zuni cafe’s roasted chicken + bread salad

[Note: This recipe got some fresh photos in 2019.]

I recently realized that I didn’t have a single recipe for a whole roasted chicken on this site which seemed wrong somehow, coming from a nice Jewish girl such as myself. I know the real reason I don’t — which is that I don’t like 75 percent of the roasted chicken I eat (not yours, of course; promise!). Mostly, I find the pieces too big, the meat overcooked and the entire thing kind of like pressed sawdust… um, not that I need to learn to form an opinion or something. Sticking to dark meat helps a bit, but not as much as just bypassing the roasted chicken altogether.

toasted torn breadbutter, pleaselightly cook the scallions and garlicthe bread salad

There is only one home recipe for roasted chicken I have ever wanted to try and it is from the Zuni Cafe in San Francisco. Google “zuni cafe roasted chicken” and you’ll see — quickly — that this is something of a religion for people; they are mad for it. And yet, the technique, which hinges on three things, isn’t actually that crazed, and can be easily replicated at home. Win-win!

dry brine

The first is the size of the bird, which should be small.”Don’t substitute a jumbo roaster,” they warn, “it will be too lean and won’t tolerate high heat, which is the second requirement of the method.” They reason that small chickens flourish at high heat, roasting quickly and evenly, and, with lots of skin per ounce of meat, are virtually engineered for succulence. This is like music to my ears, people.

from the oven

The last requirement is salting the bird at least one day in advance. They insist that it improves flavor, keeps it moist, and makes it tender, and I am not one to argue with people who value this as I do. They don’t bother trussing the chicken — the idea is to get as much skin as possible to blister and color. And they don’t add any extra fat to it, trusting the skin to provide enough. Which it does, mmm….

mmm, fond

Nevertheless, it might sound a little fussier than your usual roasted chicken but I can tell you this: It is one-hundred-thousand-percent worth it. I was as proud as a newlywed presenting her first crown roast to a holiday table pulling that evenly-bronzed, shiny gorgeous bird out of the oven Friday night. I was waiting for the heavens to open up and angels to begin singing hallelujah as never before has a more beautiful chicken emerged from an enclosed heating compartment, but then remembered, once again, that I was Jewish and instead happily settled for this:

“It’s like butta, Deb. Like butta.

zuni cafe's roast chicken + bread salad

One year ago: Chicken and Dumplings (I still tear up a little when I remember how good this was.)
Two years ago: Boozy Baked French Toast

Zuni Cafe's Roasted Chicken

The original recipe falls over three-plus pages in a small font and includes a fantastic amount of detail. It’s a great read. However, I prefer recipes that cut to the chase a bit more, so I have edited this down significantly, into the hopefully dish- and time-saving way I would approach it next time. It is typically served with the Bread Salad (recipe below) but I see no reason you can’t use any of your favorite side dishes instead. To me, the real genius is getting that bird so perfectly roasted all over with only a modicum of fuss.

  • One small chicken, 2 3/4 to 3 1/2-pounds
  • 4 tender sprigs fresh thyme, marjoram, rosemary or sage, about 1/2 inch long
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • A little water

Season the chicken: [1 to 3 days before serving; give a 3 1/4 to 3 1/2-pound chicken at least 2 days]

Remove and discard the lump of fat inside the chicken. Rinse the chicken and pat very dry inside and out. Be thorough — a wet chicken will spend too much time steaming before it begins to turn golden brown.

Approaching from the edge of the cavity, slide a finger under the skin of each of the breasts, making 2 little pockets. Now use the tip of your finger to gently loosen a pocket of skin on the outside of the thickest section of each thigh. Using your finger, shove an herb sprig into each of the 4 pockets.

Season the chicken liberally all over with salt and pepper. Season the thick sections a little more heavily than the skinny ankles and wings. Sprinkle a little of the salt just inside the cavity, on the backbone, but don’t otherwise worry about seasoning the inside. Twist and tuck the wing tips behind the shoulders. Cover loosely and refrigerate.

Prepare your oven and pan: [Day of, total time is 45 minutes to 1 hour]

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Choose a shallow flameproof roasting pan or dish barely larger than the chicken, or use a 10-inch skillet with an all-metal handle (we used a 12-inch cast iron frying pan for a 3 1/2 pound chicken). Preheat the pan over medium heat. Wipe the chicken dry and set it breast side up in the pan. It should sizzle.

Roast the chicken: Place the chicken in the pan in the center of the oven and listen and watch for it to start browning within 20 minutes. If it doesn’t, raise the temperature progressively until it does. The skin should blister, but if the chicken begins to char, or the fat is smoking, reduce temperature by 25 degrees. After about 30 minutes, turn the bird over — drying the bird and preheating the pan should keep the skin from sticking. Roast for another 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size, then flip back over to recrisp the breast skin, another 5 to 10 minutes.

Rest the chicken: Remove the chicken from the oven and turn off the heat. Lift the chicken from the roasting pan and set on a plate. Carefully pour the clear fat from the roasting pan, leaving the lean drippings behind. Add about a tablespoon of water to the hot pan and swirl it.

Slash the stretched skin between the thighs and breasts of the chicken, then tilt the bird and plate over the roasting pan to drain the juice into the drippings. You can let it rest while you finish your side dishes (or Bread Salad, below). The meat will become more tender and uniformly succulent as it cools.

Serve the chicken: Set a platter in the oven to warm for a minute or two.

Tilt the roasting pan and skim the last of the fat. Place over medium-low heat, add any juice that has collected under the chicken, and bring to a simmer. Stir and scrape to soften any hard golden drippings. Taste — the juices will be extremely flavorful.

Cut the chicken into pieces, spread on the warm platter (on top of the Bread Salad, if using).

Capitalize on leftovers: Strain and save the drippings you don’t use, they are delicious tossed with spätzle or egg noodles, or stirred into beans or risotto. You can also use them, plus leftover scraps of roast chicken, for a chicken salad.

Zuni Cafe's Bread Salad

I can’t describe it any better than they do: “Sort of a scrappy extramural stuffing, it is a warm mix of crispy, tender, and chewy chunks of bread, a little slivered garlic and scallion, a scatter of currants and pine nuts, and a handful of greens, all moistened with vinaigrette and chicken drippings.”

As I noted above, I’ve trimmed down the steps for this recipe significantly so it doesn’t resemble the original recipe a whole lot. But it remains equally delicious.

  • Generous 8 ounces slightly stale open-crumbed, chewy, peasant-style bread (not sourdough)
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons mild-tasting olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried currants plumped in 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar and 1 tablespoon warm water for ten minutes or so
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, slivered
  • 1/4 cup slivered scallions (about 4 scallions), including a little of the green part
  • 2 tablespoons lightly salted chicken stock or lightly salted water
  • A few handfuls of arugula, frisée, or red mustard greens, carefully washed and dried

Preheat the broiler. Carve off all of the bottom and most of the top and side crusts from your bread (you can reserve these to use as croutons for soup or another salad). Tear bread into irregular 2- to 3-inch chunks, wads, bite-sized bits and fat crumbs. You should get about 4 cups.

Toss them with just a tablespoon or two of olive oil, lightly coating them, and broil them very briefly, just to lightly color the edges. If you’d like to toast the pine nuts (recommended) you can put them on your broiler tray as well, but watch them very carefully — they cook quickly!

Combine about 1/4 cup of the olive oil with the Champagne or white wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Toss about 1/4 cup of this tart vinaigrette with the torn bread in a wide salad bowl; the bread will be unevenly dressed. Taste one of the more saturated pieces. If it is bland, add a little salt and pepper and toss again.

Heat a spoonful of the olive oil in a small skillet, add the garlic and scallions, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until softened. Don’t let them color. Scrape into the bread and fold to combine. Drain the plumped currants and fold them in, along with the pine nuts, if they were not already mixed with the bread scraps from the broiling step. Dribble the chicken stock or lightly salted water over the salad and fold again.

Taste a few pieces of bread — a fairly saturated one and a dryish one. If it is bland, add salt, pepper, and/or a few drops of vinegar, then toss well.

If you’re going to serve the salad under the roast chicken (recipe above), you can pile the bread salad on the serving dish you want to use and tent it with foil. If you want to serve it separately, do the same, but in a 1-quart shallow baking dish. Hang onto the bowl you mixed it in — you’ll use it again.

Place the salad in the oven after you flip the chicken the final time, for about 5 to 10 minutes.

Tip the bread salad back into the salad bowl. It will be steamy-hot, a mixture of soft, moist wads, crispy-on-the-outside-but-moist-in-the-middle-wads, and a few downright crispy ones. Drizzle and toss with a spoonful of the pan juices. Add the greens, a drizzle of vinaigrette, and fold well. Taste again.

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301 comments on zuni cafe’s roasted chicken + bread salad

  1. Mongoose in the Kitchen

    I hope the oven is preheated a little more than 47 degrees! ;) Sounds amazing – I have a chicken in the freezer that is looking good for this. Is one day enough to thaw a 3 pound bird? The second day could be the prep day, if there is any more thawing to do.

  2. This is my husband’s go-to roast chicken recipe, and my favorite roast chicken to eat. It works out well that way :) Great to see someone else appreciating Judy Rogers’ recipe!!

  3. Best roast chicken ever – my roommate who was in the ‘ew it’s dry’ camp along with you ate almost an entire chicken after I told her she should just tryyyy it. I haven’t tried the bread salad yet, but it’s on my list :)

  4. ClaireNYC

    OMG – I’ve wanted to make this so often, but the 3 pages of dense instructions has always sacred me – now I think I’ll finally get to it!

  5. Phoo-d

    This is definitely the way to do chicken – and even Turkey! We cooked our Thanksgiving turkey using the Zuni method (minus flipping the bird in the pan, I left the breast side up) and it was one of the best birds we’ve made. I like to also shove pats of butter, lemon slices, and sage leaves underneath the skin (Julia Child’s method). The results are always fantastic.

  6. alphie

    Any thoughts on whether this would work with a kosher chicken – kosher chickens are already salted, so I am always nervous to salt more… that said, can’t hurt to try

  7. Tara

    Deb, your post made me laugh out loud! I have always been a little afraid to roast a chicken, but being a good Jewish girl I knew I would eventually have to face my fate…with this recipe as my guide, I’m going to try it out for my next Shabbat dinner with the fam :) Thanks so much! PS. I adore your site.

  8. This looks gorgeous.
    I read that recipe from Café Zuni cookbook a few years ago. Yeah, it was long, so I didn’t make it. I admire you for doing all this process!
    There’s a terrific recipe for whole chicken with tarragon and chardonnay by Wolfgang Puck, my favorite chef, (who used to be married to a nice Jewfish girl for many years and together they build the WP food empire). I blogged about it, here:
    The recipe is from his book “Wolfgang Puck makes it easy” which has many great recipes. I use this cookbook a lot.

  9. Nicole M

    I knew you didn’t have a whole roast bird recipe on here after searching for one before Thanksgiving! It’s ok I still found some good sides and dessert. Thanks for the Bon Appetit link, lots of good looking dishes on there.

