Recipe first, tidbits second. Enjoy!


Carol the Cook’s Best Go to Whole Roast Chicken Recipe

Roast Chicken on Platter with Vegetables

A classic roast chicken ideal for weeknight dinners and fancy parties alike. While light on spices (just salt!) the celery stuffed inside the cavity acts as an aromatic and permeates the meat with flavor and moisture. Roast chicken doesn’t get any simpler or more delightful.

  • Author: Carol the Cook
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 90 minutes
  • Total Time: 95 minutes
  • Yield: 5 servings 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American


  • 1 (4 to 5 pound) whole chicken
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 2 tbsp butter, divided
  • 3 tsp salt


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place chicken in a large roasting pan.
  3. Chop celery stalk into 3 or 4 large pieces and stuff celery and 1 tablespoon of butter into chicken cavity.
  4. Generously salt outside and inside of chicken; place any extra salt in bottom of roasting pan.
  5. Divide remaining tablespoon of butter into 4 equal pieces; place pieces on chicken breasts and drumsticks.
  6. Roast chicken for 1 1/2 hours or until meat thermometer reads 165 degrees F when inserted into thickest part of chicken.
  7. Remove and let rest for 5 minutes; carve and serve.


  • Allowing meat to come to room temperature before cooking shortens cooking time and results in more even doneness.
  • Roast the chicken with the drumsticks facing the back of the oven – this prevents the breasts from drying out and ensures the chicken is evenly cooked throughout.

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This Recipe’s Roots

Roast chicken is a delightful, classic dish. It’s also incredibly economical.

When we moved back to Connecticut I quit my job and we bought a house, two things that dramatically affect the number of zeros in a bank account. Cutting monthly costs quickly became a priority and after housing, our greatest monthly expense was food.

We’d always eaten a lot of chicken but I was used to cooking precut chicken thighs (because dark meat is the tastiest, obviously). One afternoon at Costco I noticed whole chickens cost considerably less per pound than thighs so I started buying those instead and haven’t looked back.

This recipe evolved out of necessity and convenience. While other vegetables and spices may rotate through our kitchen, we always have celery, salt, and butter on hand so I used those ingredients. The fact that the meat is delicious by itself yet a perfectly neutral flavor to be added to other recipes like soups, curries, and chicken pot pies has made this my go to whole roast chicken recipe.

Taking a Closer Look

It’s amazing how little prep a roast chicken takes to prepare. A little chopping, a little sprinkling and voila, it’s ready for the oven.

I prefer to sprinkle the salt on with my fingers rather than a spoon – that way I have more control over where the salt lands and I find the texture entertaining.

90 minutes later and it’s ready to eat. Some people baste their chicken but with this recipe I don’t bother. By placing the pats on top to begin with it ensures an even coating of butter, resulting in a beautifully browned, crispy skin.

Why hello there sexy thang, fancy meeting you here.

To all of you non chicken skin eaters out there, what gives? What sort of a person doesn’t take pleasure in a generously salted, beautifully browned, slightly crispy piece of chicken skin?

If you’re worried it’s too unhealthy I’ve got news for you – chicken skin contains mostly unsaturated fat which is actually good for you. And while there’s some saturated fat in chicken skin, there’s new research casting doubt on the long held belief that saturated fat increases a person’s risk of heart disease. Here’s an explanation from Harvard if you don’t believe me.

Meanwhile just look at this bad boy waiting for you on the cutting board.

When people come over for parties and I’m making roast chicken they inevitably hang around the kitchen the whole time – not because they want to spend time with me but because they want that first bite of hot, salted chicken skin. Naturally as the cook you get first dibs and I highly encourage you to take full advantage. Consider it a service fee for preparing the meal.

Don’t worry, it’s not rude to take the first bite, you’re making sure it tastes okay for everyone else.

What I Like Most About This Recipe

I love how simple it is to prepare and how versatile the leftovers are. What started out as a money saving endeavor has morphed into a cornerstone of my cooking.

I put the leftovers in literally everything.

Chicken salad. Chef’s salad. Chicken slider sandwiches. Chicken Caesar salad. Chicken coconut curry. Chicken pot pie. Chicken enchiladas. Chicken pad Thai. You get the idea.

It’s always good to have cooked chicken on hand and this cooked chicken recipe is just the ticket.

Leftover Thoughts

Unlike steaks and seafood, roast chicken is very forgiving. If you cook it a little extra it will still taste great (though this recipe produces a wonderfully juicy bird). If this is your first time roasting a chicken, don’t worry! Use your meat thermometer to make sure the internal temp reaches at least 165 degrees F and you’re good to go. Once you get the hang of roasting a chicken you won’t even need the thermometer, you’ll be able to tell if it’s fully cooked just from the consistency of the meat when you slice into it.

There are some nights where all we eat for dinner is roast chicken. Seriously, it’s that good. But if you’re one of those people that needs a meat, a vegetable and a starch at every meal (looking at you Dad) then I recommend serving this chicken alongside roast vegetables (you’re already running the oven, might as well optimize) or a fresh salad.

Alone or dressed up with sides, this whole roast chicken is sure to delight.

I hope you enjoy!