This cast iron roast chicken is a simple recipe that is perfect for an elegant dinner, or just meal-prep for the week. No fancy spices or herbs needed, this four ingredient recipe highlights the flavors of a simple roasted chicken and is made easy using a cast iron pan.
By using a cast iron pan, you're able to collect all the juices and create a homemade gravy without a lot of extra dishes. Plus the enhanced heat retention from using a cast iron pan cooks the chicken quickly and crisps up the skin.
For this recipe, I'll give you my best tips for this simple cast iron roast chicken. From how to choose a chicken to modifications, you'll be set up to master this simple recipe.
- Naked Roasted Chicken
- Why Use a Cast Iron for Roast Chicken?
- What Cast Iron Pan is Best?
- Simple Ingredients
- How to Cook A Whole Chicken in a Cast Iron Pan
- How to Make Gravy from Pan Drippings
- Expert Tips for Perfect Roasted Chicken
- Storage and Freezing
- Serving Suggestions
- Recipe FAQ
- More Chicken Recipes
- Cast Iron Roast Chicken
Naked Roasted Chicken
In a lot of my recipes, I'll refer to "naked chicken" as an essential ingredient for many recipes, like this chicken and brown rice soup. This is because buying rotisserie chickens at many grocery stores are often filled with solutions to plump them, and even MSG.
You'll love this cast iron roast chicken recipe because:
- Less Expensive - Generally roasting a chicken yourself is less expensive than a store-bought rotisserie because you'll get a much larger chicken and better quality for the price.
- Minimal ingredients - This recipe only requires 4 total ingredients, including salt and pepper.
- Dress up or down - This chicken roasts beautifully in a cast iron pan so it can be served with gravy for a Sunday or holiday dinner, or picked apart for sandwiches and salads for the week.
- Makes multiple dishes - Not only can you eat this chicken alone, but the bones can be used to make an easy homemade instant pot chicken stock.
Why Use a Cast Iron for Roast Chicken?
In the past, I've always used a basic roasting pan, but found myself transferring the browned bits for gravy over to a sauté pan to finish cooking. Not only was I making two dishes dirty, but it was also heavy and awkward.
Enter roasting the chicken in a cast iron pan. This method produced amazing results. Not only did the chicken brown beautifully (and much more quickly!) but it was more evenly cooked and all I had to do to make the gravy was to remove the roasted chicken and place the pan on top of my stove.
Fewer dishes and easier clean up with a more delicious, crispy-skinned roast chicken!
What Cast Iron Pan is Best?
Since my love for cooking began way before I got married, I upgraded all my pans on our wedding registry, which meant I asked for the Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Skillet. Highly recommend making this a gift list request or splurging at some point. But here is a range of options from most expensive to least.
If it's your first time cooking with cast iron, you may want to look for a pre-seasoned pan so you don't have to do it yourself. Good seasoning means the pan will be more nonstick, it has nothing to do with spices!
Here are some tips for how to season a cast iron pan, which you should do every once in a while to maintain quality.
- Whole Roasting Chicken - This is a whole chicken, often sold between 3-5 pounds. I highly recommend using air-chilled chicken which will give you the best flavor and brown, crispy skin. Also look that the chicken has not been injected with any solutions. Look for any "extras" stuffed in the cavity before cooking so you don't get a smoking surprise while roasting.
- Olive oil or butter - Both will work in this recipe!
- Salt and pepper - Just simple kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper.
Extras - If you'd like to, you can always add more herbs, shallots, or vegetables to the chicken or pan. A few of my favorite herbs to stuff inside the cavity are sage, oregano, rosemary, parsley, and/or thyme.
Large chunks of potatoes, carrots, parsnips or radish can be added to the cast iron pan for and extra side dish.
How to Cook A Whole Chicken in a Cast Iron Pan
Step 1: Prepare the chicken
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare the chicken by removing any packages from the inner cavity and patting with paper towels till completely dry. Place into the cast iron pan.
Tuck wings underneath the bird and tie the legs together with kitchen string. Carefully slide your fingers up underneath the skin, separating it from the breast meat. Coat with olive oil or butter, rubbing around as best you can without tearing the skin, then coat the outside skin and all around the chicken. Season with kosher salt and pepper.
Step 2: Roast the chicken
Place the cast iron pan on the middle rack and roast the chicken for 1 hour to 1 hour and ten minutes, depending on the size of your bird. Remove from oven and place the roasted chicken on a cutting board, placing the cast iron with drippings on the stove to make gravy, if desired.
Step 3: Cut the chicken
Using a sharp chefs knife, trim off both legs and wings, placing them on a serving platter.
Place the knife on one side of the spine and slide it down, then place at an angle to the side of the breast, cutting downwards towards the middle. This should take off a large chunk of one side of the breast. Repeat on the opposite sides.
Pick off any remaining chicken meat you couldn't get with the knife - this makes great sandwiches or freeze for chicken and rice soup.
Use the chicken carcass to make homemade broth within 2-3 days or place in a freezer bag for later use.
