Classic roast chicken recipes call for steady heat throughout, or start high and then reduce the heat, but our clever technique guarantees your tastiest bird yet. Roasting the bird at a lower temperature first allows it to brown beautifully, then finishing at a higher temperature speeds up the cooking. Our low-high approach yields an evenly-cooked, super moist bird with perfectly crispy skin. Below, we walk you through key steps in our Classic Roast Chicken recipe to ensure success.
To get the most flavor from your bird, season it inside and out before trussing and roasting. Using your fingers, gently loosen the skin from the meat, starting at the neck cavity. Work your way from the breasts to the drumsticks. Next, carefully rub the seasoning underneath the loosened skin.
Trussing your bird before roasting helps it cook evenly and retain moisture while in the oven. Here's an easy way to truss a whole chicken—simply cross the legs and tie them together with kitchen twine. Next, lift the wing tips up and tuck them under the bird. Once cooked, discard the twine, and the chicken will hold this tidy shape. Get a detailed breakdown of all the steps in our guide to trussing a chicken and other poultry.
Test Kitchen Tip: Don't have kitchen twine? Try dental floss. (Yes, you heard us right!)
4 of 5Photo: John Autry
Step Three: Roast and Temperature Check
You've seasoned and trussed your bird—now you're ready to roast it. Cooking the chicken to its proper temperature is the most critical step. Place the chicken breast-side up on a rack in a roasting pan. Elevating the bird allows air to circulate and promotes even browning. Roast at 350° for about 45 minutes, then crank the heat up to 450° for the last few minutes. Next, insert a thermometer into a meaty part of the leg (avoiding the bone) until it registers 165° (chicken breasts should be 155º). Remove the chicken from the oven and let rest 10 minutes.
Test Kitchen Note: Thigh meat is forgiving, even if overcooked. In fact, it becomes more tender when cooked to at least 160°.
5 of 5Photo: Greg Dupree
Step Four: Mix It Up
You can't go wrong with our trusted technique, but there are plenty of clever ways to roast a chicken worth trying. Here are a few of our favorites:
Slow-Roasted Chicken: This delicious roast chicken recipe makes use of several flavor-boosting techniques—spatchcocking (butterflying), pre-salting, roasting at a super low oven temp, and quickly crisping the skin on the stovetop.
Cast-Iron Roasted Chicken: Roasting a whole, partly spatchcocked chicken in a cast-iron skillet at a high oven temperature yields succulent, juicy meat, golden crisp skin, and lightly smoked flavor reminiscent of grilled poultry.