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The best whole roasted chicken recipe starts with a dry salt brine, creating a golden brown, crispy roast chicken with flavorful, juicy meat. Potatoes sit at the bottom of the Dutch oven and cook in the drippings, while garlic, lemon, and fresh herbs season the entire dish. Your quest for the perfect roast chicken stops here!

Salt brined whole roasted chicken in a dutch oven with potatoes

How to Roast a Whole Chicken | 1-Minute Video

Roasted Whole Chicken

There’s something magical about a simple whole roasted chicken. It’s one of the easiest meals that any home cook can serve, you can prepare the meat in a variety of ways, and it’s almost impossible to mess up! Even with the most basic seasonings (like salt and pepper), you can achieve a really delicious bird with so much natural flavor. Since I love playing around with different cooking methods and ingredients — especially when it comes to roast chicken — I was particularly intrigued by the dry salt brine made famous by chef Judy Rodgers at the San Francisco restaurant, Zuni Cafe. It’s an incredibly simple preparation method with unbelievably good results!

Why Use a Dry Salt Brine on Roast Chicken?

The science of salt brining is really simple: rubbing the outside of a chicken with salt and letting it sit in the refrigerator for up to 72 hours before roasting creates juicy meat because the salt draws out moisture that dissolves the crystals, then the chicken reabsorbs this salty liquid down to the bone. Starting the chicken at a very high temperature (500° F), combined with the salt brining method, locks moisture in the meat and makes the chicken skin crispy in the oven. Even if you accidentally overcook the meat a little bit, it will still be tender and juicy. No more dry, tough chicken breasts!

The Dutch Oven

The Dutch oven is one of the most versatile kitchen tools because it’s used for everything from stew to pot roast, and fried chicken to chicken and dumplings. You can even bake a loaf of bread in the heavy pot!

A Dutch oven is perfect for roast chicken because of its unique design. Dutch ovens are made from cast iron, so they retain and evenly distribute heat. For this recipe, I used a 3 ¾-quart Dutch oven since the 3 ½-lb. chicken is fairly small, but any similar size will work. Look for a Dutch oven that’s just slightly larger than your chicken.

If you don’t have an appropriate Dutch oven, you can use a shallow roasting pan or another oven-safe dish that’s just barely larger than the chicken. You want the bird to sit up on top of the potatoes and other ingredients, which will act like a roasting rack. The chicken absorbs the aromatics from the ingredients below, while the drippings drop down and create the most flavorful, crispy potatoes.

Do you roast a whole chicken covered or uncovered?

For this recipe, you’ll roast the chicken uncovered the entire time. This allows the skin to get incredibly crispy in the oven, turning that beautiful golden brown color. If you are roasting a larger chicken that requires a longer cooking time, you may need to cover the bird loosely with foil towards the end if it starts to look like the skin will burn.

Overhead shot of whole roasted chicken in a Dutch oven

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need to cook a whole roasted chicken. As always, the exact measurements and specific instructions are included in the printable recipe at the bottom of the post.

  • Whole chicken: a small chicken that weighs 3 ½ – 4 pounds works best, because it gets nice and crispy in the oven and cooks through without burning. If you have a larger chicken, you’ll need to extend the roasting time (use a thermometer to know when your bird is done), and tent loosely with foil if the larger chicken starts to get too dark on top.
  • Kosher salt: to season and dry brine the chicken.
  • Yukon gold potatoes: cook in the Dutch oven with the chicken, soaking up the drippings and becoming nice and crispy.
  • Lemon, garlic, onion, thyme, rosemary and black pepper: add flavor to the meat as it roasts.
  • Butter: brushing the skin with melted butter before roasting adds flavor and helps the skin brown.
Overhead process shot showing how to roast a whole chicken

How to Roast a Whole Chicken

While it’s best to allow about 24 hours for the salted chicken to chill, it’s not imperative. Even just 1 hour of chilling time will have a positive effect on the bird!