  10. ooh deb! until now, i just thought my oven was the box that i pulled cakes and cupcakes out of! do you mean to tell me, that if i put a whole, raw chicken in my oven that it’ll come out looking like this?! amazing!

    and bread salad? um… YES!

  11. I am one of the crazy people is who obsessed with the chicken for two at Zuni! I get it almost every time I go there and I cannot get enough of it. My old roommate, who made recipes from the cookbook at least twice a week, used to make the chicken but i could never bring myself to go through the trouble, especially since Zuni is within walking distance from my house! But this chicken is really worth the effort. And the bread salad is to die for. I am not religious but i think that I may start bowing down at the altar of Chicken for Two. Probably in my top five meals/dishes of all time. And if anyone can get to San Francisco it is worth going to Zuni and ordering it. The menu says it takes 50 minutes but it rarely takes that long.

  12. Christine

    I have cooked a number of birds sort of like this: simple, with high heat a la Thomas Keller, and I’m completely sold. I even emailed a bunch of people after I did it the first time to tell them this method would change their lives! Now I’ll try the salting and waiting, I’m sure with even better effects, although I never thought Keller’s method could be topped. Glad I have a counterpart in NYC who will likely turn into the gal digging in the case for the wee chicken at the bottom no one else wants!

  13. I’ve been toying with the idea of making a whole roast chicken for a while now, but always feel that it’s going to be too much food for 2 people. The idea of using a smaller bird is very appealing.

  14. amy

    Ooh, I’ll have to try this one. Until then, I swear by Thomas Bouchon’s My Favorite Simple Roast Chicken recipe I found on Perfect almost every time & with little effort.

  15. Dana

    This recipe is a regular in our rotating list of most favorite things to make. Ever. Period. You are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t try this recipe. You won’t be disappointed!

  16. Tara

    I’m a little skeptical. A few years ago I followed the turkey recipe in Gourmet magazine calling for fast cooking using high heat, around 450-500. The recipe testers raved about how evenly cooked and juicy it was, so I risked it for Thanksgiving. How the bird is supposed to get evenly cooked under high heat is still a mystery to me. The laws of thermodynamics still apply in the kitchen. Anyway, I ended up with dry overcooked turkey on the outside and raw turkey on the inside. (Yes, I made sure the turkey was completely thawed.) Maybe the Zuni recipe works because it’s a smaller bird? After some major damage control we had food to eat but I’ll never try that method again.

  17. I love roast chicken and can get the best ones from our grocery stores here (in Australia). They also have whats called “chicken shops”, kinda like a fast food outlet for roasted chicken and french fries (called “chips”) mmmm, getting hungry now!

  18. Kate

    My favorite roast chicken in New York is Pio Pio, generally the one closest to home but they’re all excellent and reasonably priced. I think I would be a lot more motivated to roast chicken if they weren’t so deliciously close by.

  19. Angela

    Looks great! I like to butterfly my chicken before roasting it; it’s faster and the white and dark meat are done at the same time. I wonder how it would work following this cooking procedure?

  20. ben

    We make this Zuni chicken all the time. Usually without the bread salad, though, which is delicious but very rich. Yum. Everyone should make this recipe.
    Probably your previous chicken tasted like sawdust because it was not very organic? I think the quality of the chicken is essential to its texture – I have bought roasted chicken from shops before and even Dean and Deluca’s rotisserie chicken taste very sawdusty to me.

  21. I’m really looking forward to making this soon. The Zuni technique produced an AMAZING Thanksgiving turkey this year, actually the very first one I’ve ever liked. And flipping a chicken should be a piece of cake after handling a 10-pound turkey.

  22. Hello! I lurk everyday, and today had to comment. This is a FABULOUS recipe, one I have used many times.Guests swoon.

    I will give you one for a simple roast chicken you can have for dinner any night in a little over an hour: Preheat oven to 475. Wash, dry, stuff bird with garlic cloves/thyme/rosemary whatever suits you. Salt and pepper. Heat 2-3 T butter, 2-3T olive oil in ovenproof skillet. Brown bird on all sides (not really brown, just golden) Turn on side, place in oven 15 minutes. Take out, turn on other side, 15 minutes.(I use 2 wooden spoons in each end to lift and turn the bird) Lower oven to 375, legs up, legs facing back of oven 30 minutes. Slice immediately. You can make “gravy” if you wish with wine, pan drippings. Depending on the herbs you use – fresh rosemary vs thyme you have wonderful variations. Enjoy!

    This is a no fail chicken recipe, moist everytime. I believe I remember it from Fine Cooking several years ago, or perhaps Cooks Illustrated. It is a NO FAIL recipe. I do not take credit!

    Thanks for your blog. I check in everyday and am making one of your soups tonight!

  23. Salena

    This sounds delicious. I’ll have to try it. Another good one is on Chocolate and Zucchini– “Muriel’s chicken.” You cook it slowly in a clay pot. I tried it a couple of weeks ago and it’s super moist and good.

  24. The bread salad sounds divine. I wonder if dried cranberries could substitute for the currants (not so much a fan). I have a great go-to roasted chicken recipe – honestly, I think the secret is in the size of the bird (small). The bigger the bird, the more difficult it is to get everything cooked through at the same time. I love the serving suggestion presented in the first photo. So appealing….

  25. Lindsey

    Sounds great. I’m a little scared of roasting a whole chicken, I’m more of a “chicken parts” gal.

    I’m a big fan of Pio Pio rotisserie chicken and I have been trying to recreate the infamous “green sauce”

    any thoughts.

  26. Darn it, Deb! I JUST made Ina’s roast chicken for dinner tonight — came out wonderfully, by the way — and now I’m going to have to try the Zuni one. I’ve seen it floating around the interwebs before, and I do still find the salting step a trifle intimidating — but it seems it must be tried! And I DID just buy two new roasting pans.

  27. It always amazes me how simple roast chicken really is once you break it down step by step. I haven’t made a roast chicken before, and am trying to decide between this recipe, and the “engagement” chicken.

  28. There’s an incredible simple way to juicy chicken: Wrap the bird in two layers of cheesecloth, baste with butter and/or olive oil. Roast, basting frequently. Dried out meat will be a thing of the past.

  29. Susan

    I heeded the advice of both Julia Child and Irma Rombauer..they both said to buy small chickens and start them in a hot oven. I clean them well..scraping out the remnants of the guts that get stuck in between the ribs. I rub the outside with 2 tsp of olive oil, sprinkle with with fine herbs, lightly crush the cloves of half a bulb of garlic and throw them in the cavity. No pepper. Roast at high till it sizzles, then reduce the heat to 325 to finish. No flipping, no foil, no broth in the pan..just dry roast it. It’s moist and succulent every time. I’ve never had to spend 2-3 days turning sommersalts for good roast chicken. Speaking of salt..most meat and poulty, just like us, have plenty of natural salt in their shouldn’t need will make meat render juice..not keep it. So there!

  30. Jeni

    Two words mean perfect chicken: meat thermometer.

    Well, not really. ;) I completely ignore the USDA, who says that a whole chicken must register 180°F at the thigh, and instead cook then chicken breast side down until the temperature reaches 145° or so, then flip it over and wait until it gets to 160°. The carryover from the oven brings it to around 165°, which is high enough for me — and the chicken is always perfect, never over- or undercooked.

    I also admit I shove the better part of a stick of butter underneath the skin and in the cavity with my aromatics (rosemary, both under skin and in the cavity, and lemon and onion in the cavity). Most of it melts and runs off during cooking, but it imparts a lovely flavor throughout the meat. I let the butter re-solidify in the the fridge and use it when dealing with the best part of roasting a chicken — LEFTOVERS. It makes a lovely flavored pie crust for chicken pot pie or heavenly Southern style dumplings. Waste not, want not!

  31. Sunshine

    Jeni – what a GREAT suggestion with regards to re-solidifying the butter and using it in a crust. I NEVER would have thought about that. Awesome.

  32. This looks great! I’ll definitely try both recipes, probably this Sunday.

    BTW, another simple way to make moist roast chicken is to use a Römertopf or similar type of clay cooker. I usually put the seasoned bird on a bed of chopped onions and tuck some other root vegetables around it. Adding a little wine or chicken broth to the pot before cooking adds even more moisture and flavor. Cook at 450°F for 90 minutes (start with a cold oven or you’ll break your pot). For crisp skin, remove the veggies and juices after cooking, return the chicken to the pot and stick it back in the oven for another 15 minutes with the lid off. (Or just take the skin off before serving and give it to your dog.)

  33. K

    I’ve never commented on your blog before, but I love your site. So many good ideas and recipes.

    So I have a question. This chicken sounds amazing, but is there any way at all I can use a 4.5 pound chicken for this? I have one in the freezer, and I really want to make this for Christmas but I’d rather not ruin the recipe. Thoughts?

  34. Yes, Thank You for condensing the recipe! I’ve been hearing about this forever and really want to try this — I’ve never roasted a chicken before. I roasted my first turkey 2 years ago — followed a co-worker’s advice to slip bacon underneath the skin and roast the bird upside down. It worked! The most moist, flavorful bird I’ve had to date…maybe not the prettiest, but who cares!
    I’m off to try this chicken asap.

  35. deb

    Hi K — The idea of the recipe is to use a small chicken. While I am sure it will not be a disaster if you use a big one, it will likely not be as moist and evenly bronzed at that high temperature. That said, I am sure that the other two parts of the technique — high temp and salting a couple days in advance — could improve any-sized bird. But, the real deliciousness is in the tiny ones.

  36. don

    Once – a long time ago – my fellow boy scouts and myself did a chicken over a fire. The only available seasoning was spearmint and peppermint (picked fresh). We stuffed the cfavity liberally with this and roasted in a large metal pail as an oven. Your use of herbs here reminded me of that and I think I’ll try it. Thanks for the recipe/reminder.

  37. Ang

    I’ve always pretty disappointed in Zuni Cafe, considering its notoriety, but the chicken is pretty great. Just make sure you don’t go hungry, because you’ll be waiting for an hour if you order the bird.

  38. mixette

    For years my go-to roast chicken has been Marcella Hazan’s Chicken With 2 Lemons. But this one is going to get a try immediately – I’ve been itching to try the salting method since everyone wrote about it around Thanksgiving.

  39. Dude, I think maybe I love your blog so much that it’s gotten to the point that I want to cook what you’re cooking BEFORE you even post it! I literally was JUST THINKING that I want to try a roasted chicken, but I didn’t even want to start the process before coming here to see if you’d written about it before . . . and there you are, on the very day I was coming her to look it up! You’re my hero! Thank you! We’re definitely having this for dinner one night next week.

    BTW, I believe we might be neighbors IRL (UWS?) . . .

  40. I’ve made roast chicken a few times, and it’s never knocked my socks off. I keep making it just because it’s fun, plus I love using the leftovers in chicken salad. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe to see if it’s worth making just for the chicken!

  41. Ana

    Hi Deb! I looooove your blog! Im getting married soon and Im taking notes of all your delicious recipes so I can feed us very well! In fact, Im collecting all of my favorite recipes (from the web, cookbooks, friends, etc.) in a little book which I am making on Its a personal book, Im only making one copy for myself and my new home, and I was wondering if I could use some of your photos for the recipes. I think theyre the reason I get so inspired when I visit your blog! Would that be ok? Please let me know! Thanks a million! God bless you!

