Have you ever attempted to make a whole chicken in your oven? Were you disappointed that it was dry or tasteless even though you added plenty of salt, vegetables in the cavity, herbs, and aromatics? I bet you said, “Forget this! I’m going to buy a rotisserie chicken from the store!”
I hear you. I really do. I’ve spent many years trying to get my roast chicken to come out just right. All those mistakes finally led me to a point where I am confident in making a chicken that tastes as delicious as, and sometimes better than, a rotisserie chicken. Up until recently, I still hadn’t nailed the moist part.
Now I’ve finally figured it out.
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How to Brine a Chicken
In order to get your chicken to be moist every time, you need to brine it. Before this chicken, I had never brined any bird before. A lot of people brine their Thanksgiving turkeys, but chicken? It’s not as common to hear about someone brining a chicken.
Brining a chicken does take extra effort, but it is so worth it. The flavor of the chicken can go deeper than just the surface and it rivals a rotisserie chicken from your grocery store any day. I’m actually looking forward to making this for my mother-in-law, because she always talks very highly of the Costco rotisserie chickens. I’m willing to bet she’ll love this one even more!
If you do decide you want to brine a chicken, you’ll have to plan ahead. If your chicken is frozen, you don’t want to get it out of the freezer the day before you’re going to cook it. Get the frozen chicken out at least 3 days ahead so it has two days to defrost and 1 day to brine. Sometimes two days is not long enough for my chicken to thaw, so I submerge it in some cool water for a couple hours and keep changing the water until it is completely defrosted.
You should plan on about one day (or at least 8 hours) to brine your chicken. Give yourself plenty of time to cook it as well.
My chicken was 5 pounds, so be sure to adjust the seasonings in the ingredient list below if your chicken is smaller or larger.
Better Than Rotisserie Roast Chicken
Recipe adapted from Allrecipes
3/4 cup kosher salt*
2/3 cup sugar or honey
5-10 cloves garlic, crushed
1 T. black peppercorns
1 gallon warm water
1 whole chicken (5-6 pounds)
The only required ingredients are the salt, sugar, water, and chicken. The black peppercorns and garlic are for added flavor. You can also add herbs and other spices if desired. In other words, make it your own.
Get out a large pot or container (at least 6 quarts – something like this storage container*) and add the salt, sugar, garlic, and peppercorns. Pour a gallon of warm water over the ingredients and stir it around until the salt and sugar are dissolved.
In the meantime, get your chicken ready. Remove the giblets then put it in the brine. Put the container in the fridge for at least 8 hours. Flip it over about half way through. You can leave it for as long as 24 hours, but it’s not necessary. If you want to learn more about brining, Alton Brown has a great segment you can watch.
Remove the chicken from the brine (it’s cold just so you’re aware!) and pat it down with some paper towels. Some people like to rinse the chicken to remove some of the salty solution, but you might want to try the pat down method the first time and see if you like it that way.
Turn on your oven to 425 F.
Place the chicken on a roasting rack in a roasting pan (I like to line the roasting pan with aluminum foil for easy clean up). Tuck the wings under the bird and tie the drumsticks together. If you don’t have string to tie them together, you can cut the skin on one side and pull the legs through. Watch this segment for more details. I tried to do the skin method, but it didn’t work out and that’s why the legs are just up there in the air!
Put the chicken in the oven. Turn on the timer for 15-20 minutes. Now lower your temperature to 350 F (although I like to put it somewhere between 350 and 375) and continue cooking your chicken according to the weight. You need to cook the chicken 20 minutes per pound, so if you have a 5 pound chicken, it should be in there for another 100 minutes, or 1 hour and 40 minutes. If you have a meat thermometer, check it before you take it out to make sure it is 165 F for safety. Let it rest for about 10 minutes so the juices can distribute evenly throughout the bird.
Total cooking time will be around 2 hours or more, so plan on that. If dinner will be at 6:30, make sure to put the bird in the oven at least by 4:10.
You are welcome to add some salt, pepper, or other seasonings on top of the bird right before you put it in the oven. I roasted it without anything extra (not even oil or butter), and it came out tasting great. Watch out for that skin! It’s addicting!
Cost to Make Better Than Rotisserie Roast Chicken
Kosher salt – $0.43
Sugar – $0.11
Garlic – $0.16
Black peppercorns – $0.23
Chicken – $5
Total cost – $5.93
You can probably find a rotisserie chicken that is cheaper than this. That’s just fine. But if you’re a foodie, you’re gonna want to make your own. Besides, you can control the ingredients in your own chicken. The rotisserie one probably has some other ingredients you don’t want in your body.
Now, please do not start making this chicken thinking that it is somehow easier than running to the store and buying a rotisserie chicken. That is not the case at all. Obviously, you could pick up a nice rotisserie chicken 10 minutes before dinner and not lift a finger before and after eating it. Making a roast chicken at home takes some effort. You have to prepare the chicken and clean up after making it. It’s definitely not a quick meal. That’s not to deter you from making it, I just don’t want your expectations to be something else.
So if you’re tired of trying to get your roast chicken to be moist and truly flavorful, give this better than rotisserie roast chicken a try. Your family will praise and honor you profusely. I guarantee it. 😉
Are you a fan of rotisserie chickens?
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