Simple and Crispy Whole Roasted Chicken with Garlic and Herbs

A crispy, whole roasted chicken.

What is better than a juicy, tender, and crispy whole roasted chicken? Not much, I’d wager! I’d honestly take a roast chicken over baked or grilled chicken breasts any day. First of all, the applications are endless! You can use the meat in soups, pot pie, on top of a salad, in a sandwich, or on it’s own. Also, if you’re like us and you’re just serving one or two people, a whole chicken can give you leftovers for several days. Finally, there is just something endlessly classy about serving a whole roasted chicken as the main event of a meal.

Unfortunately though, many people seem to be quite intimidated by roasting a whole bird, and I totally get that. When I set out to roast my first one, I felt like it was going to be this incredibly complex process. However, I was surprised to learn that it’s actually very simple. I am now an unabashed whole chicken evangelist (ok, I realize that sounds odd :D). That’s why I’m here to show you how easy it is to make the perfect oven-roasted chicken every time.

Herbs in a mortar and pestle.

How we do it:

We start out with a high-quality bird from a reputable source. When we can’t get our hands on local meat, we’ve been very happy with Whole Foods selections. Then, we create an herb rub using flavorful fresh sage and thyme (shout out to Ryan’s homegrown herbs!) crushed up with flaky sea salt and crushed black pepper. We then rub that savory goodness all over the skin of our whole chicken, place it in a pan, drizzle it with a little melted butter (oh yeah…), nestle in a halved head of garlic alongside it, and roast that deliciousness for about 45 minutes.

Why it works:

The key to roasting a chicken successfully is getting the right proportions of crispiness and tenderness, while adding flavor that enhances the natural savoriness of the chicken but doesn’t overwhelm it. By patting the chicken dry and seasoning it with a salt-based spice rub, the skin of our chicken gets very dry. Then, adding the butter creates even more opportunities for the skin to caramelize, making it extremely crispy.

Next, nestling the garlic underneath the chicken doesn’t overpower it with garlic flavor that’s too strong. I’ve often found that putting garlic directly on the chicken skin can sometimes disrupt the complexity of the other herbs and spices you’ve added. Tucking the garlic head underneath the chicken infuses the pan juices and steam with flavor, and gently seasons the meat.

Putting herb rub on chicken
Adding garlic to roasted chicken.

The real key, though, is simplicity. There’s no need to make things more complicated than they need to be. Simplicity is arguably the most amazing thing about roast chicken, so we’re not going to do anything to mess with that. Using just a few, impactful ingredients can create an elegant, elevated dish that will be sure to impress both you and any dinner guests you might have.

A few quick notes about equipment for this whole roasted chicken:

We use a mortar and pestle to create our spice rubs. We highly recommend you do the same and promise that your kitchen game will be vastly elevated if you have these on hand. You’ll be surprised where they come in handy and how often you’ll use them. Here’s a great, affordable option:

We also recommend switching to cast iron for your roasting needs. Cast iron is porous, which allows it to hold onto flavor spectacularly well. It also cooks much more evenly than other options. Don’t be scared off by seasoning and maintaining them. They’re actually much easier to clean and maintain than stainless steal or glass baking pans. I have a full set of really nice, stainless steel cookware that I hardly ever use because my cast iron skillet is my only love. They also last a literal lifetime! Here’s the one that we use:

And that’s it! Whether it’s a holiday dinner or the star of your chicken sandwich, we’re sure you’ll love this recipe like we do.

For more holiday recipes and meal ideas, check out our Holiday Comfort Food Roundup.

Carving a whole roasted chicken.

Simple and Crispy Whole Roasted Chicken with Garlic and Fresh Herbs

The best, simplest, whole roasted chicken rubbed in fresh sage and thyme, flaky sea salt, and cracked black pepper. It's also drizzled in melted butter and roasted alongside a whole head of garlic for an easy, but extra classy meal for any occasion.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Resting Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
Course: Main Course, Entree, Basic Ingredient
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free
Keyword: holiday recipes, simple whole roasted chicken, crispy roasted chicken, roasted chicken, oven roasted chicken, baked whole chicken, easy baked chicken recipes, easy holiday recipes, easy christmas recipes, christmas dinner ideas, whole roasted chicken, whole chicken, whole chicken recipes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 346kcal
Author: LM
Cost: $12-$15

Equipment

  • A mortar and pestle is very helpful for this recipe, but is not necessary.
  • A cast iron pan is helpful for this recipe, but is not necessary.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken (3-4 lbs. is ideal for this recipe)
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 2 tbsp. fresh sage chopped finely
  • 1/2 tbsp. fresh thyme chopped finely
  • 4 tsp. flaky sea salt
  • 4 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter melted

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425ºF. Remove chicken from refrigerator and pat very dry. Ensuring that the chicken is as dry as possible will aid in browning. Then, lift the skin of chicken breast and insert two fingers underneath to make sure that the spice mixture can be rubbed under the skin.
  • Add sage to mortar and pestle (if using), and crush until bruised and fragrant.
  • Add thyme to mortar and pestle (if using), and crush until bruised, fragrant, and thoroughly combined with sage.
  • Add salt and pepper to thyme and sage mixture and continue crushing until the herbs are completely mixed with the salt and pepper. The salt should actually begin to turn slightly green due to the oils and chlorophyll from the crushed herbs.
  • Rub spice mixture generously over all sides of the chicken, including underneath the skin and inside the cavity. The more places you spread the spice rub, the better the chicken will taste. Let the chicken sit for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour after adding the seasoning.
  • After chicken has rested, place it in a greased cast iron pan or glass baking dish and nestle halved garlic head underneath.
  • Place chicken in oven and roast for approximately 45-50 minutes. Test temperature with an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the leg and breast. It should read at least 165ºF. If you don't have a thermometer, you can insert a knife into the leg joints, making sure to pierce the meat. If the juices run clear, the chicken is cooked. If they are still tinged with pink or cloudiness, continue roasting, checking every 5-7 minutes for doneness.
  • Once your chicken is fully cooked, remove from oven, tent with aluminum foil, and let it rest for at least 20 minutes so that the meat can reabsorb all those amazing pan drippings, allowing for a more tender, moist chicken.
  • Serve and enjoy! We like to serve this alongside a simple tossed salad with a zippy lemon vinaigrette. It also works great for a main Christmas dinner protein if you are serving a smaller crowd. Simply use the pan drippings to make a delicious gravy. We also love to use this in soups, rather than opting for a store-bought rotisserie chicken. Trust us, this is 1,000 times better than the store-bought kind!

Nutrition

Calories: 346kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 116mg | Sodium: 1364mg | Potassium: 256mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 473IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 2mg
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