How to Roast a Chicken

Every time I roast a chicken I think to myself – why don’t I do this more often?!  In my mind it seems like a big deal but in reality it’s not.  In fact, as you’ll see in these steps for how to roast a chicken, it’s pretty straight forward. And, best of all, you’ll have beautifully cooked chicken to use for  Chicken Corn Chowder, Chicken StockChicken Pot Pie, Chicken Wraps or Chicken Taquitos.

roasted chicken

If you make roast chicken regularly you probably have a favorite technique, maybe something that’s been passed down through the generations.  I bet it’s awesome – keep doin’ what you’re doin’! If however, you’ve never roasted a chicken before or are looking for a basic no stuffing technique here are the steps I follow. If you want even more details, check out the video for roast chicken from ManitobaChicken.

roasted chicken

Step 1

Get your chicken out of the fridge and let it rest on the counter for about 30 minutes. This will give you time to prep your flavor enhancing ingredients. I use roughly chopped onions, celery, parsley, garlic and lemon halves (the lemon slices in this picture were frozen – leftovers from a cocktail party).prepping the bird

Step 2

Don’t wash your chicken – there’s no need, just use a paper towel and pat dry. Since it doesn’t take long to prep the chicken, you’ll also want to preheat your oven to 400°F/205°C at this point.

Step 3

Check the inside of the chicken for neck and giblets and remove them (sometimes they’re tucked inside and sometimes they’re not).  Save these (except the liver) for making stock. The liver, which can give stock a bitter flavor can be pan fried.  For more info about giblets and how to identify them, check out this post at The Kitchn.

Step 4

Rub the inside of the chicken (neck and other end) with a generous helping of salt and pepper. This get’s a little messy so rather than getting my salt and pepper shaker all gooey,  I mix salt and pepper in a little dish for easy clean up.salt and pepper the cavity

 Step 5

Loosely fill the neck cavity with a portion of your herbs and veggies.  Tuck or pin the neck skin to cover the opening.  I just pulled the flap up and over.stuffing the neck

Step 6

Loosely stuff the rest of the herbs and veggies in the other opening. There should be some space left in the cavity, do not over fill.

stuffing the other end

Step 7

Tie up the legs with kitchen string and close the opening. If you can tuck the tail into the string, great. If not, just cover up the opening as best you can. If you want to get all Martha Stewart about it and do a fancy trussing job, here’s the link to her trussing tutorial.  Or just tuck as best you can and go on with your day.

tie up the chicken

Step 8

Rub that bird all over with canola oil then salt and pepper.  Be generous with the salt so you get great tasting crispy skin. You can also season the chicken with other seasonings like this Creole or Cajun Seasoning.

position bird

Step 9 (Optional)

For oven roasted veggies to go with your bird, cut chunks of onion, garlic, carrots and sweet potatoes.  These will make a delicious side dish and also provide a bed for your bird as they roast together.  I tossed the veggies with some canola oil and salt and pepper, of course you can add other herbs and seasoning as well. Don’t want or have veggies – skip this step.

prep for the pan with roasted veggies

Step 10

Position your bird in the roasting pan breast side up on top of the bed of veggies or on top of a rack (if you don’t want roast veggies). The idea is to prevent the chicken from resting directly on the pan. You could even rest it on a couple of chunks of onion or celery. Tuck the wings under the side of the bird.

tuck wings under bird

And ensure the neck opening is closed and the skin flap is tucked underneath.

pin or tuck skin of neck

Step 11

Slide uncovered pan into preheated oven (400°F/205°C) and roast about 20-30 minutes per pound (55 – 65 minutes per kilogram). Check the chicken starting at the 1 hour mark to ensure the outside isn’t getting too crisp and the veggies at the bottom of the pan have enough moisture. I noticed that the wings popped out of their tucked in position (that would never happen to Martha!), so I covered them with tin foil to prevent them from getting charred. My veggies were fine, but don’t be afraid to add a little water if you find yours are getting a little dry.check and adjust bird

Step 12

My bird was nearing completion at the 1 3/4 hour mark. My mom taught me roasted chicken is done when the drumsticks move easily in their socket and the juices from the chicken run clear. A more reliable and safe method is to insert a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the breast meat making sure the tip does not hit any bone. According to Manitoba Chicken you should cook chicken until the temperature reads 180°F/82°C. They even have an awesome video showing you how to properly use a meat thermometer.  If you look carefully in the picture below, you can see the puncture wound where I had the meat thermometer.roasted chicken

Step 13

For the juiciest chicken, remove the chicken from the pan onto a dish with sides, cover or tent with aluminum foil and let it rest for 20 minutes.

Step 14

Finally, carve up that bird and be amazed at your tender, juicy bird with crispy flavorful skin. My hubby is the master chicken carver at our house.  He’s become a pro at sliding the knife between major joints and bones. If you need a little help in this area, check out this How to Carve a Chicken video.


While hubby is busy carving away, I check on the roast veggies and start making the gravy.  Our veggies were nicely cooked, but if your chicken takes less time to cook, you may need to cook those root veggies a little longer.  Just slide the pan back into the oven while the chicken is resting.

As for the gravy – well, I’ll have to save that for another day.gravy

And of course, we can’t forget about the soup stock!  Once the chicken dinner has been devoured, it’s time to make soup stock. You’ll find a recipe and bunch of helpful tips on my post on How to Make Homemade Soup Stock.

soup stock

soup stock close up

Recipes with Leftover Chicken

Mulligatawny – Chicken Curry Rice Soup

Chicken & Apple Salad

Chicken Corn Chowder

Chicken Stock 

Chicken Pot Pie

 Chicken Wraps

Chicken Taquitos

Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this. Getty is a Professional Home Economist,  speaker and writer putting good food on tables and agendas.  She is the author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener.

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