I LOVE roasting chickens. I’m not sure why it always feels so special to me, but something about roasting a whole bird elevates dinner to a different level. It’s a celebration for no particularly special reason; a Sunday night or a friend for dinner? Date night in? Roasted chicken fits the bill.
It’s also incredibly useful. One roasted chicken can feed two people, leave enough leftover meat to use in another recipe or two, and you can save the carcass for stock (confession I don’t!) But you totally could.
I’ve cooked whole chickens 100 different ways. Some in a crock pot, in a round oven, in a roasting pan, a jelly roll pan, on the grill, but I had never roasted one in a cast iron skillet until this recipe.
Tieghan from Half Baked Harvest made this Gorgeous Roast Chicken on a bed of grapes in a cast iron skillet, and I was ogling it so much, I decided to try my own version.
The only real thing I was worried about was how splattered my oven would get while the fat and juices rendered out of the chicken. I usually use my round oven with the lid off. The high sides minimize splatter, but the open top allows the chicken to get brown and crispy (<—– this is my favorite).
A cast iron pan will definitely yield crispy skin, but the sides are so low, I was worried about the huge mess.
Taylor and I are living with his parents, and while it’s one thing to get chicken juices splattered all over the inside of your own oven, I wouldn’t recommend creating a disastrous mess in a shared oven!
Aluminum foil to the rescue! I puzzled over it for a while and finally decided that I would try to recreate the round oven situation. High foil sides with an open top. I ended up closing the top after an hour because I got impatient and wanted it to cook faster. It turned out great though, because it ended up being browned, but still very moist, aka kind of perfect!
I layed 4 pieces of foil in the center of a jelly roll pan in a cross shape. Each piece was about 20 inches long. I placed the cast iron skillet right in the middle where all the pieces touched, then pulled the sides up and formed a wall around the pan. I had to remove all racks but one from the oven and put the rack in the lowest position, so there was enough room for the foil.
I explain this process in more detail in the recipe itself. Keep scrolling!
Basting it every 10 minutes had a lot to do with the juiciness of this chicken. It doesn’t even have time to think about drying out before you douse it again in a mixture of orange juice, honey and smoky/warm spices!
I chose fresh squeezed orange juice for the main part of the basting liquid, because Taylor had just made a huge batch of juice from his parents’ orange trees. Plus, I have a hard time not including citrus in any chicken recipe. Hence my Baked Maple Lime Drumsticks. I also added red chili pepper flakes to both of these.
I likes what I likes (sorry…not that sorry though)
How do you like to roast your chicken?
- 1 whole chicken, 4-5 lbs, rinsed and patted dry.
- 4 oranges, cut into 1” slices
- 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 6-8 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice, pulp strained out
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tbl olive oil + more for pan
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Remove all oven racks except for one, and put it in the lowest position.
- In a small bowl, whisk together orange juice, honey, cumin, red pepper flakes and paprika. Set aside.
- Put half the onion, 2 sprigs thyme, and garlic cloves inside the cavity of the chicken. Tie the feet together with kitchen twine.
- Rub the inside of a 10” cast iron skillet with butter or olive oil.
- Place remaining orange pieces, onions, and thyme sprigs in the skillet.
- Place chicken in skillet on top of orange and onion pieces.
- Rub chicken with 2 tbl olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper.
- Pour the orange juice mixture over the chicken.
- In the center of a standard size jelly roll pan, lay 4 pieces of aluminum foil, each about 20 inches With all the ends touching, two lengthwise, and two crosswise, place the skillet on the intersection of all the ends of the foil.
- Lift up all the pieces of foil to make a wall around the skillet. Only lift them up straight, don't pull them together at the top. You want air to be able to get in the top.
- These walls will prevent fat and juice from splattering the inside of your oven.
- Bake for 10 minutes, and then pour the liquid over the chicken by collecting excess juices in a baster and squirting it on the breasts and thighs. Do this every 10 minutes until it's been 60 minutes.
- After 60 minutes, connect the foil at the top so it's completely closed and put back in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Check temperature. If the temperature has reached 160 degrees when a thermometer is inserted in the thickest part of the thigh, take it out, but if it's not, baste it one more time, and continue to cook with the foil closed over it and check every 10 minutes until it reaches 160 degrees and juices run clear in the thigh.
- Once you take it out of the oven, let it rest, covered for 10 minutes before cutting.