How to Roast a Chicken…like an adult.

Dinner, How-To

My google searches are crazy weird.

I mean…they mostly consist of food questions. And make-up questions. And fashion questions. But as of late…life questions? Yes, real life questions. Whenever something in real life confuses me, I turn to google…mainly for a laugh…and maybe I’m secretly hoping that life answers will pop-up within the first few sites. #sueme

Recent questions have included:

Are these my glory days (that’d be depressing); What to say/do when someone hurts your feelings (answer: buy pretty clothes, obvi); Do grownups believe in eyelash wishes (why wouldn’t you?!); At what age are adults supposed to have a real couch (no, but seriously am I supposed to have an adult couch by now?)…just to name a few…

All results (especially the google image results) are incredibly entertaining (and surprisingly educational).

(Have I told you I love using parenthesis?! Cause I totally do!!!)

All these “life” google searches bring me to this roast chicken.

Because I’m not sure if you’re aware, but there isn’t anything more adult than roasting a whole entire 4-pound chicken. This is totally a fact. I googled it. Duh.

There’s seasoning involved…tying it up in a (seemingly) complicated way, a good amount of cooking time and taking its temperature. You may wanna say, “ugh” and think it’s too complicated…but don’t worry, it’s super easy.

This recipe is as simple as it gets–it’s Marcella Hazan’s Lemon Chicken. One chicken, two lemons, salt and pepper. That’s it!

We got this. We totally do. Let’s be grown-ups!


Step 1: Take out the bag of giblets or–in my case–loose giblets.

P.S. “Giblets” is just a friendly word for guts. So yeah, take out its guts.

And wash it, inside and out.

Hey! You! Don’t use soap. Just water. That may sound silly, but I saw a preview of Real Housewives of Bev Hills and she did it…so just thought I’d throw that out there. No soap. Just water.

Step 2: Lay down a bed of paper towels and pat it dry. Let it sit for like 10 minutes and tip it over just to make sure all the water drains out. And then pat it dry again.

If it’s not super dry, it’s not gonna get that crispy skin you want–it’ll steam instead. Not cute. Not cute at all.

Step 3 & 4
(not pictured because I suck sometimes): Salt and pepper the chicken all over. And when I mean salt and pepper it, I don’t mean a little dash here and there. No. I mean: Go. To. Town. S&P is gonna make it taste awesome.

Next, take that skewer and poke a bunch of holes in the two lemons. Like as in twenty holes per lemon. This will allow all of the lemon juices to escape as it’s in the chicken. Oh yeah and then stick it in the chicken’s cavity a.k.a. body. Stick it in its body.

Step 5: Time to truss. First, tuck in the wings. Wait, why do we truss?!

We truss because it helps cook the chicken evenly. And it makes for pretty presentation. That’s all. The cooking evenly part is the most important.

Tuck in the wings.

Step 6: Take a piece of butcher’s twine (I used baker’s twine because I was too lazy to go to the store) and go under the chicken’s bottom. I did this for demonstrative purposes but it’s way easier if it’s facing you.

Under the chicken’s bottom, through the two legs.

Let me also take this moment to say that I’ve seen a few ways to truss a chicken. This way works for me. It’s super simple and keeps the whole thing together.

Step 7: Cross the two pieces of string. And then you’re gonna wrap the string over and under the two legs…

Step 8: After you come up around the legs, you’re going cross those two pieces of string and pull it snug.

Step 9: Pull it even tighter until the whole chicken is like a cute little cocoon.

Step 10:
Bring the string down the sides of the chicken. And tie a double knot right at its shoulders. This is when my camera was like, oh you’re trying to take step-by-step…well I’m just gonna take one shot out of focus.

Step 11: After you tie a knot at the shoulders, flip the chicken over and tie a last double knot right behind the neck bone.

If step-by-step pictures is too hard to follow, check out this video!

Step 12: Put the dude in a cast iron skillet and stick it in the oven. That’s it.

