How to Roast a Whole Chicken – A Cooking Lesson Delivered by Smartphone

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Last week I was racing around the Bay Area on college tours with @gregorytlee and having a very hard time getting a hot meal on the table every night. So I assumed you were too and put together a post with five quick and easy weeknight recipes. Well, little did you know that very same day, I ended up roasting a chicken, or rather @gregorytlee did.

With what I thought was good planning, I took a whole chicken out of the freezer the previous Sunday to defrost, thinking I’d prepare it on Monday. When Wednesday came and it was still in the fridge, I knew I had to use it before it went bad. So in the 2o minutes I had between the end of the daily college tour and the departure for a late afternoon appointment, I raced around my kitchen, leveraging that caffeine from the Philz Coffee I had around 1PM and put on a pot of rice and prepped the chicken for roasting.

But then what? Time to go and it’s raw. Too late to roast it when I get home. So I tell @gregorytlee I’ll be texting him with instructions at around 6PM (I figure if he can make baklava all by himself, he can roast an already-prepped chicken).

How to Roast A Whole ChickenAt 6PM, I texted him to preheat the oven to 375 degrees convect roast. He asked if he should set the timer or would I be home to take it out (way to think ahead!). Told him to check it at one hour and call me for more instructions, if I’m not home. Sure enough, our meeting lasted a while longer so at one hour, we talked from the car.

And I’m thinking: How the heck am I going to teach him how to test for doneness on my phone? He’s a pretty literal thinker so I went with the temperature approach first. Told him to get the instant read thermometer out of the drawer and check if the breast is at 165 degrees or higher. (Thigh is a better gauge but harder to explain where to put the probe). I also asked him for other cues of doneness: Is the skin browned? Are there drippings in the bottom of the pan that are making noise? If yes to all of the above, I told him to take it out, cover it loosely with foil, and let it rest until we get there.

Sure enough, the breast  meat was just under 165 which after resting would put it at a perfect 170 or so. Well not to brag about my offspring or anything, but it was the most perfectly cooked whole roast chicken that’s ever come out of our oven. The breast meat was fully cooked but still oozing with juice and the thighs were just right – none of that “not quite cooked” “not sure if it’s safe to eat it” stuff going on.

I suppose it could be the fabulous air-chilled Smart Chicken I bought at our New Leaf Grocery Store, but I am going to give all the credit to @gregorytlee in hopes it will motivate him to keep on cooking!

chicken with grapes and shallots
1.5 from 2 votes

Mad-Dash Last-Minute Weeknight Roasted Chicken

Course Main Course
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 483 kcal
Author Beth Lee


  • 4 lb whole chicken
  • 2 small lemons or one large
  • sprig or two of fresh thyme or rosemary
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper


  1. If cooking right away, preheat the oven to either 375 convect or 400 regular.
  2. Cut the lemon (s) in half or quarters and shove them into the cavity with the sprig or two of thyme. Then rub the outside of the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. I happened to have a lavender pepper blend in my spice cabinet from Terraverde Farms so I sprinkled that on as well. Just salt and pepper will do. If you have lemon pepper, that would be nice as well. But don't over think it. Many spices would work but the basics will not disappoint if the chicken is cooked properly.
    chicken with grapes and shallots
  3. I have a convection option oven so I chose convection roast at 375 degrees and one hour was just the right amount of time. I'd probably go with 400 degrees in a regular oven and check it at one hour also. Doneness is determined in many ways - easy wiggling of the leg, thigh/leg juices running clear, internal temperature at breast or thigh of 165 degrees, nice browning of skin and juices running into pan and making noise while doing it.
  4. If you're feeling really adventurous, after you take the chicken out of the oven and let it rest on the cutting board for 5 or 10 minutes loosely tented with foil, you can deglaze the pan on the stove top with some white wine, lemon juice and chicken broth - a great way to use up leftover wine or broth and a nice little instant gravy to put on your chicken.


And one more thing – I was way too tired to even remember to take photos that night so the pictures I’ve included are of another roast chicken I make with grapes and shallots. The recipe is from Bon Appetit. It’s to die for, really. But that will be another post. At least you get the idea of the before and after.

What’s your favorite method for roasting chicken? (if it’s buying a rotisserie one at the grocery store, there will be no judging from this blogger!)

