Barbara Kafka's Simplest Roast Chicken

By • May 18, 2012 • 65 Comments

2,185 Save

If you like it, save it!

Save and organize all of the stuff you love in one place.

Got it!

If you like something…

Click the heart, it's called favoriting. Favorite the stuff you like.

Got it!


Author Notes: Barbara Kafka's basic formula for roasting chickens in the high-heat method is about ten minutes to the pound for a chicken at room temperature, untrussed. Feel free to adapt this recipe up or down for larger or smaller birds using this rule (up to 7 pounds). Kafka urges us to have fun: "This is not astrophysics." Try stuffing instead with herbs, shallots, a quartered small onion, celery leaves, or juice or blood orange wedges. Recipe adapted from Adapted from Roasting: A Simple Art (William Morrow, 1995)Genius Recipes

Serves 2-4

  • 5- to 6-pound chicken at room temperature, wing tips removed
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 4 whole garlic cloves
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup chicken stock, water, fruit juice, or wine for optional deglazing
  1. Place rack on second level from bottom of oven. Heat oven to 500°F (or for convection, reduce to 450°F).
  2. Remove the fat from the tail and crop end of the chicken. Freeze the neck and giblets for stock. Reserve chicken livers for another use.
  3. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the lemon, garlic, and butter, if using. Season the cavity and skin with salt and pepper.
  4. Place the chicken in a 12 x 8 x 1 1/2-inch roasting pan breast side up. Put in the oven legs first and roast 50 to 60 minutes, or until the juices run clear. After the first 10 minutes, move the chicken with a wooden spoon or spatula to keep it from sticking.
  5. Remove the chicken to a platter by placing a large wooden spoon into the tail end and balancing the chicken with a kitchen spoon pressed against the crop end. As you lift the chicken, carefully tilt it over the roasting pan so that all the juices run out and into the pan.
  6. Optional: Pour off or spoon out excess fat from the roasting pan and put the roasting pan on top of the stove. Add the stock or other liquid and bring the contents of the pan to a boil, while scraping the bottom vigorously with a wooden spoon. Let reduce by half. Serve the sauce over the chicken or, for crisp skin, in a sauceboat.
Jump to Comments (65)

Comments (65) Questions (2)

Default-small
Default-small
Open-uri20140509-17452-1fz4p19

7 months ago SpaCook

I have to make a very large dinner and ideally need to roast two chickens at once--is this a terrible idea, or should it work provided they don't touch?

Default-small

7 months ago Trena

SpaCook - I roast 2 chickens a lot and it works perfectly!

Ashley

8 months ago Ashley Marie

I used a 4.6lb chicken and it needed 75 minutes, not 50-60, but mine wasn't brought to room temp. In addition to the lemon, garlic and butter, I also stuffed the cavity with some thyme and a little onion. Made the pan sauce with the drippings and 1/2 cup homemade chicken stock, 1/2 cup extra dry vermouth. Everything was delicious - But my bird didn't look like the bird in the picture. The skin was crisp, especially on the breast and the upper part of the thighs, but the rest - while brown - wasn't super crisp. Easy, no-fuss recipe.

Pancakestwitter

8 months ago WhatsEating

This was incredibly simple and delicious. The high heat as well as not rubbing butter on the skin are out of my comfort zone but yielded perfectly cooked white and dark meat and golden brown, crisp skin. Next time I'll try it without the optional butter in the cavity, just for experimentation's sake.

Default-small

8 months ago robin lewis

does this recipe recommend the 2nd lowest rack position because the chicken is supposed to be farther away from or closer to the heat source? (i have a separate broiler oven underneath my regular oven, so the heat source is below the regular oven.)

With-giant-tomato

10 months ago MRubenzahl

This is a good technique but I can't agree with "50 to 60 minutes, or until the juices run clear." Instant read thermometer is a must, in my opinion. Remove from the oven when an instant-read thermometer reads 155 degrees F in the thickest part of the breast. The thickest portion of the thigh should be 10-15 degrees higher. Rest for 10-20 minutes and the temperatures should rise another 10 degrees.

Stringio

11 months ago pattyrat

I love this recipe, it is now in regular rotation at my house. So easy. I roast it in a cast iron skillet and have added potatoes and carrots to the pan to cook along with the chicken - very good. I have also placed a separate pan of vegetables in the oven along with the chicken to roast - a fantastic, simple, delicious dinner.

Mirrors

11 months ago Don Roszel

I've roasted lots of chickens in my day, usually via the Julia Childs technique of basting every 10 minutes or so. this recipe was as good as hers and a lot easier (no basting). I put a greased cast iron skillet in the oven while it was heating, and then put the chicken in the hot skillet to roast. Used a ThermaPen temperature probe where the thigh and the breast meet. All I can say is, "wow!" Crispy skin, tasty and tender meat.

