Whole Roasted Chicken

5 from 2 votes

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Making a Whole Roasted Chicken is easier than most people might think. It just takes a few simple ingredients to create a really flavorful and moist chicken.

A whole roasted chicken in a cast iron skillet resting on a white and black towel.
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This roasted chicken recipe is tried and true and you are going to love it. It’s simple but it turns out full of flavor and moist each time I make it. I love cooking chicken like this for easy family dinners because it takes very little hands-on time and my whole family loves it.

Add some crispy roasted potatoes, baked sweet potatoes or roasted carrots and a chef’s salad for the perfect meal. 

Close-up of a whole roasted chicken in a cast iron skillet.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Easy prep with very little hands-on time to roast a chicken this way.
  • The ingredients are simple pantry staples. 
  • It’s high in protein and you can make bone broth with the carcass and bones.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Whole raw chicken: Look for one that’s between 4 and 5 pounds. Buy a chicken with the skin on for best results.
  • Onion, carrots, and celery: These will hold your chicken up off the bottom of the pan. 
  • Salt and pepper: You’ll be using plenty of them to ensure the chicken is full of flavor.
  • Garlic, onion powder and smoked paprika: These simple spices add tons of flavor to the chicken without being overbearing.

See the recipe card below for full information on ingredients and quantities.

All of the ingredients to roast a whole chicken on a wooden cutting board including carrots, celery, onions, spices, and a whole raw chicken.

How to Make a Whole Roasted Chicken

Carrots, celery, and onions roughly chopped and in the bottom of a cast iron pan.

Step #1. Create the “rack” to keep your chicken off the bottom of your pan by cutting up an onion and a few carrots and stalks of celery.

Clear glass bowl with the seasoning for the recipe in it.

Step #2. Prepare the chicken by patting it dry with a paper towel and removing the neck and any other pieces in the cavity. Then, combine the seasonings in a small bowl.

A hand rubbing the spice mixture onto the skin of a whole raw chicken.

Step #3. Rub the spice blend evenly all over the outside of the chicken. The, place the chicken on top of the vegetables in the pan breast side down. 

A whole raw chicken in cast iron skillet ready to be roasted in the oven.

Step #4. Roast the whole chicken at 400 degrees F for 80 to 100 minutes (depending on size). Remove the cooked chicken from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes before serving. 

Recipe FAQs

How do I know when the chicken is done?

The chicken will be done when an instant read thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of the thigh and registers 165 degrees F. Don’t let the thermometer touch the bone because it will throw off the reading. 

Can I make chicken gravy after roasting a whole chicken? 

Yes! Chicken gravy is a wonderful addition to this hearty meal and a great way to repurpose the juices that collect in the bottom of the pan. Learn more about how to make chicken gravy here. 

How long does it take to roast a whole chicken?

It depends on the size of the bird. It’s generally recommended that you roast a chicken for 20 minutes per pound at 400 degrees F. So a 5-pound chicken would take 1 hour and 40 minutes. But be sure to check the internal temperature. 

Can I use an electric roaster instead of a cast iron pan?

Yes. The skin on your chicken probably won’t be as crispy but an electric roaster will also work. You can also use a 9×13 inch baking dish or a large oval one. 

Roasted chicken cut in pieces on white plate with a fork.

Expert Tips

  • If the chicken you bought is frozen, allow the frozen bird to fully thaw in the fridge before cooking. This may take three to five days. 
  • Make sure that the internal temperature of your chicken has reached 165 degrees F before removing it from the oven. Use an instant read thermometer to check the doneness of the chicken if you can. 
  • Roasting a whole chicken generally takes 20 minutes per pound at 400 degrees F. If you are in between pounds, it’s best to round up and cook the chicken for the longer amount of time. 
  • After carving the chicken, reserve the carcass and bones for making chicken stock. Or, throw the carcass in a freezer zip-top bag and make it another day. 
  • Roast the chicken breast-side down. This isn’t the traditional position, but it’s going to help keep the breast meat from drying out and overcooking before the legs and thighs are cooked through.
The carrots, celery, and onions in the bottom of the cast iron pan after the chicken was roasted.