  42. Carrie

    I’m with Audax — I always brine chickens (just a couple hours) and dry them thoroughly before roasting. Have never had a dry chicken. The salt in the brine doesn’t render the poultry salty; rather, it changes the structure of the proteins to permit more moisture to be retained. As my go-to, Cooks Illustrated says:
    “Table salt is made up of two ions, sodium and chloride, that are oppositely charged. Proteins, such as those in meat, are large molecules that contain a mosaic of charges, negative and positive. When proteins are placed in a solution containing salt, they readjust their shape to accommodate the opposing charges. This rearrangement of the protein molecules compromises the structural integrity of the meat, reducing its overall toughness. It also creates gaps that fill up with water. The added salt makes the water less likely to evaporate during cooking, and the result is meat that is both juicy and tender.”

    Also per Cooks, I recommend turning the bird using wads of paper towel to protect your hands. Hold one wad in each hand, and grab the bird by the neck & tail ends to flip. Works every time!

  43. Wineywhites

    This chicken looks delicious, but the link to last year’s chicken and dumplings made me laugh out loud. I love your recipes and your style! Keep posting. I’m an addict to the blog. :)

  44. PS
    I have been making INa Garten’s roasted chicken every Friday night forever.
    It is never dry and always perfect.

    Start w/ GOOD chicken. Empire Kosher or Bell & Evans. you know!
    425 oven. Stuff bird w/ lemon and herbs (rosemary and thyme).
    Kosher salt and olive oil on the skin. Place on a bed of 2 chopped onions.
    Roast for 75 minutes. Never fails!
    Stacey Snacks

  45. Tonia

    Several years ago Cooks Illustrated did an article on brining your turkey, then taking the back-bone out (yes it’s a job and some swearing is involved!) flattening the turkey, letting it air-dry for about 1 hour, then cooking at high temp (475F). I usually do about a 10 lb turkey and it usually takes about 2 hours (give or take 30 minutes). Always really moist and flavorfull and better than waiting hours for a dry, icky turkey. I do the same thing with chicken (less time, naturally). I swear by brining!!

  46. Anna

    Back on the “what are you afraid to cook” post, I was one of the people who listed “a whole chicken” at the top of my list. Of course, as soon as I listed it, I realized that it couldn’t stay there for long, so I pulled out my roasting pan and started looking for recipes I could trust. I finally tried Ina Garten’s recipe (mostly after you raved about her recipes in numerous posts) and it was amazing! Very flavorful, moist — and easy. I will definitely try this recipe next! Thanks for being the push I needed to tackle the top of my list!

  47. lindsey

    …it was about a week ago and I was “perusing” my favorite recipe sites searching for the best ways to roast a chicken. on behalf of myself a week ago, I thank you. and on behalf of myself in a few days from now… yum.

  48. This is my favorite chicken. I go to Zuni’s just for this chicken. Her book is incredible, I love the detail, incredibly educational. I never attempted this recipe due to the simple fact that their’s will always be better, due to their awesome wood burning oven. But seeing the picture of your bird, I have new hope. I think I want to serve this for Chanukah dinner.

  49. Did anyone else make a complete mess of their kitchen making this? There is chicken fat all over my oven now, and the fat kept popping up against the heating coils and making smoke that was burning my eyes. The chicken was delicious, exactly as described, but not worth it. I had to eat the chicken with my eyes all irritated from the fat and smoke combo. Now I dread going into the kitchen to do clean up.

  50. Audrey from Oregon

    My chicken is brining itself as we speak and will be cooked tonight. Can’t wait.
    To those who say this is comparable to wet brining, (which I’ve long been a fan of), I read on another blog that the difference is the dry salt rub will extract the chicken juices and allow it to brine in it’s own liquid….makes sense to me.

    I tried another Zuni recipe last night that I highly recommend….the Mock Porchetta. Very inexpensive cut of pork and it comes out delish!

    After trying these two recipes, I’m gonna buy the book, even though the last thing I need is another cookbook!

  51. Yeah, everyone can chime in all they want with their fave roast chickens, but this is just a great recipe. The entire family agreed, hands-down awesomeness! Natch I had to monkey a wee bit myself. Currants? I’ve got raisins. Raisins? Where’d they go? I did find the dried cranberries, (Deb, don’t flinch) and dried apricots, and substituted. The family dug the little sweet nuggets interspersed. I used a bag of Trader Joe spring salad mix. I love me my arugula, but it’s a harder sell with the family. Even my pine nut-hating daughter loved the whole package!

  52. I use this “dry brining” recipe for every kind of meat now– pork, chicken, beef, lamb. A few hours’ or an overnight rub with salt and a little dried rosemary from Penzey’s? Yeah, magic. Everyone thinks I’m fabulous, but I’m just a Judy Rodgers devotee.

  53. Sofia

    I just made this chicken! Turned out amazing!!! but filled my house with smoke…a lot of smoke. Is there any way to avoid the smoking? I turned down the oven to 450 like Judy suggests and I didn’t see any chicken burning…not sure where the smoke was coming from.

  54. SadCajn

    Long-time lurker, first-time commenter. Usually everything here turns out amazingly good… but not the chicken. I dutifully toweled and salted and herbed and refrigerated my chicken, and then followed the cooking times exactly. However, I suppose my chicken was too big, because when I took it out of the oven and cut the first drumstick off, I was left holding a bloody nub. My chicken did not cook all the way through. After four minutes in the microwave, it was edible, but STILL. Frustrating.

  55. Thank you thank you thank you! Like Anna said above, making a whole roast chicken (or anything really) was also one of my big kitchen fears. This turned out amazing and my husband is already begging me to make it weekly. I also used a large cast iron skillet, but for some reason didn’t end up with any good drippings, still not sure why though. The bread salad was also fabulous. This is definitely a great roasted chicken to make my Jewish mom and grandmothers proud :)

  56. MERYL

    i’m new to cooking –

    what are we doing with the chicken drippings after heating them up?
    are we pouring it over the chicken?

    made the chicken yesterday-yum
    (big mess in oven and set off smoke detector but it was worth it)

  57. deb

    You can use them to drizzle over the bread salad, or save them for leftovers (they note they’d be great with egg noodles or even stirred into a leftover roast chicken salad. I think Orangette has that recipe over here.

  58. I’m having company for dinner this weekend and stopped here first in my search for a roasted chicken recipe. I need not look further. One concern: does the small bird comfortably feed four? If not, can I do two birds in one oven?

  59. deb

    It probably depends more on how big eaters your guests are, and how many sides. We did feed four with it (I also steamed some haricot vert) but there was not a speck last, something always a little disconcerting when you’re hosting.

  60. Amalia

    My husband is a long time hater of roast chicken. I rarely made it before, since every time I suggested it he would cringe and I wasn’t that big of a fan of it to make him sit through a meal of sort of dry mildly flavorful chicken (I really only liked it because leftovers made excellent sandwiches and salads).
    Until now! I tried this recipe last Friday night and we are both in love! He could not get enough of this recipe, I seriously think he ate half of the chicken. This will quite possibly become what we eat every Friday night from now on!

  61. Lindsey

    I made this the other night and it was amazing! It was my first time making roasted chicken, and honestly the hardest part was finding a bird small enough. My husband and I ate half for dinner, but as I was putting away the leftovers I couldn’t stop sneaking bites! So flavorful and delicious!

  62. Alina

    Deb, Firstly, I’m a BIG fan – you give hope to (and raise the bar for) everyone with a small kitchen. Thomas Keller’s chicken has been my go-to recipe for the last year, in fact my husband won’t let me try any other… there are two little birds in the fridge, waiting to be roasted for tomorrow, and I think I might sneak home to salt them this afternoon, and cook them per your instructions instead!
    Thanks again for all the great recipes, fantastic writing and fabulous pictures, Happy Holidays from Singapore!

  63. Made this chicken tonight and served it simply with oven-roasted potatoes and buttered green peas. It was deliciously moist with perfect skin, but I think I would love something a little more aromatic to flavor it. I usually stuff my bird with onion, lemon, garlic, and any available herb and I was definitely missing those flavors. BUT, I really, really liked the recipe and understand why it’s so popular. Thank you for sharing this simplified version.

  64. Helen

    I made this last night for my BF and best friend and they LOVED it. I had to change the recipe a tad because I was missing a few minor things; but it was fantastic. Your pictures inspire me!!

  65. Christine

    I accidentally bought a big chicken before I read the recipe more closely – about 5lb. Also, we ended up with a big storm in Portland, so I couldn’t get out to get fresh herbs – I used dried rubbed sage, which turned out surprisingly well, and we followed the instructions through the roasting stage. We just lowered the heat at the end to 350 and cooked another 15 minutes or so, testing with a meat thermometer until it reached the right temp. Fantastic recipe, and I was so glad it came out so well even with a bigger chicken. We were about to give up on homemade chicken before we found this recipe – flavorful, moist, fantastic. Thanks. Can’t wait to try with a smaller chicken and fresh herbs.

  66. Years ago I had this at Zuni cafe. A memorable meal. And was so excited to actually try it at home once. I had forgotten about it, though. Thanks for the reminder. Cannot wait to try it again.

  67. soomin

    would it be ok to use a glass casserole dish or does the pan need to be metal? I want to try this tonight but only have a glass dish…can I heat it on the stove then put it in the oven?

  68. deb

    I do think you could probably roast the bird in the glass, but I would not put glass on the stove — as far as I understand, it is not safe for direct heat cooking. Do you have a cast-iron frying pan (what I used) or any kind of 10 to 12-inch frying/saute pan? That’s your best bet for going from the stove to oven.

  69. emilym

    Dear Deb! thanks for the great recipe, I made it for NYE and it was wonderful. Shopping late lead me to a too big chicken, so I halved it and soldiered on…… Worked great! I just pretended that it was a whole chicken. This will be my go to chicken meal.

  70. Gary

    Great blog.

    As one earlier poster asked, but I didn’t see a response, should I use the salting step if using a kosher chicken which is already salted during the koshering process? Thanks.

  71. deb

    Hi Gary — There was no response because I haven’t tried this recipe with a Kosher chicken. But I’d love to hear back from anyone who has tried it, as I think it will be helpful to future commenters. My hunch: Probably go ahead and salt it anyway. The salting process for Koshering is different I think (I’m not expert)– this salting is for flavor and moisture, and the salt stays on until the end. Good luck!

  72. jeanology

    Just finished eating my perfectly roasted chicken. Instead of preheating my dish on the stove I preheated it in the oven, which worked just fine. My chicken was larger than the size you recommended, but it still turned out very well. Thank you, Deb, for a really easy and delicious recipe.

  73. Gina

    I read about Zuni Cafe Roasted Chicken with Bread Salad years ago, prior to going to the restaurant. After having a fabulous meal, I had to have to recipe. I bought the book and have made it several times. I must say, my favorite part is eating the bread salad. I made it for a birthday dinner last night and 3 of 3 children even asked for seconds! There was nothing left and I had tripled the recipes and served them to ten people!

  74. Sarah

    Oh, my. Long time listener, first time caller, Deb. This chicken was impressive enough that it was hard to be remotely demure or modest aboutd my success. That is, I entirely failed to be anything but impressed with myself.

