Favorite Simple Roast Chicken

A couple years ago, I was doing an internet search for a Thomas Keller recipe – you know, looking for something time-consuming and overly complicated that would require grocery store scavenger hunts and a day’s worth of kitchen prep BUT in the end would be worth the effort and yield an incredible meal* – and I stumbled across Keller’s “Favorite Simple Roast Chicken.” I nearly clicked away, but the recipe had more than 500 reviews and over 95% of those who commented said they’d make it again.

Intrigued, I roasted a chicken the Thomas Keller way for our next family meal. This required patting down the chicken with paper towels, showering it with a light rainfall of salt and roasting it in a hot oven. The preparation was, as its name promised, incredibly easy.

As for taste? Our family agreed with the masses. It was excellent and later became the inspiration for the roast chicken legs and thighs recipe featured on this blog.  

Roasting the whole chicken per Keller’s technique gives you the same results as the legs and thighs recipe – crispy, crackly skin and tender meat with minimal kitchen effort – but in this adaptation, you get a gorgeous bird AND some fixin’s. Inspired by some of the comments on Epicurious, I place the chicken on a bed of diced carrots, potatoes and onions, which cook in the chicken fat while the bird roasts.

The vegetables directly under the chicken get the most love, rendering them meltingly soft and sweet, while the veggies scattered around the chicken turn brown and crispy along the edges.

I’m with Keller. This is my favorite simple roast chicken, too.

* Not all of Keller’s recipes are overly challenging or labor intensive. I cook often from his entirely approachable Ad Hoc cookbook, which is full of straight-forward yet interesting takes on standards like blueberry cobbler and buttermilk biscuits. I’m also a fan of his leek bread pudding and glazed pork spare ribs.


Keller recommends trussing the chicken for even cooking. I’m no trussing expert — the first time I trussed a chicken was the first time I made this recipe several years ago. I learned by watching a youtube video. It’s not complicated. And FYI, I found the kitchen twine at Whole Foods.


3-4 lb chicken
8 carrots, peeled and diced into 3/4-inch pieces
2 medium-large yukon gold potatoes, diced into 3/4-inch pieces
1 large white or yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons neutral oil (I use grapeseed oil)
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, optional

Unsalted butter
Dijon mustard


Bring the chicken to room temperature. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

In a large bowl, toss the carrots, potatoes and onions with the oil. Spread the vegetables in the bottom of a casserole dish or roasting pan. Season them lightly with salt and pepper.

Rinse the chicken, then dry it well with paper towels, inside and outside. As Keller says, “The less it steams, the drier the heat, the better.” Season the chicken liberally with salt. Season with pepper. Truss the chicken. (Click here for a one-minute instructional video on how to do it.)

Place the chicken on top of the vegetables. Cook the chicken for an hour and 10 minutes. If your chicken is larger than 4 pounds, allow for more cooking time.

Remove the chicken from the oven and add the thyme, if using, to the pan. Baste the chicken with the juices and thyme and let rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board. Carve the chicken (Keller has specific instructions on this) but we just go to town however we please. And while it may not look pretty (Keller says the presentation isn’t supposed to be fancy), it gets the job done.

Keller recommends slathering the chicken with unsalted butter and serving with Dijon mustard. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper as needed. Serve the chicken and vegetables immediately.

Print Recipe

Adapted from Bouchon by Thomas Keller via Epicurious


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