This easy, foolproof method for making a whole roasted chicken produces the most tender, juicy results every single time! Salty herb butter gets rubbed beneath the skin before roasting, which seasons the meat and imparts a delicious flavor while keeping the skin ultra crispy. Once you try this whole roasted chicken with herbs it will become a staple in your kitchen!
Why this recipe works
- Super flavorful thanks to a well seasoned herb butter that gets rubbed underneath the skin before cooking. The butter melts down into the meat as it cooks to add seasoning and moisture.
- Thoroughly drying the chicken and letting it sit out at room temperature before roasting at two different temperatures produces a crispy outer skin and juicy meat throughout.
- A digital thermometer tells us when the meat reaches just the right temperature, resulting in a bird that's always moist and never dried out.
- Crowd pleasing, endlessly adaptable and makes fantastic leftovers that can be repurposed in dozens of different ways!
- Whole chicken - Fresh, organic chickens are best, but any whole chicken will do. Size does not matter since we are using a thermometer to determine when its done, however I tend to find smaller is better.
- Herbs - Stick to hardy herbs like thyme, rosemary, marjoram or sage. Use one or a combination -dried or fresh. Avoid soft herbs like dill, chives, basil, parsley and tarragon.
- Aromatics for stuffing - use whatever odds, ends and vegetable scraps you have lying around to add flavor and moisture to the chicken's cavity while roasting. Onions, garlic, celery, carrots, herbs and citrus are all great options.
- Digital Probe Meat Thermometer - Non negotiable, unless you want to play raw chicken roulette. I prefer this type of thermometer that stays in the chicken while it roasts and beeps when it reaches the correct temperature.
Step by Step Instructions
1. Make the herb butter by mixing chopped herbs, salt and pepper into room temperature butter.
2. Prepare the chicken by removing the giblets and using several paper towels to pat dry on all sides. Get the chicken as dry as possible.
3. Rub the inside of the chicken's cavity with a generous amount of salt and pepper, then stuff the aromatic vegetables and herbs inside until you can't fit anymore.
4. Spread the herb butter underneath the skin by using a spoon and your fingers. Press and massage the butter under the skin until it's evenly distributed on both sides of the breast.
5. Criss cross the legs and tie them together with a piece of kitchen twine.
6. Drizzle the chicken all over with olive oil, then use your hands to rub it into every nook and cranny. Sprinkle with a light dusting of salt, pepper and the remaining chopped herbs.
7. Stick the thermometer in the thickest part of the breast, being sure to aim it for the center of the meat. Roast at 350 degrees on the middle rack.
8. When the thermometer reaches 140 degrees F, crank the heat up to 400 and continue cooking until it reaches 160 degrees F.
9. Let the chicken rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.
Tips for Success
- Let your chicken sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to roasting to ensure even cooking.
- For the crispiest skin, be sure to thoroughly dry the inside and outside of the chicken with paper towels before stuffing.
- Seasoning the chicken inside the cavity with salt and pepper will add more flavor to the meat.
- Use a spoon to nestle the butter under the skin, then use your fingers on the outside to press it evenly into place.
- Go lightly when seasoning the outside of the chicken or the skin will taste too salty.
- Never rely on the little plastic pop-up that sometimes comes on a whole chicken to determine when it's done, as they will result in a dry, overcooked bird.
This will completely depend on the size of your chicken and your oven, but I like to budget around 1 ½ - 2 hours of cooking. Because of this, I insist on using a digital thermometer to determine when it's done.
Yes, absolutely. Use a well seasoned oven-safe skillet (such as cast iron) or baking pan. Optionally you can layer vegetables or potatoes on the bottom to use as a makeshift rack to keep the skin from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
No, because it will prevent the outside from browning.
Yes! This roasting method produces a delicious turkey just like it does a chicken. The only difference is it will require a longer cooking time, and because of this, I recommend skipping the 400 degree F temperature increase at the end. The skin will be beautifully browned, but if for some reason it's not, go right ahead.
The leftover roasted chicken can be used in a myriad of different recipes, from enchiladas and tacos to soups, salads and more. Some of my favorite recipes for using up leftovers are my Classic Chicken Pot Pie, Crispy Chicken "Carnitas" Tacos, and Chicken Tortilla Soup.
Yes! When all of the meat has been cleaned from the bird, I always take whatever's leftover and make a pot of stock. Just put the remaining bones in a stock pot and cover with water, simmer for several hours, then strain. You can add more aromatics if you like, but I tend to keep it simple. Don't overthink it.
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This easy, foolproof method for roasting a chicken or turkey produces the most delicious, juicy results every time. The perfect roasted chicken recipe!
- assorted fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary and/or sage*
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
- freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 fresh whole chicken, any size
- aromatic vegetables and herbs for stuffing, such as carrot, celery, shallot, onion, garlic, lemon, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme**
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil (eyeball it)
- kitchen twine
- instant read thermometer
- Remove the tough stems from the herbs, then chop them up so you have a little over 1 tablespoon. Add ¾'s to a bowl, reserving the rest of the herbs for later. Eyeball it - it doesn't need to be exact. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, freshly cracked pepper to taste, and the butter. Mix until the herbs are evenly distributed.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the chicken breast side up on the rack of a roasting pan. Remove the giblets from inside the cavity, and place them in the pan below if desired (once roasted they will help flavor a fantastic gravy or pan sauce). Use several paper towels to pat the chicken dry on all sides - being as thorough as possible. This will help the skin get golden brown and crispy.
- Rub the inside of the cavity with a generous amount of salt and pepper, then stuff the aromatic vegetables and herbs inside until you can't fit anymore.
- Use your fingers to go underneath the skin and separate it from the breast meat, being careful not to let it tear (be mindful of your rings, ladies).
- Using a spoon, take half of the herb butter and stuff it underneath the skin on one side of the breast as far as it will go, then use your fingers to press and spread it out. Repeat with the other side.
- Pull the flaps of skin up to cover the cavity, then criss cross the legs and tie it all together with a piece of kitchen twine. No fancy technique - just a simple knot will do.
- Drizzle the chicken all over with olive oil, then use your hands to rub it into every nook and cranny. Sprinkle with a light dusting of salt, pepper and the remaining chopped herbs.
- Place the chicken in the oven on the middle rack, then stick the thermometer in the thickest part of the breast, being sure to aim it for the center of the meat.
- When the chicken reaches 140 degrees F, crank the heat up to 400 and continue cooking until it reaches 160. Remove it from the oven immediately, as it will continue cooking as it sits. The chicken should reach at least 165 degrees F while it sits.
- Let the chicken rest for at least 15 minutes. Use a sharp knife to remove the legs and wings, then use the breast bone as a guide to remove the entire breasts, one at a time. Slice the breasts into pieces, and separate the legs into drumsticks and thighs. Serve immediately.
*Dried herbs may be substituted for fresh, but since they are much stronger in flavor you need to use less.
**You don't have to use all of the vegetables listed here. I usually just use whatever odds and ends I have in my refrigerator to stuff the cavity - a piece of an onion, half a lemon, a few garlic cloves, etc.
Keywords: whole roast chicken, oven roasted chicken, how to cook a whole chicken