Simple Brined Roast Chicken

This is our all-time favorite way to eat our whole chickens. After we’ve eaten what we want for the first meal, we take all the chicken off the bone and eat the leftovers as the most delicious chicken sandwiches (see suggestions below). This recipe comes from The New Best Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen (slightly altered by us over the years).


  • Whole chicken
  • Table salt


  1. If you’re starting with a frozen chicken, we recommend thawing it for 48 hours in the fridge.
  2. Dissolve 1/2 cup table salt in 2 quarts cold water. Immerse the chicken in the brine and refrigerate for 1-4 hours. You might need to make a double batch of brine to immerse your chicken.
  3. When you’re getting ready to start cooking the chicken, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  4. When the oven is heated, remove the chicken from the brine and rinse it. Place the rinsed chicken on a roasting pan or V-rack (we use a two tier roasting pan so the fat drips to a pan below). Brush the chicken with butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the chicken wing side up and roast in the oven for 15 minutes.
  5. Rotate the chicken so the other wing is up and roast another 15 minutes.
  6. Turn the chicken so it is breast side up and turn up the oven to 450 degrees. Brush the chicken with butter again, place it back in the oven, and roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees in the breast and 165 to 170 in the thigh. Depending on the size of your chicken, this could take another 25-90 minutes. You can also check to see if the chicken is done by making a cut at the intersection of the thigh and the body. If clear juice flows out (instead of blood), the chicken is done.
  7. Carve and serve.
  8. We always have leftovers (this may be the best part). We make delicious chicken sandwiches in our pita bread with sliced chicken, sliced pickles, cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, and pesto. We also like to put chicken on salads and make chicken fajitas, enchiladas, and burritos.