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24 Responses to How to Roast a Whole Chicken – A Cooking Lesson Delivered by Smartphone

  1. Georgia B. September 21, 2018 at 6:52 pm #

    My dear friend, now that I’m cooking 2-3 meals a day, I was inspired to try your breaded lemon garlic chicken and it was WONDERFUL! Gonna try it on fish soon.
    Then, at the bottom of the page was your roast chicken by smartphone. What a wonderful story and another roast chicken recipe for me to try. The first two didn’t work all that well. This one was PERFECT! I used my grandmother-in-law’s 9″ oval Le Creuset. The chicken fit perfectly (just under 4lbs) and it was crispy and moist at the same time. Thank you for being such a great cook and sharing it all with the rest of us. I thank you and my husband thanks you! As I continue to search for easier meals to make, I will continue to comb your wonderful blog for instructions and inspiration.

    • Beth Lee September 21, 2018 at 8:28 pm #

      Oh Georgia – you always leave comments and write me emails that just warm my heart. I am so glad to be “there” with you to help during a challenging time for your family. If you don’t find what you need on the blog — just ping me — I am always available to help. You can even send me a pic of what’s in your fridge and I’ll help you figure out what to do with it! Did you roast some grapes with the “smartphone” chicken? So delicious! Unexpectedly delicious! XOXO

      • Georgia September 22, 2018 at 10:01 am #

        I so wish I’d seen that because I had some but hadn’t seen the grape reference until I was writing my comment! I put the few mini potatoes we had that were dying and some big onion slices on the bottom for Alan (I’m not a big onion person). And I made gravy for him out of the drippings. I’m not a gravy person either but he said it was good (tho needed a little more pepper). I’m learning, little by little. I think even Thanksgiving will benefit from what I’m learning now. XOXO

        • Beth Lee September 23, 2018 at 7:41 am #

          I’m all about Thanksgiving – we host every year and I have 3 posts, so far, up about Tday. Consider me your source for any and all questions and ideas!

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  3. Jane Ibbetson October 9, 2012 at 10:51 am #

    What an accomplishment! Learned about you @eatingrules. Enjoyed learning about everyone doing the October Unprocessed. You have a great post. My husband and I have been eating unprocessed since 2005 with gradual changes along the way. That is what my book is about, Smart Eating made Simple.

    • Beth October 9, 2012 at 10:57 am #

      Hi Jane – Thanks for stopping by. Yes – aren’t there some great ideas so far this year on @EatingRules #unprocessed? Glad you enjoyed my post.

      What an accomplishment to be eating that well for so many years. Is your book in hard copy or electronic? Would love to check it out!

      • Jane Ibbetson October 9, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

        Yes, my book, Smart Eating Made Simple, comes in e-book, paperback, and hardcover, and is available on amazon, AuthorHouse, and Barnes & Noble. Check out my blog at Thanks for asking.

  4. Renee March 26, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    Techsavvy is a great asset to your kitchen! But, I must say that the quality of the chicken makes a HUGE difference. Smart Chickens are the best; very flavorful.

  5. Carol Sacks March 23, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    Fun post! So clever and resourceful — both of you!

  6. Alene Snodgrass (@AleneSnodgrass) March 23, 2012 at 6:28 am #

    Smiling – what a great post. And now I have to say — I’m hungry! Thanks for stopping by to make my SITS day special. Have a great weekend.

  7. Katy Carter (@katyshecooks) March 22, 2012 at 9:34 am #

    So impressive! This should go on his college applications; )

    • omgyummy March 22, 2012 at 11:03 am #

      LOL – it’s on his list to put his “resume” together and one of the schools we visited last week really emphasized talking about other things besides school that show initiative, thinking, or applications of what you are hopefully learning in school.

      When my daughter baked that cake a few weeks ago, it was so evident how much she learned in the process including organization and time management. So much more to cooking that just the end result.

  8. Heather @ SugarDish(Me) March 22, 2012 at 8:24 am #

    I love this story. Hurray for your son! I don’t think mine are yet able to follow entire sets of directions, but you have given me hope! Beautiful roast chicken.

    • omgyummy March 22, 2012 at 10:59 am #

      Always hoping to dish out confidence, enthusiasm, and hope! (along with some good ideas and recipes)

  9. bibberche March 21, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

    I think that he proved that he was not only tech savvy:) You can rely on that boy! And what a relief it is going to be for you!
    I had to laugh because I also got a “k” as an answer. Can they get more terse with their words?

    • omgyummy March 21, 2012 at 6:37 pm #

      OMG! IDK they r so busy! No time 2 talk or type. 🙂

  10. Brenda Bettaglio March 21, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

    OMG! Beth I LOVE this! You are my hero! So is @gregorytlee! Just saying……. 🙂

    • omgyummy March 21, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

      Oh Brenda you always lift me up and make me smile!

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