How To Roast A Chicken

How To Roast A Chicken

Prepare the roast early.  Rotisserie cooking is a time-consuming art, and the bigger the bird,  the longer it takes before your masterpiece is prepared.

Marinate and Baste– In general, poultry benefits from marinating beforehand to enhance flavor and seal in juices.  Basting the roast as it cooks also adds more flavor, keeps the roast from drying and helps to create an amber golden exterior of caramelized flavor on the chicken.

Some chefs and home-cooks alike contend that rubbing the entire bird with fat, inside and out, doesn’t increase the flavor, but I disagree. For instance, olive oil won’t give you a flavor boost, but butter mixed with a large amount of salt and herbs will yield a tasty bird.

The skin provides the golden exterior and a barrier to prevent the chicken from drying out.  Herbs and spices do taste amazing on the skin, but the seasoning that takes place under the skin is what ultimately dictates the taste of the bird.

Begin by gently pushing the skin away from the breasts starting from the edge of the cavity.  Initially, you’ll need a sharp knife near the edge to get things started, afterward avoid using a knife to stuff the inside of the skin to avoid tears. If a membrane is keeping the skin and flesh together, you can  gently push at it with you finger.


Just before placing the chicken in the oven, stuff aromatics, such as sprigs of thyme, peeled garlic, onions or squeezed out lemons to the cavity.  Some say this method may result in a less crispier skin.

Also use aluminum foil, roll it into a tube and place it in the bottom of a pan. Place the whole chicken on top of the foil, add water to the bottom of the pan, cover with aluminum foil – tent it – don’t seal the edges or it will steam instead of roast. Bake at  350 until it’s done. As its reaching the end of the cooking process remove the foil and allow the top to brown nicely.

As the cooking progresses it’s important to wrap protruding parts of the bird with aluminum foil to avoid burning. Basting the chicken every half an hour or so is sufficient.  If you baste more often than that then you run the risk of losing heat from the oven.

As a rule, chicken is cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 165F, but I prefer to cook to 170 degrees to allow the darker parts of the meat to cook thoroughly.


Cooking time depends on the size of your chicken. A 4-pound chicken takes anywhere from 1 to 1-1/2 hours to roast at 400 degrees.  This also depends on your oven and the way its calibrated. Use a meat thermometer. One that remains in the chicken during the cooking process. This is a better option because it prevents you from opening the oven so frequently.


Allow to the bird to rest for a few minutes after it’s been removed from the oven. Fifteen minutes is sufficient enough to allow everything to settle and prevent moisture from the meat to seep out.