Default-small

11 months ago Carlynn Houghton

This was delicious, but it did spatter the oven quite a bit. I covered it with tin foil for part of the cooking time because of this, and then needed to cook it for ten minutes longer.

With-giant-tomato

10 months ago MRubenzahl

Might find that reducing oven temperature just 25-50° makes a big difference. In other splattery applications I have found it helps and doesn't hurt the roasting or browning a lot,

Sangak1

about 1 year ago Golab

I've never roasted a chicken before, this recipe was my first time! thank you so much! I do have a question however: the breast was already well cooked and drying but the bottom/drumsticks were still not cooked. How do we make sure that it is cooked evenly?

Default-small

about 1 year ago Fresh

I did not have this problem. Did you put the chicken on the rack indicatd by the recipe? This ensure the breast is further from the heat than the bottom of the chicken?

Default-small

about 1 year ago mschrank

I'm guessing you might have taken the chicken straight from the fridge and then put it in the oven? If so, next time try letting it sit at room temp for 30-40 minutes before it goes in the oven.

With-giant-tomato

10 months ago MRubenzahl

Agree with mschrank's suggestion. In addition, make sure the legs are loose (not trussed) so the heat can get into the thigh area. But if the legs are not done, do this: Remove from oven when the breasts are at 155. Remove legs and move the rest to a platter to rest (you want a 10-20 minute rest anyway). Put legs back in pan until they reach temp (another 10 minutes, probably).

Natural_hair_babies

about 1 year ago BabyKakes

This chicken was absolutely delicious!!! Fanned and faved!!! Just one NEGATIVE comment, if you (commenters) aren't going to follow the recipe EXACTLY, then why are you posting about the finished product not being like you hoped. If you tried/followed the recipe and it didn't work out, that' what I want to know about. Sharing new recipes, flipping the bird to breast down, adding rosemary are not part of BK's recipe. BK's chicken recipe came out fabulous as is! Will make this at least once a week and then maybe, maybe, maybe for variations try different seasonings.

Default-small

about 1 year ago Fresh

I've made lots of roast chicken recipes over the last 30 years, and this was a hit at our house. Keep a window or door open if, like us, your kitchen is not adequately ventilated. Wonderfully moist chicken!

Parmigiano-reggiano_gal

about 1 year ago PRST

No need to turn the bird breast down in the roasting pan, the breast meat always comes out juicy. The high heat and fast cooking time is the key.

Stringio

about 1 year ago Edna Henry Esquivel

This sounds great, but I would still turn the bird on its breast so that gravity can help to keep the breast moist. Please DON'T use canola, the plants that it's made from have been genetically modified.

Default-small

about 1 year ago mschrank

I agree with PRST above...turning the bird around is unnecessary and a good way to burn yourself and make a mess. Given the short cooking time, the breast doesn't have time to dry out.

Default-small

7 months ago Jim

All food is and has been genetically modified, it's the timing and techniques. Today's genetically modified are targetted alterations rather than the shot gun and inbredding (and time) of animals and plants needed achieve more milk, more rows of corn per ear, pest resistance, etc. etc. over the last cople of milleniums.

Photo_(2)

about 1 year ago ehrrin

Fantastic recipe. This is going to be my go-to from now on! (I roasted carrots in the pan, too, and they were amazing.)

Default-small

about 1 year ago mimin

Delicious, juicy meat, & crispy skin. It did make some smoke, but blasting the vent cleared it right out. I will definitely make it again!

Default-small

over 1 year ago Chloe8

Thanks for the best roast chicken recipe!

Default-small

over 1 year ago Trena

I roast chicken a lot and this has become my go-to recipe. It's fast, easy, and delicious!

Parmigiano-reggiano_gal

over 1 year ago PRST

I've been roasting my Thanksgiving turkey this way too, for years, thanks to Barbara and Gourmet Magazine. Simply THE best!!! Smoke has never been a problem but I am diligent about keeping my oven clean. I roast all my vegetables at 500 degrees too- green beans, cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, asparagus........a little olive, salt and pepper- simple, unadulterated and oh so yummy.

Open-uri20130216-16625-13z076r-0

over 1 year ago Humphrey Pardal

I would urge everyone to try, what I consider the easiest and best, roast chicken and that is Rozanne Gold's Naked Roast Chicken. All she does is place a 4 pound chicken in a small roasting pan, just large enough to hold the chicken. It goes in breast side down in a preheated 475 degree oven. After 30 minutes she turns it over and bastes with the pan juices. Roasts 40 minutes longer, until the chicken is cooked through. She sprinkles it with salt and allows it to rest 5 minutes. The best roast chicken I have ever made - Perfectly juicy every time. Reduce the time if the chicken is less than 4 pounds. My only recommendation would be to lightly spray the pan with canola oil to prevent the skin from sticking. The chicken goes very well with Gourmet's Black Pepper-Maple Sauce.

