Every home cook should have a no-fail recipe for oven-roasted chicken, one you can count on to always deliver golden skin and juicy, flavorful meat. A whole chicken provides the basis for a great soup, protein for your salads, a main ingredient for lettuce-wrapped sandwiches, or a delicious main course on its own. If you cook your chicken spatchcock style, it will cook much faster and more evenly than it would if you left it whole.
Here’s how to make an incredible roasted chicken in the oven, every time.
Perfect Spatchcock Whole Chicken Recipe Roasted in the Oven
- 1 3.5-4.5 lb. chicken
- Salt and pepper
- Small bunch of sage leaves
- 3 Tbsp. Butter
- 1/2 roughly chopped onion
Spatchcock your chicken by removing the backbone with a boning knife or kitchen shears, or ask your butcher to do it for you. Gently press the breasts down to flatten the chicken.
Season your chicken on all sides with salt and pepper. Don’t be shy with the salt, it will help your skin crisp up. If you have time, you can place your chicken on a pan with a rack and place it in the fridge uncovered overnight before cooking. This will help give you extra crispy skin. Otherwise, preheat your oven to 415 degrees.
Cut the butter into 3 pieces. Wrap 2-3 pieces of sage around the tablespoon of butter. Carefully loosen the skin covering each breast to make a pouch between the meat and skin. Place the sage and butter packet under the skin. Repeat with the other breast.
Place your chicken in a braising pan, stainless pan, or other oven-safe baking dish. Surround the chicken with butter, chopped onion, and a few more pieces of sage.
Place the chicken in the oven undisturbed for about 50-60 minutes. At that time, check the temperature with a meat thermometer at the thickest part of the breast and thigh. Once the chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, remove the the chicken from the oven. If the chicken hasn’t reached the proper temperature yet, place the pan back in the oven until it does.
Allow the chicken to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with your favorite salad or side dish. Leftovers are delicious in chicken salads, stews, or on top of salads.
- Spatchcocking the chicken helps yield crispy skin and a meal that cooks more quickly than a whole chicken. The length of time the chicken will take to cook will depend on the overall size of the chicken.
- To save time, you can choose to not spatchcock your chicken and instead roast it whole. To do so, repeat the same steps with the seasoning and butter, but place the chicken in a round or oval dutch oven and roast it that way. It will take longer than the 60 minutes
- Let the chicken rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before putting it in the oven. A cold chicken directly from the refrigerator won’t cook evenly.
FAQs About Roasting a Whole Chicken in the Oven
How long does it take to bake chicken?
Time in the oven depends on the size of your chicken and the temperature of your oven. At 475 degrees F, a 3.5-4.5 lb chicken will take 50-60 minutes to cook through.
What’s the ideal temperature to bake chicken?
Roasting a bird in a 475 ºF (246 ºC) or 500 ºF (260 ºC) oven might seem crazy (and will create a little bit of smoke) but the results are reliably stunning. You’ll end up with crisp skin and moist meat. Roasting at lower temperatures just prolongs the cooking process, making dry or even undercooked meat more likely.
For roasting in high temperatures, use a cooking oil with a high smoke point, like avocado oil .
How to season chicken?
No matter what size of bird you have, salting a chicken in advance will make the meat (especially the white meat) more flavorful and tender. Ideally, salt the chicken 24 hours ahead of time, but even a few hours can make a difference. As a general guideline, use 1/2 (2.5 ml) to 3/4 teaspoon (4 ml) of kosher salt  per pound. Don’t rub the salt directly onto the meat; only rub it on the skin and sprinkle some in the cavity. For extra flavor, add any of your favorite spices to the salt mix and/or tuck fresh herbs under the skin.
Should I use a small chicken?
Smaller chickens – those weighing 4 1/2 pounds (2 kg) or less – cook fast and evenly, resulting in juicy meat. However, if you get stuck with a big chicken, pre-seasoning can help.
How do I make a crispy roast chicken?
The first rule of cooking chicken is, dry skin equals crispy skin. Water is the enemy of crackling chicken skin.
According to the USDA , there is no need to rinse a chicken before cooking it. But, if the idea of an unwashed chicken makes you uneasy, give it a rinse and pat it dry thoroughly with paper towels. Consider keeping the chicken uncovered in a refrigerator overnight (after salting it) which helps dry the skin further, then pat the bird dry again before putting it in the oven.
What internal temperature should I reach for a whole chicken?
According to the USDA , all chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Don’t guess. Use a meat thermometer and insert it into the thigh. You’ll always pull the bird out at the right time if you know exactly what the temperature is.