The Best Roast Chicken

We tested several different methods for a classic roast chicken, and this one, stuffed with lemon, garlic and herbs, won out for flavor and ease. It’s perfect in its simplicity. Along the way we found that olive oil – not butter – creates the best golden-brown skin.
Save Recipe
  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 3 hr (includes resting time)
  • Active: 20 min
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Share This Recipe

Ingredients

One 3 1/2- to 4-pound whole chicken

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges 

1 head garlic, halved crosswise 

3 sprigs mixed fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary and sage) 

1/4 cup olive oil  

Directions

  1. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Sprinkle generously with at least 4 teaspoons salt all over the outside of the bird and inside the cavity. Let the chicken sit at room temperature for 1 hour to allow the salt to penetrate. Or you can refrigerate it, uncovered, up to 1 day ahead.
  2. Set a wire rack inside a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F.  
  3. Toss the lemon wedges, garlic and herbs with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Stuff the lemons, garlic and herbs in the cavity of the chicken. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine and tuck the wing tips underneath the back. Transfer the chicken to the prepared baking sheet. If you refrigerated the chicken, let it sit at room temperature 30 minutes to 1 hour before roasting. 
  4. Just before roasting, brush the oil over the entire outside of the chicken (but don't worry about the bottom), making sure to get into all the nooks and crannies so they evenly brown. Roast the chicken, rotating the baking sheet after 35 minutes, until the skin is golden brown and crispy and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 155 degrees F, 70 to 80 minutes (the temperature will climb to 165 degrees as the chicken rests).  
  5. Let the chicken rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes (do not tent with foil or the chicken will overcook and the skin will get soggy). 
  6. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and discard the lemons, garlic and herbs. Carve into serving pieces.