Default-small

over 1 year ago mschrank

Just a follow-up note: I tried the trick I mentioned below and it worked great! No smoke! And a few slices of deliciously flavored potatoes for the cook (the ones around the outside we're black, but the slices under the chicken were decadent). Glad I found a way to enjoy this great method without smoking the family out of the house.

Img_0391

over 1 year ago deanna1001

Perfectly simple and lovely. So what the alarm went off. Will set exhaust fan up next time and make sure oven is clean!

Red_rocks

over 1 year ago MaSaBeMama

does anyone else ever end up with disgusting fluid inside the cavity of roast chicken / turkey? any idea how to avoid this? Thanks

Default-small

over 1 year ago mschrank

Do you rinse the inner cavity when you rinse the chicken? I've never had anything but clear juicy goodness come out of cavity....

Red_rocks

over 1 year ago MaSaBeMama

yes, I have. I'm trying this tonight - will report tomorrow!

Open-uri20130215-30609-1iynts3-0

almost 2 years ago Tra Van

thanks barbara kafka.

Open-uri20130215-30609-1iynts3-0

almost 2 years ago Tra Van

I tried this last wk and it came out perfect, wasn't sure whether to chopped the garlic/squeeze the lemon, Anyway I didnt, now I can make roast chicken crispy/now i'll add my only flavor. Just rmbr to baste it which I didn't,so it stays tender/don't overcook. I had no issues with smoke why should you, even though I've never put my oven on 450 before.

Default-small

almost 2 years ago Joan Jones

It is the best I ever ate. Thanks

Default-small

almost 2 years ago patjoneszz

I have been using Kafkas recipe successfully for more than a decade by following these Cardinal rules: be sure bird is completely thawed and our of refrigerator for 30-40 minutes prior to cooking, do not open stove door for first 40 minutes, be absolutely sure your oven is completely clean.

Stringio

almost 2 years ago Susan Talley Smith

I loved it! So moist and flavorful!!! And SO EASY! I turned the vent on and had no problems with smoke. I'll definitely make it again!

Default-small

almost 2 years ago muffintop

So I decided to give this recipe a shot. As others mention, the smoke is a bit heavy but I cracked windows and turned on the exhaust fans in advance and managed to avoid setting off the alarms. I was not able to have my chicken sit out to room temperature prior to cooking (although thawed) and adjusted the time from 10 min per pound to 15 minutes per pound (I roasted a 5 lb chicken). I stuffed it with shallots, garlic, lemon, and butter. I sprinkled a bit of Pampered Chef's Rosemary herb seasoning mix and garlic salt on top. We had no complaints, the chicken crisped up nicely and was cooked fully thru without issues. The breast was a little dry at the top but a slice or two into it the breast meat was moist. We agreed to make this again in the spring with the windows open. HA! I give it an 8 out of 10.

Default-small

almost 2 years ago [email protected]

This recipe turned out awful as other reviewers have stated. The alarm went off, had to tell the alarm company to stand down and as soon as I cut into the leg, blood. After cooing for almost an hour, the chicken is back in the oven, the sides are getting cold and we're still tring to get the smoke out. The alarms are silent but the girlfriend isnt.

Stringio

over 1 year ago Antony McGregor Dey

Check the temperature of your oven with an oven thermometer. I found that our temp was off by 150F at 500F the thermometer I bought only registered 350f.

Stringio

almost 2 years ago Nancy Johnson

Worst roasted chicken recipe I have ever made and I've made plenty. If you enjoy the house smoking up hearing your smoke detectors going off, then have at it. The sauce that is made at the end is horrible. The only thing that was good about this chicken was that it looked good. I had to cook it longer than the recommended time given as it was still pink inside, thus more smoke in the kitchen. I should have listened to the comment about cooking it at such a high heat for such a short time.

Default-small

almost 2 years ago JGinLSL

I intend to try this using my electric barbecue grill outside, to eliminate any smoking problems. Since the grill is electric, the cooking should be the same.

Default-small

almost 2 years ago Passion

Does anyone know what "chocolate shot" is? The rum ball recipe says to roll in shot or sprinkle....?

Stringio

almost 2 years ago Sallyn

Where can I find the 'tenderloin' recipe?

Default-small

almost 2 years ago shelia denise

which liquid is best to use for the stock?