    The chicken was delicious, tender, juicy, exceptional, and memorable. I made the bread salad a bit crispy ’cause I like it like that, but the general seasoning concept you provided turned out to be a wonderful complement to the chicken. I tossed my bread salad with baby bok choy tips ’cause I love ’em, and they were wonderful.

    Thank you, thank you!

  75. nat

    my chicken is sitting in the fridge as we speak. i am hoping it turns out, though I just realized it is a little bigger. thanks for all the wonderful recipes and inspiration to feed my family better.

  76. Sarah Gannholm

    I absolutely love this recipe/method – although I must say the Marcella Hazan Roast Bird with 2 Lemons is a little less labor intensive and is pretty exceptional.

  77. anh

    I tried it and the meat was really really tender – however, the the skin wasn’t nearly as crisp as I’d liked it to be. Maybe it’s my oven *sigh*

    But I will try again in the near future.

    I added some dried, ground peppers and thyme to the salt-and-pepper seasoning on the outside of the skin, smelled really good! =)

  78. JenS

    This was so amazing! I used balsamic vinegar instead of Champagne vinegar because it was all I had, and it was so, so, so yummy. I also left out the pine nuts and currants due to my currently limited means, so the dish was quite economical. I absolutely loved it and so did my parents and the hubby. We will have this many more times!

  79. i ended up making 2 roast chickens – one with this recipe and one with a same day preparation recipe (standard rubdown with oil, stuff with veggies, etc). the one i used for this preparation happened to be the larger one (4 1/2-5 lbs) and it still turned out amazingly. it was incredibly moist and the crispy skin really did it for me, and made it far superior to the other chicken that i bought and made the same day.

    don’t you just love side by side comparisons?

  80. Katie in China

    I have made this roast chicken three times in my tiny little glorified toaster oven. Wow!! Juicy meat, crisp skin, fabulous. The first time, I amused myself during the cooking time thinking about what I could make with the leftovers, but we picked the entire bird clean at dinner. The next time, I knew better! The carcass made delicious chicken stock.

  81. Betsy

    Made this tonight, after obsessing over the recipe all day at work. I wanted to make it tonight, but hadn’t pre-salted, and I couldn’t decide if the recipe/technique would work at all. I took my chances, salted it and only let it sit for about an hour before popping in the pre-heated pan. It was really, really good! I’m not a roasted chicken connoisseur, by any means, and I’m sure it would be even better with the two-day-plus salting time, but if any other roasted-chicken newbies are interested in making this at the last minute — I say go for it!

  82. Jaime

    This is a winner, but I have to say my favorite whole-roasted-chicken is still the high roast butterflied chicken from Cooks Illustrated. You do cut the backbone out to butterfly it, so maybe it’s not quite in the same category, but it’s roasted on a broiling pan with thinly sliced potatoes layered in the bottom of the pan, so all of the drippings carmelize to form deliciously crispy potato sidedish!

  83. Andrea

    I made this the other night (it really was delicious) and was left with a ton of chicken. I usually stay away from chicken salad (I have a sort of mayonnaise phobia) but quickly grew tired of picking at the leftovers. I ended up improvising a great chicken salad that uses plain yogurt instead of mayonnaise!
    It includes:
    cold chopped chicken, plain yogurt, dijon mustard, roasted red pepper spread, raw zucchini, onion, parsley and salt and pepper…delicious!

  84. Mark Rock

    Absolutely amazing… The best thing to ever come out of my oven.. Great taste and easy to prepare with the straight-forward instructons. A tremendous find.

  85. Nov

    I’ve made this chicken twice now and I LOVE it! However, one issue always makes me hesitant to make it again; both times I’ve made this I set off my fire alarm. The chicken is never burnt, but as soon as I open the over door a lot of smoke comes out and my annoying fire alarm goes off–causing my husband and I to run around in a panic trying to get them to stop so the neighbors don’t complain.
    I think it might be because the chicken juices are splattering in the oven. I tried covering the chicken with aluminum foil once but the skin didn’t crisp up (and that’s the best part!).
    Anyone have any ideas as to what I can do? Right now I’m debating pulling the batteries out of all the fire alarms so I can make this again.

  86. Becky Nelson

    I have an adaption of the Judy Rogers version from Zuni Cafe. The rub is simply sugar, salt and five-spice powder. Where my concern is the recipe says to “dry the skin by leaving in refrigerator, uncovered, for 48 hours.” Any thoughts? My 48 hours just started 1 hour ago.

  87. britta

    Nov – I’ve had the exact same problem twice using a cast iron skillet to make the chicken. It sets off the fire alarm and there is a lot of smoke. I’m planning on making it again this week so we’ll see. It’s just too good to give up.

  88. Sopheavy

    I made this not so long ago and I love it!!!! However, I’ve also had the same problem as some other people about it setting off the fire alarm. For some reason the juices or grease from the chicken splatters all over the inside of the oven causing it to smoke. As soon as I open the oven, the house is filled with smoke and my oven is a mess. I am going to attempt it again. This time I’m going to try to make the bread salad also since I didn’t last time. Yummy!!!!!!!!!!!!

  89. jackie

    the recipe for zuni cafe chicken has an error. the recipe is supposed to say approx. 3/4 tsp of (kosher) salt per lb of chicken. not 3/4 tsp total.

  90. Sarah

    I am a convert. This is the best roasted chicken I’ve ever eaten, and it came from my own oven! I had the same problems with smoke that others had and may also try using something other than cast iron next time. I used a local, organic, free range chicken from my farmer’s market, but I’m eager to try a chicken from the grocery store to see the difference! Esp. since I won’t be able to buy the farmer’s market chicken in winter. Making stock tomorrow! Thanks for the beautiful blog, Deb, and congrats on your new son!

  91. Bimbels

    This really IS the best roasted chicken I’ve ever made. I made it for the second time tonight – the first time, my bird was not small enough (around 4lbs) and I didn’t dry it thoroughly enough. I think these two things really are the key. Before the bird stuck to the pan when I flipped it and the meat wasn’t dry, but wasn’t juicy either. Just ok.

    This time I had a small bird (3 1/2 lbs) and I was sure to dry it. It did not stick, as it did the first time, and the color came out perfect. Following the advice of another poster, I used wads of paper towels to flip the bird and it worked perfectly. The meat seriously WAS like butter!! I was amazed.

    I also made the bread salad. The only modification I made was instead of using the chicken stock or salted water, I used the drippings on the salad – I just couldn’t resist. My bird didn’t render hardly and fat, I merely added a couple of tablespoons of water to deglaze the pan and then poured that over the salad. It was delicious.

  92. Nancy

    I’m a bit paranoid and very inexperienced, but if you’ve got a sec, can you confirm that I am reading it right that a fresh chicken is left seasoned in the fridge for 2-3 days? I’ve just followed the recipe and currently have a chicken seasoning in the fridge waiting for Friday. However, in my brain is lodged a rule, acquired who knows where, limiting leaving poultry in the fridge to 24 hours (and googling this sort of thing only adds to paranoia). Have you read Larry’s Party by Carol Shields? Where Larry’s mom unwittingly kills her mother-in-law with badly preserved green beans? That haunts me. Here’s to a dinner party that ends with all parties hearty!

  93. Bimbels

    I made this chicken once before and it was absolutely amazing. DH and I just kept staring at each other, mouths full and chewing, in disbelief of how good it was. However, I used a kosher chicken and because of that, didn’t salt it until the morning of. I am trying it for a second time but couldn’t get kosher, so I brined them (3.25lb birds) and then seasoned/salted them – all in a 36 hr period so I”m not sure it will be as good. I’m trying two birds at once, for company, and am praying it will be as good, since they’ve heard me go on and on about this recipe for weeks! One thing I can say – be SURE you get the bird good and dry – because it will stick. I’m not sure if I read the recipe correctly but it appears she says to preheat the pan on the stove top, but I just did it in the oven. The bird has to be dry and the pan good and hot or it will stick.

  94. Michelle

    Ok so this chicken looks amazing and I really want to make 2 for new years eve but was wondering if anyone had any tips for roasting a chicken in high altitude? We’ll be heading up to the mountains from Denver and while I’m more or less adjusted to cooking in Denver I have no clue about higher altitude. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Can’t wait to try this recipe :)

  95. Dancer who eats

    I FINALLY made this. One little portion of skin stuck but everything else was great! I was still a little disappointed since it doesn’t live up to Pollo a la Brasa. Guess I will need to learn how to make that, too.

  96. Allison

    We made this last night and it was AMAZING. Cooked to 165 (verified by a meat thermometer), so it was moist and delicious with a crisp skin. Easily the best roasted chicken I’ve had.

  97. Nuala

    I’m planning on making this for 8 this weekend (I’ll do two chickens with the bread salad). Any suggestions on additional side dishes that might go well with this?

  98. DO NOT USE A CERAMIC PAN to put on the stove.
    I know this probably sounds really obvious but I didn’t think. It says “roasting dish” in the recipe,” and I put it on the stove and when I put the chicken in it sizzled, as promised, and then cracked in half.
    I ruined my friend’s symbolic ceramic dish. Sad!

  99. Lacy Cooper

    AMAZA-BALLS! I had a 5 pound chicken and just did the max times she gives for each step and AMAZINGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!! Though did smoke out my house….I just took rustic bread and slathered it in the chicken fat sauce and it was also really really good!! THANK YOU!!

  100. hippittee

    I recently discovered this recipe — and holy cow, it’s become my go to for roasting chicken. Though I would say it’s more to do with the technique of roasting (drying the bird, searing (my word, not yours) on the stove top than the seasoning blend! I also tried it bone-in/skin on chicken breasts with terrific success.

    Thank you so much for sharing your passion — it has really made a significant contribution to my menu planning.

  101. poulet roti

    I’ve made this recipe dozens of times….here’s what I’ve found:
    If you freeze the bird, defrost using the bowl/water method – not defrosting in the fridge. I’ve done it 3 times that way (in the fridge), and each time the bird retained too much water – even though I’d dried thoroughly, water was still within the bird. Therefore, the bird sticks, steams and the skin doesn’t crisp. So thaw in water, then salt for a couple of days and dry every once in a while during the salting process.

    I use shallots instead of green onions, and omit the garlic. Instead I use garlic oil to toast the bread for the bread salad with. That happened initially because those were the ingredients I had on hand, but now I find I like it better. And I use every bit of drippings on the salad. To die for.

  102. Delphine

    I am new to this board and think it is terrific. I have seen comments on turkeys that have been made using the Zuni technique. Do you think cornish game hens would work? Has anyone tried this. I would like to read some feedback.

  103. Monica

    It is indeed really good, but hard to enjoy because your flat is full of smoke, your alarms have been going off, and your oven (part of a tiny, cheap, Sears stove) is a scary mess. I really think it’s important to be aware of this. Since I’m all about solutions here (except when I’m whining), let me second the poster above who recommends the Cooks’ high-heat butterflied chicken in a broiler pan over sliced spuds– outstanding chicken with no drama or mess. Just came to the site a week or two ago and it’s a treat–your leek & mushroom quiche is on deck for tomorrow. Thanks!

