Chicken. The plump, beautiful bird is one of our national favorites. It is so versatile and can be cooked in a variety of ways – each way is incredibly delicious!
Baking chicken though is possibly the healthiest way to cook and prepare a chicken meal, but just because it’s the healthiest – does not detract from its flavor!
For many years, people will question what the best cooking method and time is for chicken, so we’ve decided to make things much easier for everybody!
In this guide, you’ll learn the best way to bake chicken, how long you should bake it for and other handy tips to get the best results for a fantastic plate of poultry.
How To Get The Best Baked Chicken Results
There are some steps you should take to ensure that you’re going to get the most, and the best, out of your chicken.
The following advice is based on a whole chicken – so do not follow heat or timing advice if you’re hoping to cook chicken breasts, thighs or legs only.
We’d recommend that you follow this multi-step system to get the best out of baking your chicken:
Sourcing Your Chicken
Not be confused with saucing your chicken! Finding the best quality chicken is always going to be the first, and possibly most important, step in your perfect baked chicken.
We’d recommend that you do not look to a grocery store for the best chicken – don’t get us wrong, there’s nothing particularly wrong with a chicken from a grocery store, but you always get what you pay for.
Consider heading to a butcher’s shop or a local farmer. A full, free-range chicken will always be the best from the experts and you know you’re going to get the freshest and best prepared chicken available in the area.
Before you buy this chicken though, you need to be mindful of how large your oven is. It’s no good buying a massive chicken, only to discover that the plump bird won’t fit where the heat is!
Ideally, you’ll have a very large oven, or the large chicken can fit perfectly in your oven. However, if you do not have this option – it is advised either to purchase a smaller chicken, or you can ask the butcher for a favor.
Butchers can help you by chopping the chicken into sections, or removing certain bones to assist in your cooking method. However, if you need the chicken chopped up into sections,
you will lose some of the succulence from a whole chicken – and the cooking times will wildly differ.
It does give you more control over your future meals though and can save you some time in later meals.
Choose Your Pan Wisely
The really important thing when cooking a whole chicken is the depth of the pan. It’s often an overlooked point when someone considers preparing a meal, but it is crucial to get the most succulent and juicy baked chicken.
You’ll want to get a shallow pan. If you use a deep pan, the skin of the chicken becomes flabby and over-greased, which will ruin the overall consistency of the chicken. However, you shouldn’t opt for a pan that is too small in width either.
If you have a pan which size is being utilized too much, you risk changing the cooking process from baking to steaming – and this will defeat the object.
A good rule of thumb is to have a pan that you can fit two sliced pepper strips on both sides after the chicken is placed in it.
In fact, that’s a great idea anyway depending on which meal you’re planning to cook. The peppers will become sizzled in the juices of the chicken, making the flavors really explode on your tastebuds when it’s time to eat.
You’ll want to go for a Pyrex pan which has enough room for the chicken to breathe during cooking, but not too much room in depth which ruins the skin. Like with anything, experience and frequent practice will solve this.
Be Mindful Of Your Flavors
Many chefs will tell you that seasoning is a crucial step in the preparation and cooking process. When you’ve sourced your chicken and other ingredients, you must now be mindful of your seasoning.
Now, the seasoning choices will depend a lot on what meal you’re going to cook, and this will be down to you largely.
If you’re looking for some ideas, many people will choose garlic and herbs – either as a rubbing sauce or covered in a “breadcrumb” style.
You could choose to spice things up and use peppers with a chilli sauce or Jamaican style rubbing oils. One method to look at is creating your own sauce using fresh and very hot chilli peppers.
Mix this with a garlic butter for the best mix of spice and yogurt style flavor and texture.
You can also choose to frequently baste and glaze your chicken with pan drippings or create your own sauce in a separate pot such as pepper sauce or mint sauce.
Unlike beef or lamb, chicken will not require much salt and pepper seasoning prior to cooking – however, it is advisable to add a small amount to the inside of the skin and around the pan.
When cooking a chicken meal that you’re including with vegetables or peppers,
you can place them around the pan and allow the sauces to glaze across them and cook them. Remember to turn them eventually so they do not overcook on one side.
We recommend using fresh thyme or rosemary on top of your chicken to bring out an aromatic and fragrant flavor.
If you’re more simplistic, you can cook the chicken in butter as it is baking. It keeps the chicken juicy whilst also giving it a much sweeter flavor.
Choose The Right Cooking Time And Heat
You’ll never want to put your chicken into a cold oven as it will affect the cooking process and unfortunately cook the chicken unevenly.
We recommend preheating the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s more important than some people think, as you will think the chicken is cooked due to its color, but it isn’t cooked yet.
It’s advisable to rotate and turn the pan midway through the cooking process. Unless you’re extremely lucky, our ovens at home typically have hotter areas and you don’t want one area of your chicken being more cooked than another.
When it comes to the cooking time – if you have preheated the oven to 425 degrees, seasoned your chicken and planned your meal accordingly, you will put the chicken in the oven for an hour.
After 30 minutes of cooking, rotate the pan the other way around and come back in another 30 minutes.
You can leave the chicken cook in the heat after turning the oven off for an extra 3 minutes if you wish, to account for the loss of heat after 30 minutes.
This will also allow the seasoning to absorb fully into the chicken and vegetables or peppers.
Getting the right advice when making the perfect baked chicken is key to maximizing your favorite dish. We hope this advice has been helpful. Remember, 425 degrees for 60 minutes!