We have to admit that we were once intimidated by the idea of roasting a whole chicken. It seemed elaborate, messy, and time consuming for just a weeknight dinner. We kept picturing the Thanksgiving scenes from sit-coms where the turkey sits in the oven for hours and still comes out under-cooked. However, once we actually tried roasting a whole chicken ourselves, we were hooked! It’s simpler than you might think.
While the process takes around 1 1/2 hours, only five to ten minutes of that time is active prep — the other hour and 25 minutes, the bird’s in the oven. And, investing the oven time once affords quick and easy meals for days. Plus, we feel great being able to make our own chicken stock with the carcass (not such an appealing word, but we couldn’t think of an alternative.), which yields even more nutritious meals. Side note: chicken stock made with the bones provides protein (nearly 10 grams per cup)!
Below is our fail-safe method for roasting chicken in a cast iron skillet. This is a method we have adjusted over time as roasting a chicken has become one of our regular healthy eating habits. You can also roast chickens in baking dishes or Dutch ovens, but we’ve found this cast iron skillet method to be the simplest.
Step 1: Preheat oven to 425°.
Step 2: Place a clean cast iron skillet in the oven while it preheats.
Step 3: Remove giblets and rub the outside of the chicken with olive oil, and sprinkle with course sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. We actually just spray the outside of the bird with olive oil from our oil mister, which is easier and your hands are then clean and dry to sprinkle on the salt. See additional seasoning tips below, which would also be applied during this step.
Step 4: OPTIONAL. Place a couple whole cloves of garlic and slices of fresh lemon inside the bird. This will deliver a really nice flavor, but it does take a little more time. We promise the end result is delicious with, or without this step.
Step 5: Place the chicken, breast-side up, into the hot cast iron skillet and place it back in the oven. Be careful, that skillet is really hot.
Step 6: Your hands-on time is officially over. Let the bird cook at 425 for 15 minutes and then turn the oven down to 375 and bake for another hour.
Step 7: Remove the pan from the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes to finish cooking.
- Be sure to use a meat thermometer to ensure the meat hits 165°.
- These instructions work for a 4 pound chicken. If you’re using a larger chicken, you’ll likely have to leave it in the oven a bit longer.
- Pull double duty and roast veggies alongside the chicken, so you have roasted veggies to accompany your meal. You can use either an extra-large cast iron skillet, and put the veggies right in with the chicken, or roast the veggies on a separate baking sheet.
- Experiment with different spices. We love smoked paprika sprinkled all over the chicken along with salt and pepper.
- Remove the meat from the carcass and store in a reusable container in the coldest part of your fridge to use for upcoming meals. Store the carcass in a separate container to boil into broth for soup or other dishes.
Do you roast whole chicken? What method do you use? And if you don’t, will you try now?