Process shot showing how to dry brine a whole chicken
  1. Place a wire rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet (to catch juices that drip down).
  2. Liberally season the outside of the chicken with kosher salt. Cover loosely with parchment paper.
  3. Chill for about 24 hours.
  4. Bring chicken to room temperature on the counter for at least 30 minutes while you preheat the oven.
  5. Toss potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper; place them in the bottom of a Dutch oven.
  6. Add lemon, garlic and onion on top, then drizzle with olive oil. Place the herbs in the pot.
  7. Place the chicken on top of the potatoes. Tie the legs together and tuck the wings underneath. Brush with melted butter and season with freshly-ground black pepper.
  8. Roast the chicken at 500° F for 20 minutes.
  9. Reduce the temperature to 350° F and continue roasting the chicken for 30-40 more minutes, or until the meat is cooked through.
  10. Rest for at least 10 minutes before carving and serving.
Process shot showing how to make chicken skin crispy in oven

Roast Chicken Temperature

A whole chicken is ready when a meat thermometer inserted between the thigh and breast (not touching the bone) reads at least 165° F (74° C). Note: the temperature of the meat will continue to rise slightly when you pull it out of the oven, so if the thermometer shows a few degrees below 165, I will usually pull it out of the oven and assume that the temperature will continue to increase slightly.

Horizontal shot of simple whole roasted chicken in a dutch oven

What to Serve with Crispy Roast Chicken and Potatoes

An easy whole roasted chicken makes a perfect Sunday supper. Pair the juicy meat with any of your family’s favorite sides, such as:

Storage Tips

Leftover chicken will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be aware, however, that the skin will not be as crispy when thawed.

How to Reheat

Allow the chicken to come to room temperature on the counter for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Arrange chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet or roasting pan and place (uncovered) in the oven until the skin is crisp and the chicken is warmed through. Be careful not to leave the chicken in the oven for too long or it will dry out.

How to Use Leftover Roast Chicken

Shred the leftover meat and use the cooked chicken in casseroles (like Chicken SpaghettiChicken Noodle Casserole or Chicken and Stuffing Casserole), in soups (like Chicken Tortilla Soup or Brunswick Stew), in stuffed potatoes, in Southern Chicken Salad, in Chicken Enchiladas, for Chicken Pot Pie, or on top of Caesar SaladSo many delicious options!

Side shot of crispy roast chicken in a dutch oven

Tips for the Best Whole Roasted Chicken Recipe

  • If you don’t have 24 hours to chill the salted chicken, no problem! As little as 1 hour will still have an effect. If it’s more convenient, you can chill the chicken in the salt brine for up to 72 hours.
  • Bring the chicken to room temperature for about 30 minutes before roasting in order to ensure even cooking.
  • Make sure that your chicken is very dry before roasting — otherwise you’ll end up steaming the bird for the first part of the cooking time (which makes it harder to achieve a crispy skin).
  • Cooking time will vary depending on the total weight of your chicken. Always use a thermometer to test the internal temperature of the meat to know when it’s done.
  • Truss the chicken. This only takes a minute or two, but tying together the chicken legs with twine and tucking the wings underneath helps the chicken cook evenly.
  • Season liberally. Don’t be shy with the salt. This is a big piece of meat, so you want to add plenty of flavor by using enough seasoning. Enough salt is also imperative for successful dry brining and crispy skin.
  • For the juiciest meat, allow the chicken to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.
  • Don’t omit the butter. The butter on the outside helps to make sure that the exterior is perfectly crispy and golden brown, and it also adds great flavor.
Side shot of the best roast chicken in a Dutch oven

More Roast Chicken Recipes to Try

Square side shot of a whole roasted chicken in a Dutch oven

Whole Roasted Chicken

4.75 from 4 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 55 minutes
Inactive Time 1 day
Total: 1 day 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 719 kcal
The best Whole Roasted Chicken recipe starts with a dry salt brine, creating a golden brown, crispy roast chicken with flavorful, juicy meat.

Ingredients
  

  • 1 whole chicken, giblets removed and patted dry (about 3 ½ – 4 lbs.)
  • Kosher salt
  • 6-8 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 head of garlic, halved horizontally
  • 1 Vidalia onion (or other sweet onion), peeled and quartered
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Instructions

  • Place a wire rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet. Liberally sprinkle salt all over the outside of the chicken. Cover the chicken loosely with parchment paper and refrigerate overnight (about 24 hours).
  • Preheat oven to 500° F. Let the chicken sit on the counter and come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before roasting.
  • In a large bowl, toss together the potatoes, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Place potatoes in the bottom of a cast iron Dutch oven. Add the lemon, garlic and onion. Drizzle with about 1 more tablespoon of olive oil. Place thyme and rosemary on top.
  • Place the chicken on top of the potatoes and herbs in the Dutch oven. Tie the legs of the chicken together and tuck the wings underneath. Brush with melted butter and season with pepper.
  • Roast chicken at 500° F for 20 minutes. Without opening the oven, reduce the temperature to 350° F and continue roasting for 30-40 more minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 165° F when inserted between the thigh and breast.
  • Remove the chicken from the oven. Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving and serving.