Well you have to check on it…blah blah blah. But for the most part, it’s all done!!

P.S. Now is a perrrrfect time to wash your hands.

The skin will be crispy and sorta salty (win!), the chicken will have a summery, lemoney flavor.

Perfect with a simple little salad, some simple potatoes, or something else super simple because the star of the show is the chicken, so don’t do something crazy with the side dish and totally outshine it!!

You just trussed a chicken!! Let it have its moment!!

How to Roast a Chicken

Recipe by the Marcella Hazan

Print this recipe!

3 to 4 pound chicken
Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
2 rather small lemons

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Wash the chicken thoroughly in cold water, both inside and out. Remove all the bits of fat hanging loose. Let the bird sit for about 10 minutes on a slightly tilted plate (or paper towels) to let all the water drain out of it. Pat it thoroughly dry all over with paper towels.

3. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt and black pepper on the chicken, rubbing it with your fingers over all its body and into its cavity.

4. Wash the lemons in cold water and dry them with a towel. Soften each lemon by placing it on a counter and rolling it back and forth as you put firm downward pressure on it with the palm of your hand. Puncture the lemons in at least 20 places each, using a sturdy round toothpick, a trussing needle, a sharp-pointed fork, or similar implement.

5. Place both lemons in the birds cavity. (Adrianna Note: Truss the chicken using the steps above.) Or you can do as Marcella Hazan explains: Close up the opening with toothpicks or with trussing needle and string. Close it well, but don’t make an absolutely airtight job of it because the chicken may burst. Run kitchen string from one leg to the other, tying it at both knuckle ends. Leave the legs in their natural position without pulling them tight. If the skin is unbroken, the chicken will puff up as it cooks, and the string serves only to keep the thighs from spreading apart and splitting the skin.

6. Put the chicken into a roasting pan (Adrianna Note: I used a cast iron skillet), breast facing down. Do not add cooking fat of any kind. This bird is self-basting, so you need not fear it will stick to the pan (Adrianna Note: I found this to be untrue if using a cast iron skillet. Next time I’ll add a piece of parchment to the bottom). Place it in the upper third of the preheated oven. After 30 minutes, turn the chicken over to have the breast face up. When turning it, try not to puncture the skin. If kept intact, the chicken will swell like a balloon, which makes for an arresting presentation at the table later. Do not worry too much about it, however, because even if it fails to swell, the flavor will not be affected.

7. Cook for another 30 to 35 minutes, then turn the oven thermostat up to 400 degrees, and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Calculate between 20 and 25 minutes total cooking time for each pound. There is no need to turn the chicken again.

8. Adrianna Note: I think resting chicken, or meat of any kind is really important. So after it’s done cooking, let it chill on the counter for 10 minutes. This will allow for all the juices to settle.

9. Whether your bird has puffed up or not, bring it to the table whole and leave the lemons inside until it is carved and opened. The juices that run out are perfectly delicious. Be sure to spoon them over the chicken slices. The lemons will have shriveled up, but they still contain some juice; do not squeeze them, they may squirt.

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Leave a Reply

  • Reply Sue/the view from great island September 7, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Wow, this is a classic. I’ve permanently bookmarked it. Now I have to run out and get a chicken and try it. I usually just it all hang out when I roast a chicken, I guess it’s time for me to grow up!

  • Reply Allison September 7, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Perfect timing; I was just thinking about roasting one this week πŸ™‚ And I just bought some butchers twine to attempt to actuall truss one up!

  • Reply Bev Weidner September 7, 2011 at 12:57 pm


    You like parentheses? I like all caps. πŸ˜‰

    This is amazing though, and I LOVE roast chicken. I’ve been cutting mine up lately, like this:

    And it’s totally easy! But I’m loving the whole INTACT bird. The one with the paper and a pipe. The adult one.

    • Reply Adrianna September 7, 2011 at 11:18 pm

      Oh I love this! Your chicken looks super pretty.

  • Reply Blog is the New Black September 7, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    You make it look easy! I’ve never roasted chicken ever!

