This Whole Roasted Chicken is a comforting classic that is so much easier to pull off than you might think. It’s tender on the inside, crispy on the outside and is the perfect meal to satisfy the whole entire family.
Embarrassingly so, there was a time in my life (long ago, of course) when I had this underlying fear of cooking whole chickens. I don’t know what exactly about cooking them I was so scared of but just the thought of it was enough for me to steer far and clear of ever buying them from the butcher or market.
For some reason, I want to just go ahead and say flat out “and then I got an air fryer.” But really, I’m not sure if that’s truly what happened (although, admittedly, I’ve cooked at least a couple dozen whole chickens in my air fryer since getting it). I think I just woke up one day and realized that whole chickens are so much more cost efficient than buying it in separate parts. And, I guess, in true Andrea fashion, if something will save me money, I’m all for it, lol.
Now that I think of it, I think it may have actually been South America that converted me to a fearless cooker of whole chickens. The boyfriend and I spent a year there back in 2017 and in order to keep going for that long, we decided that we were going to “work” in exchange for meals and accommodations. One of our projects was up in the mountains in a town located about 2 hours South of Santiago, the capital of Chile. We had to put in a cement kitchen floor (thanks to the boyfriend’s construction background) and in turn got all the food, wine and board games we wanted for the couple of weeks we were there. That’s also the first time in my life I discovered that electric blankets exist. But that’s a story for another day.
We lived in a small house (“casita” as they called it) with four other people. And while our weekly groceries were paid for, we were responsible for making our own meals. We normally took turns and had family style ones where one meal would feed everyone. There were two boys in the group who always teamed up to cook together. And without fail would always make one of two things: A guiness pot pie or whole roasted chicken. And not just any whole roasted chicken. But whole roasted chicken with garlic herb butter smeared UNDERNEATH the skin.
Since, at that time, I hadn’t ever cooked a whole chicken myself before, my mind was blown just watching this garlic herb butter being smeared underneath the skin. I just thought it was so genius that they weren’t just seasoning the outside. I mean, just the simple thought of the butter melting and infusing into the skin as it cooks up in the oven was mouthwatering. Not only did that unlock my fear of cooking whole chickens but it instilled a way of cooking them into me that I haven’t looked back on since.
I mean, if you’re not smearing garlic herb butter under the chicken’s skin then WHAT ARE YOU REALLY DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?!?!?!?!
INGREDIENTS FOR WHOLE ROASTED CHICKEN
This Whole Roasted Chicken is heavy on the spices as the garlic herb butter is the star of the show. But don’t worry, I’m willing to bet you’ve already got most of these pretty basic pantry spices stocked up in your spice cabinet (or, better yet, growing in your garden!). Let’s get into the ingredients you’ll need to make this Oven Roasted Whole Chicken in a little bit more detail down below:
- Whole Chicken: Go for a whole chicken with the giblets and gizzards removed or easily remove them yourself before beginning. A chicken that is about 3-4 pounds works best in this recipe. However, keep in mind that the bigger your chicken is, the longer it will take to cook.
- Butter: Adds flavour and makes this Whole Roasted Chicken stay moist, juicy and tender while cooking. Also helps with the browning and crisping up of the outer skin. Salted or unsalted butter works in this recipe. However, if you’re using salted, be mindful about how much additional salt you’re adding to the spice mix.
- Dried Herbs: A combination of dried parsley, rosemary, thyme, basil and oregano give this Whole Chicken a fresh herby vibe. I used mostly dried herbs in this recipe but of course, you can use fresh instead, if you prefer. If you don’t have all of these dried herbs on hand, you can always change it up a bit. Use whatever spice combination you want. Add more or less of your favourite spices. Or, omit one completely if you don’t like it or don’t have it. Another great alternative to use for this recipe (which is many of these herbs all in one) is Italian seasoning.
- Garlic Powder: Adds that perfect garlicky bite to this Whole Roasted Chicken Recipe. Pairs perfectly well with the dried herbs and butter. I used garlic powder since the garlic butter mixture is going all over the chicken (not just underneath the skin) and I didn’t want to run the risk of the extremely hot oven burning it during the long roasting time. You can always try to use fresh garlic and mince it reeeeeally well if you prefer to do that instead.
- Onion Powder: Adds a delicious onion flavour to the herb butter and chicken.
