Happy Thanksgiving

Best Thanksgiving Chicken Recipe

Thanksgiving Chicken Recipe

If you’re hosting a smaller group on Thanksgiving and can’t commit to a turkey, or just want to create a holiday vibe on short notice, this one-pan roasted chicken is just the thing. Homemade poultry seasoning, filled with classic flavors like sage, rosemary and thyme, makes your whole kitchen smell just like the holidays.

  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 2 hr 20 min
  • Active: 20 min
  • Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

Directions

Watch how to make this recipe.
  1. Rinse the chicken and pat very dry, inside and out. Combine the chopped rosemary, sage, thyme, 1 tablespoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and the nutmeg in a small bowl. Rub about two thirds of this salt mixture all over the chicken, inside and out. Stuff the herb sprigs inside the cavity. Set the chicken on a roasting rack to rest and dry at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Scatter the sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts and onions in the bottom of a large roasting pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the melted butter and sprinkle with the remaining salt-herb mixture. Toss well. Set the chicken and roasting rack over the vegetables. Roast until the chicken begins to brown, about 40 minutes.
  4. Toss the bread cubes in a large bowl with 2 tablespoons melted butter and season with salt and pepper. Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Carefully remove the rack and chicken and set aside; toss the bread cubes into the pan with the vegetables. Put the chicken and rack back over the vegetables and brush the chicken with the remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter.
  5. Continue to roast until the chicken skin is crisp and golden and the internal temperature reads 165 degrees F on an instant read thermometer when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh not touching bone, about 40 minutes more.
  6. Remove the chicken to a cutting board to rest for 15 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F. Toss the vegetables and bread and return to the oven until the vegetables are tender and caramelized and the bread cubes are golden brown and crisp, 5 to 10 minutes.
  7. Carve the chicken into serving pieces and pour any accumulated juice from the carving board over the roasted vegetables and bread. Toss the vegetables and bread again and serve.

Skip the Turkey! – It’s Time for Thanksgiving Chicken!

As we all start to plan for Thanksgiving dinner this time of year, some people will start to reconsider the turkey… & in hushed tones, as if asking for permission, they’ll ask: “Can you eat chicken on Thanksgiving?

My answer? ABSOLUTELY! There are no rules! If you want to serve a roasted Thanksgiving chicken instead, go for it. This Thanksgiving chicken recipe is a classic in my family – my brother has been serving it for years! We just love how easy it is to make this nontraditional Thanksgiving bird. Plus, serving an oven roasted whole chicken on Thanksgiving has some major advantages, while still delivering a classic poultry main course we all look forward to during the holidays.

Roasting a whole chicken is much faster than roasting a whole turkey – & we all know how precious oven space is on Thanksgiving! But the biggest advantage to a Thanksgiving chicken is portion size. If you’re having a small-scale Thanksgiving dinner & don’t need to feed a big crowd, then a Thanksgiving chicken is PERFECT for you. & if you are hosting a large gathering, then a Thanksgiving chicken will give you extra room on the table to showcase more side dishes! Let’s be honest…we all show up to Thanksgiving for the sides anyway, am I right? (Side note – if you love Thanksgiving sides as much as I do, then get ready for my favorite time of year…Sidesgiving!)

Thanksgiving Roast Chicken Highlights

You will adore this oven roasted whole chicken recipe because it is…

  • Perfect for Small-Scale Thanksgiving. A smaller 5 pound bird will feed a crowd of 5-7 people – perfect for a more low-key Thanksgiving dinner! – & you can still have some leftovers!
  • Affordable & Approachable. Large whole turkeys can be expensive depending on the price you’re paying per pound. If you don’t need that much meat, a more affordable whole chicken will be friendlier on your wallet. & whole chickens are easy to find at nearly any grocery store!
  • DELICIOUS. What makes this Thanksgiving chicken recipe special is the savory herb oil we use to quickly marinate the whole roasted chicken (secret ingredient: Worcestershire sauce!). It coats the bird in rich, delicious umami flavors, especially when combined with the herb butter we’ll also use to slather all over our Thanksgiving chicken!

