How To Roast a Chicken without Burning Down the House {Recipe}

Roast chicken with veggies is one of our favorite family meals. It is delicious, comforting, and a classic. It’s even a great dish to serve at a dinner party. Any cook worth her weight needs to know how to roast a chicken.


The good news is that even the laziest, most inexperienced cook can roast a chicken if they follow a few simple guidelines.

1. Season the bird really well.

2. Keep it moist.

3. Don’t burn the house down.

See. It’s the perfect dish for the aiming low-er.

But first, a chicken lesson from Julia Child. Meet the Chicken Sisters…

And, that is why Julia is America’s most beloved chef. OK, back to roasting a chicken. Here’s the cast…



Whole Chicken {4-5 pounds}

Potatoes, cut into wedges

Onions, cut into wedges

7 garlic cloves, whole and peeled

Carrots, sliced into chunks

Olive Oil, 2-3 Tbsp

2 lemons

Fresh Thyme

Kosher salt



The first thing you want to do is select a chicken to be your guinea pig. If this is your first chicken roasting experience, I suggest choosing a smaller bird. It’s easier to cook evenly. Start out with a 4 to 5 pound bird. Here’s our little lovely…


Mike–that’s my husband–thinks it’s funny to make the chicken dance around. Men.

Once your chicken has done a little jig, then it’s time for a bath. Remove the giblet bag from the cavity {if there is one–sometimes there is not}. Rinse the entire chicken inside and out with cold water. Then, pat the entire chicken dry. Do not skip this step. The chicken must be dry.

After the spa treatment, liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Squeeze lots of lemon juice inside the chicken.


Stuff the chicken with several sprigs of fresh thyme, 2 garlic cloves and the leftover lemon halves that you squeezed into the chicken.


Liberally season the outside of the chicken with salt and pepper. Do not add any oil or anything else to the skin. This will give you {I mean, the chicken} crispy, delicious skin.


Using kitchen twine, tie the two legs together. It’s like the chicken version of a chastity belt.


Tuck the wing tips under the chicken.


Now, to the veggies. Lay them in a single layer in a roasting pan. Add the rest of the garlic cloves, some thyme sprigs, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Then, place the chicken in the roasting pan–either right on top of the veggies or on a rack that sits in the pan.


Roast at 400 degrees for 1.5 to 2 hours until your chicken is browned and lovely. About halfway through the cooking process, stir the veggies around.


Serve with the roasted vegetables…



How to know when your chicken is done:

1. A thermometer reads 165 degrees when inserted between the leg and breast.

2. Wiggle the leg. If it pulls apart from the rest of the chicken, it is done.

3. It’s not bloody. No seriously. Prick the chicken. If the juices are clear, then it is done. It it pours blood, then it’s not.

Until next time, “Bon Appétit!”

About Piera

Piera Jolly is a thirty-something wife, mother, blogger, aspiring cookbook author and wannabe photographer living in Atlanta, Georgia. You can find Piera on her popular mom blog where she writes about the latest trends for moms and kids, crafts, and recipes. You can find Piera tweeting as @jollymom or on Facebook as TheJollyMom.


  1. Penbleth says:

    Yum. Hard to beat a well roasted chicken, except with a rolling pin.

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  2. Megan says:

    Perdue makes this chicken that you roast in a bag and it is to die for. Best roast chicken ever. And all you have to do is stick it in the oven and take it when time’s up.

    I aim to aim lower. ;)

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  3. Ingrid Wiese says:

    I went to culinary school for six months and cook three meals a day for my family, yet roast chicken has always intimidated me. It’s the inside goo that always confused. But you made it look so simple and I’m feeling inspired. i may even try it for Sunday dinner this week. Thanks for the tips.

  4. Amy says:

    I could do that!! Thanks :)

  5. Kristina says:

    The bed of vegetables has a fringe benefit: chickens are rather fatty, so a layer of veg below the roasting rack keeps the fat from dripping onto a bare pan and burning. This burning fat action will smoke up an entire townhouse and set off all the smoke alarms in the complex. (No, really. You can ask all the potential buyers that came to my open house.)

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