Roast Chicken – Comparing Methods

Roast ChickenThere are very few things that smell as good as a chicken roasting.  For me, it is just heaven on earth, bringing back memories of family dinners, real food – made with love. While I was in boarding school in England I had the pleasure of spending a weekend with my friend Jenny at her parents farm. Her mother made a fabulous roast chicken for Sunday dinner,  it was so delicious that even after 40+ years that meal still remains sharp in my memory.  Mrs. Longfoot is gone from this earth but the memory of  Sunday Roast Chicken remains sharp in my memory.  

There are those that will say, “I don’t have time to roast a chicken”.   Truth be told, the chicken roasts itself.  This is a no stress dinner.  A few minutes of prep work and the oven does the rest. Set the timer and play with the kids for an hour or so, while the chicken roasts.  In fact, if you are roasting one, why not do two and have leftovers for sandwiches and salads?


Pointers For a Perfect Roast Chicken:

  • Remove chicken from packaging, remove neck and giblets.  At this point you are probably thinking, “Duh!”  but honestly I know people who didn’t realize that whole chickens have necks and giblets stored inside.
  • The USDA does not recommend rinsing (washing) the chicken in water. If the chicken is contaminated it could spread the germs to other surfaces causing cross contamination.
  • If you are going to rinse or brine your chicken, start with a clean sink, rinse and drain chicken and then disinfect the counters and sink with a bleach solution. (1 tablespoon bleach per gallon of water)
  • Set chicken up right in a tall pan or on can roasting rack to drain.   Water is the enemy of crispy skin. We like crispy skin!  I allow the chicken to drain, upright for as long as possible, in the refrigerator and then blot dry with paper towels.  It is amazing how much water will drain out of the chicken.
  • Season well  – salt absorbs excess moisture and acts like a dry brine.  Rubbing the skin with butter or oil helps the seasoning to stick.  Season both the inside and outside.
  • After reading a ton of recipes from some of the best Chef’s I know of, most use some type of citrus (lemon, lime or grapefruit) along with some herbs stuffed into the cavity.
  • Remove chicken from the refrigerator 30 minutes – 1 hour depending on the size of the chicken, so it isn’t going into the oven stone cold.
  • Should you brine?  Commercially raised chickens just do not have the depth of flavor that farm raised chickens used to have.  Soaking in a brine solution helps to infuse flavor and moisture into the chicken.  It is up to you but a whole chicken can be brined for 8 – 12 hours (in other words, over night)  Removed from the brine, rinsed and allowed to rest in the refrigerator to drain & dry the skin and wait for you to toss it in the oven.  There is time involved, but not much work.  This is a good Brine Recipe it you would like to give it a try.

Please keep in mind these are my opinions based on my experiences and tastes.

Beer Can Chicken:
My absolute favorite method is Beer Can Chicken.   It doesn’t need to be a beer can, it can be a soda can, any can will work.  Ginger Ale works great!   This method steams the chicken from the inside while the outside skin gets crispy brown all around.   You can use any seasoning you like for the chicken or just plain kosher salt.

Beer Can Chicken

The beer can rack is totally optional. I made beer can chicken with no rack, just the can for over a  decade before I bought one of these.  It does help to stabilize the chicken.  It also is great to use as a ‘drying rack’ before roasting.  I read on another site that if you don’t want to use a can you could use a Ball canning jar, however after checking with the manufacturer they do NOT recommend using the canning jars in the oven.  So that said, if you don’t want to use an aluminium can, you can stuff the cavity with lemons and roast upright using just the beer can rack. Crispy skin all around and moist chicken, who could ask for more?


Renee’s Kitchen Perfect Roast Chicken:

Perfect Roast Chicken by Renee's Kitchen Adventures

Perfect Roast Chicken by Renee’s Kitchen Adventures

Renee has perfected her Mother’s roast chicken, roasting at 425° instead of 350°, stuffed with onion, celery, garlic, and lemon with a special spice and butter rub.

She has nailed the perfect roast chicken.  If you are roasting one, why not roast two?




Roast Sticky Chicken – Rotisserie Style:
One of most highly rated recipes, with 2810 reviews!

Surprisingly, this was not my favorite chicken.
This recipe has you coating the chicken in a seasoning blend of salt, paprika, onion powder, thyme, pepper, cayenne, and garlic powder.  Seasoning the chickens with this mixture, wrapping tightly and refrigerating overnight.  Then slow roasting the chickens for 5 hours at 250°
I think the best part of this recipe is the seasoning blend.  Even at 250° the chickens were done in about 3 1/2 hours, 5 hours would really be overkill.    The skin isn’t crispy and it isn’t really sticky as the name suggests.  I did try one in the slow cooker on low, it was done in about 6 hours.  Like the oven method, the best part was the seasoning blend.

Stupid Simple Roast Chicken:
 Simple Roast ChickenSimple is the key word here!

An recipe that is true to it’s name.

Preheat oven to 450°
Stuff a 4 pound chicken with a lemon, kosher salt inside and out and roast for an hour or so, until juices run clear and internal temperature is 160° – 165°
Simple perfection!


