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. What a wonderful, easy meal! This definitely falls into the “finger lickin’ good” category for me. I followed the directions exactly and had no problems at all making this. I served it with basmati rice, green beans and baby corn. There was enough leftover glaze from the chicken to drizzle over the rice. Next I plan to try this with chicken wings. Thanks Tomoko and Toshiko for a truly outstanding recipe 🙂 

  2. You should try “House of Cards” it is a great politcal show and my husband and I devour the whole first season in less the 2 weeks. Kevin Spacey is amazing in it, give it a try i suspect you will both enjoy.

  3. The West Wing, without a doubt, although I also love Castle and White Collar, and I like Newsroom because it’s another Sorkin walk-and-talk show 🙂

    Might have to make Toby’s chicken soon in homage.

  4. The Walking Dead! omg I cant wait for it to come back on in October, its killing me. Me and my husband dont watch TV but we got a glimpse of it over a friends house and we were hooked. We ordered all the episodes on Netflix in about 2 weeks we watched every single episode ( we turned into zombies lol)Im not sure how we are going to cope only watching one episode a week when it comes back on, pray for us lol!!!!

  5. I went into mourning after The Office aired its last season… I felt like I knew each of those characters personally and cried like I had lost a loved one. It’s was a little crazy…. I think I even shocked myself with my reaction. Haha. It’s a show for me that never gets old.

    1. We JUST started The Office last night. I’m having a hard time getting into it. I think part of it is that it’s still too soon after I left my office job. It’s giving me flashbacks!

  6. Oh god, this episode positively breaks my heart. Thanks for recreating Tobus’ chicken recipe, I’ll have to make it for my roommate as she approaches the end of the series.

  7. I just finished watching the first 4 seasons of Fringe and literally yelled in frustration when I realized Netflix didn’t have season 5. I am quite tempted to go through and watch it a second time. West Wing is in the cue now, though. 🙂

    1. I hit submit too soon. 😛 I roast a chicken at least one a month, if not more because it *is* so incredibly simple and usually yields leftovers. I sometimes go a more involved route, like Sunday will be a citrus marinated whole bird, but it’s often just a simpler one like this. If I just need the meat to use in a different recipe or for pulled chicken, I make it the slow cooker. It literally falls to pieces which makes cleaning it a snap!

    2. I never got into Fringe, but Craig LOVES it! Even my love for Pacey J. Witter couldn’t get me interested in it.

  8. I love TWW so much. In my early to mid-20s when it was first run, we had a group if friends who got together weekly to watch it. Those are some of my favorite.memories. The only other show that comes close for me is Friday Night Lights.

    Question on the veggies, because they’re not mentioned in the recipe: did you put them in the roasting pan at the beginning and leave them in the whole time? Seasoning? Any oil, or do the chicken drippings take care of that?

    1. I did a whole bunch of nothing to the veggies. Ha! I just threw them in with the chicken at the beginning and the chicken drippings gave them a nice flavor. I did add a touch of salt to them once they were on my plate.