Easy Weeknight Roast Chicken

Ts there anything more comforting and nourishing than a lovely roast chicken? This roast chicken recipe is super simple, doesn’t require any rinsing or stuffing, and quick enough to put together for a weeknight meal.

I used to be so intimidated by cooking a whole bird. Now it’s almost the only way I cook chicken. My husband and I usually go for the dark meat leg quarters, the kids will go for the breast, and then I pick off the rest of the breast meat and store it for leftovers the rest of the week. If I’m feeling extra ambitious I will put the chicken carcass in the crock pot with some extra vegetables overnight for a really rich chicken stock. I always have some in my freezer!

The leftover roast chicken breast is so versatile, we love to use it for anything from sandwiches, to tacos, or even a casserole or soup the next night.

How to Make Roast Chicken

Prep the chicken and the pan: I love this recipe because there is hardly any prep required. First I chop up the veggies that will serve as the bed for the chicken to roast on. I typically use an onion and around 4-5 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped, then toss them with some olive oil. Remove the chicken from the packaging, either discard or save the neck/giblets if your chicken has them, and place it on the bed of vegetables. I pat it dry with a couple of paper towels.

Chopped carrots and onions

Season the chicken: Sprinkle the entire chicken with some kosher salt, fresh cracked black pepper, and rubbed sage. Then I take some softened butter and coat the entire chicken.

Chicken basted with seasonings and butter

Roast the Chicken: Roast the chicken in a 425 degree oven, uncovered for around an hour and a half, give or take. After 45 minutes I usually take the chicken out and baste with lemon juice then return for the remainder of the time. How long you will need to roast it will depend on how big your chicken is. If I’m roasting a 4-5lb chicken it will typically take exactly an hour and a half. This chicken was a little over 6lbs and took 1 hour and 50 minutes. I always use a meat thermometer in the breast and make sure it hits 165 degrees.

Rest the Chicken: I always rest the chicken for at least 10-15 minutes before cutting into it to make sure all the juice doesn’t run out right away.

Photo of a roasted chicken

Serve: My kids love to have rice alongside the chicken with the carrots and onions on the side, or to make it even easier, I sometimes chop up potatoes and add them in about 30 minutes before the chicken is done roasting. Then it really becomes a one pot meal!

Tips for Making a Roast Chicken

Pick the right pan – Make sure the pan is big enough to fit the chicken, with some room for the air to circulate. For a smaller chicken I will use my dutch oven, that way I can just make gravy in the same pot right after. For a bigger chicken I will have to break out the 9×13.

You don’t need to baste – You really don’t need to baste the chicken, but I like to use lemon juice to baste halfway through because I like the flavor it adds.

Use a meat thermometer – Use the thermometer to test for doneness. This takes any guess work out of roasting a chicken, and you won’t have to worry about serving an under done chicken. Make sure it hits 165 degrees, and it will continue to cook as it rests.

Use the carcass! – In an effort to use the whole bird and have less waste, I almost always use the carcass to make a really rich chicken stock. After picking off all the extra meat and storing it, I pop the chicken carcass into the slow cooker, add carrots, onion, garlic, celery, peppercorns, turmeric, and salt. Cover the entire thing with water, and cook on low overnight. I strain it out the next day and store in the freezer. This makes the best chicken soup!

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