  • Reply Katrina September 7, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    This is great! Something everyone should know πŸ™‚

  • Reply Amy @ A Little Nosh September 7, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    A cast iron skillet…brilliant. Why haven’t I thought of that???

    I saw the RHOBH preview and started cracking up. That was awesome.

  • Reply Kiran @ September 7, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Love it! I think it’s time I finally grow up and roast a whole chicken. Soon πŸ˜‰

  • Reply New York Diaires September 7, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    You’ve inspired me to grow up…..but you left me with one nagging questions: what is the definition of an adult couch? Does Ikea count? Or are we talking Pottery Barn/Crate and Barrel?

    I need to know where I’m measuring up!

    • Reply Adrianna September 7, 2011 at 4:43 pm

      Hmm…this is a solid question. I think those super cheap $`150 couches that they have don’t count. But you know, the nicer ones…they totally do!

  • Reply Sara B September 7, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    I’m a lurker, delurking to say I love your blog and roasted chicken. πŸ™‚ I am looking forward to making some with the lemons, and patting the skin dry to aid in crisping! Hooray for tasty crispy skin.

    I wanted to let you know that the rinsing step isn’t necessary, the USDA actually recommends against it ( click on Rinsing). Real Simple recommends patting the chicken dry while it sits in the original container ( easier to read than the USDA link).

    • Reply Adrianna September 7, 2011 at 11:19 pm

      I’ve heard this, actually. Helpful link! Thank you! Glad you’re no longer a lurker! Though I love lurkers, too.

  • Reply Tina September 7, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    OMG! I love the step-by-step. I heard that you’re not supposed to wash your chicken. But I still do all the time.

  • Reply Jessica September 7, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    This looks so delicious. I google weird things too. You are not alone.

  • Reply Abby Rice September 7, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    If you like garlic in your chicken, Ina Garten makes a “Perfect Roast Chicken” where she stuffs a halved lemon, 2 large sprigs of rosemary and thyme, and a whole head of garlic halved. It is heavenly. I make it all the time…it is a must try as well…..and the lovely thing is that it is really hard to screw it up! Abby

    • Reply Adrianna September 7, 2011 at 11:19 pm

      Ahhh…yes, Ina can do no wrong. That sounds delicious.

  • Reply Stacey! September 7, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    Your nails look gorgeous!

    The chicken looks fab, too! πŸ™‚

  • Reply Becky September 7, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Most definitely bookmarking this & using it sometime soon! I haven’t made an adult chicken yet but you make it seem manageable! Thanks for the tips : )

  • Reply [email protected]'s Bookbag September 7, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    I want to be a grown up too!! And I totally do feel like one when I make roast chicken, you are so onto something there….:) What is your feeling on this new “trend” I feel like I see around in Cooking Land, where the recipe calls for roasting a chicken at a crazy high heat, like 425, for a shorter amount of time? I feel confused by that, like it’s very easy to burn up your chicken that way. Thoughts?

    • Reply Adrianna September 13, 2011 at 6:09 am


      So here’s the deal: The chicken starts in the oven at 350F so it can cook thoroughly. This lower temperature will cook it completely–without burning the skin. Since no one wants to eat a weirdly pale chicken, that’s why we up the temperature. This gives you that crispy, pretty brown skin.

      That’s generally the rule when roasting meat in the oven. When you cook meat in a pan on a stove, it’s the opposite. Sear first AND then turn it down to a lower temperature (or in many cases, stick the pan in the oven to finish the cooking).

      I hope that helps!

  • Reply Jen of My Tiny Oven September 7, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    How grown up of you!! A roasted chicken… I have to do this! This weekend maybe! thanks for the inspiration!

  • Reply Teri Lyn Fister September 7, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    You pictures are purrttyyyyy! AND helpful. πŸ™‚

    • Reply Adrianna September 7, 2011 at 11:17 pm

      EWS! When you compliment my pictures it grosses me out! In a good way. Love you.

