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Simple Dry Brine Oven Roast Chicken Recipe

Roast chicken used to be a staple of the home cooks repertoire. Today however, we have a surplus of take home rotisserie chickens on store shelves threatening this right of passage for home cooks. While it is easy to just pop into a store and pick up a bird, you will never get the same depth and flavors from roasting a chicken yourself. 

What is a Roast Chicken?

Roast chicken is a preparation of chicken cooked with dry heat, often in an oven but could be over fire or on a grill as well. 

Finished oven roasted whole chicken recipe in a bed of vegetables

Our Approach to Roast Chicken

We approach roast chicken much like we approach Thanksgiving Turkey, brine it, butter it, high heat to brown, and low heat to finish. 

What Makes a Good Roast Chicken

Moisture is the thing that makes chicken. Juicy and tender chicken is all about keeping the moisture in the bird. We achieve this through the process of dry-brining our bird and buttering it up before cooking. In dry-brining we rub down the chicken with salt and sugar for a few days prior to cooking. This process will break down the muscle fibers in the chicken and help the juice stay in the meat. 

The Challenge with Roast Chicken

Roast chicken should be easy, the only thing that is a challenge is finding the time to prep. If you can manage to plan out a few days ahead of when you intend to do your roast that is all you need for some truly delicious chicken.

Developing Flavors

Raw whole chicken being filled with spices before baking

The best ways to add flavor to your chicken are to add fat water soluble flavors to your brine, fat soluble flavors to the butter mixture, or high heat resistant ingredients like spices or minerals to the outside skin. 

  1. Water Soluble
    1. Fresh rosemary
    2. Fresh thyme
    3. Fresh sage 
    4. Other fresh herbs, do not use dried as it will pull water out of the meat. 
  2. Fat Soluble
    1. Crushed or diced garlic 
  3. Heat Resistant
    1. Pepper
    2. Chile
    3. Salt
    4. Paprika
    5. Other spices 

What Pairs with Roast Chicken?

Roast potatoes and vegetables are probably the two most common sides for your roast chicken dinner. You can even add them to the bottom of the pan and cook everything at once to save time and energy. 

Whole chicken roasting in an oven

Tools Required

We recommend you use a roasting pan and rack but if you do not have one any deep rimmed baking sheet will work fine. 

Finished oven roasted whole chicken recipe in a bed of vegetables

Oven Roasted Whole Chicken

Yield: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 2 days
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 days 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke (optional but recommended)

Instructions

  1. Remove the neck and innards if they are stuffed inside the chicken
  2. Mix salt, sugar, and liquid smoke to form dry brine
  3. Apply 50% of the brine under the skin directly on the meat
  4. Rub rest of brine on chicken
  5. Dry brine chicken for 2-3 days recommended
  6. Bring chicken to room temp (1-4 hours)
  7. Preheat oven for 425F
  8. Bake for 10 minutes or until top if browned
  9. Reduce heat to 300F cook until 145 (about 1 hour) and then cook 10 minutes more

Nathaniel Lee is an avid cook, drawing on his decades of home cooking and fine dining experience. With inspirations like Alton Brown and Gordon Ramsey, Nathaniel focuses on simple processes to make amazing food.