A roasted chicken is one of those easy-but-great meals, perfect for the cooler season: the oven does all the work, but when you bring that beautifully golden chicken to the table on a platter, you’ll feel like you did something amazing. Plus, you can use the leftovers for lots of great lunchbox-filling salads, wraps, and soups!
Sharp knife (adult needed)
Rimmed baking sheet
Meat thermometer (if you have one)
- 1 (5-pound) whole roaster chicken*
- 3 whole carrots, scrubbed
- 3 whole celery stalks
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 lemon, cut in quarters
Turn the oven on and set the heat to 450 degrees.
Take the chicken out of its package. Remove the giblets and neck from the chicken cavity. (Yes, this step can be kind of gross). Unless there’s someone at home who wants to use them, throw them away.
Put the carrots and celery in the center of the baking sheet, forming a rack. Put the chicken on the carrot-and-celery rack and rub it with the salt and pepper. Put the lemon quarters in the cavities, which are the openings in the front and back of the chicken. Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water after handling raw chicken!
Once the oven temperature has reached 450 degrees, carefully put the baking sheet in the oven.
After 1 hour and 10 minutes have passed, take the chicken out of the oven to test for doneness. If you are using a meat thermometer, stick the sharp part deep into the inner thigh: the chicken is done when the thermometer reads 165 degrees. If you do not have a meat thermometer, you can tell when the chicken is done with one of these tests: Poke the thigh with a sharp knife and look at the juice that runs out; it should be clear (not pink); Or, wiggle the leg, which should move easily. If it’s not done, put the chicken back in the oven and test it again after 15 minutes.
Let the chicken rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes before carving it.
NOTE: If your chicken is less than 5 pounds, you will need to cook it for less time, averaging about 12 minutes per pound.
Hungarian: Sprinkle the chicken with 2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika before roasting.
Italian: Add 1 sprig fresh rosemary and 2 chopped garlic cloves to the cavity before roasting.
Fruity: Use a cut-up orange, apple, or onion to fill the cavity, instead of a lemon.
Herby: Add a combination of herbs (thyme, rosemary, parsley, marjoram, and/or sage) to the cavity before roasting.
DID YOU KNOW?
The technical name for the wishbone is the furcula, which means “little fork” in Latin. It’s formed by the joining of the two clavicles (collar bones) and helps make the bird’s skeleton strong enough for flying.