Whole Chicken Cooking Times

Updated March 23, 2017

Roasting a whole chicken is a fairly simple affair. Sprinkle some herbs and spices on the bird, use a little butter or oil, place it in a roasting dish and let the oven do the work. The time it takes to cook a whole chicken will depend primarily on how big your bird is; you will want to cook it to a safe temperature, so purchase a meat thermometer if you don't already have one.

Checking the Temperature

To be eaten safely, chicken must be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 73.9 degrees C. When the chicken has cooked for at least 60 minutes, check the temperature by placing the thermometer probe in the thickest part of the chicken breast. Do not poke so deeply that you touch bone; try to get it in the middle of the breast. When it reads 165 degrees, pull the chicken out of the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Cooking Times

According to the US Department of Agriculture, it will take a 3- to 4-lb. fryer approximately 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours to cook. A larger roasting hen of 2.27 to 3.18kg. can take a little over 2 hours. These numbers are for unstuffed birds; if you are cooking stuffed chicken, add at least 15 minutes to the cooking time.

Cooking the Chicken

To cook a whole chicken, rinse the bird off in the sink and place breast side up in a roasting pan. Rub the chicken with butter or vegetable oil, just enough to provide a light sheen. Sprinkle herbs of your choice, as well as salt and pepper, over the surface of the skin. Cover with foil and cook at 191 degrees C for one hour. You can take the cover off the pan for the last 10 minutes of cooking time to brown the skin slightly. Baste the chicken after you remove the foil to prevent drying out. Add carrots, potatoes and celery to the roasting pan for added flavour and to provide a side dish for the meat.

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About the Author

Nikki Jardin began freelance writing in 2009 and focuses on food and travel articles. She has been a professional cook and caterer for more than 20 years. She holds a degree in environmental science from Humboldt State University.