Our Tips and Tricks Will Help You Make Your Best Roast Chicken Ever
If there's one main course that's just as suitable for a casual dinner party as well as a romantic date-night in, it's roast chicken. From roasted vegetables to creamy mashed potatoes, roast chicken pairs well with so many classic side dishes. While the process and ingredients list are simpler than you may expect, there are a few key steps that will help you achieve a juicy, flavorful bird. Follow our tips for perfectly cooked roast chicken every time.
Prepping the Chicken
Salting the bird at least 12 hours, and up to 24 hours, in advance draws out moisture, which helps create super crispy skin and, of course, adds plenty of flavor. Let the chicken come to room temperature for 30 minutes before roasting, which helps the muscles in the meat to relax and keeps the chicken juicy and tender. Patting the chicken skin dry with a towel also helps to ensure a golden brown, crispy skin.
This technique of splitting and then flattening a chicken calls for using kitchen shears to remove the backbone of the chicken (save it for stock!). A spatchcocked chicken roasts much faster than a regular whole chicken—plus, this method helps the white and dark meat to cook evenly.
Use Plenty of Herbs and Spices
Once it's time to roast the bird, try layering lemon slices on a rimmed baking sheet and place the chicken on top to infuse it with bright, citrus flavors. It's not a necessary step but it makes the chicken so much more delicious. Season the cavity and skin of the bird with kosher salt and pepper, then stuff the cavity with even more aromatics such as rosemary sprigs, garlic cloves, and citrus wedges.
The Proper Equipment
When roasting any kind of meat, using an instant-read digital thermometer is the best way to determine its doneness. A thermometer should read 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the bird (usually the thigh). If you plan to roast chicken regularly, consider investing in a heavy-duty roasting pan, such as the All-Clad Stainless-Steeling Roasting Pan ($179.95, williams-sonoma.com). Otherwise, place a cooling rack on top of a large, durable rimmed baking sheet, which helps to evenly distribute the heat and prevent the bottom of the chicken from burning.
What to Do with Leftover Roast Chicken
If your family and friends haven't finished every last bit of roast chicken, there are plenty of ways to use the remaining meat. Shred it and make homemade chicken soup, chicken pot pie, or chicken tacos. Save the giblets, backbone, and carcass to make chicken stock or broth, which can keep in the freezer for up to three months.