  104. Carol

    I recently discovered this recipe via Chowhound and it is hands-down the best roast chicken I have ever made, and I’ve made many. I found that using a small, kosher chicken yields the best results. The key to making sure that your kitchen doesn’t fill up with smoke is making sure that you don’t use a pan that is much larger than your bird. I use my 10″ All Clad stainless frying pan and since the chicken fills up the entire pan there is no opportunity for the fat to burn. When it is done and you remove it from the pan, all that remains is a perfectly golden brown layer of deliciousness, perfect for the bread salad or any other sauce you choose to make (not that it needs anything else). I make this once a week…at least!

  105. Chloe

    I made this tonight, and must say that it was the best roasted chicken I’ve ever made (and being a nice Jewish girl myself, I do roast chickens regularly.) I normally make mine with salt, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic, but I’m never going back to that method now that I’ve tried this one.

    I salted the chicken (which I think was slightly more than 3 1/2 pounds, but still not that big) yesterday, and stuffed thin slices of lemon under the skin, since I didn’t have any of the suggested herbs. When I pulled it out of the oven, all golden and crispy, I nearly had to wipe drool off my chin! My Mom and brother agree with me that it’s the best chicken I’ve ever made. It was so tender and juicy… normally, I turn my leftover bones and meat into chicken soup, but this one was so good that I’ll be making sandwiches instead, before using the bones for soup.

    I couldn’t believe how flavourful it was, just from the salt, and it was done a lot faster than what I normally do. This is now my recipe of choice.

  106. Chloe

    Oh yeah, and it was all I could do not to drink the pan juices straight out of the pan. I poured them on the chicken and used some of them to reheat the leftovers from the pasta with cauliflower that I made lastnight. Delicious!

  107. Meg

    I visited Zuni a couple of weeks ago, and we ordered the chicken. It. Was. Insane. I am dying to make it at home. Can’t wait to try this version – thanks, Deb!

  108. Chloe

    I finally made this with a kosher chicken, and it turned out beautifully, though it was ALMOST too salty. I put dried lavender and lemon slices under the skin, as a side effect of my chronic lack of ingredients; the lavender added a lovely, subtle floral flavour to the chicken. It took a little longer to cook than usual, just because it was a slightly larger bird, but overall, it went together well. I think I’ll stick to using regular chickens for my future roasting endeavours.

  109. Ariel

    Okay, I’ve made this three times and it is the best roast chicken I’ve ever had. The first two times it filled my entire apartment with smoke. By the third time, I finally took your advice and used a smaller pan. It made all the difference in the world! I switched from my cast iron skillet to a slightly smaller stainless steel pan from IKEA ( There was still some smoke, but nowhere near the amount of smoke as before.

  110. KC

    One little mistake in your recipe – Zuni uses 3/4 teaspoon sea salt PER POUND of chicken. You really need the salt to get the affect of the “dry brine”.

  111. For me, the problem with too much smoke was solved by lining the rack below the chicken with foil. This prevented the fat from splattering the bottom of the oven, where it was burning and where the smoke ultimately came from. It makes for MUCH easier clean up as well.

  112. Renee R.

    What is the reason for a non-sourdough bread? I’m going to make this Friday, but have only a sourdough bread in the house. Thanks!

  113. Fey

    I have almost given up on roasting chicken until I found this recipe. I have made it 3 times, and boy it was good! The second time I made it, there was smoke despite using a 10″ cast iron large enough for the chicken. SO the next time I made it, i put tiny pieces of potatoes in the small gaps between the pan & the chicken to soak up the fat. I think it helped.

  114. Kate

    Holy cow, that was delicious! I might try cleaning my oven first, or putting down a liner, as I think splattered chicken juice (ew) is what set off my smoke alarm(s) – the chicken itself didn’t burn, though, so that was good :) Anyway, I have never had a more wonderfully moist and flavorful roast chicken, and I thought I had a good recipe before! Maybe I’ll try a combo of the two and see how it comes out… Ina has a roasted chicken recipe that I combine with Marcella Hazan’s… I don’t know the real name, but my brother and his wife call it “Chicken with lemons up its butt”. We’re really charming. Anyway, tiny lemons, salt and pepper, lots of garlic heads just chopped in half that get stuffed in the bird and scattered throughout the pan. Actually, maybe all the extra moisture wouldn’t work for this recipe. For a 45-60 minute investment into a weeknight dinner, I’ll take this chicken any time!

  115. Kate

    Oh, and I just saw the comments about using a Kosher chicken – I used one, and it was amazing. In all honesty, I seasoned it in the morning and cooked it that night, counting on the extra salt its Kosher preparation to have done some of the pre-seasoning. It, at 3 pounds, did not taste underseasoned at all, but maybe I’ll try it with a non-kosher bird next time just to see if I can discern any difference.

  116. Alexis

    I only use kosher chickens (I usually buy Empire) and they work perfectly. I try to go easy on the salt, but I do use some. Not too salty at all.

  117. Hi Deb! I tried this recipe, and it was absolutely out of this world delicious. The chicken couldn’t be more tender. However….getting to the point of delicious goodness was a bit hard as I smoked out my entire apartment in the course of cooking it! Even when dropped to 375, the bird smoked to high heavens. I dried it thoroughly before putting it in the oven and even cut out that piece of extra fat that you mentioned.

    Do you have any ideas of why this may have happened and or how to avoid it in the future, as I can’t imagine not making this again!

    Thanks so much :)

  118. Hermione

    I made this for dinner today. Threw in some veggies, but covered them with foil. They were pretty yummy too. I had a little sticking, so maybe I will thaw it differently next time.

  119. fi

    EmilyElizabeth – I used my 10″ stainless steel frying pan (Calphalon) and had absolutely no smoke-outs..or smoke! The oven was at 475 the entire time. I didn’t see any burnt spots in the drippings, either. I was paranoid and had a fan set-up in my kitchen just in case, but I daresay I didn’t need it. I also keep a piece of foil at the bottom of my oven, but I didn’t see any fat splatters on it. As other posters have said, using the smallest pan possible is key.

  120. KimP

    I’ve made this chicken dozens of times (THANK YOU DEB!!!) and sometimes I get smoke, sometimes I don’t. I think it depends on the bird. I have a “professional” oven with a good fan and that does the trick – but I have forgotten to turn the fan on and sometimes I’m ok, sometimes not. :-)

    Deb, because of you I am making an actual pilgrimage out to Zuni in a couple of weeks. I’m a flight attendant and got a SFO layover specifically to go there! I can’t WAIT!

  121. We just had this at Zuni on a recent trip to SF and it was divine. It looked exactly like your pictures, Deb! Still not sure if I’m brave enough to try this at home. One day.

    Also, judging by the version we had at the restaurant at least: the bread salad is so worth it. Unbelievably good. I might even make that as a stand alone side for dinner one night.

  122. It’s wonderful to see there’s a whole community of people out there who love this Zuni roasted chicken recipe as much as I do. I’ve done my own rendition of it on The Good Soup, and because, unlike Deb, I DO like a long detailed recipe, I’ve concentrated on the particulars of Zuni’s Roasted Chook (I’m Australian!) in my post.

    One thing I think is paramount, but that some people forget to consider, is finding an organic, freerange chicken to start with. Even when small, organic chickens tend to be a lot older than conventionally farmed chickens, because they haven’t had their growth ‘promoted’, which also makes them a lot tastier. Conventionally farmed chickens are actually just bloated babies. Sound gross, because it is.

  123. Hayley

    This was the BEST roasted chicken EVER. i stared in disbelief at the perfect golden-brown crispy skin over the succulent breast meat before each mouthful.

    I am a convert to overnight dry-brining now. Millions of thanks!! By the way, I used my Le Creuset dutch oven, and didn’t get any splatters in the (main) oven. Next time i will try roasting fingerling potatoes at the same time. All that dripping in potatoes would be just amazing, don’t you think :-)

  124. Sarah

    Fabulous! Tragically, the intense heat set off my fire alarm (I need an vent that actually works, we discovered our vent is not properly vented). Aside for the smoke alarm excitement, the chicken turned out beautifully. Will definitely make again, as soon as we fix the vent! Thanks for much, LOVE your blog!!

  125. AmyLynn

    This cured me of my fear of roasting whole birds! My results are never as pretty as yours, Deb, but this one was something I would be proud to bring to a table. Now if I only knew how to carve a chicken…

  126. I lived in the bay area for years and have had the chicken and bread salad at Zuni many times. The deliciousness of the dish is etched in my taste buds. Looking forward to trying this recipe and seeing how it compares.

  127. I’ve made the bread salad portion of the recipe from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook a number of times (it’s heaven), but have always cheated on the chicken part. Nevermore! It tastes like a rotisserie chicken — moist and flavorful, meat falling off the bone, crispy skin… **sigh** Just a little forethought on seasoning in advance and only an hour in the oven! Thanks, Deb, for streamlining the recipe here. It really is a bit formidable in the book.

  128. Lauren

    Has anyone had any luck with creating the lovely sauce with drippings in the oven? I don’t have a cast-iron large enough for my bird, which is waiting in my fridge at home…I don’t want to miss out on it!

  129. Lauren

    Looks like an amazing recipe. I just bought a 5.5 lb chicken…Is this just way too big? or should I give it a shot and increase the cooking time?

  130. Sayra

    Ok, I know you’ve said you’ve tried a lot of different recipes and a couple of people have mentioned this one, but Barefoot Contessa’s recipe is my go-to. I’ve made it so many times, never set off my smoke alarm, don’t have to flip it, didn’t have to plan 2 or 3 days in advance (prepping same day tastes just as good as the day before), and the lemon, garlic, and onion that gets roasted in the cavity is SO good to eat (lemon peel and all) with the chicken. My dad is very picky about chicken, and he loves it. I usually don’t eat chicken breast because it’s too dry, and that’s just not the case with this recipe. I think the key (as seems to be the key here) is a dry bird, hot oven, and salt/pepper.
    But, I also always make it with your spicy sweet potato wedges, or even roast the sweet potato with those spices with the chicken. Ultimate culinary-ego-boosting dinner. :)

  131. Erin

    My oh my this chicken is beyond delicious. And I love a roast chicken, since I was a little child. Next time I need to make sure I use enough salt, but my dog was drooling and I realized my smoke detector battery was dead because my entire apartment got very cloudy. . . but so worth it. Doing it again next weekend.

  132. Darlynne

    I made this entree the other night for company and served it with cumin seed roasted cauliflower and Mediterranean pepper salad. Appetizers included the basil-infused olive oil–my new favorite go-to for bread, hostess gifts, you name it–that’s in your naked tomato sauce recipe. It was a Smitten Kitchen evening and everyone thinks I’m brilliant. Thank you!

  133. Rebecca

    You may also want to try Commando Chicken from “Forking Fantastic” You put the seasoned, lemmoned chicken directly on the rack in the oven over a pan of sliced potatoes. The drippings from the chicken “fry” the potatoes and the whole thing is amazing!

  134. Gryphonisle

    It boggles the mind that someone running a food website could be so dense in thinking that chicken is dry. Wouldn’t you at least have experimented a bit to see if it could be tender and moist?