Crispy Roasted Chicken by Doc Simonson 

Doc has created a wonderful  ground spice blend using fennel, sage, rosemary, caraway, coriander, paprika, garlic and salt.  The chicken is cut in half, smeared with the spice blend and roasted at high heat.   I am not normally a fan of caraway or fennel but all ground up together with the other herbs and spices this is fabulous. As the name suggests, the skin is crispy.  Thanks for sharing this treat with us Doc.

There are a couple of givens when it comes to chicken:

  • Chicken is done when the internal temperature is 165 at the thickest part of the thigh.  The juices will run clear, the thighs and legs joints will move easily. Time in the oven depends on the oven temperature, how cold the bird is when going into the oven and the size of the bird.
  • Water is the enemy of crispy skin.   It is important to thoroughly dry your chicken if you want crispy skin.  The higher the oven temperature, the crispier the skin will be.
  • People talk about ‘trussing the bird’.  Sounds complicated, doesn’t it?  Bottom line it means tying it all together.   Some people just tie the legs together, others tie the legs and wings together.  Some of us, like me, don’t usually tie or truss at all. If you would like to see a great video, Michael Ruhlman has a very entertaining video.
  • Why truss?  To make it look pretty!   A bird with it’s legs splayed open isn’t as visually appealing as one that is neatly packaged, legs tied shut, looking all lady like.   Some say it promotes even roasting by protecting the breast meat.  If the chicken doesn’t at least have it’s legs tied together hot air will circulate in the cavity and could dry out the chicken.  If you prefer to not truss, place some citrus, apples or onions in the cavity to provide some protection to the breast meat.  My favorite method involves standing that bird upright, sitting pretty atop a can, no trussing involved!
  • There are those that will ask, ‘Can I roast a chicken in a slow cooker?”  The answer is ‘No, that is not roasting.  You can certainly cook a chicken in a slow cooker, but that is slow cooker chicken.  Roasting involves dry heat. Yes, you have to turn your oven on or use your grill as an oven.


Roast Chicken – Comparing Methods — 21 Comments

  1. You’ve done it now. I think I’ll go pull my chicken out of the freezer and dig out my beer can rack. I love roasted chicken also. Next best thing to the smell of homemade bread! I’m gettin’ hungry.

  2. BN: Well, I’ve been quite successful with the relatively popular “Sticky” Chicken. Always makes me chuckle, because the recipe name seems so inappropriate. At my house, we call it Five-Hour Chicken. I always cook at least two so we have leftovers for sandwiches, casseroles, etc. I’ve done Beer Can Chicken, but it’s not the first thing I reach for. As always, you’ve inspired me to break out of the routine and try something new.

    • Hi BikerFamily – 5 hour chicken is a MUCH more appropriate name. I didn’t find this chicken ‘sticky’ at all. The seasoning is top notch! Rotisserie chicken would have a dryer crispier skin. This seasoning would be good on a real rotisserie chicken. The main reason I mentioned this recipe is that it is well loved. Who am I to argue with a couple of thousand reviews? 🙂

      • BN: But I think I’ll try Renee’s and the Super Simple one also. You never know when you’ll find something that the family enjoys, so I’m always willing to try.

  3. Hi Baking Nana, wonderful post. My mom made a roast chicken for Sunday dinner as far back as i can remember. She also stuffed hers with lemon, garlic, onion and celery, and she would put bacon across the breast. She did it to keep the bird moist, don’t know if that’s true but i still do it the way my mom did.Thanks for the walk down memory lane:))

    • Hi manella! Smell of roasting chicken takes me right back to Sunday dinner. It is nice to have fond memories of such a simple comfort food.
      Thanks for stopping in.

    • Good morning Brenda. For whole chickens I like to use that beer can rack for draining / drying even if I am not doing beer can chicken. I think my rack was about $5. A small investment for a handy tool.

  4. Excellent discussion. I think my fav is beer can chicken…..though Doc’s recipe is awesome too. If I do roast in the oven, it is 450 for me. I recently saw a chef splay out the thigh/leg with a knife so the chicken cooked faster without drying out the breast meat. I need to try that.

    • Julie, that makes perfect sense to me. I like roasting chicken halves because they do cook faster. Doc’s seasoning blend is very unique, I need to mix up a batch to have on hand.

  5. I love your posts on cooking methods. Keep ’em coming. I have to say beer can chicken on the grill gets my vote. I do have a rotisserie and that chicken comes in a close second.

    • Good morning, Brian. I too think that Beer Can Chicken is the best. I do small turkeys on the rotisserie with great results but rarely chicken. I need to remember to do that!

  6. I have tried a number of methods for roasting chicken. I agree with what you said about the very popular “sticky” chicken. We don’t eat the skin, so for us that is OK, and I fill the cavity with onion. Also I cook the chicken at 350 usually and get a good result. I’ve tried several of the other methods, but for me it all depends on the seasoning I use on the outside. Lately I’ve been stuck on Papa’s Seasoning on the AR site. I need to try the beer can method. That will be my next venture. Most of all I agree with you that roast chicken is a total winner! Thanks for making me hungry!

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