Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken

Thomas Keller's Roast Chicken

Look at that beautiful bird!

It might surprise some of you to know that I don’t have any problem admitting when I am wrong.

I like being right well enough, but if someone has a better idea or a better way or convinces me to try something new or different, I’m all for it. Bring it on.

So, if you remember when I declared that Smothered Chicken was the best roast chicken ever, I may have been slightly wrong because Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken is so ridiculously easy and so ridiculously juicy and so ridiculously good that I am hard pressed not to change my Best Roast Chicken vote in its favor.

This recipe came to me last year when my friend Roz sent me a link to a great “Tournament” on Buzzfeed for the Best Roast Chicken Recipe. They did a Final Four Style tournament with all the heavy hitters like Julia Child and Martha Stewart. After all was said and done, Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken came out on top.

I made it then but wasn’t totally convinced at the time. However, my friend Cody tried the recipe and raved and raved and raved and raved about about it and proceeded to launch a campaign to get me to reconsider. There were photos…many, many photos…

So I tried it again and I’m here to say what Cody, Buzzfeed, and the internets have known all along…


And, it couldn’t be easier!

Here’s what you need:

Thomas Keller's Roast Chicken Ingredients

Whole Chicken, Salt & Pepper. Optional but highly recommended are chicken broth and some fresh herbs like thyme and/or rosemary.

Mr. Keller suggests butter (yes, butter) and Dijon mustard for serving with the chicken. Mr. Keller is correct.

Click here for Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken Shopping List

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Yes, that is extremely hot but that’s what makes this bird so good.

That is also what will totally smoke out your kitchen if your oven is not completely & pristinely clean. Even with a clean oven, you will still have a fair amount of smoke but is this chicken worth it? YES IT IS!

First you need a nice chicken. Sometimes they call them roasters and sometimes they call them fryers. The only difference is size so buy the best looking bird you can find. Mine is about 4 pounds.

Be sure to take any innards out of the cavity of the chicken…sometimes the neck is in there too.

Rinse the bird if that’s your thing (the science keeps changing on that one…I’m a rinser but I’m also a clean-out-my-sink-er too) and pat it dry INSIDE and OUT.

Drying the bird is essential to having crisp skin.

You will also need a roasting pan, a rack if you have one, and some clean cooking string for trussing.

Half Assed Chicken Trussing

Speaking of trussing, I don’t really do it.

I know, I know…I own the Julia Child instructional video but I don’t have a trussing needle.

So, I present to you my Half Assed Trussing Method which works just fine.

Take 3 toothpicks and stick them through the skin to close up the cavity of the chicken. Then tie the legs together with some kitchen string to hold the chicken in shape and also protect the breast meat.

Perfect? No. Workable and easy? You bet!

Here is the important part:

Season the chicken with freshly ground black pepper then sprinkle it ALL OVER with good salt. I use sea salt. Kosher salt would also be a good option.

Thomas Keller suggests letting the salt “rain” over the bird…about 1 Tablespoon of salt total.


As you know, I am not a big salter however the salt here is essential to a crisp skin and a moist bird. I think not using enough salt is why my first attempt at cooking chicken this way was not so successful.

After you’ve seasoned your bird on all sides, place it in a roasting pan (on a rack if you have one) and tuck the tips of the wings under the breast so they don’t pop out and burn.


Roast the chicken for 50-60 minutes until it is gorgeous golden brown.

If you don’t want to set off your smoke detector, keep that oven door closed and don’t peek!

Use an instant read thermometer to be sure the chicken is cooked thoroughly. An internal temp of 160º and being sure any juices that come out run clear should do the trick.


Move your chicken to a sheet pan or platter then add ½ cup of chicken broth to the roasting pan and use a spoon to scrape up any browned bits.

I put my roasting pan directly on a burner of my stove over medium heat and scrape away.

At this point, you can also add 2 teaspoons of minced fresh herbs like thyme and/or rosemary to the pan.


Spoon the pan drippings over the resting bird to baste it.


Allow the bird to rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Thomas Keller's Roast Chicken

I don’t have the best carving skills but who cares when your chicken tastes this good!


I was skeptical about serving this with butter and Dijon but they take this chicken totally over the top.

You know that I am a gravy person, but honestly, a little butter on chicken is a GENIUS idea.

Thank you Thomas Keller for your most simple and amazing roast chicken recipe. I’m a believer!

Here’s the recipe:

Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken

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7 Responses

  1. Now to make a Roast Chicken more interesting, it could be stuffed with bread stuffing (like a Thanksgiving Turkey) or Meatloaf Stuffing! Now that is a total Treat! The chicken fat and juices mingling with the bodacious meatloaf dough! Two Meals in ONE with an absolute FLAVOR BURST!!!

  2. Glad to know the Thomas Keller method is THE way to go. It looks way beyond finger-lickin’ good!! Love your toothpick/twine idea for half-assed trussing. I have some very small metal skewers I keep for that purpose, but they have a way of getting lost in my kitchen “junk drawer.”

    I bet this chicken would create some killer sandwiches if there’s enough left over to make any next day. . .

  3. This brings up a good point….do NOT try to stuff this chicken before roasting. If you want stuffing, you’re better off to try a different recipe. Because this cooks at such a high heat for such a short amount of time, the stuffing would not cook and you would be left with the very real possibility of an undercooked bird. Also, what makes this recipe work and so good is that you dry the chicken, don’t add any liquid, and don’t add anything that will create steam so the bird really roasts. Just wanted to be sure this was clear for this particular recipe. 🙂

  4. Your half-assed trussing method is exactly what I do with one difference. I bend the wings back under the bird which keeps it upright and can’t roll over. Hard to describe but just imagine bending your little brother’s arm backward behind his back until it just about breaks, only with the chicken it doesn’t matter and nobody is going to yell at you later when he rats you out. (I was usually the little brother in this scenario but enough about me.)

    This method also keeps the wings from flailing outward and drying up too much while the rest of the bird isn’t done yet. Another method uses poultry pins to keep them close to the body but who has those???

    Also, you can cut a whole onion (or some garlic cloves) into 8ths and toss that into the cavity before trussing. This makes the bird come out with a nice flavor and retains moisture inside. My grandma always told me “A chicken loves an onion” and I think she was probably the best cook in the entire county.

    1. Hey, good tip on the wings. I’ve tried tucking them under and they always end up popping out. One recipe I read said to make a little slit in the skin and stuff the wing tips in there but that seems to defeat the purpose of keeping all the moisture IN the bird. Glad to know someone else shared my half assed trussing method. One of these days I’ll get a trussing needle and learn to do it the real way. Maybe. 🙂

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