Video

Notes

  • If you don’t have 24 hours to chill the salted chicken, no problem! As little as 1 hour will still have an effect. If it’s more convenient, you can chill the chicken in the salt brine for up to 72 hours.
  • Bring the chicken to room temperature for about 30 minutes before roasting in order to ensure even cooking.
  • Make sure that your chicken is very dry before roasting — otherwise you’ll end up steaming the bird for the first part of the cooking time (which makes it harder to achieve a crispy skin).
  • Cooking time will vary depending on the total weight of your chicken. Always use a meat thermometer to test the internal temperature of the meat to know when it’s done.
  • Truss the chicken. This only takes a minute or two, but tying together the chicken legs with twine and tucking the wings underneath helps the chicken cook evenly.
  • Season liberally. Don’t be shy with the salt. This is a big piece of meat, so you want to add plenty of flavor by using enough seasoning. Enough salt is also imperative for successful dry brining and crispy skin.
  • For the juiciest meat, allow the chicken to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.
  • Don’t omit the butter. The butter on the outside helps to make sure that the exterior is perfectly crispy and golden brown, and it also adds great flavor.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/4 of the chicken and potatoesCalories: 719kcalCarbohydrates: 45gProtein: 41gFat: 42gSaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 158mgSodium: 199mgPotassium: 1434mgFiber: 6gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 489IUVitamin C: 55mgCalcium: 56mgIron: 4mg
Keyword: crispy roast chicken, whole roasted chicken
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This recipe is calling me to give it a try. Looks intriguing. I have made your recipe for roasted crispy chicken with vegetables and it was delicious. My question about this recipe; could more seasoning still be used on the chicken even though there is seasoning in the potatoes?

    1. Hi, Heidi! Absolutely! You can feel free to season the chicken even more. Use any herbs or seasoning that you enjoy. The good news is that it’s a big piece of meat that will take well to quite a bit of seasoning. It’s just a matter of personal preference, so have fun with it and enjoy!

      1. I just took my chicken out of the oven. Chicken appears done, looks beautiful but the potatoes, carrots and green beans aren’t even close to being done. Put about a cup of chicken broth in my Dutch oven, put the lid on and back in the oven for at least 40 minutes then I’ll check again. Hopefully the potatoes, carrots and green beans will be done. I put lots of lemon in the chicken cavity. I think I’ll put some more lemon on the veggies in the pot.

  2. 5 stars
    I tried this recipe using two chickens for my family of hungry but very picky teenagers. I cooked them together in a large baking dish and increased the time a little until they were done. It was a huge hit with the entire family. My son went back for more TWICE. I couldn’t believe it — that’s the first time he’s ever done that for non-pizza food. My daughters especially loved the potatoes, and between all of us, there was hardly anything left. Thank you for this recipe! It’s a keeper for sure.

    1. That’s amazing, Nadia! I’m so glad that you all enjoyed it. That’s a true win when even the picky kiddos approve! Thanks for taking the time to leave me a note. 🙂

    1. Hi, Gern! I suppose you could do that, but it’s not necessary. If you do preheat the Dutch oven, be VERY careful when arranging the chicken and veggies in the pot. It would be very easy to burn your arm in the process.

  3. 5 stars
    This is the best Roasted Chicken recipe I have ever tried!!! The chicken was perfect, the potatoes were delicious and the sauce that cooked up with the combo of juice from chicken, lemon and olive oil was so good! I did add a small onion, some leftover fresh herb, a small carrot and one celery stalk cut up in the chicken cavity. I swapped out the rosemary for marjoram and I put a couple pats of butter underneath the skin of the chicken breast.

  4. 4 stars
    This recipe was really good, but my experience was that the cooking time will take -significantly- longer than 50 minutes total. I did 20 minutes at 500 and then it was a good 1 1/2 hrs at 350 before it got to 165F. Next time, i’m going to do longer at 500 & then finish at 350-375.
    The flavor was great & everyone enjoyed it.
    I used baby gold potatoes however & even though they were cut in half, some were still a bit crunchy. So baby potatoes should be quartered and medium potatoes (that the recipe calls for), i would probably cut into 6 pieces.
    All in all, the recipe was really good, i just need to make some adjustments to the cooking time as it wasn’t right for me.