There’s something undeniably comforting about the aroma of a chicken roasting in the oven. This classic dish, with its golden-brown skin and juicy interior, has been a staple at family gatherings, holiday feasts, and everyday dinners. Roasted chicken is more than just a meal; it’s a symbol of home, love, and the simple joys of life.

Close up overhead view of a roasted chicken, focused on its legs tied together in cooking twine.

Ingredient Breakdown & Substitutions

Understanding each ingredient’s role in a recipe is key, especially when substitutions are needed. Whether it’s due to dietary needs or availability, knowing how to swap ingredients without losing the essence of the dish is crucial. Here’s a concise breakdown of the main ingredients in the roasted chicken recipe, highlighting their functions and offering alternative options, to help you adapt the recipe to fit your preferences and pantry.

Overhead view of the raw ingredients needed to make a roasted chicken on a clean counter.
  • Whole Fryer Chicken
    • Role: The centerpiece of the dish, providing a rich, savory flavor and a variety of textures from different cuts of meat.
  • Salt
    • Role: Enhances the overall flavor of the chicken and helps in the browning of the skin.
    • Substitutions: If on a low-sodium diet, you can reduce the amount or use a salt substitute. For a different flavor profile, seasoned salts (like garlic salt) can be used.
  • Dried Basil and Oregano
    • Role: These herbs add depth and a hint of Mediterranean flavor to the chicken.
    • Substitutions: Fresh herbs can be used (increase quantity by three times). Other herbs like thyme, sage, or rosemary are also great alternatives.
  • Paprika
    • Role: Provides a sweet and smoky flavor along with a vibrant color to the chicken skin.
    • Substitutions: For a spicier kick, swap out for smoked paprika or a pinch of cayenne pepper. For a milder taste, sweet bell pepper powder works.
  • White Pepper
    • Role: Adds a subtle, earthy heat to the dish.
    • Substitutions: Black pepper is the most straightforward substitute, though it has a more pronounced flavor. For no heat, simply omit.
  • Onion Powder
    • Role: Offers a concentrated, savory onion flavor without the moisture of fresh onions.
    • Substitutions: Garlic powder can be used for a different flavor profile, or use finely minced fresh onions for a milder taste.
  • Salted Butter
    • Role: Adds moisture and richness while aiding in browning and crisping the skin.
    • Substitutions: Unsalted butter is a direct substitute. For a dairy-free option, use a plant-based butter alternative.
  • Lemon
    • Role: The acidity cuts through the richness and adds a fresh, bright flavor.
    • Substitutions: Other citrus fruits like lime or orange can be used.
  • Fresh Rosemary
    • Role: Imparts a piney aroma and earthy flavor.
    • Substitutions: Dried rosemary (use less as it’s more concentrated), thyme, or sage are good alternatives.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I rinse raw chicken before roasting?

The CDC cautions home cooks to not rinse their chicken. We know, it’s something our grandparents used to do. However, food health and safety data shows that we increase the risk of cross-contamination of food-born pathogens when we rinse raw chicken. The USDA tells us that those pathogens are killed during the cooking process, so we do not need to worry.

We strongly encourage you to follow CDC and USDA guidelines to prevent illness.

Do I need to baste the chicken while it cooks?

In theory, basting is a great idea. Unfortunately, heat is lost each time the oven door is opened to baste, and we do not recommend basting because of this oven temperature fluctuation. If you do decide to baste, do it as minimally, quickly, and safely as possible. 

Do I need to let the chicken rest before carving?

Yes, it is essential to let your chicken rest for a few minutes once removed from the oven. Letting it rest allows the juices to redistribute themselves back into the meat, giving you the juiciest roasted chicken ever!

Baking Pan Options

When it comes to roasting a chicken, the pan you choose can significantly affect the outcome of your dish.

  • The traditional roasting pan, often made from heavy-duty materials like stainless steel or aluminum, is a common choice. Its high sides are great for containing splatter and making gravy from the drippings, but it can be cumbersome to handle and store.
  • For those seeking simplicity, a sturdy baking sheet paired with a wire rack can serve well; it allows for excellent air circulation resulting in crispy skin, though it offers little in the way of collecting juices.
  • Cast iron skillets are another favorite; their excellent heat retention ensures even cooking, but they can be heavy and require proper seasoning to maintain their non-stick properties.
  • A lightweight, enamel-coated Dutch oven can also be used, trapping moisture for a juicier bird, but it may prevent the skin from crisping as effectively as open-air methods.

Each option has its unique benefits and potential downsides, so consider your priorities—crispy skin, easy cleanup, gravy preparation—when selecting your pan.

Visual Guide to Making Roast Chicken

A collage of process shots to show how to make a roast chicken from start to finish.

Serving Suggestions

You can simply carve and eat your roasted chicken for dinner along with your favorite sides, or you can strip the meat completely off and store in the refrigerator or freezer. There are so many recipes that call for pre-cooked chicken, and we love to keep extra on hand to make meal planning quick and easy.

How to Carve a Roasted Chicken

  • Once your chicken is cooked it’s time to carve it. You can either carve it at serving, or you can remove all the meat from the bones for later use.
  • If you look at the breast there is a line running down the center. Place a sharp knife just to one side of that line and press down firmly. You’ll hear ribs crack. Do the same on the other side as well and you’ll be able to remove the center bone.
  • At this point you’ll be able to fold open the chicken and see exactly where your knife needs to go to remove the breast meat in one swoop. You’ll be able to remove all the chicken fairly quickly.
  • Now don’t throw away the bones quite yet. Either put them in the fridge or freezer and use them to make homemade chicken stock.


Dry Chicken

  • Cause: Overcooking or roasting at too high a temperature.
  • Solution: Use a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Avoid overcooking by checking the temperature periodically. Ensure you’re roasting at the recommended temperature and adjust your oven if needed.

Undercooked Chicken

  • Cause: Not roasting long enough or at too low a temperature.
  • Solution: Always check the internal temperature before removing the chicken from the oven. If it’s under 165°F, continue roasting, checking at regular intervals.

Soggy Skin

  • Cause: Excess moisture or not enough air circulation around the chicken.
  • Solution: Pat the chicken dry before seasoning and roasting. Using a roasting rack can help elevate the chicken and allow for better air circulation, resulting in crispier skin.

Overly Browned or Burnt Skin

  • Cause: Oven temperature too high, or chicken placed too close to the top heating element.
  • Solution: Make sure your oven is calibrated and set at the correct temperature. Position the roasting pan in the middle of the oven, away from the top heating element. You can also tent the chicken with aluminum foil if it’s browning too quickly.

Difficulty Carving

  • Cause: Not letting the chicken rest post-roasting.
  • Solution: Allow the roasted chicken to rest for about 20 minutes before carving. This lets the juices redistribute, making the chicken moister and easier to carve.

Tips From the Chef

  • Allow the chicken to come to room temperature before roasting for even cooking.
  • Pat the chicken dry to ensure a crispier skin.
  • Use a roasting rack to allow heat to circulate around the chicken.
  • Zest the lemon before juicing for a more citrusy flavor.
Overhead view of a whole, roasted chicken.

Storage & Reheating Instructions

Leftover roasted chicken should be refrigerated within two hours of cooking. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. When reheating, place the chicken in an oven set to 325 degrees Fahrenheit until it’s warmed through.

If you’re freezing leftovers, ensure it’s properly wrapped to avoid freezer burn. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.

More Favorite Roasting Recipes

Watch the video below where Rachel will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve always got you covered with our cooking show. You can find the complete collection of recipes on YouTube, Facebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.