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How to Make the Perfect Roasted Chicken


My passions are food, tennis, and travel. I love to write about cooking, gluten-free recipes, tennis technique, and tennis strategies.

This is the perfect recipe for roasted chicken.

This is the perfect recipe for roasted chicken.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

15 min

1 hour 10 min

1 hour 25 min

Serves 4-6

The Perfect Roasted Chicken: Crisp Skin & Juicy Meat

Of the dozens of recipes I've tried for making a roasted whole chicken, none ever delivered. I want crisp, browned skin and juicy, flavorful meat. Most recipes roast the chicken on too low of a temperature to crisp the skin, and many for way too long, which dries out the meat. All of them season the skin, but that doesn't put flavor into the meat. Why must crisp skin and juicy, flavorful meat be a trade-off?

The fact is, they don't have to be a trade-off. What I'm giving you is the sure fire way to get both, and it will defy just about every roast chicken recipe you see. The secret is high heat and simple seasoning.


  • 1 3-4lb (1.3kg-1.8kg) whole chicken
  • 6-8 fresh basil leaves
  • 6-8 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • kosher salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit (220 degrees celsius).
  2. Carefully place your finger under the skin of the breasts and separate the skin from the meat. In the tunnel that you create, stuff the basil and sage leaves.
  3. Place the chicken in a shallow roasting pan and squeeze the juice of one of the lemon quarters over the outside of the chicken.
  4. Stuff the remaining lemon quarters and the rosemary sprigs inside the cavity of the chicken.
  5. Brush the sunflower oil over the outside skin of the chicken. It's best to use a brush to do this so that you can cover every inch of the skin–even the undersides of wings/legs where pouring won't reach.
  6. Generously sprinkle kosher salt and paprika on the outside of the chicken.
  7. Place the chicken in the oven and roast, breast side down for 10 minutes. This will brown the skin on the breast.
  8. Turn the chicken and roast until a thermometer inserted into the center of the breast reads 163 degrees (about 1 hour).
  9. Remove the chicken from the oven and place it on a plate or cutting board and let stand for 5 minutes. Follow the directions (and video) below to carve and serve.
Sunflower oil is refined for high heat and lower in cholesterol than butter, but it still give a golden brown to the chicken skin.

Sunflower oil is refined for high heat and lower in cholesterol than butter, but it still give a golden brown to the chicken skin.

Using a probe-style thermometer removes the guesswork from doneness. You get it perfect every time.

Using a probe-style thermometer removes the guesswork from doneness. You get it perfect every time.

Why This Recipe Is the Best Roasted Chicken

  • Sunflower oil has a high smoking point, about 440 degrees. Because its smoking point is higher than your oven temperature, it won't set off your smoke detectors every time you open the oven. Butter, on the other hand (which every other roast chicken recipe uses) has a smoking point of 300 degrees. Canola oil, often called for as a butter substitute has a smoking point of 350 degrees (semi-refined) or 400 degrees (refined).
  • Sunflower oil will give you skin that is golden brown but with a lot less cholesterol per serving than butter.
  • By stuffing the fresh herbs under the skin of the chicken, you infuse flavor directly into the meat. Most recipes have you season the skin, but that does not result in seasoned, flavorful meat.
  • Most roasted chicken recipes call for temperatures of 350 or 375: way too low to crisp the skin. Sure, you'll get moist meat, but you'll get moist, slimy skin. That's not appetizing.
  • A handful of roasted chicken recipes do call for high heat (450-500 degrees), but those temperatures are above the smoking point of any culinary oils. That makes for an unpleasant kitchen, smoke detectors that scare pets and babies, and often result in dry chicken meat.
  • By using a meat thermometer, you remove all of the guesswork from roasting chicken to the right doneness. A perfect roasted chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees (74 degrees celsius). By removing it at 163 degrees and letting it rest, it will come to a rolling stop at 165 degrees. If you cook to 165 degrees, it will come to a rolling stop at 167-168 degrees which starts to overcook the outer layers.

How to Make An Au Jus From the Pan Drippings

You can, of course, make gravy from the pan drippings, but since I can't eat wheat (or any flour made from it), I tend to make an au jus by simply moving the roasting pan to the stove top on to medium-high heat. To make the au jus:

  1. Add 1/2 cup of white wine and 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth.
  2. Bring to a boil and whisk the liquids together. This also removes the nice crispy bits from the bottom of the pan.
  3. Keep at a slow boil for ~5 minutes to let the alcohol evaporate from the wine.
  4. If you want a thicker sauce (closer to a gravy), add 1 teaspoon of corn starch to 3 teaspoons of water and whisk that mixture to thicken.

Tried this Recipe? Rate it.