    The better your chicken, of course, the better your results—and the less chance of those unpleasant after effects of sloppy farming at the corporate level, you know, bacteria and such…

    A good chicken requires almost no effort. A little salt and pepper, some butter if you recently watched Julia Child; olive oil if you haven’t, and about an hour—unless your bird is so authentically upscale it’s barely grown enough to have added the “en” at the end of its name… and you have moist but cooked, succulent and delicious chicken—white meat. The dark is also good, but I prefer the white.

    A thermometer always comes in handy, but if you’ve done it a couple of times, you’ll have gotten a feel for it.

    But please, before you stick your foot in your mouth, at least try to do it right, whatever “it” may be. Clicking onto a food webpage to read that the writer thinks a certain meat is dry by nature is like cooking onto a food webpage where the ingredients are products, in cans and boxes; horribly disappointing and devastating to the credibility of the website.

    1. deb

      Oh, I wouldn’t say that (and not rudely either, but that’s just me). I roast chicken all of the time. And even when I buy tiny wonderful, cleanly raised heritage chickens from local farmers and use meat thermometers to make sure they’re roasted just perfectly, and not a degree over what they need to be to be cooked through, and still find white meat on the dry side. I’m pretty sure that there’s space here for all views on roast chicken, even ones you do not agree with.

  135. Laura

    PLEASE HELP!!!! I am living in Malawi and decided to do roast chicken for Thanksgiving since I can’t get a turkey. Unfortunately, my friend who got the local chickens for me cut them in HALF after cleaning/plucking them. Can I still roast them? If not, what should I do? Oh please oh please, help! I am desperate! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  136. Shane

    This is a fantastic recipe but I just want to point out again that the salt quantity is wrong. It should be 3/4 teaspoon salt *per pound*.

  137. LeA

    I’m late to this party but i just made the roast chicken and it was cooked perfectly all the way around! the breast was tender, and juicy and not dry and sad. It was also perfect flavored (altho the day before it felt like i was using a LOT of salt). I made the dijon sauce from your other roast chicken recipe and it was a great addition, thanks!

  138. Charlie

    I was a Zuni customer before they even had an oven. They would set a Weber kettle outside the back door at lunch. It was great watching them grow and take over the next several storefronts over time. But when it comes to this dish my five year old son Noah, said it best – “I tasted the skin and I almost turned into music.”

  139. melissa

    i’ve lived in san francisco for more than 15 years but haven’t made it to zuni yet. i did just try the zuni chicken recipe, though, after trying the bouchon dry-brine method in a couple incarnations. the zuni wins, hands down–it was the best roast chicken i’ve ever made, and i’ve made quite a few! i used a 3-pound free-range bird in a 10-inch nonstick skillet and followed the recipe to a T, with the sole exception of sliding thin slices of garlic under the skin along with the herbs and throwing a couple garlic cloves in the cavity (i like the meat to have a little more flavor). it was done to perfection in under 45 minutes. i haven’t made the bread salad yet, but it’s only a matter of time… ps i’ve used the dry-brining method with kosher birds, and they come out fine–just a little saltier than regular birds, with a slightly different texture.

  140. This is a winner, but I have to say my favorite whole-roasted-chicken is still the high roast butterflied chicken from Cooks Illustrated. You do cut the backbone out to butterfly it, so maybe it’s not quite in the same category, but it’s roasted on a broiling pan with thinly sliced potatoes layered in the bottom of the pan, so all of the drippings carmelize to form deliciously crispy potato sidedish!

  141. Deb – I’m so excited to use this recipe for a dinner party on Sunday! Thanks for sharing it.

    Do you have any advice how to go about doubling the recipe? Could I do two birds in the oven at once or will I have to go one-after-the-other?

    Thanks for any insights and advice you can offer!

    1. deb

      I think you could definitely do multiple birds at a time, though it’s best if you can fit them side-to-side on one rack. I find that stacking things messes with circulation/browning, or at least it does in my dinky oven.

  142. I enjoyed this dish at a friend’s home last nice and was, well…smitten. I had to look it up today and of course your version is at the top of the search return. Thanks for sharing your love of the kitchen (and this recipe) for us all to enjoy around a multitude of tables.

  143. Sarah

    The dish at Zuni is all about the bread salad. You must do them together. Yes it takes an hour at the actual restaurant but we solved that problem by eating their phenomenal oysters. I can’t wait to try this at home. I always assumed I couldn’t replicate it without a wood fired oven.

  144. Stan

    Chicken NIRVANA ! After years of thoroughly average roasts this is freakin fantastic. I couldn’t wait and cooked the bird after only a few hours after seasoning but it was a revelation in mahogany skin, pan juices from another planet, succulent skin, and juicified? meat. With a few days of dry marinating this must be other-worldly. The deliciousness is amazing considering how simple the actual preparation is. I appreciate your bringing these cooking gems to the general public. Well done!

  145. Doctor Whatever

    I have made this recipe probably half a dozen times in the last year. The chicken is always flavorful and moist. However, I have one problem that I cannot solve and I wanted to get some input.
    The skin always, ALWAYS sticks horribly to whatever pan I use. I have tried a variety of options including a stainless steel frying pan and my enameled cast iron dutch oven. I am wondering if getting a cast iron frying pan would help? I have dried the chicken as much as possible, I have tried shaking the pan periodically, I have even greased the pan. None of this has prevented the skin from sticking. If I could shake the pan every couple of minutes for the whole cooking time I think that would do it, but obviously that’s not really an option.
    Anything else I should try? I just don’t know what to do from this point out. It is a delicious recipe, but I would really like to be able to enjoy that delicious skin…

  146. Kat

    This recipe is hands down my favorite from this site, and I have made a lot (particularly those involving butter, sugar and flour). Even though I live in the Bay Area and have been to Zuni several times, I cannot say I ever went for the chicken, but if it is even half as good as the version I make at home with this recipe then I should have been ordering it years ago. The chicken turns out perfectly, but the real standout in my mind is the bread salad. Savory, a little bite from the vinegar, a little sweet from the add ins, and every bit as crunchy, chewy and tender as you’d want it to be. A strong contender for the last dish I’d want to eat on this earth, if I had to choose. :)

    Cannot wait for the book tour stop in San Francisco in November – maybe you can have Zuni do the cooking for you while you’re out this way!

  147. Jill Swanson

    Hi Deb!

    I’m really excited to try this but the smallest chicken I have right now is 5 lbs! Should I wait until I get a smaller one? Do you think it really matters?

    Thanks for the fabulous recipe!

  148. Jill Swanson

    I see that you already answered this in an above comment (question comment #52 your response #54! I will wait for a smaller bird I think! Thanks!

  149. Nicole I

    So funny…the night after making this roast chicken, which my husband and I both agreed is the best roast chicken we’ve EVER HAD (!), I caught an episode of America’s Test Kitchen, who combined ALL of their roast chicken recipes and concocted the most simple, most successful recipe. It is exactly the same as this recipe! As soon as I heard they were doing their best version of roast chicken, I sat down, got my notebook out ready to take notes (even though, as I said, last night was the best I’ve made in life, thanks to you!) and realized it was the same thing! EXCEPT that after the first 30 minutes of roasting at 450*, they turned the oven off and let the chicken sit in the cooling oven for another 30 min. Kind of odd…I’ll have to try it out and tell you how it works out!

  150. Rachel

    I’m late to the party on making this one. I’ve had the chicken at Zuni itself and I still dream about it to this very day, so I thought I would tackle this recipe for the first Christmas dinner I’ve ever cooked. I’m pleased to say that it was absolutely TO DIE FOR. My husband, sister-in-law, and father-in-law all said it was the best Christmas dinner they’d ever had. Big grins all around.

    I’m planning on making it again this week for some guests, and I wanted to ask you about the one complication I had when making the chicken. My bird was sputtering and spraying so much of its juices during the cooking time that there was a considerable amount of smoke in the oven. The fats were sputtering onto the flames and hotter parts of the oven interior and smoking from there. I tried putting another sheet pan on the rack underneath the chicken, but that didn’t help much. I realize this is probably a very amateur question, but I wanted to know if you had any advice on the matter. It’s not ideal to have your house smelling like smoke and burning fat when guests arrive – ha. However, the chicken is WORTH IT if I can’t find a solution.


  151. Make the chicken at least 2 times a month. This is the best. I usually do 2 chicken at a time in iron skillets. Can get a bit smokey, but worth it. Today I going to try the bread salad for the first time.

  152. Cindy Hazelwood

    Visited the Zuni Cafe almost 9 years ago on a milestone birthday trip. Partook of that fabulous, famous chicken sitting at a table in the front window while a large group of unclad bicyclists paraded by! This chicken is still in my top ten memorable, tasty dishes. Thanks so much for streamlining this recipe for a nice Gentile girl who also wants to bake a more than respectable roasted hen! Thanks, Deb!

  153. May

    If you’re after succulent, ridiculously moist roast chicken, then my favourite method is the beer-can chicken. You can use wine or stock in place of the beer but the underlying idea is to cook the chicken with some flavour-rich liquid to keep the chicken moist and tasty.

  154. MelanieC

    Well..I set off my apartment smoke alarm making this recipe, had to take the bird out of the oven for nearly ten minutes, attempted to adjust the rest of the cooking time, and STILL ended up with the best roast chicken I’ve ever made.

  155. Maggie

    This dish is simply amazing. I’ve been on a quest of sorts to find the ultimate roast chicken recipe, and on that quest, I’ve found myself brining, compound buttering, lemon-in-the-cavity stuffing, basting and prosciutto wrapping a chicken (not all at the same time – can you imagine?). Turns out I was doing it all wrong. Salt and pepper combined with a gorgeous, high-quality chicken was all I needed! Deb, this recipe is brilliant, simple and results in what is quite possibly the most delicious chicken and salad I’ve ever had.

  156. Currently have a chicken marinating (1 day in) in the seasonings, however, I am noticing a lot of condensation and general wetness surrounding my (originally very dry) bird….Any suggestions? Can I pat dry again before putting it in the oven? SHould I be concerned about the water loss? Am I losing juices? Would love any advice.

  157. Laura

    I just made this chicken tonight. I regularly roast a chicken, and I love roast chicken. But this recipe elevated my cooking to a whole new level. The chicken was unbelievably incredible and the bread salad just as good. This recipe didn’t taste homemade- it was restaurant quality. The two of us had to keep ourselves from eating the whole damn bird.

    I did have to leave the bird in for a little longer than you recommended. I did the 30 on one side, 20 on the other, and the 5 more minutes to crisp up the breast, but after taking it out and resting it, the juices were not running clear, so i stuck it back in for about 10 more minutes.

  158. I often make this dish and indulge myself at the restaurant on Market St. whenever in SFO. However, tonight I made it on the Weber Grill and it really did turn out like they make it in the restaurant. I followed the recipe exactly, but put the whole chicken on a cast iron skillet and then on the grill and cooked it on high heat for about 45 min. covered. I also put a handful of wet, smoked hickory chips on top of the white hot coals before I put the chicken on and then resisted the urge to lift the cover and check it for at least 30 min. When it was a deep golden brown and and the meat thermometer registered 190F I took it off and then followed the recipe exactly. To make the bread salad, I used baby arugala this time. That made a huge difference in the overall flavor of the entire dish. I may have used a bit more thyme than the recipe called for as well, including stuffing the cavity of the bird with a few sprigs. A great dish when made in the oven, but on the grill it is to die for!

