Foodist Approved: Simply Roast Chicken

by | May 14, 2014
Simply Roasted Chicken

Simply Roasted Chicken

Once upon a time I was intimidated by the idea of cooking a whole chicken. It seemed like a daunting task requiring a day’s commitment and the skills of a butcher. But now that I’ve roasted a few stellar chickens, I’m here to tell you the truth.

Roasting a chicken is seriously easier than baking cookies. It’s also more rewarding. You’ll be spending most of the hour-and-a-half commitment sipping wine and savoring the smells wafting from your oven. And once you roast your own chicken, you’ll never again want to buy some flavor-injected, grocery-store rotisserie chicken. My homemade version is healthier, and tastier.

The key to serving a praise-worthy roasted chicken to your family or friends is actually not determined by your culinary skills. A chicken’s nourishing flavor and satisfying juiciness is all dependent on the bird you buy (but no reason not to let your guests think the opposite!). A few simple tips to finding the perfect chicken: buy local, do pay extra for organic and free-range, and avoid those huge chickens pumped up with antibiotics.

And fear not the dark side. Dark meat is actually more nutritious than white—that’s where all the vitamins and minerals are hiding out.

Serve with a salad of spring greens, radish, walnuts and crumbled goat cheese and you’ve got a meal to remember.

Simply Roast Chicken

Yield: 4-6 servings

  • 1 3-4 pound whole chicken (preferably organic, free-range)
  • 3 lemon wedges
  • 1 sprig parsley
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 sprigs sage
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

Other Ingredients
  • Meat thermometer recommended
  • Kitchen twine optional

Preheat oven to 450 F. Line a baking sheet or roasting pan with foil.

Unwrap chicken, remove bag of innards. Rinse and pat dry inside and out with a paper towel.

Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the lemon wedges, garlic cloves and one sprig each of parsley, sage and thyme.

Create the rub by finely mincing a couple of sage leaves and a sprig of thyme and combining in a bowl with the canola oil, salt and pepper.

Cover the chicken on all sides with the rub and place breast-side-up on the roasting pan. I like to truss my chicken because it’s fun and ensures even cooking, but I’ve found this isn’t required if you’re short on time.

Roast at 450 F for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes dependent on the size. Keep the oven door closed the entire time. No basting is needed. Remove chicken from oven and use a meat thermometer to check that the thickest part of the breast has reached a temperature of 165 F.

Allow the chicken to cool for 10 minutes then place on a cutting board and use a knife to section into parts. Serve immediately.

Elyse Kopecky is a social media and digital technology consultant based in Portland, OR. After 10 years working for NIKE and EA SPORTS in Portland, Amsterdam and Geneva she briefly left her desk job for the chance to study culinary nutrition at the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC. Follow her adventures in the kitchen and on the trail at and @freshabits.


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13 Responses to “Foodist Approved: Simply Roast Chicken”

  1. Ashley says:

    Thanks for this recipe.

    I love roasting whole chickens and I completely agree that it’s easier than baking cookies, which is way more work than it’s worth for me.

    I’ll have to try out your seasoning blend. It sounds delicious!

  2. Teri Solow says:

    Is roasting a chicken much different than roasting a turkey, temperature-wise?

    I find that cooking a turkey to 165 leaves it practically like charcoal, while taking it out of the oven once a leave-in digital thermometer alarm pings at 151ºF (the Alton Brown / Good Eats recipe) is perfect.

    Does chicken actually require a higher heat, or is this more of a slightly paranoid food safety issue?

    • Darya Rose says:

      I roast chickens often and 165F in the thigh away from the bone turns out perfectly every time for me. That said I roast for a shorter time and at a lower temp than Elyse (I typically start at 400F until browning (about 15 min), then lower to 350F. Still finishes in under an hour.) Could be differences in our ovens, as I have convection.

      Personally I think turkey is always overcooked.

      • Oliver S says:


        I discovered you through Creative Live today… during the first break, I searched to find out more about you…. One of the first links brought me to this Chicken Roasting recipe…

        Although I was very excited to learn more about a new way to eat, there really is no way I am going to take the time to roast a chicken….

        Oh boy…. Please tell me there are ways to this new eating style that doesn’t demand me cooking (or at least tell me I don’t need to be in the kitchen for that long)…..

        I do need to lose weight, badly… but I also need to fit this into a lifestyle which does not include spending much time in the kitchen…. 🙁

        I also downloaded a copy of Foodist….. I will be reading that starting this week.



      • Darya Rose says:

        Whoa there, slow down. It’s all about baby steps. Todays lessons are all about how to be efficient in the kitchen, and what types of nutrition you do and don’t have to worry about. You only need to worry about finding what works for you.

  3. Kat says:

    Well I know how I’m preparing that chicken I’ve got tomorrow. And then Sunday I’m making chicken broth from the bones for the first time. I’m super excited for that.

    • Kat says:

      Update: This is probably my favorite whole chicken recipe so far. I did change it slightly, adding some rosemary and I overcooked it slightly (170 in thigh with tips of wings and legs pretty dry) mostly because I was overcompensating for a bird that was nearly 5.5 lbs. It was still completely delicious. No one even thought of putting barbecue or any thing on it, which made me feel absolutely brilliant. And since making it Friday I’ve been using the drippings to cook vegetables and things in and have made bone broth from the remains. I’m saving this recipe and both my parents have requested I share it with them.

      • Hi Kat,
        I’m so thrilled to hear the chicken turned out delicious and fed your whole family. Awesome to hear you’re using every part of the chicken!

  4. Donna Leicht says:

    I have always loved roasting me a chicken, but look forward to seeing what the difference in flavor is, if it’s a “happy chicken.” Not sure you saw this New York Times article, but had to pass it on to you, since it is so in line with what your philosophy is. Take care and thank you, Donna

  5. Sounds like a few of you are still concerned about the time commitment of roasting a whole chicken. If you commit a Sunday evening to tackling the chicken, you’ll be eating amazing meals all week. I still can’t get over how much life I got out of the two chickens I roasted last weekend. We ended up with 3 dinners and 2 lunches; zucchini pasta with chicken, homemade greek pizza topped with chicken, salads topped with chicken, enough stock to make two soups, extra stock that I froze into ice cube trays for future sauces and one happy pregnant lady (me) who didn’t have to cook all week.

  6. Emily says:

    I’ve got a whole chicken in the slow cooker right now! I wish I’d seen this seasoning blend before hand. If you are worried about drying out your bird, try cooking it on low for four hours in the slow cooker and then put it in under the broiler for a few minutes at the end to crisp up the skin. I also like to roast them breast side down so that the juices from the dark meat keep the white meat moist.

    I was totally intimidated before I tried my first one and now I do it once a week. I make stock right after I’ve picked the bad boy clean and I feel like the cost savings from always having homemade stock on hand in the fridge or freezer instead of buying cartons of it have made up for the extra I pay to get free range, organic birds.

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