How to Make Gravy from Pan Drippings
Once the chicken has cooked, there should be at least 1-2 tablespoons of pan drippings leftover in the cast iron pan. If there are more, place in a jar to use another time, or simply pour into an empty metal can to toss.
Add 1 small, chopped shallot and sauté for about 2 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of flour to coat the shallots and add 1 cup of broth. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, and reduce till thickened, about 3-5 minutes.
If it becomes too thick, just add more broth. If it's too thin, turn up the heat and continue to simmer it for longer, or add a sprinkle of flour. Stir in the fresh herbs. Serve next to the sliced chicken or pour on top.
Expert Tips for Perfect Roasted Chicken
- Use Air Chilled - For a recipe with super simple ingredients, you need a great quality chicken. Air chilled has usually not been injected with solutions and will roast and taste much better.
- Make sure the oven is clean - It's inevitable this chicken will splatter while roasting and may create some smoke in the kitchen. This can be avoided if you start with a clean oven (and clean after!).
- Cover if skin gets too dark - If the skin is browning too fast and the rest of the chicken needs to cook through, use aluminum foil to tent it over the chicken. I will say, I've never had to do this in my years of cooking roasted chicken in a few different ovens. But it can happen if you get a very large bird (over 5 pounds).
Storage and Freezing
Refrigerator - Pick apart the chicken, separating light and dark meat if desired, and place in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Freezer - Pick apart the chicken and place into a freezer bag or airtight container to store up to 6 months.
To defrost - Place in the fridge overnight or place freezer bag into warm water and soak for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
This cast iron roast chicken is perfect as a whole meal, especially paired with a green vegetable or salad like the Apple Fennel Salad, Roasted Carrots and Parsnips, and a creamy side like Boursin pasta or Roasted Mashed Cauliflower.
If you want to add a built in side dish, roast thick root vegetables along with the chicken in the cast iron dish. I like to use radish, thick cut carrots or potatoes, beets, or parsnips. Just cut them into roughly 2 inch chunks so they don't cook too quickly and get mushy.
Want to make this for soups, sandwiches, and more? Try these recipes!
Generally, no. This way you get that extra crispy brown skin. However, you don't want the skin to get too dark. One way to prevent this is to place the cast iron pan on the middle or lower middle rack, depending on the size of your chicken.
It's best to invest in a meat thermometer and make sure it registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit when inserted into the center of the breast or between the leg and breast, into the thickest part of the chicken meat. Do not take the temperature on a wing or thigh.
No, you can make this whole roasted chicken in a roasting pan or large casserole dish. Just watch that you don't have a lot of extra free space around the chicken or the drippings can dry up and burn.
Use olive oil instead of butter and arrowroot powder in place of all purpose flour for the gravy.
Cast Iron Roast Chicken
- 4-5 pound whole chicken, patted dry
- 1 tablespoon room temperature butter or olive oil
- kosher salt and pepper
- Optional: Fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary, parsley, and sage
- pan drippings accumulated from the chicken
- 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1 tablespoon all purpose flour or arrowroot flour
- 1 tablespoon fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, or parsley
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Pat chicken completely dry with paper towels and remove any bags from the cavity. Place chicken in a large cast iron skillet, breast side up with wings tucked underneath the breast. If using fresh herbs, stuff them in the cavity. Tie the legs together with kitchen string at the ends.
- Carefully lift the skin on the breast, sliding your fingers underneath to loosen it without tearing. Rub softened butter or oil underneath the skin, then on top of the skin, all around the chicken so it's completely coated. Season all over with freshly cracked black pepper and kosher salt.
- Place the cast iron pan on the middle rack for 1 hour and then check to see if it needs more time (generally 4 pounds takes about 55 minutes-1 hour and closer to 5 takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes). Chicken should be a temperature of 165 degrees when inserted in between the thigh and breast - not touching the bone. If the chicken skin begins to get too dark before it's finished cooking, gently cover it with aluminum foil.
- Remove from oven and place chicken on a carving plate or cutting board. Cover with aluminum foil.
- There should be at least 1-2 tablespoons of pan drippings leftover. If there are more, place in a jar to use another time, or simply pour into an empty metal can to toss. Add shallots and sauté for about 2 minutes over medium heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon of flour to coat the shallots and add 1 cup of broth. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, and reduce till thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the fresh herbs. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste. Serve next to the sliced chicken or pour on top.
- I prefer to use air-chilled, organic chicken. Air chilled chickens roast and taste better overall.
- Use whatever herbs you have on hand to stuff the cavity - rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, parsley would all be good.
- Root vegetables like potatoes, radishes, and shallots are great in the roasting pan with the chicken for an easy side dish. Season them and roast for the same time.
- See the post for pictures on how to cut the whole chicken to serve. Use your fingers to pick off any extra meat to use for sandwiches or soups.
- If not on a migraine elimination diet, fresh lemon juice is awesome in the gravy or squeezed on top. Whisk in about 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to the gravy to finish.
This post was originally published March 28, 2018, but has been updated December 2022 to include new pictures and a cast iron focus.