sockets. However, don't rely on those tests alone. Always test the doneness for baked chicken by inserting a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh (the thermometer should not touch bone). The thermometer should reach 180°F. Additionally, temperature of the chicken breast should be 170°F.

Step 5: Allow Baked Chicken to Stand, Then Carve Before serving, allow the baked chicken to stand 15 minutes. This will help the juices redistribute throughout the bird for moist, tender meat. Carve and serve.

Tip: Watch how to cut up a whole baked chicken.

If you have any leftover baked chicken, try it in this great Tex-Mex chicken casserole recipe. With red and green sweet peppers, onions, and enchilada sauce, it's a tasty cross between baked enchiladas and a chicken fajita pasta bake!

Baked Chicken Recipes to Try

Now that you've mastered the basics of how to bake chicken, give these other baked chicken recipes a go:

Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs with Thai Coconut Sauce: This recipe shows you how long to bake chicken thighs at 425°F. (The secret is browning the on the stovetop, first!).

Roasted Chicken with Rosemary and Garlic Herbed Potatoes: Here's how to bake chicken for a crowd—this recipe serves eight!

Pesto Chicken with Zucchini: This recipe shows you how long to bake chicken breast at 350°F.

Thai Chicken Wings: Turn to this recipe when you want to know how long to bake chicken wings at 350°F.

Chicken and Dumpling Bake: Try this easy one-pan recipe for baked chicken thighs with ricotta dumplings.

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