Where Have You Been All My Life? {Cast Iron Roast Chicken}

Kids, I’ve had a revelation.  An absolute epiphany.

I’ve seen the light.

Today, I discovered the secret to fast, perfectly roasted chicken.

Two and a half  years into this blogging experience, and I’ve finally found a roast chicken recipe I feel confident sharing.  That just seems wrong somehow.

Do you ever feel like you’re doing things all wrong?  Swimming upstream?  Trying to come in through the out door?

That’s the way it’s been with me and roast chicken.  Try as I might over the years, I’ve never been comfortable with cooking a whole chicken in the oven.  I’ve tried a multitude of techniques – high-heat roasting, low-heat roasting, splitting and splaying, with vegetables, without vegetables, with butter and herbs under the skin, stuffed with citrus and herbs.  Sometimes with success, but most often I’d end up either overcooking or undercooking the poor bird (neither of which is desirable).   I really thought I’d tried just about everything.

Well, almost everything.  Yesterday afternoon I decided to do something I should have done a long time ago.  I asked myself “what would Bittman do?”

I had a 3-4 lb. chicken in the fridge that I needed to get prepped and cooked in under an hour, so  I turned to Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything.  And lo and behold – there it was. A method I hadn’t tried before, and an intriguing one at that.

Maybe you’ve seen this before.  After discovering how easy it was, I did a little online search to see if maybe I’d just been living under a rock.  As it turns out, this method (or a similar one) has been featured here, here and here.  So yes, under a rock I have been.  But no more.

Now I’m enlightened.

And so, my friends, are you.  Grab your cast iron skillets and go forth and roast some chicken.  And rejoice.

Cast Iron Roast Chicken

Adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

prep time 10 minutes

cook time: 45 minutes

serves: 4-6


  • 1 3-4 lb. chicken
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon good-quality paprika*
  • salt and pepper
  1. Begin by preheating your oven to 425F**.
  2. Place your cast iron skillet on a low rack  in the oven while it preheats.
  3. Remove your chicken from the packaging and pat it dry with a paper towel (if there’s a packet of parts in the cavity, be sure to remove that, too).
  4. Combine the olive oil and paprika in a small bowl, and rub it all over the chicken – get some inside the cavity as well.
  5. Sprinkle the chicken all over with salt and pepper.
  6. Once the oven is good and hot (and the skillet, too), transfer the seasoned chicken to the hot skillet.
  7. Let roast at 425F for 45 minutes, or until the meat registers 150-155F on a meat thermometer (it will continue to cook after you take it out of the oven).
  8. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10-15 minutes before carving and serving.
  9. Enjoy!

*You can use pretty much any seasonings you want here.  The paprika is nice, but you could also use garlic and herbs, or lemon and herbs, or go a more Latin route and use cumin and chili powder, or even Asian with soy sauce and ginger.  Get creative.  What’s important here is the technique.  

**Bittman recommends a temperature of 450F, and some of the other recipes I’ve seen call for 475F.  I did mine at 425F, and it was perfectly done after 45 minutes.  Sometimes I think my oven runs hot, though, so there’s that.  If you do it at one of the higher temperatures, check it after 35 minutes, just to be sure it’s not getting to dried out.


24 thoughts on “Where Have You Been All My Life? {Cast Iron Roast Chicken}

  1. Will have to try this! I have used the skillet before after being inspired by a Cooks Illustrated article, but of course I did not follow their meticulous directions so I still had trouble getting it cooked thoroughly. I too have had bad luck with that. Will definitely give Bittman’s way a shot. Looks yummy!

  2. Can’t wait to try this! I usually debone a whole chicken, tie it back up with stuffing and roast it. Turns out great…however, I’ll have to do try both whole with bone and the deboned in the cast iron skillet. Thanks!

  3. Too funny. I’m the same way about roasting chicken. I have tried as many recipes as you have. Techniques to start high and finish low, to cook the chicken breast-side down first, on top of veggies, without veggies, stuffed, not stuffed, standing up! I’m anxious to try this after the last time the roast chicken dinner for my in-laws took 2+ hours… which is ridiculous. Maybe this will be dinner tonight. I’m in the mood to cook but not really cook, you know?

  4. I’m definitely going to try it. I’ll even make up a rub to pour all over it and see how that turns out. Wow, I’m no longer under the rock for I’ve seen the light and read it as well. LOL!!! Thanks for sharing!-)

  5. Definitively trying this! Like you, I’ve tried several different methods for roasting chicken with mixed results. I love using my cast iron skillet and can’t wait to try this to see if I get the same fabulous results you did. The title of your post has the Rhianna song of the same name running through my head now!

  6. I love my cast iron but I haven’t used it for this before. It looks great and I can’t wait to try it. By the way, even though I am subscribed, I’m not getting updates of your posts. I’m going to resubscribe to see if that fixes it.

    1. Lordy, that’s a big chicken. The largest I’ve done is a 5 pounder, and it took a little longer. I say, if your pan is big enough, then go for it. You might have to increase your time by 30 minutes, but if you use a meat thermometer you should be fine. I’ve been doing one of these a week, though, and the family loves it (and I love having the carcass left over to make stock with).

  7. I tried this tonight and it was fantastic! I love my cast iron skillet and this was a great way to use it. The paprika was delicious and made it look beautiful. I think the chicken fat was really good for the skillet surface also. I think next time I’ll do this on the grill since it smoked up the house a little.

    1. I had that same issue the other night – my whole house was smoky. If you try it in the skillet on your grill, let me know how it goes. I love this method, but sometimes the smoke is a little much.

      1. I tried this method on the grill tonight and it was awesome! I followed the method exactly only I put my cast iron skillet on my gas grill instead of the oven. Same crispy, juicy result only my house didn’t get all smoky!

  8. After several attempts at roasting juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside whole chickens (that we get from a local ranch every month)…..I finally roasted the perfect chicken thanks to your suggestions about the skillet and high heat!

  9. I am OBSESSED with this method ever since I first tried it (thanks to you) about a month ago. You think we’d be sick of whole roasted chickens by now, but nope…making another one tonight! So glad you shared teh light with us!!

  10. I like this post, and have used this method in my BBQ grill and oven with equally successful results. Might add that having a removable oven thermometer, is very helpful, in letting you know the real temperature of your oven, no matter how new or old or sophisticated the manufacture attest to it’s abilities. Their like people, many lookalike but all are different.

  11. Reblogged this on WhereHeParksIt and commented:
    I made this last weekend and it was really good. Making it in the cast iron pan was perfect for using the pan drippings to make a homemade chicken gravy.

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