A roast chicken on a white platter, with the breast sliced

As the great Toby Ziegler once told C.J. Cregg (The West Wing), the way to roast a perfect chicken is “Stick a lemon up it and throw on some rosemary. A little salt.” We make roasted chicken ’round here once every few weeks and I have to say, the simplicity of this two-sentence recipe results in some really delicious bird.

If you’ve never roasted a chicken before, please don’t fear, it is quite possibly one of the easiest (and most impressive!) dishes that you can make. It’s literally two minutes of work followed by…well…that’s it. After it’s in the oven, you’re pretty much finished. We like to roast chickens on days when the schedule is packed. Throw in some root veggies in the roasting pan and you’ve got the easiest dinner on the planet.

Roast chicken on a white platter with lemons, parsley, rosemary, and salt

What do I need for this roasted chicken recipe?

Grab four ingredients…that’s right, just four! That’s truly all you need for this best roast chicken recipe.

  • A whole chicken.
  • A lemon.
  • Fresh rosemary.
  • Coarse ground sea salt.

Should I roast my chicken covered or uncovered?

For tender meat and a crispy skin, your chicken needs to roast uncovered. Cooking the bird uncovered also allows it to cook a little faster. If parts of the chicken are beginning to brown before it is cooked through, you can tent the dark parts loosely with foil so that they don’t burn.

Cooked poultry with browned, crispy skin on a white platter with fresh herbs and a halved lemon

When is roasted chicken done?

An instant read thermometer should register 165°F at the thickest parts of the bird for the chicken to be considered cooked through. Check the temperature at the thickest part of the breast, as well as the inner part of the thigh. Be sure that the temperature probe isn’t touching bone, as that will give you an inaccurate temperature reading. The juices will also run clear when the chicken is done—they shouldn’t be pink!

Protip: Let it rest.

Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving—that gives the juices time to redistribute throughout the meat, so they stay in the chicken and not on your cutting board!

How long does it take to cook a chicken at 350°F?

In general, chicken needs to cook for around 20 minutes per pound. 

A roasted chicken with crispy skin, with slices made through the breasts

What should I serve with this roasted chicken recipe?

We love to throw some root vegetables tossed with olive oil and seasoning in the bottom of the roasting pan before we stick it in the oven—it gives you a delicious side built right in! Other great options include:

What can I do with the leftovers?

While roasted chicken itself is delicious, we love roasting chickens for leftovers! I usually tear up the leftover meat for chicken salad, and use the chicken carcass for chicken stock. But you can use the leftovers in any recipe that you’d use a rotisserie chicken for. 

Store any leftover chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days until you are ready to use it.

Poultry in a black roasting pan with a halved lemon and rosemary sprig

Oven-Roasted Chicken Recipe

Yield: 1 chicken
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

This oven-roasted chicken recipe uses simple ingredients and minimal prep time, and is totally fool-proof. The whole family will love this one!


  • 1 roasting chicken
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground sea salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place a roasting rack in a roasting pan, or rest a cooling rack on a baking sheet or large baking dish. Set aside.
  2. Remove any giblets from the chicken (if there are any) and wash the bird inside and out, pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Place the chicken, breast-side-down on the prepared pan. Place the lemon halves and rosemary sprigs into the chicken cavity. Sprinkle salt over the chicken.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 50-80 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 165° when inserted in multiple fleshy parts of the chicken and all juices run clear. Remove from oven, cover with aluminum foil and let rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 183Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 66mgSodium: 194mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 21g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

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  1. I made this in my crock pot. I doubled the liquid ingredients and used five drumsticks, 8 boneless, skinless thighs and 4 boneless, skinless breasts cut in 3 pieces. I cooked it on low for just under 4 hours. After removing the meat I poured the liquid into a saucepan and reduced it to half then served the chicken and sauce with texmati rice