Easiest Roast Chicken Ever

4 Nov

NOTE: An updated version of this recipe appears in my cookbook, The Ancestral Table.

Many people are intimidated by the idea of roasting a whole bird – this kind of practice is often only reserved for a Thanksgiving turkey, and tragically so. I like to consider the whole roasting and carving of a chicken as practice for a perfect holiday meal. There are dozens of ways to roast a chicken, and many more ingredients you can use to add complexity, but I feel that they are ultimately unnecessary. Mine is a two-part process, which includes initially cooking the chicken breast-side down to prevent them from drying out.

I roast my chicken in a Le Creuset french oven, and although it is one of my favorite all-around cooking dishes, it would probably roast better in a braiser. A braiser’s lower edges would allow more of the bird to openly roast and crisp more evenly. Either way, the french oven still does the trick just fine, so let’s get down to business:

You’ll need:
one whole chicken (the more naturally raised the better)
6 to 8 cloves of garlic
2 cups chicken broth (homemade preferred)
1 sprig rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp of butter
1/2 tsp of kosher or sea salt
1/2 tsp of pepper
1 lemon, cut into wedges (optional)
2 carrots, quartered (optional)
2 stalks celery, quartered (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Rinse and pat dry the chicken with paper towels. Stuff the chicken with the garlic cloves, bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme (and lemon if you’re using it). Place the chicken breast-side down into the french oven, and pour the chicken broth around the chicken (and the veggies if you’re using them). Cover the french oven, place it in the middle of the oven and bake for 45 minutes. While it is baking, set the butter out to soften (on top of the oven to speed the softening up). When the butter is soft, stir it together with salt and pepper and set it aside.

Take the chicken out of the oven and turn the temperature down to 375 degrees. Flip the chicken so that it is breast-side up and spread half of the butter/salt/pepper over the breasts and legs. Return it to the oven, uncovered, for 30 more minutes. At the 30-minute mark, spread the rest of the butter/salt/pepper over the chicken and return to the oven for another 20 minutes. Poke the inside of the leg and the part of the breast that touches the leg with a fork – if the liquid that comes out is clear, the chicken is ready. If it is still pink, put it back in the oven and check it every ten minutes.

Once the chicken is ready, set it on a cutting board for ten minutes to let it rest before carving. Carefully pour out most of the liquid in the bottom of the french oven and set it aside (that’s your gravy base), but leave the veggies in the french oven in order to make broth later. For carving instructions, see this video that I made a while back:

15 Responses to “Easiest Roast Chicken Ever”

  1. Jim January 14, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

    I just roasted my first chicken in my Le Creuset and it was not great. Your directions look a lot better and I will try it next time.

    • Russ Crandall January 15, 2012 at 12:30 am #

      Hey Jim,

      Sorry to hear about your bad experience. This recipe is pretty foolproof, let me know how it turns out!

  2. Suzanne A December 15, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

    Just served my chicken and dude…it was AWESOME! thanks for the recipe!

  3. Audrey June 26, 2013 at 1:10 am #

    I did your recipe in my Le Creuset Dutch oven and a second chicken in an open roasting Le Creuset pan…while the open roaster was more traditional in appearance, your recipe was very moist and flavorful. Enjoyed by all.

  4. Trish July 28, 2013 at 7:01 pm #

    Late to the party, but my husband and I fixed this tonight exactly as written, and it was delicious! Thank you!

  5. Jen B. November 14, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

    First time for me roasting a chicken in my le creuset pot, turned out moist and delicious. Thanks for another great recipe. We make your chick-fil-a nuggets and Salisbury steaks often and love both of those recipes as well.

  6. Cathy February 10, 2014 at 11:34 am #

    Wonderful recipe! Thank you. Also appreciated the carving lesson – I’ve made chicken for years but this has changed how I serve the bird. Love the chunks (instead of this slices).

  7. Meg August 8, 2014 at 11:03 am #

    I’m always trying out new recipes. I tried this one last night. This has to be the best roast chicken I’ve ever put in my mouth! HUGE hit at my house!!

  8. gileegirl August 19, 2014 at 11:16 pm #

    Finally, a blog that doesn’t mess around and gets to the point. As advertised – the easiest roast chicken I’ve made so far. Bonus: serving it in the Le Creuset made me look like a rockstar fancy pants chef. Thanks!

  9. Kitty Ann German Smith January 5, 2015 at 10:28 am #

    I use whole lemons….poke holes with a fork…the lemon juice oozes out through the holes and gives the chicken more zest flavor.


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