Chicken is a staple in our household and oh I have baked, grilled, fried and steamed what seems like a million chickens at this point. After much experimenting I have finally found my ‘go to’ way or as I call it my Best Oven Roasted Whole Chicken! Tender, moist, falls off the bone and very easy to make and bake and enjoy!
Buying The Whole ChickenA quality bird definitely helps the cause for a tender oven roasted whole chicken. That being said there are a few tough birds out there one occasionally comes across whether it be the more expensive bird from the butcher or an economically priced bird from the grocery store. In my area our local independent grocery store and butcher usually come through with a tasty bird and the Amish whole chickens from this store always rock! Which leads me to butterflying the chicken…
Butterflying The Chicken
A few years ago it seemed every TV food show host was butterflying (spatchcock) the whole chicken whether it be to bake or grill. Where have I been I thought? Why hadn’t I heard of that? It took me awhile to finally try making an oven roasted whole chicken the butterfly way and I’ve never turned back!
You can either have the butcher butterfly the chicken or you can do it yourself easily with kitchen shears. I admit I am pro letting the butcher butterfly the chicken and as a bonus you will have the back to use or freeze to make chicken stock in the future.
Butterflying does indeed ensure your chicken roasts evenly. For years I would wrangle the chicken legs with string and it seemed the chicken would not roast evenly – so frustrating!
The Ole Faithful Broiler Pan
This pan is not pretty. This pan is at least 30 years old and it shows. I love this broiler pan to make my oven roasted whole chicken and it never lets me down. So yes I use a broiler pan to bake the chicken as it lets the air circulate under the chicken and I believe it makes a huge difference … no scientific research on that just my experience. Broiler pans are not always easy to find anymore much to my chagrin when shopping around, I purchased a back up broiler pan online just in case ole faithful gives out! I use it for baking fish too.
I line the bottom of pan with aluminum foil to make clean up quick and easy. Use two layers of foil: one vertical and one horizontal to line the pan to make sure none of the drippings find their way to the pan (I am pro not having to clean the pan!) Save the drippings to make gravy if desired – yummy!
Spray the top and bottom of the top of the broiler pan with cooking spray for another easy clean up tip. Your pan is now ready for the bird. I admittedly prefer the broiler pans with the round holes versus the slats only version.
Preparing The Chicken
This is another key to the making a moist whole chicken – coat the entire chicken with the herb mix inside and out. Sure you can just rub the herb mix on the outside of the bird, but take a few minutes to coat the inside of the bird and it made a huge difference in my oven roasted chickens.
I admit I am not that found of working with raw chicken so I keep disposable latex free gloves on hand when working with the raw bird. After prepping for chicken surgery with my gloves… I take a knife and gently separate the skin from breasts, legs and thighs.
Work the knife between the skin and chicken part lifting up the skin as you slide the knife in between the skin and body of the meat. Easy! You are not performing surgery as you want the skin to remain intact; I just use the regular ole knife. You can use a sharper knife with a pointed tip, but it is not necessary. Dispose of gloves. Why this step?
Making The Herb Rub
Why to insert your herb rub into!
Prepare your favorite Herb Rub:
Butter or Olive Oil
Salt and pepper (optional)
Herbs of your choice: anything goes! I use chives, parsley and sometimes dill weed.
This is not an exact science. For a 3-4 pound whole chicken I use about 4 tablespoons of butter.
Mix the herbs and the butter or olive oil together. If using butter I slightly soften the butter in the microwave as it spreads easier on the bird.
Now using another pair of disposable gloves (since you are working with raw chicken I switch to a new pair of gloves) prep the bird with the herb mix. Either with your hand or with a spoon stuff the breasts, legs and thighs with a little bit of the herb mix then spread the mix under the skin.
Use remaining herb mix and rub into the top of the entire whole chicken. Make sure to rub the mix under those cute little wings too! Salt is optional if you are watching sodium as is pepper. Dust the chicken with salt and pepper if desired and voila! ready to bake.
How Long To Bake An Oven Roasted Whole Chicken?
I think we all know that every oven has its’ own quirks and shall I say personality! This is what works for me and I am not a fan of the color pink when cooking chicken…
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whole chickens are usually 3-4 pounds and this method along with my broiler pan has proven successful.
I use 1 hour and 20 minutes as my bake time as in I can set the timer and go along my merry way. When the timer rings after the hour and 20 minutes I visually check the chicken and take the chicken out to test with a meat thermometer.
Nine out of ten times this is ample cooking time. Moist, tender and no pink! I have tried the lower 350 degree recipes and the higher 400 degree recipes and they just did not work consistently for me, but you know your oven and your preferences and you can definitely use this method at whichever degree you prefer.
Hey! Who Wants Chicken …
My Top Three Kitchen Hacks To Make The Perfect Oven Roasted Whole Chicken
- Butterfly the whole chicken.
- Use a broiler pan.
- Evenly coat the chicken with a herb rub.
I’d love to hear your favorite tips and tricks to make the perfect oven roasted whole chicken!