Move over Thanksgiving turkey – Thanksgiving chicken is going to take over the dinner table this year! ♡ Read on to learn more about this Thanksgiving Chicken recipe, or jump straight to the recipe & get cookin’!

Oven Roasted Whole Chicken Key Ingredients

The key ingredients in this Thanksgiving chicken recipe are super flavorful, super simple holiday staples.

Note: full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.

You will need:

  • Whole Chicken. You can find a whole chicken at almost any grocery store – or even at your local farm! To make this recipe, buy a 4 to 5-pound whole chicken, trimming it of any excess fat & patting dry before use.
  • Herb Butter. I love herb butter! We’re going to make our own with unsalted buttergarlic, & fresh herbs, then slather it all over our whole chicken before roasting. It brings SO much flavor to this oven roasted whole chicken & it’s easy to whip up.
  • Savory Herb Oil. This herb oil makes our Thanksgiving chicken extra-special! You’ll need to prepare it a day in advance so the Worcestershire saucegarlic, & herbs have time to infuse into the olive oil.
  • Potatoes. Baby potatoes or mini creamer potatoes both work well here. They roast underneath the chicken, catching all of its schmaltzy goodness. (After all, every Thanksgiving table needs potatoes!)

What herbs pair with chicken? ⇢Thanks to its mild flavor, oven roasted chicken pairs beautifully with several fresh herbs like oreganorosemarysage, thyme, to name a few. Rather than buying fresh herbs individually, many grocery stores that sell fresh herbs also carry a “poultry blend” consisting of fresh rosemary, sage & thyme. I keep a couple of these poultry herb packs on hand during the holiday season since they pair well with everything from Thanksgiving chicken or turkey to potatoes!

How to Roast Whole Chicken

Let’s get ready to make our roast chicken dinner. If you don’t know how to roast a whole chicken, no worries. It’s super simple! This oven roasted whole chicken requires a small amount of prep, but then the oven does most of the work.

FIRST, PREP & SEASON (HERB BUTTER & SAVORY HERB OIL MARINADE)

There are two things you’ll need to season your Thanksgiving chicken: herb butter & savory herb oil. Both are going to layer TONS of amazing flavor on our oven roasted whole chicken.

First, a savory herb oil marinade. Important (!!) — this should be made a day in advance & kept at room temperature, allowing all the flavors to infuse. Worcestershire sauce is the secret ingredient in this savory herb oil. It’s a little sour, a little sweet, & a little spicy, lending an amazing umami flavor to our Thanksgiving chicken. It’s the BEST.

The herb butter is made by mixing fresh butter with garlic, rosemary, sage, & thyme. Then we’re going to spread the herb butter all over your chicken, working it between the chicken skin & meat with your hands. The more butter the better! When your Thanksgiving chicken is in the oven, the butter is going to melt & make your oven roasted whole chicken super juicy, with yummy garlic & herb flavors in every bite.

After you’ve buttered your chicken, you’re also going to marinate it quickly in this savory herb oil. This is what I mean by layers of flavor! Drizzle a generous amount over your whole chicken & let it sit for 30 minutes to marinate while the oven preheats.

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

ROAST YOUR THANKSGIVING CHICKEN 

Before this Thanksgiving chicken gets roasting, you’ll have to preheat the oven & cast iron skillet.

Cast iron skillets are awesome for roasting just about anything. Here’s the cast iron skillet I use, if you need one! You should always take the time to preheat your cast iron skillet. In this case, preheating your cast iron skillet in the oven gives the Thanksgiving chicken a faster, more even roast. Cast iron takes a little while to heat up, so when it gets all toasty in the oven our chicken will start sizzlin’ the moment we put it in the pan. This also helps get a delicious golden sear on the bird!

