Roast chicken is a staple of the modern diet and something that brings families closer together. With that said, there’s considerable confusion about how to cook it properly and for how long. In this post, we’re going to take a look at the different methods for roasting chicken as well as how to get perfectly crispy skin and oodles of flavour! By the end of this post, you will know exactly how long to cook a roast chicken for!
Perfect Roast Chicken, Every Time
Ever since medieval times, people have been roasting chickens in different ways to maximise the flavour. Over the centuries, they’ve developed a range of techniques, many of which depended on the available cooking devices. Are you wondering how long to cook a roast chicken for the perfect flavour? Read on to find out more.
Spit-Roasted Chicken Recipe
Spit-roasted chicken first gained notoriety in the courts of Henry VIII. Back then, people didn’t have fan-assisted ovens. Instead, they used spit roasting techniques to cook the bird and get as much flavour from it as possible. Of course, back then, a boy had to turn the spit by hand. Fortunately, with motorised versions, you don’t need to do that anymore.
Spit roasting chicken requires some specialist equipment, but trust us: it’s worth it. The Tudors certainly knew how to cook their meat. This method helps to retain the flavour of the chicken better than any other.
- Small to medium whole chicken (preferably organic and free-range)
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- ⅛ tsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp finely chopped tarragon
- 2 sprigs of fresh tarragon
- 4 ounces of unsalted butter
- Prepare your charcoal, gas or open wood fire and raise the temperature to about 400 F (205 C).
- Bank the coals or burning embers on both sides of the grille, parallel with the spit
- Put down a drip pan to collect the fat that will accumulate. Remove the grill grate if necessary and fill the drip pan half full with water to stop the oil from burning.
- Mix the tarragon butter by combining the chopped tarragon with the lemon juice and zest, 1 tsp of salt and ½ tsp of pepper. Mix with a fork until combined.
- Prepare the chicken for the grill by removing any giblets and excess fat in the body cavity. Then pat the chicken with a paper towel.
- Measure out 4 tbsps of tarragon butter and spread it over the surface of the chicken with your hands.
- Put a sprig of tarragon under each breast and then continue to massage the butter into the skin.
- Grab some twine and tie the legs together and tuck with wings behind the neck.
- Place the chicken on the spit and then turn on the motor. Cover the grill and spit roast the chicken for around 40 to 60 minutes.
- Use a thermometer to check that the temperature in the thigh is 170 F (75 C) at the end of cooking.
- Remove the chicken from the spit and serve on a carving board or platter. Melt and drizzle any remaining tarragon butter on top.
Oven-Roasted Chicken Recipe
Most people oven-roast their chickens – after all, it’s the most widespread appliance in the world. Here’s how to use it to do your chicken justice.
- 1.6 kg organic, free-range chicken
- 2 sticks of celery
- 2 lemon
- 1 bulb of garlic
- 2 medium onions
- Olive oil
- 2 carrots
- Fresh mixed herbs – bay, rosemary, thyme
Method – How Long to Cook a Roast Chicken
- Take the chicken out of the fridge and leave it to reach room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Set the oven to 240 C (475 F).
- Wash the vegetables and roughly chop. Break the garlic into cloves, leaving them unpeeled.
- Put all of the vegetables in the roasting tray and drizzle with olive oil. Then place the chicken on top and drizzle with more oil.
- Prick the lemon all over with a knife to make tiny holes and then insert it into the chicken’s cavity.
- Place the oven on a tray and pop in the oven, reducing the temperatures to 200 C (400 F). Leave for 1 hour, 20 minutes.
- Baste the chicken halfway through cooking with the chopped herbs. Add water to the tray if the vegetables look dry.
- Remove from the oven and leave on a board to rest for 15 minutes. Cover with tin foil while you make other parts of the meal, including gravy.
Slow Cooker Roast Chicken
Making roast chicken in the slow cooker is super simple! Here’s what do to:
- 1 small to medium-sized chicken, organic and free-range
- 1 large white onion
- 2 carrots, halved and chopped
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the slow cooker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Place the chopped carrot and onion on the base of the cooker and add 100 ml of water.
