How to Roast a Whole Chicken in the Oven
Hello! Welcome to Mediocre Chef. You’re probably here to learn how to roast a whole chicken. We can help you do that! Keep on reading. However, if you’re wondering why you should roast a chicken when you can buy a roast chicken at the grocery store for cheaper… Well, economics is black magic and no one really understands it. Something something roasting chickens before they expire, something something economies of scale. (Thanks Priceonomics for solving this mystery!)
How to Roast a Chicken
Roasting a chicken is super simple. It takes no time at all to prep — the hardest part is waiting for it to cook. While it’s in the oven, you’ll have time to make side dishes and watch Netflix (or both at the same time).
What you’ll need to get started:
One whole chicken
A roasting pan (with some olive oil on the bottom so your chicken doesn’t stick)
A rub to make your chicken tasty
An oven (duh)
That’s it. We discuss two different rubs below — one is super budget-friendly, and the other is more extravagant, but it can be budget-friendly if you swap the butter for margarine and use dried herbs instead of fresh.
Roasted Chicken Round 1: Marco Pierre’s Knorr Chicken
Marco Pierre is a brand ambassador for Knorr, so of course he decided to rub Knorr chicken stock on chicken. His love for Knorr knows no bounds — it has even become a meme.
For Marco Pierre’s Knorr rub, all you need is some Knorr chicken cubes and olive oil. Pour some olive oil into a small bowl and dissolve one or two cubes into the olive oil to make a paste that looks nasty. Once that’s done just smear it all over your chicken and you’re good to go.
What are you rubbing all over your chicken? Usually we try not to get too involved in the “what’s in my food” side of things because, for the most part, we don’t want people getting all up in our business about, “GMO CHEMICALS AND THE LIZARD PEOPLE CONSPIRACY SO REMEMBER TO EAT ONLY FRESH UNCOOKED VEGGIES”. But this time we decided to take a look at the ingredients of the K N O R R cubes and see what they are. This is the break down we that we came up with:
No real surprises here once you break down the ingredients into their respective categories. Notice that most of the ingredients are either flavour enhancers, fats, or thickeners. There is very little there in terms of actual, natural flavour — it’s mostly just tricks to make you think you’re eating something that tastes like chicken.
We used the chicken juices, some white wine vinegar, shallots, and a touch of olive oil to make a super tasty vinaigrette for the Knorr chicken, as Marco Pierre suggests. This chicken really needs this vinaigrette so it doesn’t taste one-note. The herbs on top are mostly just for show to make the chicken look more appealing. This is definitely a budget-friendly recipe — it tasted pretty good too.
Roasted Chicken Round 2: Garlic Herb Butter Rub
This rub doesn’t have an exact recipe. It was developed as a way to mimic the Knorr cubes, but without all the flavour enhancers and mystery yeast. Unsalted butter is used as a base and we added some pretty standard poultry seasonings and spices:
We didn’t include measurements because we didn’t use any — we added everything and tasted the butter to see if we liked the flavour. This may sound disgusting, but it’s not that bad, and it’s the best way to tell if your spice blend is how you like it.
As a bonus we made two garlic butters — one with fresh herbs and one with the dried herbs to see if it made a noticeable difference on the taste of chicken. We found that both the dried and non-dried herb butter made for a delicious chicken. The fresh herb butter chicken had a slightly more fresh taste to it (duh), but if you’re in a pinch, or don’t have some of the fresh herbs on hand, the dried herb butter was completely acceptable, and miles ahead of the Knorr rub.
Our Mediocre Thoughts
👨🍳 Trevor: The first time I saw the Marco Pierre White video I knew that I had to try this recipe. But I decided to not opt for the Knorr cubes. I made a prototype of the herb butter and got cooking. The result was so tasty that I was actually blown away. Most roast chickens that I’ve had in my life have been dry and flavourless, so I was a bit shocked that it turned out the way it did. All you need to do is whip up a nice salad and some sauteed potatoes and you have yourself a quick, simple, and healthy meal for any night of the week.
👩🍳 Brittany: Knorr chicken is what a divorced dad makes. The herbed chicken is what a mother lovingly assembles for her children. In other words, the herbed butter chicken was much better. Smothering chicken with essence of chicken (Knorr stock cubes) makes it taste like… chicken? Which is tastes good, but so much more can be done to chicken than rubbing it in a flavour enhancer. Sorry, Marco Pierre.
Roasting Your Chicken: How Long & At What Temperature?
The answer to this question is going to depend heavily on how big your bird is. The important thing is that you want the chicken to reach an internal temperature of 165°F — that’s the temperature at which the salmonella bacteria is killed. For a chicken that weighs between 1kg and 1.5kg (2.2 lbs and 3.3 lbs for you Americans) you’ll want to cook the chicken for about an hour at 375°F.
How do you know when you’ve achieved 165°F internally? You can use an instant-read or probe thermometer to tell you. If you use a thermometer you’re going to want to poke the inner thigh of the chicken, making sure not to get too close to the bone. If you don’t have a thermometer a good rule of thumb is to cook the chicken at 375°F for 45 minutes per kilogram (20 minutes per pound) plus an additional 15-20 minutes.
To Brine Or Not To Brine?
That is the question. Or maybe you weren’t thinking about it, that’s cool too. To be honest, brining wasn’t on our minds when we set out to roast our chickens for this post. After doing some research about brining and asking, “is it worth it?” we found conflicting answers. Bobby Flay says don’t bother, but Stephanie Izard says it’s essential. (Yes, the article we linked discusses turkeys and not chickens — but they’re both domesticated birds that you eat.)
We didn’t brine our chickens and they were still juicy and delicious, so our mediocre opinion is that brining a chicken isn’t necessary. You do you, though.
Chicken Roasting Tips
A happy chicken is a tasty chicken! Try to buy chickens that have been pasture raised. The diet of the chicken can also affect how your chicken tastes. If you can, don’t buy chickens that have been plumped with water. You want to pay for chicken, not water weight! At the end of the day though, choose a chicken that’s within your budget.
If your chicken is frozen, give it a day or two to defrost in the fridge.
Don’t forget to remove the giblets! Your chicken might not have the bonus parts, but do a quick check by putting your hand inside your chicken and feeling around. Or you know, you could just look inside. No giblets? You’re good to go.
Most whole chickens have their legs tied together. If yours isn’t and you don’t have any twine, you can still roast your chicken the way it is — tying the legs together just makes it a bit easier to handle the chicken. It’s not a game changer.
Rubbing your chicken with buttery goodness? Get some of that butter under the skin of the chicken breast! This will make the chicken breasts extra delicious and juicy.
Don’t remove the skin from the chicken. If chicken skin isn’t your thing, wait until after the chicken is done cooking before removing. The skin helps keep the moisture in during the cooking process! Say no to dry meat — keep the skin on your chicken.
After cooking, let your chicken rest! Don’t cut into it after taking it out of the oven. Like steak, chicken benefits from a good rest.
Conclusion: Roast chicken. Eat chicken. Get gains. 🍗