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Best-Ever Roast Chicken

Scott Phillips

Servings: four.

This is the classic roast chicken that all cooks should have in their arsenal. One of the secrets to success is starting it out breast-side down, which keeps the breast meat juicy. Though the chicken is fabulous on its own, you can take it to the next level with a few more ingredients by making a simple pan sauce.

Want to learn more secrets to perfectly roasted chicken? Watch our Test Kitchen’s step-by-step video to learn exactly how to achieve tender, juicy meat and crisp skin.


For the chicken:

  • 1 4-lb. roasting chicken, giblets removed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

For the pan sauce (optional):

  • 1/2  cup dry white wine
  •  1  Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
  •  1  Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  •   Freshly ground black pepper

Nutritional Information

  • Nutritional Sample Size with skin
  • Calories (kcal) : 560
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 310
  • Fat (g): 35
  • Saturated Fat (g): 9
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 7
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 15
  • Cholesterol (mg): 180
  • Sodium (mg): 450
  • Carbohydrates (g): 0
  • Fiber (g): 0
  • Protein (g): 56


Roast the chicken:

  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F.
  • Put the chicken breast side up on a roasting rack in a medium (9×13-inch or similar) flameproof baking dish or roasting pan. Tuck the wing tips behind the neck and loosely tie the legs together with a piece of kitchen twine. Season the breast all over with 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper. Turn the chicken over. Season the back all over with 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper. Drizzle the oil evenly over the back of the chicken.

  • Roast the chicken breast side down for 30 minutes. Turn it over by inserting sturdy tongs into the cavity and flipping it. Continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165° to 170°F, an additional 30 to 35 minutes.
  • Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, loosely tent it with foil, and let it rest for 15 minutes.

If you’re making the pan sauce:

  • While the chicken rests, remove the roasting rack from the pan and let the pan sit for 10 minutes to slightly cool the pan juices. Tilt the pan so the juices run to one corner. Use a large soup spoon to skim off and discard as much of the clear fat as possible.
  • Position the pan over a large burner on high heat. Pour the wine into the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up the browned bits stuck on the bottom of the pan. Add 3/4 cup water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer. If the liquid does not cover the entire bottom of your pan, tilt the pan to move the liquid around. Continue scraping up all of the bits, using the back of the spoon to dissolve as much of the browned bits as you can, until the sauce reduces to about 1/3 cup and is a deep mahogany color, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Take the pan off the heat, add the parsley, and swirl in the cold butter until it melts. Season to taste with pepper and transfer the sauce to a pitcher or bowl for serving.

To serve:

  • Snip the twine from the chicken’s legs, carve the chicken, and serve.


Rate or Review

Reviews (10 reviews)

  • RevaC | 11/08/2017

    This really is the best ever! I have changed my chicken roasting technique forever. Mess and smoke mentioned in other reviews were no big deal because I cleaned my oven before I put the chicken in. I have never been a white meat fan, but this technique has changed my mind. The breast was indeed moist and full of flavour.

  • MikeDfromAustin | 07/31/2014

    Amazing! I throw in sliced potatoes 30 minutes before the chicken is cooked and there are never leftovers!

  • user-3168462 | 01/20/2014

    I agree with tiamo - while a great chicken, the smoke and the mess are too much. I think there are other excellent recipes that can be made without setting off the smoke detectors and creating the need to clean my oven.

  • sanni | 07/03/2012

    This is a great recipe. I use it everytime I need the meat or a whole roast chicken. Doesn't take much longer for me than going to a rotisserie chicken stand and is much better and cheaper. A local discounter sells organic chicken for a reasonable price. We usually have this with a salad as side and nothing else. Gem of recipe/technique!

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