MichelleJP on December 27, 2017:

This was the most delicious chicken I've ever made!! Thank you. This will be my go-to recipe from now on. Honestly, I'm super picky about eating only chicken breast and avoid the rest, but this was so so tasty we were eating all of it.:)

Hydrophilic on November 21, 2015:

I used this recipe with great success! Crispy skin and juicy meat! The skin on the bottom of the bird wasn't very crispy, but it wasn't an issue because the skin on the rest of the bird was perfect. We just discarded the soggy skin and avoided additional caloric intake. It was very easy to prepare, simple to cook, and everyone loved it! Between three people, it was picked clean. This was my first time roasting chicken and I am so glad I came across your recipe! The only modification I made was to use Avocado oil, which also has a high smoke point, because I didn't have Sunflower oil around. I also added a bit of pepper to the entire bird too. Thank you for this recipe! I will continue to use it and will be sure to direct friends and family members here who are interested in learning the recipe for themselves. =)

writinginalaska from southeast Alaska on January 18, 2015:

Kingscreek, i am not the author of this Hub, but i can comment on some of your questions since i have made chicken following this recipe many times. i have both used a rack and not used a rack depending on how big my bird was. The time i didn't use a rack i put uncut baby carrots, quartered onions, and cut celery ( about 4 inch pieces) on the bottom of my roasting pan to function as a natural rack. i think the idea is so the bird doesn't sit in all the accumulated juices when roasting. i have substituted some of the fresh herbs rosemary instead of basil for instance with no problems. i have to say I have never wavered from putting the lemons inside the bird, yes I think it adds moisture. let us know how your steak turns out ;)

kingscreek on January 13, 2015:

This is the BEST roast chicken I have ever made. I cannot begin to tell you

how much I appreciate the time and thought you put into this recipe. The use of sunflower oil is brilliant and I enjoy the bits of science that you included. I have not had much success with chicken prior to this and

it is so frustrating to go to so much trouble to have a rubbery, dried out

chicken. But not this one -- it was extraordinary. I thank you.

Just a few questions. I did not put my chicken on a rack as I did not see

one in the picture. This turned out fine. I used a somewhat larger

roasting pan - also similar to the picture, but I was wondering if you

ever use a rack. Does it ever make a difference? Also what are your opinions on the items that go into the chicken cavity. I followed your recipe exactly and was very happy. but I am curious as to what is actually accomplished. Is the flavor ever really changed? Truthfully, I have not

noticed a difference, but perhaps it is just added moisture? I am not sure.

Thanks again for taking the time to do this. I have been such an unsuccessful cook in the past. I hope you do not mind too many

questions. I am so excited. Today I am trying your steaks.

MickiS (author) from San Francisco on November 26, 2013:

No, Alex, step 7 is correct. You place the chicken with the breast side facing down in the roasting pan. This browns the skin on the oustide of the breast meat. Then, turn the chicken over to breast side up to roast the remaining time.

Alex on October 12, 2013:

There seems to be a mistake in p. 7, you mean "breast side up" first 10 minutes, not breast side down

MickiS (author) from San Francisco on April 08, 2013:

Loved your story! Thanks.

writinginalaska from southeast Alaska on April 05, 2013:

OMG, i looked at your web site and bookmarked it for sure!!! lots of yummy things to try. I had to chuckle when I saw your Prime rib recipe, I have a hub about Prime rib with a funny story you might enjoy ;) lvh

MickiS (author) from San Francisco on April 05, 2013:

Writinginalaska, thank you so much for taking the time to come back and leave me such wonderful feedback. I am very happy that you enjoyed my chicken. I have lots more at www.mickieats.com. Help yourself!

writinginalaska from southeast Alaska on March 31, 2013:

Micki, I made this last night, and even with dried Rosemary instead of fresh ( the other herbs I used were fresh) the meat took on the most AMAZING flavor! Incredible!! Five stars in my book and very easy too. Thanks for the fantastic roasted chicken recipe ever! Great hub!

MickiS (author) from San Francisco on September 16, 2012:

Thanks, mvillecat! Do let me (and other readers) know how it turned out. I just made it for 2 dinner guests, and it was so good, we had no leftovers!

Catherine Dean from Milledgeville, Georgia on September 15, 2012:

I will be using this recipe tomorrow as I have a whole bird waiting in the fridge. Thanks, I voted up, pinned and tweeted.

MickiS (author) from San Francisco on September 15, 2012:

Thanks, Christine and Carol. Do try it and come back and report (and rate it). Thanks for the comments.

carol stanley from Arizona on September 15, 2012:

I just finished dinner and this still looks delicious. What great ideas and I am sure to try.. Either it is too dry or too this or that. I will try this recipe and report back. Voted UP.

Christine Miranda from My office. on September 15, 2012:

Looks delicious. Just in time for fall! Voted up.

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