- In a bowl, combine the butter with salt and pepper to taste.
- Ease the skin on the breast of the chicken away from the muscle. Then push the butter mixture under the skin.
- Place the bay leaf in the chicken’s cavity and then lower the whole buttered chicken into the crockpot.
- Leave the chicken to cook for 5 hours. Check the chicken is cooked by wiggling one of the wings. If it is loose and easily comes away from the rest of the body, the chicken is nearly done.
- Turn the cooker on high heat for 30 minutes. Use a thermometer to check the temperature of the chicken at the thigh. It should be over 170 F or 75 C.
- You can either eat the chicken now or place it under the grill for a few minutes to crisp up the skin.
How Long to Cook a Roast Chicken in an Air Fryer
- Small to medium chicken, free-range and organic
- Cooking spray
- Preheat the air fryer to 180 C (350 F)
- Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and then rub in some salt with your hands, if you desire.
- Spray the air fryer with cooking spray.
- Spatchcock the chicken so that it fits flat in the pan.
- Place the chicken in the pan and cook it on one side for 30 minutes.
- Flip the chicken over and cook it on the other side for another 15 to 30 minutes until the meat is cooked and the liquids run clear.
- Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of the chicken. It should be over 170 F (75 C).
- Allow the chicken to rest for 15 minutes on a board before serving.
Skillet-roast chicken is similar in concept to regular oven-roasted chicken except here you’re placing the chicken in a cast-iron skillet to cook instead of a regular baking tray.
How To Get Crispy Skin On Roast Chicken
If you’ve ever been to a professional restaurant, you’ll know that they are the masters of making chicken skin crispy.
Here are some tips for ensuring that the skin your chicken has the perfect texture:
- Pat the chicken dry before cooking with a paper towel to remove excess moisture
- If slow-cooking the chicken, place under the grill at the end of cooking to crisp up the outside
- Choose a heavy roasting pan to retain and evenly distribute heat around the chicken
- Turn the temperature of your oven to a high setting for the final few minutes of cooking if roasting in the oven
- Leave the chicken to rest for a while to allow the liquids inside to settle back into the meat
Are you still stuck? Check out this video from the Denver Post on how to get that lovely, crisp skin:
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How To Keep Your Chicken Moist
Have you ever started tucking into what looks like a delicious roast chicken dinner, only to find the meat dry and stringy? If so, you’re not alone. But the good news is that dry meat is entirely avoidable. Here’s what to do:
- Overcooking chicken causes moisture to escape, leaving it tasting dry. Choose the oven temperature based on the weight of the bird. Use a thermometer to check when it is cooked.
- Use a deeper pot for cooking the chicken. Deep pans keep the majority of the cooking submerged, reducing moisture loss.
- Enhance the fat content of the bird by stuffing butter under the skin, (as described in the recipes above).
- Cook chicken from room temperature. Cooking from chilled or frozen causes damage to the bird at the cellular level that causes it to dry out during cooking rapidly.
- Apply a foil covering near the end of cooking to prevent the chicken from drying out
- Base the chicken in oil or butter while it is cooking to help distribute the juices evenly.
How To Get The Most Flavour From Chicken
Everything tastes like chicken – but it shouldn’t! Chicken should taste like chicken – and it certainly does when you cook it right. It’s just a question of bringing out the flavours. Here’s what to do:
- Dry rub the chicken with a salt-based seasoning, such as lemon pepper or Tuscan salt. The sodium content will help to make the meat taste juicier.
- Stuff the chicken cavity with fruit, particularly whole lemons, to impart greater flavour
- Let the chicken marinate overnight to ensure that herbs, spices, fats and oils can penetrate the meat
- Invest in a cooking thermostat so that you can tell when your chicken is cooked without ripping it open
- Soak your chicken in a saltwater brine and place it in the refrigerator before cooking. Brining helps to hydrate the muscle cells in chicken meat, making them moister
- Add oils and herbs to the skin of the chicken. Stud it with peppercorns, rosemary, thyme, or cloves of garlic
If you’ve found this article on ‘How Long To Cook A Roast Chicken’ useful, then check out our other useful tips here.