Stringio

almost 2 years ago Bernard Avallone

chicken can even be used in fish dishes

Default-small

almost 2 years ago titanium05

I wasn't sure from the instructions if I should place a lid on my roaster pan or not. Did you cook it covered or uncovered?

Default-small

almost 2 years ago dawnrb45

my second comment is a correction from my initial comment!!ugh i wish we could edit our posts!!

Default-small

almost 2 years ago dawnrb45

I have seen this enfamercial on t.v. advertising this cooker that cooks frozen turkey's, chicken,and basically any meats!!

Default-small

almost 2 years ago dawnrb45

I can't wait to try this!i have seen this enfamercial on t.v. advertising this cooker thator half cooks frozen solid turkeys, chicken, and basically any meats......it cooks them in like 30 to 60 minutes from solid frozen!!! They were saying how moist, and yummy the meat was done when it was done!! So in retrospect, if that can be acomplishedfor sure this recipe can!!

Default-small

almost 2 years ago patjoneszz

Kafka's technique is also great for turkey. A 13 lb bird in about an hour or so.

Default-small

almost 2 years ago mschrank

I tried this again, just placing one bird in the pan. Smoked out again! I just read a tip on the Cook's Illustrated site: Line the pan with thinly sliced potatoes to absorb the grease/juice and stop the smoking. I'll try this next time, since I don't make gravy from the drippings anyway. Also, I found a whole lemon stuffed the cavity too much and prevented the bird from cooking evenly (no heat could get into the cavity). All this notwithstanding, it was one of the best roast chickens I've made!

Default-small

almost 2 years ago Kristina Robbins

This was absolutely delicious. I put garlic cloves, lemon slices and ginger slices in the cavity. The meat was moist and amazing, the skin crispy, the sauce from the juices divine. But I did get a kitchen full of smoke even with cutting off fat from tail and crop. Any suggestions for eliminating the smoke?

Default-small

about 2 years ago mschrank

The result was great, but am I the only one who had a house full of smoke resulting from this? I did two birds at once, placed on a roasting rack in a large roasting pan. The high heat combined with the drippings onto the hot roasting pan resulted in the need to remove the batteries from the nearest smoke detector and lingering smell of over-roasted chicken for 3 days! I'll they this again, but place only one bird directly on the bottom of a roasting pan as directed.

Img_0472

about 2 years ago darksideofthespoon

I've made this once before and loved it. We're doing it again tonight, with brined chicken (using Thomas Keller's brine). Last time I didn't stuff the cavity at all, but it turned out astounding.

Img_7818

about 2 years ago EmilyC

I finally tried this method over the weekend after contemplating every which way I could prepare two chickens. I thought about the Ruhlman rosemary brine, the Judy Rodgers dry rub, spatchcocking and grilling, etc. -- the number of ways to prepare a chicken is dizzying! Because I wanted something truly simple (with no advance prep), this recipe fit the bill. It yielded the most succulent birds and by far the crispiest skin I've ever gotten on a chicken. The recipe really doesn't seem all that different from others -- but somehow the sequence of steps is unique and truly genius.

Default-small

about 2 years ago LMM

Good! I have found the PERFECT way to time roast chicken like this. 15 minutes per pound plus an additional 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Perfectly cooked each time.

Default-small

over 2 years ago amyeik

Ahh finally. I did it! The perfect roast chicken. My not-too-dry paranoia was assuaged and my boyfriend's not-too-not-done paranoia was calmed as well. Yay!

Default-small

over 2 years ago ColoradoCook

Gosh, this was so easy and so lovely. I too have tried many other roasting methods, many to great success, but none as easy and juicy as this. I still spatchcock my turkeys for Thanksgiving, as it cuts down greatly on the roasting time and I have only one oven. But I will never make a chicken another way again. Thanks for bringing us "back to basics".

Default-small

over 2 years ago ellenu

I'd been using Keller's method for a few years and liked it. The Kafka chicken is even better--I just tried it tonight. I think the thighs cook better in this version, and yet the breast doesn't overcook.

Stringio

over 2 years ago solomon.welch

My new go to recipe!! Loved it!

Tucker

over 2 years ago Kendall

This is one of my "go to" techniques, when I want to demonstrate that cooking well doesn't require a lot of gadgetry and arcane skill. The high heat throws em, but once demonstrated- it's rather like a religious conversion.

Default-small

over 2 years ago Cathy Gordon

I love this one. I make it all the time. The other one that is very good is the Tenderloin recipe.

Default-small

over 2 years ago Patsy

Sometimes not getting hooked by every recipe that comes down the pike is a blessing. I have this recipe from the original release of book and still use it to great success. Many of her recipes including microwave risotto are great.

Default-small

almost 2 years ago emcsull

glad somebody else is so unorthodox they admit to liking the microwave risotto recipes !