How to roast a chicken: 7 all-star recipes

Roasted Chicken Legs with Fennel and Arugula Salad
(Jennifer Chong / For The Times; Prop Styling / Kate Parisan.)

Whole, spatchcocked or in pieces: It’s all delicious


A relatively hands-off way to cook chicken is to roast it, bone-in. There are three ways to approach this, each of which has its advantages. Leaving the bird whole makes an impressive presentation at the table and once carved, allows for the meat to be served without the bones. Spatchcocked (aka butterflied), the bird cooks more evenly and in less time, which comes in handy when you want it fast. Starting with pre-cut pieces makes serving easier and for some, eliminates the need to figure out how to carve a whole or butterflied bird without (pardon the pun) butchering it.

If you’re going the whole bird route, Zuni Cafe Roast Chicken with Bread Salad may forever change the way you make chicken. One tablespoon of medium-grain sea salt per 4 1/2 pounds of meat may sound like overkill, but salting the chicken 1 to 3 days ahead of time (and storing, lightly covered in the fridge) elicits a full, deep flavor and moist, tender meat that has a profound chicken taste. Doused with pan drippings, the bread is also intensely chicken flavored.

A roasted Whole Chicken with Cauliflower makes a vibrant tableside presentation, especially if you use a variety of colorful vegetables that are now so readily available. The earthiness of the chicken and the sweetness from the caramelized carrots bring out the subtle flavor of the cauliflower.


A Peruvian classic, Pollo A La Brasa marinates overnight to absorb the intense flavors of the soy sauce- and gochujang-based marinade spiked with ginger, garlic, herbs and spices. A little more than an hour in the oven and you have an umami-rich showpiece for your table.

In case you haven’t noticed a theme here, one road to a successful roast chicken is to season or marinate it well in advance of cooking it. Roasted Chicken and Potatoes with Salsa Verde also taps into this technique. Let the seasoned chicken rest in the fridge for up to 2 days. When you are ready to slide it into the oven, toss some potatoes in the pan so that they cook in and absorb all of the goodness that drips out of the chicken. Served with a piquant salsa verde, it makes for a tasty, relatively quick weeknight meal.

It is easier than you think to spatchcock a chicken, and full instructions are included in the recipe for Dry Spice Butterflied Chicken, but feel free to have your butcher do it for you to save a little time. The dry spices generate a lot of flavor without adding moisture which allows the skin to get extra crispy.

If you prefer to work with chicken parts, Chicken Roasted on Bread with Fennel-Arugula Salad will reward your minimal effort with astonishingly spectacular results. The bread absorbs the juices from the chicken, and the exposed parts of the bread get crispy while the parts directly beneath the chicken become rich, moist and chewy. The dish is a total texture bomb. The lemon in the salad dressing balances the pepperiness of the arugula with the earthiness of the chicken.


Roast Chicken with Thyme and Honey is made by nestling chicken parts in a bed of aromatic fresh herbs and root vegetables that soak up the juices and caramelize in the honey glaze. Flavorful and easy to make, this dish is as suitable for a holiday celebration as it is for a casual, weeknight meal.

Roasted Chicken and Potatoes with Salsa Verde

A pre-salted bird makes fast work of this relaxed roast chicken dinner with potatoes and herby salsa verde.
Time1 hour
YieldsServes 4

Zuni Cafe roast chicken with bread salad

The flavor of this chicken is full and deep. It's not salty at all, but has a profound chicken taste. The meat is moist and tender; the texture buttery.
Time1 hour 10 minutes
YieldsServes 2 to 4

Pollo a la Brasa

An umami-rich marinade of soy sauce and spices imbues intense flavor into a whole roast chicken in this Peruvian classic.
Time1 hour 30 minutes
YieldsServes 2 to 3 as a main course

Roasted Chicken and Bread with Fennel-Arugula Salad

Breads roasts under chicken legs to become crispy and saturated in chicken juices in this one-pot dish.
Time1 hour
YieldsServes 4

Roast Chicken With Thyme and Honey

Jewish cookbook author Leah Koenig uses a mix of fresh herbs and aromatic vegetables to soak up the drippings as the chicken roasts and the honey caramelizes. It's divine!
Time55 minutes
YieldsServes 6

Roast whole chicken with cauliflower

The earthy notes of the chicken, the caramelized carrots and the crunchy hazelnuts bring out the subtle flavor of the cauliflower.
Time2 hours 15 minutes
YieldsServes 6

Dry Spice Butterflied Chicken

A chicken that's been butterflied roasts more evenly and has crispier skin, which is the best part.
Time1 hour 15 minutes
YieldsServes 4