No-Fail Roast Chicken


  • 1 (3-4 pound) whole chicken, patted dry
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lemon, halved crosswise, seeds removed
  • 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise (no need to remove peel)
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, or olive oil

Cooking Instructions

Step 1: Arrange a rack in center of oven; preheat to 425 degrees F.  With chicken breast facing up and legs pointing toward you, use a sharp knife to slice through loose area of skin draped between leg and breast, making about a 3″-long incision.  Continue cutting downward until you hit the joint that connects  the thigh to the body, then stop (once you get through the skin, there’s not much there; if you are cutting through flesh, you’re too close to the breast).  Exposing the leg joint makes it easy to tell if chicken is cooked and encourages hot air to circulate to thickest part of chicken.  Repeat on second side.

Step 2: Season every single surface of chicken, including skin along backbone, cavity, under wings, and inside part of the leg you just exposed, with lots of salt and pepper.  If you’re using Kosher salt, it should take you 4-5 generous pinches.

Step 3: Transfer chicken, breast side up, to a large skillet.  Arrange lemon and garlic cut sides down in skillet around chicken.  Drizzle chicken with butter and transfer to oven.  Roast in center of oven until chicken is nicely browned and cooked through, checking for doneness after 45 minutes.  To check, remove skillet from oven, poke a knife into leg joints, and pierce the meat.  If juices run clear, chicken is done.  If you see a rosy pink color, it needs more time.  Continue to roast, checking every 5 minutes, until juices run clear.  (If you are not sure, you can also use the knife to lightly shred some of the meat along the thigh bone – the meat should look opaque and the fibers should separate easily.)

Step 4: Let chicken rest in skillet at least 15 minutes before carving.  Transfer chicken to a platter.  Top with pan juices and serve with roasted lemon and garlic alongside.

Do Ahead: Chicken can be make 2 days ahead.  Let cool.  Cover and chill; bring to room temperature before serving.

Enjoy this no-fail roast chicken from BonAppetit!