  • Reply Jessica September 7, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    Ok, ok, the chicken? Beautiful!

    But I have to know what color/brand nail polish you are wearing! I love that color!

    • Reply Adrianna September 8, 2011 at 12:59 am

      HA! French Affair by Essie. My current fav.

  • Reply Alissa September 8, 2011 at 1:32 am

    I have been looking for a great roast chicken recipe! If I don’t have a cast iron skillet…do you think it would work in a Le creuset dutch oven with no lid, or just a casserole pan?

    • Reply Adrianna September 8, 2011 at 2:30 am

      Casserole dish would work lovely!

  • Reply Sasha @ The Procrastobaker September 8, 2011 at 11:57 am

    This is stupidly wonderful! Ive never done a roast by myself and would love to show off a bit to the ol’ Mother sometime πŸ™‚ I am stunned by the beauty of your photos also, how you managed to make stuffing a chicken look pretty god only knows πŸ™‚ Just an absolutely priceless post, thank you!

  • Reply Amelia from z tasty life September 8, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    You are seriously adorable… You know that, right? …right???
    Such cute instructions for trussing and life too!
    This recipe.shud come up in a search for “a very happy dinner, before, during and after preparation”

  • Reply France September 8, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    First time I made a roast chicken I felt very grown up. First time my husband made a chicken, well we heard about it for a couple of days. You tie it up and everything. I’m lazy, I put in the spices and throw it in the oven. I know realize I’ve been cooking a whole chicken the kid way.

    • Reply Wiseman August 19, 2014 at 9:41 am

      Kneglodwe wants to be free, just like these articles!

  • Reply [email protected], Read, Rant! September 8, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    I’ve made a grown up roasted chicken, trussed and all, but never in the cast iron skillet. I must give this variation a whirl if only for the guarantee of crisped skin all over. #fatness

  • Reply Angharad September 9, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    This is super grown up! My husband does this kind of thing all the time. Me? I get scared of all the chicken bits that gross me out. Giblets? Why?

    Mainly I want to eat the skin, which is salty and crispy and all. I. need.

  • Reply Michelle of Chellbellz September 11, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    I love roasting chicken. I use Lemon, Rosemary, and Garlic. I stuff it in there, and butter the skin with salt and pepper. My family LOVEEES it. I think i’m just obsessed with the small of rosemary!

  • Reply myFudo September 13, 2011 at 7:36 am

    Love this post, I too do turn to google for most of my unanswered life questions, I mostly laugh to myself from the results I get πŸ™‚
    What a way to make chicken… so mouth watering

  • Reply Sara M September 15, 2011 at 4:50 am

    I made this and it was so good! Thanks!

  • Reply julia @ simple truths September 15, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    This is officially on my menu for this weekend!

  • Reply Simple Roasted Chicken « The Little Bite September 20, 2011 at 4:06 am

    […] two weeks ago, Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen reminded me how easy and tasty roasted chicken can be.Β  Many people are afraid of roasting […]

  • Reply Arthur in the Garden! December 11, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Wonderfull recipe! I am digging the pink nails, too!

  • Reply Lora September 30, 2013 at 8:25 am

    Giblets are not typically considered “guts”. Intestines, stomach and anything other than the heart, liver, gizzard are typically guts and not considered edible. It’s why they are called “giblets”. Quite trying to be so cute.

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme September 30, 2013 at 8:29 am

      You need to chill. I’m actually quite familiar with the preparation of giblets. As someone whose mother is Peruvian, I grew up eating chicken hearts, liver (unfortunately) and intestines (they put them in soups). The feeling of them, when you take them out of the bag, feels a bit like “guts” to me. So chill.

    • Reply Lilian August 19, 2014 at 10:31 am

      That’s more than sebsinle! That’s a great post!

  • Reply Holley October 10, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    I just made my first ever roast chicken and used this recipe and it was so smooth and simple! the only hard part was stuffing a lemon inside of chickie’s body, i felt bad & indecent πŸ™