This half roast chicken recipe will never fail you if you follow it, which is not at all hard to do. Learn how to prepare a juicy, fragrant bird with crispy skin at home. Every time.
Roasted half chicken is easily one of the Perrine’s favorite dinners. It is such a beer friendly dish, so tasty, so filling, yet doesn’t leave one feeling completely stuffed.
We often enjoy it at home and love to order it when out and about craft beering, especially if visiting in Germany or Austria and especially when it is spit-roasted. Yum! But at home we usually prepare it in the oven (no rotisserie oven/attachment in the Perrine household as of yet and not really missing one).
How to Roast a Chicken
The easiest way to roast a half chicken at home is to roast a whole chicken first and halve it once it is done.
Mind you, we are really speaking of baking here as by definition roasting implies temperatures higher than 400°F and the ideal temperature for chicken is between 350°F and 375°F. (Unless your oven is super reliable and you are 100% confident that if you roast a chicken at 425°F it will not dry out).
I will stick to the generally accepted word usage of half roast chicken because like everyone else I am accustomed to it. Besides, saying ‘half baked chicken’ sort of has the negative ‘half-baked’ connotation. We don’t want to be showing anyone how to half bake a chicken…
Organize Your Workflow in Steps
- For a juicy roast half chicken you first need to brine it. You must brine it, don’t even think about skipping this step. The recipe card below includes Chris’ preferred brine for whole chicken.
- Once your chicken has bathed in brine for a while, rinse it and pat it dry.
- Round up your ingredients for stuffing the cavity (to infuse it with flavors) and for brushing the entire outside to impart delicious flavors as the skin crisps. Stuff the chicken with herbs, garlic and lemon and brush it with a mixture of melted butter, olive oil and spices. Butter for color, olive oil so that the butter doesn’t burn.
- Place back down in a roasting pan with a rack and cook in a 350°F oven until done, occasionally brushing with more of the spiced butter/oil mixture.
- Once the internal temperature has reached 165°F and the skin is crispy and to your liking (consider broiling for a few minutes at the end) take it out and let rest for a few minutes.
- Cut with a heavy, large knife (such as a butcher knife) right across the middle of the bird in one firm, measured, decisive motion, breaking the rib cage and driving the knife all the way down. Support with one hand as shown below.
TIP: be sure to place the cooked bird on a cutting board with a lip or a cutting board placed inside a baking sheet to contain the juices.
- Remove the stuffed ingredients and serve the half chickens.
How Long to Roast a Chicken?
I used to often ask Chris about how long to cook something and he would always reply the exact same thing – “until it is done”. So in keeping with his friendly chef manner of answering me I’d say that
The time you need to roast a whole chicken depends on the bird’s size.
To cook a whole chicken in the oven may take around 40 minutes or over an hour if your chicken is really large. The one Chris made for this post was nearly a 6 pounder so required a bit longer and about 4 minutes of broiling to get the skin crispy as I like it.
A few extra minutes in consideration that this is a half baked chicken bone in are to be expected.
So be prepared to have a bit of patience, use your meat thermometer and broiler.
Why not enjoy a beer while the chicken is sizzling in the oven and those divine aromas waft out every time you take a look at how it is doing or brush it with butter/oil/spices.
Half Roast Chicken & the Beer Garden Connection
Half roast chicken is a classic beer garden menu item across Biergärten in Germany (especially in Bavaria) and Austria and it is one of the most recognizable specialties during Oktoberfest.
In Munich chickens are spit-roasted until the skin is golden brown and crispy. Thousands of Oktoberfest Brathendl (Brathendl means roast chicken in Bavarian dialect; it is also called Wiesnhendl).
When you order a half chicken in the big beer tents on the Wiesn they split a chicken and that is all you get on a plate. Typically people will buy a soft Bavarian pretzel to go with.
What to serve with Half Roast Chicken
The short answer is obvious – whatever you are in the mood for. Roasted potatoes, roasted or grilled vegetables, German fries, salad etc, are all good options.
In true beer garden fashion we chose fries garnished with parsley and simple German cucumber salad – Gurkensalat, to go with our festive roasted half chickens. Absolutely delightful combo. And the cucumber salad is soo simple to make.
QUICK Gurkensalat: Thinly slice cucumbers, make a quick dressing of vinegar, sugar, salt and oil. Sunflower oil is traditional and I advise mixing the ingredients per your individual taste. Very finely chop dill, chives, green onions. Mix all in a bowl, let cool off in the fridge for 10 minutes and serve.
I am all for presenting the half chickens in a casual style individual platters. A simple sheet pan will do – it will contain the juices and has has ample room for sides.
Half Roast Chicken
- 1 whole chicken (3-5 lbs is ideal)
- 1 quart water for brine
- 3/4 cup salt (coarse) for brine
- 1 cup brown sugar for brine
- 4 bay leaves for brine
- 1 tsp mustard seeds for brine
- 1 tsp peppercorns for brine
- 4 cloves, whole for brine
- 6 sprigs thyme to stuff chicken
- 6 sprigs parsley to stuff chicken
- 3 cloves garlic to stuff chicken
- 1/2 stick butter to brush over chicken
- 1/4 cup olive oil to brush over chicken
- 1 tsp each of paprika, oregano, garlic powder, salt (coarse) to brush over chicken
- First brine the whole chicken. Heat the water with the salt and sugar until they dissolve. Add ice to cool the solution down. In cheese cloth tie the bay leaves, cloves, mustard seeds and peppercorns. Submerge in the brine liquid and add the chicken. Cover with plastic and brine refrigerated for 12-24 hours, depending on the size of the bird.
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Remove the chicken from the brine. Rinse and pat dry. Stuff the cavity with the thyme, parsley, garlic and lemons.
- Melt the butter, mix in the olive oil and the spices. Place the chicken breast side up onto the rack of a roasting pan. Brush it with the spiced butter/olive oil.
- Place in the oven and brush with spiced butter/olive oil again in about 20 minutes. (If the chicken is browning too quickly, tent it with aluminum oil.)
- In 40 minutes check the temperature with a meat thermometer. Brush with more spiced butter/olive oil.
- Continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 165 F. If you want crisper skin, turn the heat up or broil for the final few minutes (keep an eye on it).
- Placed the cooked chicken onto a cutting board with a lip of a cutting board inside a baking sheet (to contain the juices). Cut across lengthwise with a heavy knife, pressing down firmly.
- Remove the herbs and lemon and serve.
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