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Roasting the Perfect Chicken

Written by Danielle Travali.

Chicken is so popular because it's low in calories and is very versatile--you can serve it in so many different ways.

However, many people believe roasting a chicken requires a culinary degree and a whole lot of patience. Not true! It's easy, and actually rewarding once its finished. I'll show you exactly how to do it. You'll be pleasantly surprised, and you'll thoroughly enjoy the result. 

Buying your chicken

When you shop at the supermarket for your chicken, you may want to purchase a cage-free chicken. Why? Because chickens that aren't marked cage-free are usually given foods filled with pesticides and chemicals, and are often raised inhumanely--in tight cages with many other chickens, increasing the risk for disease.

So, in my opinion, cage-free is truly the best way to go when buying a chicken. You want a chicken that has not been injected with anything unnatural such as hormones or steroids. I also prefer the taste of organic chicken to non-organic. Some people, myself included, believe these chickens are fresher-tasting and much juicier than other chickens.


Always make sure your whole chicken is fresh in the market before you take it home. It should be brightly pink and have a clean skin. You should always check the sell-by date to make sure the chicken hasn't been sitting there for days. You can always ask the butcher if any new chickens have arrived today to make sure you get the freshest chicken possible.

Wrap the packaged chicken in a plastic bag to make sure it doesn't drip juices and contaminate the rest of the food in your shopping cart. Be sure to go straight home and put your chicken in the fridge right away. You want to make sure it stays fresh. The chicken will only stay fresh 1-2 days in the refrigerator, so be wise and cook it as soon as possible. You may wrap and freeze it for up to three months, but the flavor is best when you cook it fresh!

When you get home, remove from the packaging and remove the little giblets, or pieces from inside the cavity. Then, be sure to rinse the whole chicken. This will NOT kill the bacteria. Only cooking it thoroughly will do this. Pat it dry, because a wet chicken will not brown in the oven very easily. Now, all you need to do at this point is follow the roasting instructions below.

How to roast your chicken

Ingredients you need:

  • 1 whole roasting chicken
  • 1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
  • 4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
  • Olive oil
  • Coarse salt (gives the best flavor)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 handful of fresh thyme, sage and rosemary
  • 1 head garlic, with all the cloves cut and peeled


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Generously salt and pepper the entire chicken. It's a good idea to lift the skin and sprinkle salt and pepper underneath the skin. This gives the chicken the best flavor. Stuff the cavity with the herbs and garlic cloves. You may, at this point, drizzle some olive oil over the top of the chicken and massage it over the skin. This will help give the skin a golden brown color. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine if they haven't already been pre-tied. 
  3. To your roasting pan, add the vegetables and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Don't add any oil because the fat will drip and add flavor to the vegetables. Nestle the chicken over the vegetables.
  4. Roast for 1.5 hours, or until the juices run clear. Your meat thermometer should read at the very least, 165 degrees Fahrenheit at the thickest part of the thigh. 180 degrees is the preferred temperature. The legs should wiggle freely when you move them. This is another sign that the chicken is ready.
  5. If, while roasting, the skin becomes too brown, cover it with aluminum foil. This will also help the flavors to stay packed into the chicken. 
  6. Remove the chicken and place it on a cutting board. Wrap with aluminum foil and allow it to rest for about 15 minutes before slicing into it. If you don't allow the meat to rest, the juices will run out all over the cutting board, leaving you with a dry piece of meat. After 15 minutes, serve your chicken and vegetables on a platter.
A great way to serve chicken is with roasted red potatoes and a glass of white wine, preferable pinot grigio or chardonnay, because the buttery flavors of the wine pair perfectly with poultry, especially on a summer afternoon! There's nothing like a fresh roasted chicken, and there's nothing like making one yourself! It's something everyone should know how to do, and you'll be very proud of yourself once you've accomplished this basic method. 
Danielle Travali, MS
Danielle Travali, MS

Danielle Travali, also known to many as the Web and television personality "Holly Pinafore," is a journalist, entrepreneur, and food & wine enthusiast. She is a certified food coach, stress management coach and fitness trainer who studied mindful eating and food psychology. Danielle also holds a master's degree in Journalism from Quinnipiac Un.. Read more

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