A flavorful roast chicken is a quintessential holiday or family meal. While each chef may have his own preferred roasting method, many people agree that the finished meal should remain juicy and moist. There are several different techniques you can use to keep your whole chicken moist while roasting it. Brining it beforehand, adding seasonings underneath the skin and basting it will all help the bird achieve the desired moistness. The length of time you roast it and wait to carve it once it is finished are also key components.
Things You'll Need
- Roasting pan
- Meat thermometer
Place the whole chicken in a large bowl and cover it with cold water. Add 3/4 lb. of table salt for each gallon of water you used. Let the chicken brine for 4 to 12 hours in the refrigerator.
Place the chicken in a roasting pan and season it. Grasp the edge of the skin by the cavity and pull it up to insert butter and other seasonings under the skin. You may wish to use black pepper, cloves of garlic, salt and rosemary.
Cover the roasting pan. While some chefs prefer to roast a whole chicken uncovered, using the cover may help to lock in juices and keep the bird moist.
Take the bird out of the oven several times while it roasts to baste it. Use a baster to suction juices from the bottom of the roasting pan and distribute them over the bird.
Avoid overcooking the chicken, which will decrease its moistness. A 5 to 7 lb. whole chicken should roast at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about two hours or perhaps 15 minutes longer. The internal temperature must be at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. When checking the internal temperature, insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, which is close to the body. This ensures the temperature has sufficiently risen in all parts of the bird. Do not insert the thermometer next to bone or into fat, because this will affect the accuracy of the reading.
Take the chicken out of the oven and let it rest for 5 to 30 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to distribute evenly throughout the bird, which will increase its moistness.
Tips & Warnings
- Always insert a meat thermometer into the bird to check the temperature. Insert a standard meat thermometer before cooking, which can withstand high temperatures. Or you may use an instant read thermometer, which you should never place in the oven.
- What's Cooking America: Brining Chicken
- "Fine Cooking"; Roast Chicken Made Better, Start to Finish; Beth Dooley, et al.;
- "Everyday Health"; Keep It Lean: How to Cook Meat and Fish; Julie Davis; Feb. 2010
- Purdue University: Cooking Meat and Poultry
- South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control: Prepare Meat, Eggs and Fish Safely
- Ochef: How to Keep Chicken Moist
- Photo Credit Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images
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