I’m just going to start off by saying while this cooking method might not look easy, I promise it’s actually easy AF and results in the best baked chicken EVER. There’s some “weird” stuff going on sure, but don’t knock it till you try it!
I tend to cook with a lot of chicken. It’s cheap, it tastes good, and you can really do a lot with it. But baking a whole chicken is one of those things I tend to stay away from. Why you ask? Well…have you ever tried baking an entire chicken? You season it to perfection, stuff it with lemons and garlic and herbs, and basically work really hard to make it amazing, just for it to somehow end up drier than the Sahara desert while the inside is magically left raw? Or is that just me….
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Maybe I’m just terrible at baking chickens. Or at least I was until I stumbled across this recipe by Alton Brown (aka my kitchen idol). While his recipe/method is for a turkey, I just changed the cooking time to make it work for a chicken and HOLY MOLY did it turn out amazing! It was seriously the best, juiciest, most flavorful baked chicken I’ve ever had, even though it was the strangest way I’ve cooked one. Even Lily was like “Wow mom, that looks GOOD!”
To get in the technical reasons why this method works better than just throwing your entire chicken in the oven:
1) By butterflying your chicken it will cook evenly, meaning you won’t end up with dry spots or raw spots in the same chicken like I somehow always seem to do.
2) By “dry brining” (aka marinating) your chicken, you end up with flavorful meat rather than just flavorful skin, resulting in something very similar to the rotisserie chickens you can buy in stores.
3) Also by dry bringing with a spice mixture high in salt, it breaks down the proteins in the meat a bit, resulting in juicy chicken. Or some other science-y stuff.
What You’ll Need
So lets get into how to actually cook it. First gather up your supplies:
- 1 whole raw defrosted chicken
- 1 head of garlic (optional)
- 1 yellow onion (optional)
- 1 lemon (optional)
** I leave the spices option up to you, but I’ve listed out some of my common spice blends below. I rarely measure out my seasonings, but for this recipe I used a store-bought Jamacian Jerk seasoning blend, and just added salt (approx 3 tbs) **
- Spice Blend #1: 1 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp dried rosemary, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper, 3 tbs salt
- Spice Blend #2: 1 tbs cajun seasoning (I use this one), 1 tbs Italian herb seasoning blend, 1 1/2 tbs salt
- Spice Blend #3: 1 1/2 tsp dill, 1 tsp parsley, 1 tsp rosemary, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper, 3 tbs salt
For this method, you’ll also need:
- 1 large baking sheet
- 1 square baking dish/pan
- drying/cooling rack
- aluminum foil
- kitchen shears
How To Cook It
To start, butterfly your chicken. Using kitchen shears, cut out the spine (kinda gross, I know), then lay your chicken flat in a square baking pan or dish. Be sure to use a dish with high sides so any liquid doesn’t leak all over your fridge! Season both sides with your desired spices (making sure to use salt), then place uncovered on the lowest shelf in your fridge to marinate overnight. You can leave it in your fridge for up to 3 days if desired.
Side note: Any time we doing anything crazy with chicken we always wear gloves just so we don’t have to constantly wash our hands. ALSO – be sure to sanitize your counters/sink/anything else your chicken might have come in contact with once you’ve put it in the fridge (and then later the oven) – salmonella and food poisoning is no joke!
Once marinated, pre-heat your oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a cooling rack on top. Then place your chicken on top of the rack like so:
I like to place chunks of onion and garlic cloves under the chicken while it’s baking for extra flavor, but it’s not necessary! Bake at 350F for about an hour, or until the internal temperature reaches 165F.
Doesn’t it look delicious? I personally love having it with homemade mashed potatoes or mac and cheese and a mixed salad, but these are some good options too!
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We can generally eat on a whole chicken like this for a few meals – I love using the leftover meat in a pot pie, quesadilla, salad, or in homemade chicken noodle soup. Plus, you can make your own chicken stock too!
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So what do you think? Have you tried baking a chicken before? Would you try this method?
Comment below or email me at email@example.com!