Whole baked chicken is one of those comfort foods that many around the world enjoy. It’s a great recipe because it’s a classic main dish that pairs beautifully with all kinds of sides. Most people, especially we Sri Lankans who are so used to the spicy Sri Lankan chicken dishes can get a bit intimidated to try cooking a whole baked chicken, but the process is really very simple. The moist, tender and juicy chicken meat that you get is worth giving a whole baked chicken a try.
Tips and tricks for whole baked chicken
- A five-pound chicken is a very good size when it comes to roasting a whole chicken in the oven and it’s easy to prepare and handle too. A chicken this size can easily feed about six people for dinner. If you have a smaller crowd, it’ll be enough for a meal and the leftovers can be used as shredded chicken in another recipe.
- The recipe below can be customized according to your taste. Substitute rosemary for thyme and sage and if you are not fond of the dairy elements in the recipe, you can simply use olive oil or coconut oil instead.
- The amount of lemon used in the below recipe doesn’t give off much of a lemon flavour. It’s used mainly for moisture and as an aromatic. If you like more lemon flavour in your baked chicken, zest the lemons and add the zest to the butter before adding it to the chicken.
- Cast iron skillets make all the difference in this recipe. You can use them on the stovetop and in the oven, and they create great texture on meat. If you don’t have one, you can use a 9×13 inch baking pan with sides.
- This recipe is perfect with baked potatoes too so throw in some potatoes along with the chicken in the oven.
- The residual drippings in the pan are delicious to make a gravy so make sure you don’t throw it away.
- Roast a whole chicken at 425 degrees F. It takes about an hour to roast through and when it’s ready, it’ll be a nice, crispy golden-brown.
- The easiest way to tell if your baked chicken is done is by inserting a meat thermometer into the inner thigh of the bird. If it’s done and ready, it should read 165 degrees F. and the juices will run clear. Also, make sure to place the cooked chicken in a cutting board and cover with some foil for about five minutes before cutting into it.
Let’s get to the recipe now.
Whole Baked Chicken
In a few simple steps, you can make a delicious whole baked chicken that is packed with mouth-watering flavours. This basic recipe is so easy that you can serve it for dinner any night of the week and you’ll have ample leftovers too. Serve it whole out of the pan or break down the chicken before it comes to the table. It will look incredible either way.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
For the butter mixture:
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter softened
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
- Fresh ground pepper, to taste
- Salt to taste
For the chicken:
- 1 5-pound chicken, with giblets and neck removed from the cavity
- 2 onions, quartered
- 1 head of garlic, cut in half
- 3 lemons, cut in half
- 3 fresh rosemary sprigs
- 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- First, preheat the oven to 425 degrees and position a rack in the lower third of the oven.
- In a bowl, mix together the butter, minced rosemary, three cloves of minced garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Adjust seasoning according to your taste and set aside.
- Next, pat the chicken dry. Then gently pull up the skin of the chicken and rub half of the butter mixture underneath the skin. Rub the remaining half of the butter mixture over the chicken and then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Season the cavity of the chicken generously with salt and pepper and then stuff with two lemon halves, half a head of garlic, 2-3 quarters of onion and two sprigs of rosemary. Tie the legs with cooking twine and tuck the wings under the chicken.
- Place the chicken in a roasting pan or high-sided large skillet with the breast side up along with the remaining onion, garlic, lemons, and herbs. Pour in the chicken broth into the pan.
- Roast for an hour or until the chicken breast is firm and the chicken is turning a nice golden brown. If the chicken is browning too fast and too dark, gently cover with a loose piece of foil and continue to roast for about 20 minutes longer, until a thermometer inserted in the inner thigh reads 165 degrees and juices run clear.
- Once done, transfer the roasted chicken to a cutting board and cover with foil, tent-shaped.
- Remove the vegetables and aromatics from the cavity of the bird. Carve the chicken and serve with your choice of sides and gravy.