Once the oven & the cast iron skillet are hot, transfer your deliciously seasoned Thanksgiving chicken to the skillet & get roasting!

You’ll also be basting the Thanksgiving chicken in all its mouthwatering, herbaceous drippings about every 15 minutes to promote even browning & help it soak up tons of flavor as it roasts. Use a spoon or a brush to take the drippings out of the bottom of the skillet & drizzle them over your oven roasted whole chicken.

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

Thanksgiving Chicken Recipe FAQs

I get a lot of questions about how to roast a whole chicken. Let’s clear up some major Qs!

  • Should you cover a chicken with foil when roasting? The PWWB method for oven roasted whole chicken uses a cast iron skillet, so there’s no need for foil. A cast iron skillet roast chicken doesn’t need to be covered because it helps the chicken skin get crispy & golden-brown. Plus, we need to baste the chicken regularly to keep it moist & tender. If your chicken begins to brown too quickly, you can drape it with foil – I personally love browned, crispy chicken skin!
  • How long do I roast a chicken in the oven? We’re roasting this whole chicken in a few different phases: first for 30 minutes at 425 degrees F & then for 45-60 minutes at 400 degrees F. How long to roast a chicken can vary based on your oven & the size of your bird, but overall it should take you about 1 ½ – 2 hours. What’s most important is that the bird reaches the proper internal temperature.
  • What is a safe roast chicken temperature? Your roast chicken temperature should reach a safe 165 degrees F before serving. You can take the chicken out of the oven when the thickest part of the thigh registers 155 degrees F. As the oven roasted chicken rests before carving, it’ll continue to cook up to a safe 165 degrees.

How to Make Homemade Chicken Gravy

This step is optional for an oven roasted whole chicken. BUT it is Thanksgiving…the best time of year for gravy! Chicken gravy, like turkey gravy, complements your main course & pairs perfectly with classic sides like mashed potatoes & stuffing. Like my Easy Turkey Gravy recipe, we’re going to make this chicken gravy from all of the juicy chicken drippings that accumulate in the cast iron skillet as the bird roasts – that’s where all the best flavor is!

So let’s talk about how to make chicken gravy. If you’ve ever made turkey gravy before, it’s going to feel very familiar.

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

How to make gravy from chicken drippings:

First, gather the fatty, flavorful chicken drippings from the skillet into a bowl or large liquid measuring cup. These drippings are overflowing with all the butter-herb flavors we layered onto our oven roasted whole chicken. They’re the perfect base for our chicken gravy!

Skim half of the oil from the surface of the chicken drippings & then add the liquid back to the skillet over medium-low heat. Make a dark roux by sprinkling the flour into the fatty drippings & whisking constantly. After a few minutes pour in some white wine, reduce the liquid, & then add in chicken stock. Keep whisking! Once the gravy reaches your desired thickness then it’s ready to serve.

I also like to add heavy cream to this chicken gravy. Without it, the chicken gravy may be pretty dark in color due to the Worcestershire sauce in the savory marinade. Totally your preference! Making chicken gravy is really all about judgment, so go with what feels (& tastes!) right.

Carving & Serving

This Thanksgiving chicken is ready for the dinner table!

Your oven roasted whole chicken will look beautiful on a serving platter next to your potatoes & a garnish of fresh herbs. I love how picture-perfect the Thanksgiving chicken’s crispy, golden brown skin is, & the smell of all those roasted herbs is absolutely amazing! It’s a dreamy Thanksgiving chicken!

You can also carve a Thanksgiving chicken just like you would a Thanksgiving turkey! It might be a smaller bird, but it’s a very similar technique.

All that’s left is to give thanks & enjoy a slightly nontraditional, but exceptionally delicious home-cooked Thanksgiving chicken with those you love. Happy holidays!

I can’t wait for you to try this Thanksgiving Chicken recipe! It delivers all of the flavors of a classic turkey dinner & leaves more room on your Thanksgiving table for side dishes. I know you’ll love it just as much as my family does!

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