How to Roast Chicken

Roast chicken is one of the most gratifying dishes a home cook can make. These step-by-step directions show you how to make the juiciest whole roasted chicken around. Once you’ve mastered our simple roast chicken recipe, up your game with some of our irresistible rubs and variations.

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, including herbs and spices, plus sweet and savory marinades. 


How to Roast Chicken Step-by-Step: A Simple Roast Chicken Recipe

Let’s start with our most basic recipe for cooking chicken in the oven. You can make a gratifying whole roast chicken in five easy steps, with five or less ingredients.

  • Prep: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Make sure to note how much your bird weighs, as this determines how long to roast a chicken in the oven. 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 and discard or save for another use. Set the chicken in a shallow roasting pan, breast side up. Tuck under the wing tips so they don't burn.
  • Season: While the oven is heating, brush the chicken with olive oil or butter and season with salt, pepper, and (if desired) a crushed dried herb, such as thyme or oregano.
  • Bake: Place the chicken in the roasting pan in the preheated oven. Cooking times vary by weight.

How long to roast chicken at 375°F:

  • 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
  • Make Sure It’s Done: Test the whole roasted chicken for doneness. The chicken is done cooking when the juices run clear, the chicken is no longer pink, and the drumsticks move easily in their sockets. However, don’t rely on these tests alone. Always check the doneness of roast chicken with a meat thermometer. The internal temperature—measured by inserting a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh (thermometer should not touch bone)—should be 180°F.  Check temperature of thigh in several places. Additionally, temperature of the chicken breast should be 170°F.
  • Let It Stand: Before serving, allow the whole roasted chicken to stand, covered for 10 minutes. This will help the juices redistribute throughout the bird for moist, tender meat. Carve and serve.

TIP: Rather than cooking the whole bird, if you want to make roasted chicken breast or roast other bone-in chicken pieces, check out this story on how to bake chicken. It shows you how to roast chicken breast in the oven and how long to roast chicken legs, too.

Great Rubs for Roast Chicken

Want to take your roast chicken recipes to the next level? Using a rub is a simple way to infuse roast 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. Spread paste under skin, smoothing as evenly as possible. Cover chicken tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

These rubs are great for whole roast chicken:

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 half of a lemon; and finely grated zest of one-quarter 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.

Can You Roast Chicken in an Instant Pot?

Looking for an Instant Pot roast chicken or a pressure cooker roast chicken? By definition, roasting refers to cooking foods uncovered—usually in the oven. It’s a dry-heat method, which means the food cooks without adding any liquid to the recipe while it’s cooking.

Because pressure cooking requires liquid and always calls for covering the pot, it’s not technically possible to roast chicken in an Instant Pot. However, if you have your heart set on cooking chicken in the Instant Pot, try one of these other great recipes. They may not technically be roast chicken recipes, but they sure are good:


How to Bake a Chicken

Our kitchen expert helps you roast a chicken to perfection -- a technique every cook should master. A bed of vegetables adds flavor to your roast chicken without adding sodium, plus the vegetables ensure that you don'€™t need a roasting rack to make this popular recipe.


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