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Who doesn’t appreciate a roast chicken on a Sunday? It’s a real crowd-pleaser, especially when the skin is crispy and golden and the meat is tender and succulent. What I love about a roast chicken dinner is that any leftovers can be kept in the fridge to whip up some quick weeknight suppers. It’s a win-win!

But often, the thought of cooking a whole roast chicken can leave some of us slightly intimidated.

How long should you roast it for? How do you know when it’s cooked? Worry not. All you need are my tricks and foolproof recipe up your sleeve, and you’ll have the perfect roast chicken every time.

What Should I Serve with Roast Chicken?

Roast chicken doesn’t need much to transform it into a dinner — an easy side or two will work wonderfully. Serve it up with roast potatoes, chips, buttery garlic rice or just a simple salad.

When I don’t fancy making roast potatoes or chips myself, I love cheating with straight cut chips from McCain, as they only take 25 minutes to cook. You can just pop them in the oven half-an-hour before the roast chicken is ready for some easy, fuss-free carbs.

Before Cooking the Chicken

If the meat needs to be stored prior to cooking, keep it in its packaging and pop it in a deep roasting tray in the fridge. Make sure you put it on a lower shelf to ensure no chicken juices leak onto any other foods, causing cross-contamination.

Next, get your chicken out of the fridge 30 minutes before you put it in the oven. By doing this, there’s more time for it to hit room temperature and, even better, its skin will turn a nice golden brown.

And don’t worry about washing it (in fact, you should never wash raw chicken). All you need to do is simply pat it dry with kitchen towel, unfasten any strings and get started.

How Long Should I Cook a Chicken?

Wondering how to long roast a chicken? Not sure of the exact cooking times? It’s really simple.

You need 45 minutes per kg as well as an additional 20 minutes to finish. Basting your roast chicken a couple of times throughout cooking will help keep it moist. Get a spoon – or even better, use a baster – and spoon out the fat then pour over the skin.

How to Get the Meat Juicy and the Skin Golden Brown

Whether you’re craving the simplest roast chicken or something with a bit more oomph, adding salt to the chicken prior to cooking is an absolute must —both inside the cavity and on the skin.

Of all the meats you can cook, chicken soaks up flavour brilliantly, such as herbs, garlic, and onion – all of which can be stuffed under the skin.

Lemon works especially well – simply squeeze some of the juice over the skin, add the zest to some softened butter and drizzle under the skin. You can then pop the lemon halves inside the cavity.

Before roasting the meat, it’s a good idea to rub the breast and thighs liberally with softened butter followed by a pinch of sea salt. The butter and salt work to crisp up the chicken skin beautifully.

Prefer not to use butter? Plump for olive oil instead, although the skin won’t go quite as crispy.

Let the Chicken Rest

One of the most important steps in cooking roast chicken is that once it’s taken out of the oven, it must rest.

When the meat is done, move from the roasting pan onto a serving plate. Wrap in foil and put to one side for roughly 15 minutes prior to carving.

The Perfect Roast Chicken Recipe

For a no-nonsense Sunday lunch, look no further than my roast chicken recipe. It’ll have your guests swooning when they smell the delicious aromas wafting through your kitchen – and you’ll have a succulent bird in a little over an hour. Check out my step-by-step process below:


For the chicken

  • 1 chicken (1.8kg-2kg)
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 50g softened butter
  • 20g thyme

For the gravy

  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 250ml chicken stock (a cube is fine)


  • Heat your oven to 220?C.
  • Zest the lemon and finely cut up the garlic and thyme leaves.
  • Tip in the softened butter together with the lemon zest, chopped garlic and thyme. Season generously with salt and pepper and stir everything together well.
  • Pop the chicken in a roasting tin and pop the garlic, lemon and thyme butter underneath the skin.
  • Rub the chicken all over with a small amount of olive oil, then slice the lemon in half and place  inside the chicken.
  • Add a generous amount of salt and pepper on the outside and inside of the chicken.
  • Roast the chicken in the oven until the skin is nice and crispy.
  • Reduce the heat to 190?C and roast for a further hour.
  • Remove the chicken from the oven (check if the juices run clear by pricking a thigh with a knife).
  • Put to one side for roughly 15 minutes and begin carving.
  • Meanwhile, make the gravy. Pop the roasting tin over a low flame, then mix in the flour and let it sizzle a little so you have a light brown, sandy paste.
  • Slowly pour in the chicken stock, mixing all the time, until the sauce thickens.
  • Leave to simmer for a little while, stirring with a wooden spoon, and scrape out any sticky bits from the tin.
  • Drain the gravy into a tiny saucepan, then simmer and add some salt and pepper. When it comes to carving the chicken, pour any leftover juices to the gravy.

A family dinner of roast chicken should be – most importantly – easy to make. You want the meat tender and juicy, as well as lightly flavoured with salt and herbs.

The majority of the work is preparing the meat for roasting and then finding something to do for an hour while the chicken is cooking in the oven. My recipe is super-reliable and will give you succulent meat and crispy skin every time!

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