How to Carve a Whole Roasted Chicken

  1. Use a long sharp knife to carve your chicken.
  2. Start by slicing through the joint where the chicken thigh meets the body. Repeat with the other thigh.
  3. Cut through the joint where the leg meats the thigh. Set the two thighs and the two legs on a serving plate.
  4. Flip the chicken over and find the line going down the middle of the chicken, between the breast. This is the breastbone. Place your knife to one side of, and parallel to, the breastbone and slice, following the bottom of the breast meat, until the meat is fully removed. Repeat on the other side. Place the breast meat on the serving plate.
  5. Serve these main pieces of meat. You can use your fingers to hand pick the rest of the meat from the bone. These smaller pieces are great for making classic chicken noodle  soup, creamy chicken noodle soup or chicken pot pie

More Easy Dinner Recipes to Consider

whole roasted chicken in cast iron skillet
5 from 2 votes

Whole Roasted Chicken

Quick and easy roasted chicken is a staple recipe that you should know how to make! It comes together fast, is made with simple ingredients, and the chicken is so moist.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 8


  • one whole chicken, (4-5 pounds)
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 large ribs of celery
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
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  • Move your oven rack to the lowest position in the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 
  • Prepare the onion by cutting the root and stem end off and removing the outer layer of peel. Slice into 3-4 large rounds. 
  • Prepare the carrots and celery by washing well and cutting into 3-4 inch pieces. It’s OK to leave the stems and leaves on, no issues there.
  • Place the onion, carrots, and celery in a single layer on the bottom of a large cast iron skillet or a baking dish (you can use a 9×13 inch baking dish or a large oval one). The vegetables will act like a rack to keep the chicken off the bottom of the pan. 
  • Prepare the chicken by removing it from any packaging. Remove any neck pieces from the cavity of the chicken if needed and set aside (I save them to make broth). 
  • Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.
  • In a small bowl, combine the salt, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, and pepper. Stir to combine.
  • Rub the spice mixture evenly all over the outside of the chicken. Use all of the spice mixture to do this. 
  • Place the chicken on top of the vegetables in the pan – breast side down.  This will help keep the breast meat from drying out and overcooking before the legs and thighs are cooked through.
  • Bake the chicken in the hot oven until the chicken reaches 165 degrees F in the thickest part of the breast and thigh. This will take about 20 minutes of cooking time, per pound of chicken. So a 4-5 pound chicken will roughly take 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 40 minutes to cook through. 
  • When the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the oven. 
  • Allow the chicken to cool for 10 minutes before serving the chicken. I like to cut the chicken into pieces on a cutting board before taking it to the table to serve. 
  • The juices from the chicken left in the pan, combined with the roasted vegetables, make for a very flavorful liquid (often called drippings). You can serve these drippings to dip your chicken in or you can turn them into a simple gravy.


  • Make sure the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F before removing it from the oven. A whole chicken won’t increase in temperature like other cuts of meat during the rest time because of the large cavity in the middle. 
  • The skin of the chicken should be crispy when the chicken is cooked through. If the skin looks like it’s cooking too fast and the meat isn’t done yet, cover the chicken with foil to prevent the skin from over cooking while the meat finishes cooking. 
  • Use the carcass and bones leftover to make chicken bone broth in the next few days or throw them in a zip-top bag and store it in the freezer for three to six months. 
  • You can use a fresh or frozen whole chicken for this recipe. If your chicken is frozen, move it from the freezer to the fridge a few days before you want to roast it so it can thaw.  
  • When it comes to the number of servings, it depends on what you are serving it with. If you are using this for your Thanksgiving meal this year with lots of sides, you can plan on it feeding about 8 people. If you are doing just a couple sides like some mashed potatoes and a green salad, plan on the chicken feeding closer to 6 people.


Serving: 1 of 8 servings, Calories: 283kcal, Carbohydrates: 5g, Protein: 23g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 92mg, Sodium: 398mg, Potassium: 363mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 3471IU, Vitamin C: 5mg, Calcium: 31mg, Iron: 1mg
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1 Comment

  1. Erika says:

    5 stars
    Oh my Melissa, this recipe looks simple yet amazing! I can’t wait to try it out for thanksgiving since my family doesn’t like turkey. Thank you for sharing 🙏🏼 Happy holidays 😊