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Though we may not necessarily have more free time these days, many of us are spending more time at home. Days blend together and it can be tough to keep track of things, particularly mealtimes. It may sound intimidating, but there's one dish that is the perfect weeknight meal: whole roasted chicken. A whole chicken seems more elaborate than it is to make. It's actually super affordable, absolutely delicious and surprisingly simple, making it perfect for nights when you have all of the time but none of the energy.
Roasting a whole chicken may take close to two hours in the oven, but it takes very little active time and you can multitask while it cooks (which is a huge selling point if you’re like me). Laundry piling up? Overdue for a Zoom yoga class? Simply need to bathe (or bathe your kids … or your dog)? Throw a chicken in the oven, set a timer and check off the last of your to-do list while your house fills with mouthwatering aromas.
Roasting a whole chicken is as easy as seasoning the chicken, laying it over some aromatics in a pan and throwing it in the oven until further notice. You can even make it in an Instant Pot in just over an hour. But my personal favorite method for cooking a whole bird is by spatchcocking it, which helps it cook more quickly. We have this guide for spatchcocking turkey that also applies to chicken if you want to try it yourself, but you can always ask the butcher at your local grocery store to do it for you if you prefer.
The queen herself (Ina Garten, of course) recommends using a smaller chicken, no more than 5 pounds, which will cook more quickly and evenly than a large bird. If you have several mouths to feed and a small bird is not enough, consider roasting two chickens at once (see our Roasted Chickens recipe for specifics). Once the chicken is done and rested, we also have this guide on how to carve it so you can make sure you get the most bang for your buck. It makes great leftovers, too, from salads to grain bowls to nachos. Get creative with the leftover chicken if you feel like it, or put it on bread and call it a sandwich if you don’t.
Another perk of roasting a whole chicken is that it gives you several options for light and dark meat, with which you can make different dishes or accommodate different preferences. Even if you have it as is with roasted veggies and a salad, it is nice to have some variety on your plate. Honestly, roasting a whole chicken makes me feel like I’m having a mini-Thanksgiving without all of the fuss a turkey can create. Toss the bones with vegetable scraps in a pot with water for homemade chicken stock—you can thank me later.
While it may not sound like the most accessible weeknight dinner, once you roast a whole chicken once you will never look back. Make the most of the time spent at home with this dish that may take some time, but doesn’t take much energy. This simple meal will impress your family members or roommates, and leave you feeling satisfied (maybe even with some leftovers if you’re lucky). For more inspiration, check out our Healthy Whole Chicken recipes.
This article was written by M.S., Jessica Ball and R.D. from EatingWell and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.