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The Best Roast Chicken

Whole Roast Chicken on bed of parsley.

I’ve made roast chicken a lot of different ways and this recipe is a clear-cut winner. It’s a Cook’s Illustrated recipe and the method of preparation is a little unappetizing, but the resulting taste is AMAZING. And guess what? Only 4 ingredients are needed for this recipe, including the chicken.

Uncooked chicken in refrigerator.


You coat the chicken with a mixture of baking powder, salt and pepper a day ahead of time and place it unwrapped in the refrigerator. It will begin to look a little shriveled and petrified, but don’t be scared. Before long, this ugly chicken is going to turn into a beautiful swan.

The skin cooks up wonderfully thin and crispy and the meat stays really tender and juicy. The bird tastes so fabulously seasoned, you won’t be able to believe that the only seasonings you used were salt and pepper.

The chicken is cooked at a really high temperature and can produce some smoke, so be on the lookout and crack a window or you may set off your smoke alarms.

Roast Chicken on bed of parsley with peas and roasted potatoes.

Crispy Roast Chicken

Crispy Roast Chicken

This roast chicken cooks up with a nice, crispy skin and a tender and juicy inside. It just may be the perfect roast chicken.


  • 1 (3 1/2 to 4 1/2 pound) whole chicken, giblets removed and discarded
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


  • Place the chicken breast side down on a work surface and use a sharp knife to make 4 1-inch incisions along the chicken’s back. (This creates openings for the fat to escape.) With your fingers, separate skin from thighs and breasts. Use a metal skewer to poke 15 to 20 holes in the fat deposits on top of breasts and thighs. Tuck wing tips under chicken.
  • In a small bowl combine salt, baking powder, and pepper. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and sprinkle all over with salt mixture. Use your hands to coat the surface. Set chicken breast side up on a baking sheet and place in refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours.
  • Put oven rack in lowest position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Poke approximately 20 holes in a 16 by 12- inch piece of aluminum foil and place loosely in the bottom of a large roasting pan. (The aluminum foil is supposed to keep the drippings from burning.) Place a V-rack on top of foil and place chicken breast side down on top of V-rack. Roast for 25 minutes.
  • Remove pan from oven and carefully turn chicken breast side up. Continue to roast for 15 to 25 minutes.
  • Increase oven temp to 500 degrees and continue to roast 10 to 20 minutes (until temp registers 175 degrees in thickest part of thigh). Transfer chicken to cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.
Course: Main Dish

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Recipe Source: Cook’s Illustrated

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23 thoughts on “The Best Roast Chicken”

  1. Consuelo @ Honey & Figs

    Roast chicken with only 4 ingredients and it looks this good?????? Look at that crispy skin, I’m sold. I so need to try this, thanks for the inspiration! xx

  2. Cailee @ hellohealthyeating.com

    I love love LOVE roast chicken… I’m sure that this was so delicious! Roast chicken is great hot, but the leftovers are great on a salad as well! YUM.. anyways, I hope that you have a great weekend!! 🙂

  3. You can’t go wrong with Cooks Illustrated can you? I ALWAYS trust their recipes! What an unusual way to roast a chicken (and no doubt it will become my favorite too!)

  4. Kristi @ Inspiration Kitchen

    I’ve never tried this method before! I’m intrigued by the ingredients and I adore a crispy skin to my chicken – so I need to try it!

  5. No surprise that it’s a Cook’s Illustrated! I used their method for chicken wings recently and they were awesome and so nice and crispy (same thing with the baking powder and salt!). Now I clearly need to make a roast chicken! This looks awesome.

  6. Julia | JuliasAlbum.com

    This chicken looks so delicious, and the skin is so crispy! Skin is usually my favorite part of the whole chicken (and I usually raise a few eyebrows when people see me eat the chicken skin :)). I don’t care if it’s fatty, it’s good! 🙂

  7. Roast chicken is always so special. I love learning about this trick to a crispy skin. I’ve used convection on my oven and it helps a bit. The only problem I have is all the smoke detectors start blaring at our house the minute I turn the oven higher than 425. I have to plan in advance to remove the batteries (and of course put them back on right after…). Thanks for sharing this!

  8. Karen (Back Road Journal)

    This is indeed a different method of roasting a chicken especially at such a high heat. I can see why you might end of with some smoke…thanks for the warning.

  9. Love this roasted chicken recipe! Can’t believe there are only 4 ingredients, looks incredible -thanks for sharing Christin and hope you have a great weekend:)

  10. I dry brined my Thanksgiving turkey this year for the first time and it looked shriveled up and I thought how dry it was going to be, but it wasn’t at all! The skin was so much crispier and the meat was nice and moist. The baking powder is new to me — very interesting! I’m going to have try that next time. Have a great weekend, Christin!

  11. Layla @ Brunch Time Baker

    This is the type of recipe that’s great to prepare ahead of time. Perfect for a busy mom (or dad) on a budget. I am totally making this chicken! It looks delicious!

  12. Shashi @ http://runninsrilankan.com

    Thanks for the tip to keep it salted and peppered overnight – I have to try that out!

  13. Nicole ~ Cooking for Keeps

    I’m always looking for new methods to roast chickens, I’ve got to try this!

  14. Baking powder is an ingredient I would’ve never considered. Apparently, it is the magic wand that turned this chicken into a deliciously-golden masterpiece. Taking notes.

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