  159. Alexis

    This question is SEMI-related to the Zuni recipe, but more so related to the in-the-cookbook-roast-chicken recipe. So, for Rosh Hashanah, I made SK’s glorious roast chicken. We roasted, we ate, we conquered…and we were left with about a cup of “gravy” (chicken juices) at the end, which we ended up not using. I put said juice in a Tupperware in the fridge, and opened it up over the weekend (as the chicken itself is long gone), and the fat had risen to the top in a semi-solid state, and the juices underneath were also more solid and jiggle-y. Now, I know any normal culinary human being would know to save this, but we desperately needed fridge space and I had to toss it. BUT, if I were normal, what should I have done with what was probably amazing schmaltz? How could I have saved it and what good use could I have put it to later?

  160. Panda

    I’ve just prepped this chicken but may have been overzealous with the amount of herbs I stuffed in. Used basil, thyme and sage in all 4 pockets. Will it come out ok or any reason I should take some herbs back out? I like strong flavors but don’t want it to be overwhelming. It is in the fridge til Thursday. Thanks!

  161. Kelli Paffenroth

    I put all 4 herbs in pockets. This had to be THE best roast chicken I’ve ever tried. I’m not the best cook and was very proud of the results. It’s a must recipe ! So yummy.

  162. HomeCook

    I made this today using a 4 1/3 lb chicken. I salted it and refrigerated it for 2 full days before cooking. I had to use a big roasting pan because that’s all I had. The skin on mine didn’t stick at all, but I dried it obsessively before roasting and made sure the pan was dry and hot as well. I also took it out of the oven and let it rest for about 15 seconds each time I flipped it – that definitely helped. Ended up with crispy skin all over and all the meat was perfectly cooked with Deb’s 20-20-10 times at 475. I definitely recommending turning off all smoke detectors in your house before making this, though.

  163. CJ

    Deb, my apartment is filled with smoke but the chicken is super golden brown, crisp, flavorful and juicy! I will make this again once I figure out how to turn the bird without giving myself 3rd degree burns.

    1. Kori

      I stick a wide wooden spoon up into the ribcage (from the butt end) and flip it like that. Sounds terrible but works for me.. I’ve had it flip too many times or torn the skin using even silicone-ended tongs.

  164. CJ

    Okay, I have to write again to tell you that I have eaten nearly the entire bird (3.5 lbs) tonight… by myself. This is the *best* roast chicken I have ever made and I am still in a bit of disbelief that this came out of my cruddy little oven. The smoke and the burns were worth it. I’ve salted another bird to make tomorrow night!

  165. Betsy Saab

    Tonight will be the fourth go at this recipe, my past three attempts were winners. We cannot get enough of this dish, so much so that it is becoming the standard for Sunday nights. And I have made some changes (from the get-go) and thought everyone in SK land may want to hear them. First of all, I do butterfly my chicken, using nothing larger than a 3.5er. I do lightly salt it, however, add thyme, garlic power, and bay – and before it goes into the oven, I dry the bird well, then add lemon zest under the skin. I follow the bread salad except prefer to used dried cherries that have been soaked in red wine instead of vinegar. I roast my bird in a 12 inch cast iron skillet that was been heated on the range, then its roasted about 40 minutes. Shorter roasting period,no smoke, easier to carve, absolutely delicious and so beautiful. Must thank you for this blog, really enjoy reading yours and everyones ideas.

  166. Shannon

    I feel like I’ve made every roast chicken recipe on the planet except this one, until last night. Next time I’ll probably put some garlic in there but this recipe was fantastic. I used a large cast iron skillet and my chicken was quite a bit larger than this recipe (close to 5 pounds) called for but still delicious. Even my self-proclaimed chicken hating husband said it was “pretty good”, which is actually highest compliments for chicken.

  167. Okay, I have two things to add for anyone considering making this recipe.

    The first: heed the advice about using a small bird and salting for at least 24 hours ahead of time. I made this a while ago using a bigger bird and had to skip the salting because I did not plan ahead. It was fine but it did not blow my mind. Made it tonight- correctly- and WOW! Best chicken ever.

    The second: MAKE THE BREAD SALAD. Seriously. Do it. I only did because I happened to have both currants and pine nuts leftover from other things and couldn’t imagine what else I’d be doing with them. It is spectacular. It was the perfect accompaniment to the chicken and I am making it again tomorrow to eat all by itself, that’s how good it was.

  168. Lev Kolinski

    This was the best roast chicken I have ever made! It was flavorful and moist, but still had crispy skin. I used rosemary and sage, and they added just the right amount of flavor. I followed the recipe exactly, except nixing the bread salad for stuffing. I will definitely make this recipe again!

  169. This has been a great recipe for our family, and everybody raves about it! I add some garlic powder to the rub, and use equal parts white and black pepper for the pepper usage. I heat the roasting pan in the oven as it heats up – works well for me, but maybe not for everyone’s pan.
    We typically go through two chickens for this meal – fryers are perfect because they fall into the desired weight range by definition. While the chicken rests at the end, I deglaze the pan with white wine, and then make a sauce with chicken stock, a little lemon juice and a flour slurry to thicken. No need for any more seasonings – the drippings have more than enough. We also save any skin or bones and make stock for frozen super-reduced stock cubes.

  170. Jennysayqwa

    I made this last night, with two birds. One I cooked in my cast iron skillet, the other in a shallow roasting pan, and both fit on the same shelf. I wasn’t able to prep the birds earlier, so they only spent about 8 hours in the fridge, but – the most amazingly delicious roasted chicken ever! The skin did stick to the pans when I went to flip them, despite my drying them thoroughly and preheating the pans, but who cares. The flavor wasn’t affected at all. This is my go-to roasted chicken recipe from now on. Thanks!

  171. Catherine

    Hi, I read and cook from your blog religiously, and have so for years. I know this is a really old post, so you probably would write this post very differently if publishing your take on this recipe today. However, I wanted to let you know that I noticed much of the instruction for the chicken recipe is almost (and sometimes is) word-for-word from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook. You might want to edit the directions to put them more in your own words. Feel free to skip publishing this comment as I don’t want to draw public attention to the issue – I just thought you’d want to take a moment to review the post and the original recipe for yourself. I’m sure that over the years, your work as a professional writer and photographer has made you intimately familiar with the issues surrounding intellectual property, and I’m sure you take them seriously. Best wishes!

  172. Megan

    Deb–I was not sure if I should be salting just the outside of the skin, so I asked Dr. Google, and thekitchn says 3/4 tsp salt per pound of bird, not 3/4 tsp total. What do you think?

  173. Brittany

    Hi Deb!
    I love this meal, and my family is totally in love with the bread salad. How do you think the bread salad would work with the drippings of the Thanksgiving turkey? I’m thinking about making the bread salad rather than traditional stuffing/dressing.

    Thanks again for all of the wonderful recipes!

  174. Wow! Knocked our socks off! Best roast chicken we’ve ever had! My Jewish Grandmother made it fantastic but this tops that. Made homemade latkes with it and my family was happier than ever!!

  175. SaraK

    I made this is it was delicious! It was so crispy and tasty without additional oil/butter.

    I think I’m going to try to use this method for chicken wings.

  176. Babs

    To comment 9: I u Kosher chicken, but I skip the days-before-roasting-salting step. Kosher chicken is pretty salty due to the processing. It turns out well.

  177. meredith

    Thanks for this recipe. it was fantastic and made for a fancy midweek dinner.

    i didn’t really know what kind of bread you meant, and had no idea where the chicken’s shoulders were for tucking the wings in, but whatever.

    it turned out great. only adjustments were that i omitted pine nuts ( i just don’t like them.. i don’t know what’s wrong with me) and did not replace them as almonds or walnuts just didn’t seem to fit the bill.
    and i swapped leeks for the green onions because i love leeks.

    served with your dijon brussels. mmmmmmmmmmmm

  178. Mimi (another one :)

    I made this today, and the meat was really nice and juicy, but the mess was too big for me ;-)

    I think I’ll be looking out for a lower-temperature recipe, where you leave the bird in the oven for a longer time.

  179. Andrea Davis

    I’ve made this several times, with chickens big and small, and it is always delicious. Deb, with Thanksgiving approaching, do you have any insights into doing a version of this with turkey, and preparing the bread salad along with it, instead of making
    stuffing or dressing?

  180. Amira

    As someone who shares your view on chicken, Deb (never impressed enough with what I’ve eaten to try making it at home), this recipe has totally captured my imagination! But I am a bit worried as I have a cast-iron pan, but it doesn’t have a metal handle: is this necessary?

  181. Jamie

    I use a 12-inch iron skillet. Chicken is 4.3 pound Rosie’s organic, air chilledchicken. My 4th one and each one smokes us out of the house and grease covers the entire oven from 475 down to 435 degrees. Not sure why so much smoke. Iron skillet is very lightly coated. Delicious but smokes and splatters like mad is this normal?

  182. Meghan

    HI Deb!

    Is there any reason that the chicken couldn’t/shouldn’t be spatchcocked? Since it’s being served sectioned anyway…? Thanks!

    1. deb

      Meghan — No and yes. No, no reason because it’s of course quick and easy. But this recipe was built with a whole chicken in mind and it does work wonderfully here. However, the dry brine is also wonderful on spatchcocked chickens, just adjust cooking times. Good luck!

  183. Elise

    This chicken is my go-to company dish now. I have great success using bigger chickens (the standard 5+ pounder my Trader Joe’s stocks), especially if I cut out the backbone and wings to save in my freezer for stock later.

    My oven gets more splattered when I use the cast-iron skillet rather than my dutch oven, but also more crispy.

  184. Hannah

    Whenever I splurge on a truly top-quality pastured chicken, I give it the Judy treatment (well, your edited down version), and it never fails to disappoint. I served this with height-of-summer-veggies ratatouille and some toast. Unreal.

  185. Ellie

    Most amazing thing I have ever cooked !! EVER …. Only change I made was dried cranberries ( couldn’t find other) and used cherry balsamic vinegar ( one place in recipe said white wine & another said red wine, so I used balsamic vinegar. Awesome , It smelled better than Thanksgiving in my kitchen for 30 hours . Aroma worth it just for that. Could I put that scent in an aromatherapy ? Ha ha …never been to Zuni, but next time in SFO, Sure will go there 😄😃👏👏👏only question is chicken at room temp or cold when into pre-heated oven & pan.? Skin stuck when flipped even after dried . Use fresh bird only,,,, NO frozen… Labor intensive, but well worth it.. May be my new “dinner party” go to!,,, love love love . Thought I wanted to go vegan , but can not after this… 🐥🐥🐥sorry chicks 😢 do the bread salad, Croutons the best !! A. Fresh herbs a must . Don’t go thru all this and use dried.. I used thyme, rosemary and sage . Thyme was the predominant flavor …

    1. deb

      A lot of cooks insist upon this, they feel that there’s all sorts of bacteria on the skin (blood, packaging germs, and other icky things) and for the clearest flavor you should rinse first. Others say it’s not worth it. Up to you.

