The Perfect Way to Roast a Chicken

Published on Sunday, January 12, 2020 | Category: Recipes


Everyone loves a good roast chicken and with typical Sri Lankan chicken curries generally veering away from roasting, the art of roasting a chicken perfectly is not known by many in Sri Lanka. The perfect roast chicken has crisp, golden skin with tender, succulent and flavourful meat. We give you a step-by-step guide on how to achieve this with all the tips you’ll need to master this universal classic dinner favourite.

How long should you cook the chicken?

For the perfect roasting time, the weight of the chicken will matter. Most chickens weigh between one or two kilos. So a 1kg chicken or a smaller chicken needs to be roasted for about an hour at 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6. Larger chickens can take up to an hour and 40 minutes to cook. The type of chicken can also dictate cooking times, so if you’re buying from a specialist supplier, make sure you ask them about the specific roasting times.

Recipes that having a stuffing mix in the chicken cavity or using aromatics like whole lemons, herbs and onions will also likely require the cooking time to be longer so make sure you check the individual recipe for specific guidance on cooking times.

How to cook chicken safely?

You need to cook the chicken through completely before serving as raw chicken meat can have harmful bacteria that could lead to food poisoning. Though ovens and chicken sizes can differ, there are two ways to make sure chicken is cooked and roasted well. One method is to use a meat thermometer. The other method is to pierce the thickest part of the chicken, between the leg and the breast of the bird, and check if the meat juices run clear. The breast meat should be opaque white and the leg meat should be darker. There should also be no blood or pinkish tinge to the juices. If you’re using a meat thermometer, the temperature in the meat should reach 70C and stay at that temperature for two minutes.

One thing you need to avoid doing is to wash the raw chicken before cooking. That’s because, no matter how careful you are, you can splash harmful bacteria around your sink, worktop or draining board.

How to crisp up your chicken skin?

To get that crispy, golden chicken skin, the secret is in turning up the heat, but you need to be careful as you don’t want to dry out the meat underneath. There are a few methods to get that perfectly crispy chicken skin we all love so much. One way is to roast the chicken until the meat is cooked and then turn up the oven heat to 220C/200C fan/gas mark 7 and cook for a further 15-20 minutes.

Then, there’s the method of salting the chicken and leaving it loosely covered in the fridge overnight and then cooking as normal the next day without rinsing off any of the seasonings. This method helps in extracting the moisture and giving the roasted chicken a wonderfully crisp and golden skin.

Another method is to remove the skin from the chicken after roasting but before carving and then dry fry the skin in a nonstick pan until it crisps up.

How to flavour roast chicken?

Chicken has a unique flavour that doesn’t need much work with and can simply and effectively be enhanced with salt. Chicken can also take on strong, spicy flavours very well. When roasting chicken, you can try adding a spice rub or pushing a pat of your choice of flavoured butter underneath the chicken skin before roasting.

The basic recipe for failsafe roast chicken

To make the perfectly delicious roast chicken, you only need a few ingredients. Serve with gravy, roasted potatoes and vegetables and the meal becomes one that is fit for a king.

Serves: 4


  • Whole chicken
  • 30-40g butter
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning


  • Start by preheating the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6.
  • Next, sit the chicken in a roasting tin and gently ease the skin away from the breast. Push the butter underneath the skin.
  • Season with salt and pepper according to taste.
  • Then, pour water into the bottom of the roasting tin, filling it about 1-2cm deep.
  • Cover the chicken with foil and roast in the oven for an hour.
  • Then, remove the foil and allow the chicken to roast for a further 20-30 minutes until the skin is crispy and golden, the chicken is cooked well and all the juices run clear.
  • Pour the juices into a jug for use in the gravy.
  • Place the roasted chicken in a board, cover with foil and a clean towel or tea towel and allow to rest for about 15-20 minutes while you finish off cooking any sides.
  • Carve and serve with gravy and roasted vegetables of choice.