- Salt and Pepper: Of course. For additional flavour and seasoning. Amplifies and balances out the flavours of the rest of the ingredients.
- Lemon: Half a lemon goes in the cavity of the chicken for flavour, acidity and moisture. I always serve the Whole Chicken with the remaining half a lemon cut up into slices for anyone that wants to add an extra squeeze/boost of flavour to their final meal.
- Onions, Celery, Carrots: Adds flavour and substance to this Garlic and Herb Chicken Recipe. Also act as a barrier and keeps the chicken from making contact with the roasting dish, especially if you don’t have a rack in place.
HOW TO MAKE WHOLE ROASTED CHICKEN (KEY TIPS)
You can find full instructions for how to make this healthy recipe for Whole Roasted Chicken in the recipe card down below. But here are a few quick tips to keep in mind:
- Soften the Butter. This one is kinda a given and a no brainer but I really can’t stress it enough. You’re going to have an exxxxtreeemely difficult time mixing the dried herbs and spices with the butter if it’s not soft. I don’t mean melted, either. Because then you won’t be able to smear it all over the chicken and underneath the skin. To soften butter correctly, simply leave it out at room temperature for 30-45 minutes before you want to use it. EXTRA TIP: When making the Garlic Herb Butter, be sure to combine the herbs and spices with the butter reeeeally well to ensure the flavours are evenly distributed before slathering it onto the chicken.
- Make sure the chicken is at room temperature before beginning. This part is super important and you CANNOT skip it. The garlic herb butter will not stick to the chicken if it is cold in any way. EXTRA TIP: Pat the chicken dry with clean paper towel before smearing it with the herb butter. This will absorb it’s excess moisture resulting in crispier skin.
- Truss your chicken, if it’s not already. That simply means to tie it with kitchen twine to keep the legs and wings closer to the body. This makes the chicken cook more evenly and prevents the chicken breasts from drying out before the thighs and legs are properly cooked.
- Be extremely gentle when separating the chicken from it’s skin. Use your hands and fingers to help you and use PATIENCE, my friends. You don’t want it to tear. I know it can be a little tedious and frustrating at times but it’ll only take a few minutes. Do it nice and slow and you’ll have no problems. EXTRA TIP: If you’re finding it hard to reach the back, use a chopstick or the end of a long spoon in place of your fingers. But again, be cautious and extra careful not to be too aggressive and tear the skin.
- Be generous with the garlic herb butter. There’s a lot of it and it’s all meant to be used up. Smear it alllll over the chicken, both inside and out and on both sides of the skin. I find that using my hands is the best way to do this. RECIPE NOTE: This part can be frustrating as sometimes, it’ll feel like the butter isn’t sticking to the chicken. Just be patient and do your best to smear it all over. Start from underneath the skin then work your way outwards then all the way around. Do it directly in the roasting pan as you’ll lose half the butter transferring the chicken from one place to another. After smearing it in the garlic herb butter, you want to touch and move it as little as possible.
- Don’t overstuff the chicken cavity. Yes, we’re putting a half lemon and a quarter onion in the cavity for extra flavour and moisture which helps keep the chicken from drying out as it cooks up in the oven. However, overstuffing the cavity prevents the inside from cooking properly. So while you can feel free to add additional herbs, etc. for extra flavouring, just be mindful of how much extra you’re adding.
- Baste the chicken with either remaining herb butter, if any or some olive oil every 20 minutes or so throughout cooking. This will help with brownness and achieving that crispy delicious outer skin.
- The time it takes your chicken to cook will depend on the type of oven you have and how big your chicken is. As a general rule of thumb, it should take about 20 minutes per pound to roast. I like to start checking on my chicken around the 40 minute mark and then again every 10-15 minutes after that. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. The chicken is done when it registers at 165°F when inserted into the center without touching the bone. EXTRA TIP: The internal temperature of the chicken will continue to rise a couple degrees as it rests. So, take that into consideration when reading the initial temperature of the chicken.
