We have been getting so much enthusiastic feedback from our readers about our Marjorie Druker feature on how to make perfect roast chicken that we’ve decided to bring it to you here in a step-by-step format. This roast chicken recipe is quite simple, but employs some very clever techniques that ensure moist meat and crisp, beautifully browned skin.
Marjorie comes by her chicken wisdom honestly. She’s the owner of Modern Rotisserie in Newton, Massachusetts, as well as the New England Soup Factory, and she got her start developing recipes for Boston Chicken, which later became Boston Market. So follow along as we demonstrate her time-honored method.
How to Make the Perfect Roast Chicken Recipe | Step-by-Step
The genius of Marjorie’s chicken boils down to a few key ingredients and techniques. First, she rubs the bird all over with lemon. “It’s like an antiseptic,” she says. “Plus, it imparts flavor, and the acid breaks down the fiber, which helps make the chicken more tender.” She then brushes the skin all over with butter. “Butter browns the bird,” she says, “and gives it that shiny golden look that we all expect from the perfect roast chicken.” Finally, she coats the chicken in a blend of kosher salt, spices, and sugar (the surprise ingredient). “That little bit of sugar creates this wonderfully rich crust, sort of like those honey hams so many of us love,” she says. Note: Having taste-tested every kind of chicken, Marjorie says the best chickens for roasting are organic, free-range birds. But any natural chicken, raised without antibiotics, is good. “Most supermarkets now have their own brands of all-natural chickens,” she says.
Perfect Roast Chicken Recipe Ingredients
One whole chicken, preferably organic (see Note), about 5 pounds
1 lemon, halved
3 tablespoons salted butter
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika
1 teaspoon granulated onion powder
1/2 to 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Perfect Roast Chicken Recipe Method
1. Preheat the oven to between 425º and 440º and set a rack to the lower third of the oven.
2. Unwrap the chicken, remove the giblets, and set it in a roasting pan. Rub the skin it all over with the halved lemon.
3. Melt the butter, then use a cooking brush to coat the entire chicken with it.
4. Stir the spice mixture together, then sprinkle all over the bird. If you prefer to truss your chicken or simply tie the legs together, feel free to do so. However, this step isn’t necessary. It does make for a prettier presentation, but leaving the legs untrussed promotes better air circulation, allowing them to cook faster. I trussed the legs here because I knew I’d be photographing them, but normally I don’t.
5. Transfer the chicken to the lower rack of your preheated oven. Roast until a meat thermometer reaches 165° when inserted into the meaty part of the leg, 1 hour, 30 minutes to 1 hour, 40 minutes. Your house will smell amazing.
6. This next step is essential if you truly want the perfect roast chicken: Let the meat rest at least 20 minutes before you carve and serve it. “If you cut into it right away, the juices will just come pouring out,” Druker explains. “You want them to settle into the chicken and get comfortable. That’s what will keep it nice and juicy.”
Ready to follow our perfect roast chicken recipe for yourself? Be sure to let us know how it turns out!
This post was first published in 2015 and has been updated.