Roast Chicken

As a child we always had a “Sunday Roast”. When I moved to the UK it became obvious this was a tradition inherited from our British forbearers. In my home we roasted beef and lamb but roast chicken was my favourite.

Roast Chicken

Steven Thomas


Ingredients for Roast Chicken

  • 1 x 1.5 kg chicken
  • Stuffing of choice
  • Basting sauce of choice

Basting Sauce 1 - Salt and Pepper

  • Sea Salt and Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Olive

Basting Sauce 2 - Soya Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon light soya sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Basting Sauce 3 - Wine

  • 25 grams oil or melted butter
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients for Traditional Herb Stuffing

  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery very finely chopped
  • [Optional] 1-2 grated lemon rind
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or other herbs
  • 1 egg white or yolk but not both
  • 4 slices of stale bread crumbled (or replace bread with rice or pasta; or replace 1/2 bread with chopped mushrooms)

Ingredients for Lemon Stuffing

  • 1 lemon with eight deep cuts (but not slicing right through)
  • 3 cloves garlic flattened but unpeeled
  • [Optional] 2 or 3 sprigs of fresh tarragon thyme or oregano

Extra ingredients for Light Chicken Gravy

  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock you can boil the giblets in 3 cups of water to make the stock
  • [Optional] 2 tablespoons sherry
  • S+P


Instructions for Roast Chicken

  • Preheat oven to 180ºC or 200ºC (see aside on cooking times) with the roasting tray already inside the oven
  • Remove chicken from fridge
  • Remove giblets from body cavity (if any)
  • Wash and dry chicken inside and out
  • Leave chicken to reach room temperature
  • Prepare stuffing of choice
  • Mix together ingredients of your basting sauce of choice
  • Stuff chicken with stuffing of choice
  • Place chicken in roasting tray so the breast is up
  • Rub basting sauce of choice all over the chicken
  • Cook, basting during cooking, until done (you can tell if the bird is cooked by piercing the inner thigh with a skewer. Pink juices means it needs longer; clear juices means it is cooked.)
  • Leave the cooked chicken in a warm place for 5-1 min before carving to allow the meat to 'set'

Instructions for Traditional Herb Stuffing

  • Cook onion and celery in a covered pan for 3-5 min (stop before they brown)
  • Remove from heat
  • Add remaining ingredients to onion mix
  • Mix well

Instructions for Lemon Stuffing

  • Place in the chicken's cavity

Instructions for Light Chicken Gravy

  • Transfer chicken and any vegetables to a serving dish
  • Drain off fat, leaving pan drippings and about 1 tablespoon of fat.
  • Shift flour over the pan
  • Mix and heat until bubbles and browns
  • Mix in the stock and sherry
  • Simmer for 5 min
  • Season
  • Strain the gravy through a sieve
  • Pour into a serving jug


You can use Traditional Herb Stuffing but I often replace this with a sliced lemon instead. Or don't stuff at all. If you do add a stuffing then you'll have to cook for longer (see aside on cooking times).
Personally I like the flavour of the lemon and the simplicity of the idea. A good combination with a wine basting sauce.
In New Zealand and the UK Roast Chicken is traditionally served with a thin gravy made from the roasting dripping.

Cooking times for Roast Chicken

Cooking time depends on the temperature of the oven and the weight of the bird. If the bird is stuffed, whether with classic stuffing or just a lemon, then include the weight of stuffing in the calculation of cooking time.

The Edmonds cookbook, famous in NZ, recommends 50 min per kg of chicken plus 20 min. This is all at 180ºC except the last 10 min which is at 200º C to crisp the skin.

The packaging on chickens in the UK have cooking times. Waitrose, for example, recommends a higher temperature (200°C) than Edmonds so achieves a slightly faster cooking time. They advise 45 min per kg plus 20 min.

A different recommendation is slightly more tricky and, perhaps, risky given the short cooking time

  1. Place chicken in roasting tray with one wing up
  2. Cook for 15 min at 180º C
  3. Turn chicken so other wing is up
  4. Cook for 15 min at 180º C
  5. Increase temperature to 220º C
  6. Turn chicken so the breast is up
  7. Cook for 20-25 min

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