- Let the chicken rest for at least 10 minutes after coming out of the oven before carving or slicing. This will allow it to redistribute it’s juices making it extra moist, juicy, flavourful and delicious.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Absolutely! If you’re like me, who used to have this underlying unknown fear of cooking them, I’m here to tell you that it’s not nearly as scary as you might think. In fact, there’s nothing scary about it at all! Cooking a whole chicken is not only easy to do but it’s a money saver! It’s way more cost effective than buying the chicken in parts. ANNNND, when it’s done, you can use the bones and carcass to make chicken stock which you’d otherwise have to buy seperately. So, really it’s a two in one deal that is absolutely worth jumping on!
There is no right way to roast a chicken! There are several methods that produce tender, juicy and delicious results. However, depending on your preference, you can either roast a chicken low and slow. Orrrr faster and at a higher temperature. The latter will giver you crispier skin and firmer, chewier flesh. While the former produces softer skin and extra tender, more fall-off-the-bone results.
The main difference between roasting and baking a whole chicken is the temperature the oven is set to. Anything over 400°F falls under the roasted category and anything under 375°F is considered baking.
The beauty of Whole Roasted Chicken is that you can pair it up with pretty much anything and end up with a winner. Some of my favourite tasty side dishes to serve up with this chicken are Creamy Bacon Brussels Sprouts, Easy Instant Pot Rice, Roasted Curried Cauliflower, Caramelized Bok Choy or Simple Sautéed Zucchini.
The saucy gal in me OBVIOUSLY has to have an array of dipping sauces nearby. So, anything from regular ol’ Homemade Mayonnaise or Chipotle Mayonnaise to Tzatziki Sauce or Ranch Dressing will do the trick just fine.
Any leftover cooked chicken will last for up to 4 days in the fridge if stored in an airtight container. To reheat, simply do so in some oil in a skillet on a stovetop, in a 350° oven for a few minutes or in a microwave. PRO TIP: Leftover roasted chicken makes amazing sandwiches or additions to soups (i.e. Keto Egg Drop Soup) or salads (i.e. Strawberry Spinach Salad).
- 1 Whole Chicken (~3-4 pounds), gizzards and giblets removed*
- 1/2 cup Butter, softened at room temperature
- 3 large Carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 Bunch Celery, chopped
- 1 White Onion, cut into quarters
- 1 Lemon, halved
- 1 tbsp Dried Basil
- 1 tbsp Dried Oregano
- 1 tbsp Dried Parsley
- 1 tbsp Dried Rosemary
- 1 tbsp Dried Thyme
- 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tbsp Onion Powder
- Salt and Pepper, to taste (be generous)
- Preheat the oven to 425° and adjust the oven rack to the lowest position.
- In a bowl combine the butter and all of the spices to make the Garlic Herb Butter..
- Arrange the chopped celery, carrots and all but 1 quarter of the onion at the bottom of a roasting pan or baking dish. I put a ring of foil in there as well to help keep things elevated but it's not really necessary, especially if you have a roasting rack. Sprinkle the veggies with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper, if desired.
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towel. Using your fingers, carefully separate the chicken skin from the breast meat by gently pulling it apart being careful not to tear the skin. If you're having trouble reaching the back, use the end of a long spoon or a chopstick to help you.
- Use your hands to smear the Garlic Butter underneath the chicken skin trying to get it as evenly spread out as possible. Transfer the chicken to the roasting dish (breast side up) and smear the remaining Garlic Herb Butter all over the entire chicken, inside and out, being sure to get in all the crevices. Carefully stuff one lemon half and the last quarter of the onion into the cavity.
- Roast the chicken (uncovered) for approximately 20 minutes per pound (mine took 80 minutes), basting it with herb butter or olive oil every 20 or so minutes. Let it rest for at least 10 minutes before carving or slicing. Serve with the roasted veggies, pan drippings and remaining lemon half cut into slices.
Tie the chicken with kitchen twine to keep the legs and wings closer to the body. This makes the chicken cook more evenly and prevents the chicken breasts from drying out before the thighs and legs are properly cooked. Some chickens already come prepared like this but others, you'll have to easily do yourself.
The time it takes your chicken to cook will depend on your oven and how big your chicken is. The chicken is done when an Instant Read Thermometer registers at 165°F when inserted into the center without touching the bone. As a general rule of thumb, it should take about 20 minutes per pound to roast. I like to start checking on my chicken around the 40 minute mark and then again every 10-15 minutes after that.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 356Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 319mgSodium: 340mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 4gSugar: 3gProtein: 20g
Nutrition is only an estimate and calculated using Nutritionix.
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