Fast Roast Chicken: My Signature Recipe

The Recipe: How to roast a chicken fast – in an hour. But speed isn’t what makes this roast chicken special. Speed isn't what makes this my signature roast-chicken recipe.

It's the simple ingredients, just a fresh chicken, salt, pepper and a hot oven. It’s the crispy, salty skin. It’s the moist and tender breast meat and the juicy succulent dark meat. One more thing? Roast chicken is the perfect meal for unexpected company. Tis a wonder, this roasted chicken.

The Conversation: How to feed a crowd on a whim, roast chicken and a simple, sumptuous menu.

First published in 2010, updated & republished in 2015 for a little weekend cooking inspiration!

Fast Roast Chicken, how to roast a whole chicken in an hour. Crispy salty skin, perfectly roasted meat. #LowCarb. For Weight Watchers, just #PP3.

"... so fast & easy & the best roast chicken I've had!" ~ Anonymous

The heads-up arrived at five o’clock. “Some people are coming for supper.” How many? I asked, guessing two, maybe six, as many as twelve. He hesitated, then began to count out loud. "Fourteen, I think," was the answer.

Now, this man and I, we feed small crowds on a whim with regularity. We love the kitchen dance, chopping and stirring, serving and savoring home-cooked food. But this night, a hint of panic strained his voice. Were we over-committed? Was carryout pizza the smart answer? “What should we make?” he asked, hoping for a ready answer.

Without hesitation, I answered: “Set the oven to 450, then run to Whole Foods for chicken. We’ll eat around seven.”

Sure enough, with able assistance from an extra pair or two of hands (thank you, Laura and girls!), that night three generations gathered round the table to a feast, roast chicken, roughly mashed sweet potatoes and carrots spiked with cardamom, a big salad and for dessert, hot-from-the-oven fruit crisp topped with ice cream. Menus like this (below), they’re worth making again and again, for four or fourteen – or forty, just with a little more notice, please!

ALANNA’s TIPS Once upon a time, roasting chickens were ‘old and tough’ and needed slow cooking to tenderize. But these days, the main difference between a roasting chicken and a frying chicken is that roasting chickens are slightly bigger and a little more expensive. I cook them interchangeably. Some times, I truss the chicken, creating a sort of chicken corset with kitchen string. Trussing isn’t necessary but once the chicken is in a tight wad, it just looks cool out of the oven. Other times I use a V-roaster but again, it’s really not needed. Do drag a slice or meat through the delicious chicken drippings while you’re carving, cook’s treat! But as is, the drippings are too salty for gravy. To make chicken gravy, add a good cup or two of chicken stock to the drippings, then thicken. (See how to make turkey gravy, just substitute chicken stock for turkey stock.) Weight Watchers, take special note of the chicken nutrition information, white meat versus dark meat (not much difference) and eating the chicken skin versus not eating the chicken skin (a huge difference). This makes chicken skin a definite indulgence, luckily, this salty chicken is worth eating, many roasted-chicken skins are not. Still, armed with information, it's better to know.
Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Become a Kitchen Parade fan on Facebook!


Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 1-1/4 hours
Serves 1 for a week or 4 for dinner plus leftovers for chicken soup
  • 1 whole chicken, preferably never frozen (why? see below), either a roasting chicken or a frying chicken
  • Generous amount of kosher salt, a tablespoon or two or more
  • Freshly ground black pepper, optional

Preheat the oven to 450F/230C. Rinse the chicken inside and out, then dry it well inside and out with paper towels. ‘Rain’ the bird with salt, lightly coating the skin so a salty crusty layer will form during roasting; cover the breast and back sides, the legs and wings, too, then do several turns of ground pepper all over. Place the chicken breast-side down in an oven-proof skillet or on a foil-covered rimmed baking sheet. (Yes, that bird is bare-nekkid except for salt. Yes, that bird is about to be blasted at high heat.) Roast for an hour.

Remove from the oven, cover loosely with foil, let rest 15 minutes. To serve, slice off the legs and thighs, then cut hot slices off the breasts or cut into the breasts down the center and serve it on the bone.

If you like, before carving, set up to make Homemade Chicken Stock from the carcass, just throw the bones right into a skillet to roast while eating dinner.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per 4 ounces chicken white meat, without/with skin: 129/210 Calories; 1/11g Tot Fat; 1/4g Sat Fat; 65/75mg Cholesterol; 367/363mg Sodium; 0g Carb; 0g Fiber; 0g Sugar; 26/23g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 3/5 points & WW PointsPlus 3/5
Per 4 ounces chicken dark meat, without/with skin: 141/268 Calories; 4/19g Tot Fat; 1/6g Sat Fat; 90/91mg Cholesterol; 386/372mg Sodium; 0g Carb; 0g Fiber; 0g Sugar; 23/19g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 3/7 points & WW PointsPlus 3/6
Adapted from Bouchon by Thomas Keller My Disclosure Promise

STILL-FASTER ROAST CHICKEN? Stop by the grocery store, grab a hot rotisserie chicken and salad fixings from the salad bar. Come home, pour a glass of wine, sit down to supper. Seriously. Rotisserie chickens from the grocery store are a good value and perhaps the one ‘convenience’ food worth picking up from the deli section.

WHY FRESH CHICKEN? WHY NEVER-FROZEN CHICKEN? In 2008 and 2009, I cooked one chicken after another, frying chicken one week, roasting chicken the next, baking chicken the next, grilling chicken after that. I tested free-range chickens, organic chickens, farm-raised chickens, branded chickens, grocery-store chickens, warehouse-club chickens, anything with breasts and wings, basically. In the end, I became much partial to the taste and texture of fresh chicken, that is, chicken that's never been frozen. This means I make regular out-of-the-way trips to Whole Foods, the only place to buy fresh chicken in St. Louis. Readers, if you know where to buy fresh chicken in your hometowns, please do say!

A Menu Starring Fast Roast Chicken

Olivada with Crackers

~ Fast Roast Chicken ~
(recipe above)
Rustic Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Carrots

Lettuce Greens Tossed with Chopped Vegetables
with My Favorite Dressing

Cranberry Apple Crisp

More Fast Chicken Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Rainbow Chicken Easy Margarita Chicken Chicken with Creamy Cider Gravy

Quick Links to This Page

(for easy bookmarking and searching)
~ Why Fresh, Never Frozen Chicken? ~
~ Calories & Weight Watchers Points in Chicken ~
white meat versus dark meat, with the chicken skin versus without

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