Classic Roast Chicken

This classic roast chicken is incredibly easy to make. Simply tuck an onion, some thyme, and some parsley in your bird, rub with olive oil, and roast until tender, and the skin is crisp. Simple, classic, and timeless.

A trussed classic roast chicken on a rack, set inside a skillet.

Succulent. Crisp-skinned. Simple. If that’s what you seek in a classic roast chicken, your search stops here. This approach uses nothing but a slick of olive oil on the skin, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, some aromatics in the cavity, and a hot, hot, hot oven. Nothing else. No flopping the bird this way and that midway through roasting. No fussing with pan juice or gravy. It’s just not necessary with a hen that turns out this juicy. For purists only. Easiest and best roast chicken EVER. Swear.–Renee Schettler

Classic Roast Chicken

  • Quick Glance
  • (3)
  • 10 M
  • 1 H, 55 M
  • Serves 4
4.3/5 - 3 reviews
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Remove the packets in the cavity of the chicken and reserve them for another use or discard them. Remove and discard any pockets of excess fat from around the cavity. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.

Brush or rub the chicken all over with oil and season it inside and out with salt and pepper. If using the onion, parsley, and thyme, cram them inside the cavity. Tuck the wing tips under the back. If you like, truss the chicken by tying the legs together with kitchen string. (Please note that trussing the hen will increase the roasting time by a few minutes since the bird is held in a more compact mass.)

Oil a V-shaped roasting rack or a wire cooling rack and place it in a roasting pan or baking dish just large enough to hold the chicken. Place the chicken on the rack and let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C) and position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven. [Editor’s Note: You do, of course, know that anytime you crank the oven past 400°F it’s an invitation for the remnants of last week’s apple pie and last summer’s barbecue ribs to smolder, yes? Best take an honest look at your oven before roasting this hen and, if need be, scrub any splotches or chances you’ll find yourself flinging open some windows and fanning towels at some smoke detectors.]

Roast the chicken until the juices run clear and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh away from the bone registers 165°F (74°C), 50 to 60 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven. Slip the handle of a long wooden spoon or a pair of tongs in the chicken cavity and carefully tip the bird slightly, draining the liquid from the cavity into the pan. Transfer the chicken to a platter or carving board and tent it with aluminum foil. Let the hen rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

If you trussed the hen, snip the string and discard it. Remove any contents from the cavity and toss them in the trash. Carve the chicken and serve it at once, trying not to surreptitiously snitch any of that crisp skin before sitting down at the table. Originally published December 20, 2011.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This recipe is simply divine. Simplicity at its best! The only suggestion is to check the internal temperature of the chicken after 40 minutes of cooking…for me, it read 170°F after 43 minutes. So just know your oven and have that meat thermometer ready! This is the perfect roast chicken!

This is the easiest roast chicken I have ever made. The preparation came together in a snap. I placed the chicken in the oven, set the timer, and walked away. About 35 minutes into the roasting, I heard sizzling sounds coming from the oven. Since there were no flames, I didn't worry about, it but continued to let the chicken roast. It only took 40 minutes for the chicken to register the required temperature. The skin of the chicken came out golden and crisp. The chicken itself was moist, tender and surprisingly full of flavor.

This is an easy go-to recipe on those crazy long days. Roast chicken in less than an hour—that is pretty cool.


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  1. This looks spot-on! However, when I roast a whole hen (or he grills one..) I stuff it with the above ingredients PLUS a half of a lemon. I also throw in a softened pat of butter with it. I tie the sprigs of Thyme, Parsley, a few Sage leaves and one Rosemary sprig with twine and add the lemon quarter or half & stuff the hen. Oil the outside, season, and roast. Comes out absolutely beautiful! A comfort food anytime and company-worthy.

    1. Nancy, they tend to be tougher than most other hens and hence are better in a braised dish so that the long, slow cooking in liquid can infuse (and plump) the meat to a juicy tenderness. Something like a beer-braised chicken or braised chicken with olives and orange or, for a more Mexican flair, chicken braised with tomatillos. I’d love to tell you to try this classic roast chicken, as it’s amazing, but I think you’d be happier with the results when you use a regular hen. Happy, happy Thanksgiving!

  2. It’s Christmas Eve. I hate turkey, so I found a 9 pound roasting hen from Southern Hen.

    I’ve grilled chickens, but tomorrow, I’m going to roast my chicken at 450 degrees. I am going to make a base of cubed Yukon gold potatoes, carrot chunks, parsnips, and a diced onion in some salt and olive oil, and I’m going to make a slight alteration to my bird. I’m taking a knife and splitting the breast, then I will wash and dry the bird, rub with olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme, and roast skin side up until done.

    Splitting the bird this way allow the bird to be delivered to the table in tidy pieces…I serve this with a salad or slaw, gravy, and some savory bread pudding, ie eggy milky stuffing made into a pudding. Oh…Rosemary and garlic are good herbs to use instead of thyme.

  3. Although the bird was delicious, the mess was not worth the deliciousness! I did see other comments about needing to open windows, but seriously, no one else had to use the self-cleaning feature on their oven after preparing this meal. Even with a vented stove/oven exhaust the house was full of smoke and stunk! I won’t make this in my house again, it was 3 hours of cleaning.

    1. Sue, I’m really sorry to hear that. In my years of experience as a home cook as well as the person overseeing recipe testing at The Washington Post, Real Simple, and Martha Stewart Living, I’ve noticed that the only occasion an oven smokes is when the oven has some burnt-on remnants from a previous meal. To prevent this from happening to anyone else, I added a cautionary note to the recipe instructions reminding everyone that cranking the oven past 425°F is begging for smoke if your oven is due for cleaning. Speaking of which, I think my oven floor has a splotch on it that I need to scrub…

  4. Hi,

    How long would you cook a 1.5 kg chicken for using this method? I have done something like – high temp. cooking – this years ago and placed the chicken on a bed of small new potatoes.

    1. Hi Rachel, I would rely on your thermometer- 165 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh, and your bird should be ready.

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