      1. Rose Sluzas

        What type of salt are you using?
        I have a very small oven
        I want to make 3 of these chickens?
        Do you think I can use a Weber gas grill in addition to my tiny oven in which I can only do one bird at a time??
        Or is there a way to do each bird separately (3 ish hours) and still serve to 10 people at the same time???

  186. Liesje

    I made this last night and I kept thinking about how good it was until I went to bed. I used a 5 lb. bird in a 12 in. cast iron skillet 2 days after prepping it. I went with the longer end of the cooking times and it cooked to perfection. I will DEFINITELY be making this again!!!

  187. parkthis3

    I make this chicken all the time, but want to double it for Christmas dinner. How does the cook time/temp change is I am cooking two or three birds at once?

  188. Kori

    This is now my go-to roast chicken recipe. Cannot recommend it more highly. I make it in a Dutch oven, and I have not have it fail once. Even today, when we schlupped the entire meal over to our old neighbors’ new house, because we’re sad they moved away, AND my poor husband dropped all the roasted sweet potatoes and veggies in the road on the way out.. even THAT did not dim the glow of this… chicken PRIZE.

  189. I would love to make this for a crowd (10 people), could I do 2-3 small birds at once? Or would I need to do them consecutively? Maybe it’s not possible but am loving the thought of this. I’m craving chicken, and it looks delicious! Thanks.

  190. KL

    Deb, OMG – This is divine perfection. Made for Valentine’s dinner. Hubby said was THE best chicken he has ever eaten, restaurant worthy. He is still raving about it today. I followed recipe pretty exactly. Personally would never make without the bread salad – it is that good.
    I appreciate that you simplified the recipe for us! Worked like a charm. I used only 3/4t. salt, but air brined for a couple of days – The chicken did not need more salt, imo. Timing was perfect
    Leftovers for breakfast!!

  191. Lyn in sunny California

    Question: Deb, I’ve run across this before and always wondered—when you say “cover loosely and refrigerate,” cover with what and exactly how? A dish cloth, or plastic wrap or what? I’m guessing it’s important that the chicken isn’t wrapped airtight so if plastic wrap is used it shouldn’t be tightly sealed at the edges? Why is airflow important? Why not seal? I’ve always though sealing foods against refrigerator smells is important.

    1. Joelle

      I have the same question as Lyn. What did you put it in while resting and what did you cover it with?

      I guess I’d use a casserole dish with a lid if push came to shove….just because I have one (and I usually use *that* to roast chicken).

  192. This is so easy and so tasty, I can’t believe it took me so many years to finally try this recipe. If you are reading this in 2018 or beyond please just go ahead and try it, don’t repeat my mistake! Definitely a keeper.

    1. I’ve been avoiding roasting chickens in the oven because it makes such an awful, greasy mess.

      My chicken’s aren’t overly fatty – pasture raised chickens, but the fat splatters like crazy in the oven – smoke, smoke alarms, cries of alarm.

      Maybe I should just tent it loosely while it bakes, but then the skin won’t brown, or will it?

      1. Lyn in sunny California

        You commented: “but the fat splatters like crazy in the oven – smoke, smoke alarms…” YES, I’ve experienced the same spattering and smoke, and now turn on the vent hood over the range and open windows to make sure the smoke alarm doesn’t go off. I don’t believe tenting would solve the problem actually, and with convection roasting, the fan just blows a loose tent off. What to do… Chicken roasted this way is utterly delicious and messy, for sure. But WORTH it!!!

  193. Jennifer Borish

    Deb, I loved this recipe. I didn’t have days ahead so I had my whole chicken cut in pieces and marinated it for 12 hours in buttermilk, teaspoon of mustard, 1 clove over garlic, s&p. Then, in the morning I dried off the meat and skin and proceeded with your recipe, placing thyme sprigs in each piece, salt and peppering and loosely covering for 8 hours. My best chicken dish, ever!!

  194. Mel Sieracki

    My grocery store does not sell chickens that are less than 5 pounds. It infuriates me because I’m a single gal and I don’t need that much chicken. I have never once seen a small bird, even in the organic section. Can this be done with a 5 pound bird? If so do you recommend upping the dry brine and cooking time?

  195. Nola

    SO good. I had a 3.5 lb chicken that I ended up salting three days ago, didn’t measure salt just liberally kosher salted. Besides the advance planning, this recipe is pretty simple and I think the payoff is huge. I cooked in cast iron pan and the chicken did not stick one bit. My kitchen did fill with smoke but it was so worth it. The bread salad is a bit fussier but somehow after I was already stuffed I could not stop eating it… Had to leave out the pine nuts as mine has gone funky but still amazing. My husband and I both had to take pictures of the plated results and that generally does not happen on a Wednesday evening. Thank you Deb for streamlining this recipe!

  196. Vienna Harrison

    I have yet to make the accompanying bread salad, but this recipe for roast chicken is hands down the most wonderful version I’ve ever made and the only way I will ever make roast chicken again. In the past I have tried everything – I have roasted low-and-slow, I have rotisseried, I have smoked, I have spatchcocked, I have placed gobs of butter under the breast skin, I have wet-brined. All the time or effort of those other recipes didn’t yield anything like this incredibly simple method. I made no additions or changes – I made it exactly as stated. It truly is like butta. Perfection. The way chicken should be showcased. This is going to forever be a weekly winter staple. Thanks for breaking it down so simply and beautifully!

  197. Could not find a small chicken but got one 4.5 pounds and gave it extra time on each side. Definitely cooked it upside down, flipped, then returned the wrong way but still very delicious. Never have made a roasted chicken before but couldn’t imagine doing it differently. It was great! I used lemon pepper instead of black and then followed everything else the directions said. Gave it almost three full days in fridge and the skin is soooo good with a nice crisp to it! Thanks for the recipe!

  198. Kristin Pitt

    I’m planning on making two of these roasted chickens for Thanksgiving instead of a turkey. Do you have any suggestions for cooking two birds at once? Is it ok to put them both in a larger pan (not touching), or would it be best to use two smaller pans?

  199. studentloansandsweetpotatoes

    This is our Christmas dinner this year, and I couldn’t be happier. I use my own gluten-free artisan bread recipe for the bread, ans it’s still fabulous. We’re also swapping roasted cranberries for the currants to make it a little more Christmas-y. This recipe is AH-MAZING every time. ❤

  200. Anne

    This roast chicken was absolutely marvelous — and how often do you sat that about the chipper chicken! Will make it again and often.

  201. Susan Duncan

    I have not made this recipe, but glanced at it, as it was referenced in today’s comments. I always find it irritating as to how much “waste” is included in a whole chicken (extra skin, fat globs, inedible body parts), and that I have paid for the extras. I wonder if I also paid for the thick wadding mattress filled with fluid upon which my chicken lies? Anyway, I always cut off the fat globs at the neck and tail and stuff it into pockets under the breast skin. It self bastes the breast and makes me less grumpy! Like I am actually being clever!

  202. Erin

    Salt question. Do you mean salt liberally or salt with the 3/4 t listed in the recipe? And what is your default salt? I‘be made the switch to Diamond kosher but that means I usually double the salt in recipes.
    Getting that little farm raised chicken in the freezer out today!

    1. deb

      In addition to the .75 teaspoon. I use Diamond but you don’t need to change if you can’t get it easily. It might be good to keep in the back of your mind that most chefs like it, though, so their salt is less salty per teaspoon than yours. (Which, of course, you already know.)

  203. Trish

    I had the pleasure of eating Judy Rogers’ Roasted Chicken with Bread Salad more than once, when she was with us, and at the Zuni Cafe. I introduced a business associate to the culinary wonder, and a month later he flew his wife to SF to have it. In addition, I have made this dish any number of times. The Zuni Cookbook is a favorite. If you haven’t tried the Red Wine Braised Lentils, you haven’t lived. This is a slow and easy dish. Kick back and enjoy your patience.

  204. Miriam S

    Hi Deb,
    This is the first time ever writing re: someone’s blog. I just found this recipe 4 weeks ago on another site. That person didn’t give credit to the Zuni Cafe. I made it for Rosh Hashanah as well as the peach pie you posted a few weeks before that.
    This chicken recipe is better then any other recipe you can think up. I’ve made it twice since. I might make it my Friday night dinners from now on.
    Getting to your peach pie. Forgive me for not writing you sooner. First, I have a confession. I’ve never ever baked a pie in my life, and I’ll be entering my 7th decade next year. Not only was the pie extraordinarily delicious, but so easy to make.
    My dad had bakeries in New York in the 50’s, 60’s & 70’s, so I never needed to learn to bake. Another confession, I’ve been intimidated to even try. I have a whole list of your cake/pie recipes that I’ll be trying.
    Love your recipes and your stories.
    Thanks for all.

  205. SEA

    Hi Deb, I’d like to try this method for a spatchcocked chicken for our wee family Thanksgiving this year, and wanted to ask if any modifications would be recommended for that? Also – and I know this is altering the recipe – but would a compound herb butter under the skin work, or just better to stick with plain herb? Thanks!

  206. April S Chu

    Zuni Cafe is one of my favorite restaurants in the city (I live in SF). When they opened up for outdoor dining during the pandemic, I pounced and didn’t care it was in the dead of winter. The chicken is the always a must to order (but everything on the menu is fantastic). Cannot wait to try this recipe and make at home.

  207. Barbara Patterson

    If only there was a way to keep the mess in the oven down when cooking chicken at such a high temp. Mine is always covered with chicken fat when I do this. But, I agree, it’s the best chicken ever!

  208. Susanne

    I can only find those terrible pine nuts from Asia. They make the roof of my mouth itchy (never a good sign) unlike the ones I have purchased from Italy and/or Portugal. Would pecans be a good substitution?

  209. Nancy M

    Your original recipe is by far, the best one I can locate on the web. Granted it was a little confusing to get used to, but the extra steps and ingredients take it to roast chicken heaven. Sadly, simplified, but not nearly as tasty recipes have popped up all over the internet in recent years including Epi and NYCooking. Shame!!!! Thank you so much for sticking to the real deal. Dry brining (I do two days) coupled with the vinaigrette and dried current bread salad (I sub dried cranberries and add green beans, squash, sweet potato chunks, or what ever I have on hand to the arugula.) And cooking in hot cast iron skillet a must!
    Very grateful for your site and particularly the closest original recipe on the web. Have served original version to rave reviews for years thanks to you.

  210. Kris

    Okay, it’s 2023 now, but maybe you’ll see this since you just linked to this post – any way, I know that you recommend rinsing the chicken, which is something I used to do. But I’ve recently been reading on Wirecutter and other places that it’s actually safer and better practice not to rinse the chicken. The argument is rinsing the chicken is more likely to spread germs that the cooking process will kill anyway (if they’re not in your sink!) – they do say to par dry so seasonings will stick. Do you still rinse?

  211. Mark Ennes

    Re the roasted chicken recipe, it seems to me late Judy Rodgers could have been mentioned in the article since she developed the recipe. Also, the ingredients list is incorrect, the recipe does not call for 3/4 tsp of salt, it calls for 3/4 tsp of salt PER LB OF CHICKEN. Thank you.