If you are looking for the BEST and EASIEST roast chicken then you have found it! Sprinkle with salt, let it rest, and then into a screamingly hot cast iron skillet. Juicy, flavorful, and cooks in less than an hour. Sunday dinner, here we come.
Planning a small holiday dinner or maybe you’re looking for slam dunk Sunday dinner? Then making roast chicken is the perfect solution.
However, some recipes are fussy or the meat ends up dry or you don’t get the browned skin. And I want it all – easy, juicy, browned. A roast I can be proud to put on the table any time of year.
It took me awhile of testing different ideas (what temperature? do I need to salt? roasting pan or skillet?), but I’ve got it now. The BEST and JUICIEST and EASIEST. This is it!
What do you need?
Just a couple of ingredients if you only want to make the chicken, a few more if you decide to make the gravy too!
- Roast Chicken
- Whole Chicken – 4/5 Pounds.
- Seasoning – Salt&Pepper and dried herbs if you want them.
- Stock – Either store bought or homemade (from the giblets).
- Cornstarch – A couple of tablespoons for thickener.
- White Wine – The secret of a tasty pan gravy!
- Seasoning – More salt&pepper and dried herbs.
How to make this
To make cast iron roast chicken salt and pepper it all over and let it sit in the fridge for up to a day. Then heat the oven to 500F and put into a hot skillet. Roast until browned then lower the heat and continue roasting until the thighs read 160F.
Note: Only do this if you have an ‘all natural’ chicken which has not been injected with salt solution or koshered.
Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of kosher salt along with some black pepper all over the skin and into the cavity. Let the chicken sit uncovered in a roasting pan in the fridge for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. I like to do this in the evening after dinner so it will rest until the next evening.
Pull the chicken out of the fridge and let it hang out on the counter for about an hour. Move your oven rack to the bottom middle position.
Heat the oven to 500F along with your cast iron pan (12 inch size is about perfect!). Once everything is fully heated – I like to give it about 30 minutes – put the chicken into the hot pan and let it roast for 15 minutes.
Now reduce the heat to 325F and roast until the thighs read 160F. This will take 20-30 minutes for a 4-5 lb roast.
Take the finished roast out of the oven. Tip it up so the juices run out of the cavity then put it on a rimmed baking sheet or cutting board with a well to rest. Once rested, carve it up.
Tip: Here is a good video on carving a chicken.
Now this is optional, but I do love gravy and mashed potatoes with roast chicken!
If you are making your own stock, take out the giblets and brown them in a pan. Add 3 cups of water, bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer/steam for about an hour. Add ~1 tsp kosher salt, then strain, and you have stock. You can do this any time while you’re brining or resting the chicken. Or pick up a container at the store! Sometimes I don’t have giblets or don’t feel like dealing with them.
Once you have your pan drippings, put the skillet on the stove and bring to a boil. Add some white wine and cook it down. Mix cornstarch with some of the stock and pour that in, whisking vigorously. Now add the rest of the stock while whisking until you get the consistency you want. Season to taste and you have gravy!
If you try my recipe for Cast Iron Roast Chicken, I would love to hear from you in the comments with your experience and rating! And I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.
– Stay Safe, Annemarie
Cast Iron Roast Chicken
- 4-5 lb whole chicken
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1-2 tsp dried herbs
- 1/2 cup white wine, or vermouth
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 2-3 cups chicken stock, low or no sodium
- kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1 tsp dried sage or poultry seasoning
- Brine: If you are going to brine, take out the chicken either the night before or in the morning. Remove it from the packaging and sprinkle a mix of salt and pepper over the outside and in the cavity. Let the chicken sit uncovered in a baking dish in the refrigerator.
- Prep: Approximately one hour before you are going to start roasting, take the chicken out of the refrigerator and put it on the counter. If you didn't brine, sprinkle the chicken with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle with the herbs of your choice.
- Heat: Move a rack to middle low position and put your 12 inch cast iron skillet in the oven. Heat oven to 500F.
- Roast: Carefully transfer the chicken to the hot skillet breast side up. Roast for 15 minutes at 500F. Then reduce the heat to 325F and roast for 20-30 minutes more, or until the thighs read ~160F with an instant read thermometer.
- Rest: Remove from the oven and tip the roast so that the juices run out of the cavity and into the skillet. Transfer it to a platter or large cutting board with a well around the edge. While it is resting, make the gravy.
- Carve: Cut into serving sized pieces and serve.
- Make Stock: If you wish to make your own stock, take giblets from the package and saute them in a hot saucepan until browned. Then add 3 cups water to the pan, bring to a boil, and let gently simmer/steam for 1-2 hours.
- Make Gravy: Take the skillet with pan drippings, put it on the stove, and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Add the white wine and boil for 1-2 minutes.
- Mix the cornstarch with 1 cup of the stock. Pour this into skillet and whisk briskly. Once it starts to thicken, begin adding some of the remaining stock. Add and whisk until your gravy is the consistency of heavy cream. You may not need all the stock. (It will thicken more as it cools.)
- Add salt, pepper, and other seasonings to taste.
- Brining: For the best tasting and juiciest meat take 5 minutes to salt either in the morning or the night before. (Also, crispier skin since brining will allow the chicken to dry out before you pop it in the oven.) You can skip it but I do highly recommend it.
- Check Your Label: Don't salt (either brining or just before roasting) if you have a kosher chicken or one which has been injected with salt solution.
- Prep Time: The active time is about 10 minutes - to unwrap and salt. The rest of the time is let it warm up on the counter (and brine in the fridge).
- Dried Herbs: Use the herbs of your choosing (or skip if you want). I like Bell's Poultry Seasoning. Other options are thyme, sage, oregano, and/or rosemary.