Cooking 101: Easy Roast Chicken

Hello everyone! It has been awhile since I’ve shared a recipe here. Not to worry though cause I have a stack of recipes at my disposal now to share with you all. I also decided to create a section called Cooking 101  . I know how frustrating it is to make a dish only to fail despite all your efforts – makes you want to just go get takeout doesn’t it? So, this category will feature a range of  simple, fail-proof baking and cooking recipes for all the beginners out there. These recipes are those that I have used time and time again. All the mistakes that could be made, I have done. I will include my tips to avoid them and hopefully, you will have a pleasant cooking/baking experience with them!

So today’s recipe will be a classic dish – the roast chicken. I feel that it has become an unsung hero of sorts as fancier dishes take its place. But I assure you, master this as a beginner and you will be set to impress. You can always jazz it up as you fall deeper and deeper into the world of cooking but the classic take always makes a nice easy meal. What’s more, you can use leftovers for sandwiches, pasta, soup etc after. Cook once and you could be set up for a few days worth of meals. How great is that?! 

Before we get to the recipe, I thought it might be good just to get some basic chicken knowledge out there cause this recipe is for beginners. If you know all this already, skip ahead .


The first time I bought a whole chicken chopping it up was an arduous task. What part was which, I didn’t know. This diagram is really helpful in order to help you out with the instructions in the recipe card. Knowing where the different parts are will also help when carving the chicken. Different parts of the chicken have its own characteristics and use. So if you are looking to save some for other meals, it is good to know what you are potentially using it for. We usually save the breast and thigh. I find that thighs are juicier and retain that juiciness well even when reheated. Breasts are great because they are versatile. Throw it into a salad, fried noodles, rice etc and you have yourself a meal. Because I like to stretch my dollar, I also save the carcass and make a soup base out of it. Sounds gross but try it – you won’t regret it. 

Easy Roast Chicken
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  1. 1 Whole Chicken (size 12 is a good size)
  2. 3 cloves garlic
  3. 25g butter, softened at room temperature
  4. 1 bunch of fresh thyme (1 tbsp dry)
  5. 3 sprigs of rosemary (1 tbsp dry)
  6. 1 whole lemon
  7. 1 medium onion (if large, just use half)
  8. Salt
  9. Pepper
  10. 2 toothpicks
  1. Clean chicken and pat dry with kitchen towel.
  2. Place dry chicken on a work surface or in a roasting pan. If your roasting pan comes with a rack, use it.
  3. Mince garlic, 1 sprig rosemary and about 5 sprigs thyme. Mix these into the softened butter, set aside. IF you are using the dry herbs, mix 1/2 tbsp of each in the butter mixture.
  4. Return to your chicken and season it with salt and pepper. IF using dry herbs, rub it onto your chicken as well.
  5. With the butter mixture earlier, take little dollops and slowly insert it into your chicken in between the skin and meat layer. Start from the neck, gently prying the skin off the meat and working the butter around the chicken to evenly distribute the mixture. Try not to tear the skin but it doesn't matter if you do.
  6. Now, take your lemon and gently roll it. Then slice the top and bottom off. Set aside.
  7. Peel your onion and set aside.
  8. Return to your seasoned chicken and stuff the cavity with the prepared onion, lemon and remainder of fresh herbs (no herbs here if using dry).
  9. Grab your toothpicks and seal the ends of your chicken.
  10. Allow it to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  11. When marinated, bake in oven that has been pre-heated to 200°C with the breast facing up.
  12. After 20 mins (or when sufficiently brown), carefully turn over the chicken. Don't worry if the skin tears, happens to me too. Bake for at least another 1 hour.
  13. Check to see if the chicken is cooked by poking the meatiest part with a skewer. If the juice runs clear, the chicken is ready. Otherwise allow it to bake for a further 15 minutes before repeating this step.
  14. Once chicken is fully cooked, allow it to rest for 10 minutes before carving.
  15. Enjoy!
  1. Chicken in NZ is usually gutted. Ask your butcher to do it for you if you aren't confident to do so. If that fails, there are plenty of education videos on Youtube.
  2. Having a kitchen tweezer will be invaluable when cleaning your chicken. You will notice that there may still be some feathers or barby bits which are easily removed with the tweezer. Otherwise, just use your fingers.
  3. While cleaning the chicken, give it a good rub all over to get rid of any excess dirt. Usually it is flaky yellow stuff in the joints that are pretty stubborn, so make sure you get rid of those.
  4. Take your time when rubbing butter under the skin. It gets easier with time! There is a membrane sort of layer under it so just gently pry it open with your fingers to get under the skin. Try not to use a sharp object when doing this to prevent the skin from tearing.
  5. The meatiest part of the chicken is the breast/inner thigh area. If you are going to use a meat thermometer - this would be the best place to put it.
  6. If you have a meat thermometer, use it!
  7. For a one pan meal, add chopped veges (potato, sweet potato, yam, carrot, pumpkin etc) to the pan 40 minutes before the chicken is meant to be ready.
  8. Feel free to omit or change the seasonings used. Most important thing is to make sure that you butter under the skin!
  9. If you feel like you can't handle a whole chicken yet, buy chicken legs and do the same. But instead of stuffing the cavity, slice the lemons and onions and layer with chicken in a pan.
The Chai Ninja
 And there you have it. One step closer to moist, juicy and delicious homemade roast chicken! Easy isn’t it? Don’t be afraid to give it a go because even if the skin tears or you poke a hole in it (like I did…) the chicken will still be delicious. Hey, taste over looks ae. Try it and let me know how you get on! Share your masterpiece here or on my FB page. Till next time – .


P/s: I am sorry if you are watching your weight, the butter doesn’t help but it does make all the difference. I have tested this recipe with as little butter as possible while still retaining the awesome finish. So you know what, treat yourself once in awhile. You deserve those few extra calories. Hmm…maybe this is why I am not losing weight as quickly as I should be. 

Affordable, Chicken, Cooking 101, delicious, Easy, Family favourite, Make Ahead Meal, University Life

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