Cast iron roast chicken is the easiest, simplest way to make a restaurant-quality meal with as little effort - and ingredients - as possible. Perfect crispy skin, super tender and moist chicken, fresh rosemary and garlic flavor, and all you need is one simple cast iron pan. This recipe is great for a weeknight meal and also great to serve for company!
After more than a decade in the restaurant industry, one thing that will always stand true - at least to me - is that the test of a chef's skills is not in the fancy foams or sauces but in how good the roast chicken is.
Chicken, the friendly, go-to protein is so versatile and so easy to make but also quick to turn dry, bland, and boring.
We, my friends, will not be making dry boring chicken, but cooking a beautiful, chef-level, wow factor whole roasted chicken.
Your first thought might be, "can I roast in a cast iron pan?" and YES, you absolutely can!
Using this style of pan is so easy because it can go from cooking on the stovetop into a high-heat oven without any extra steps. That's why I love it for these Cranberry Walnut Chicken Thighs and my favorite Lemon Chicken Thighs and Wild Rice.
Such a versatile pan!
What kind of cast iron pan should I use?
I would recommend using a 12 or 13-inch skillet, but any cast iron skillet from 10.5 inches to 13 inches will do great. You make have to adjust the size of your chicken to fit the pan.
When it comes to cast iron, the brands vary as much as the price range. (The following links are affiliate links!)
Cuisinart: these babies are affordable little rockstars. I have a 10" cast iron from forever ago that was an Amazon purchase and it continues to cook consistently. Enamel coated on the exterior, prepared for your pan to look beat up the more you use it, especially if you cook on a gas stove. If that idea is unappealing to you, opt for a traditional cast iron pan.
Lodge: my personal favorite and go-to choice. Mid-range in price and durable. My Lodge pans have taken a beating over the years and are easily saved with a little elbow grease and a good seasoning.
Staub: well made and durable, if you have the scratch to splurge on this higher-end cast iron go for it.
Le Creuset: most of my favorite kitchenware is le Creuset thanks to living next to an outlet store. If going for this brand I'd recommend getting a true cast iron vs enamel coated for this specific recipe but for general use the enamel coated cookware is fantastic.
The best thing about this recipe is all the fresh flavors! You can go minimalist with just a whole roaster chicken, salt, and pepper and still end up with a perfect result.
For this recipe, we're going to add a few fresh ingredients to really make the flavor pop without adding a ton of extra effort.
- whole chicken
- fresh rosemary
- fresh parsley
- salt and pepper
If opting for the pan gravy, you'll also need:
- white wine
- chicken stock
This recipe can be made with skin-on chicken breast or chicken thighs, just adjust the cooking time.
Substitute dried rosemary for the fresh rosemary if needed. The flavor will not be as strong. It's really best to go for the fresh stuff if you can!
If you can't get your hands on fresh parsley, don't sweat it. We're using it to stuff the cavity (inside) of the whole chicken. It will add aromatics but I wouldn't worry about it if you skip that step.
The same goes for the lemon. It adds simple, beautiful acidity to the chicken and the pan gravy, but don't lose sleep over it if you forgot to pick up a lemon at the store.
How to make cast iron roast chicken
Step 1: Prep the chicken. Pat it dry, season with salt and pepper, and remove the organ meat - but save it for the pan! Stuff the cavity of the chicken (the inside) with half the head of garlic, lemon wedges, and parsley.
Step 2: Make the garlic rosemary butter! Heat the butter and oil in the cast iron pan and cook the remaining garlic and rosemary until fragrant. Transfer the chicken to the pan - breast side up - and spoon the herb butter over the whole chicken.
Step 3: Roast it in a preheated 425°F oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 35 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken. Halfway through cooking, melt and spoon more herb butter over the chicken.
Step 4: Rest and carve! Let the roast chicken rest on a cutting board or in the pan for about 10 to 15 minutes before carving. While it's resting, prepare the pan gravy.
No, you're not going to cover the chicken.
If short on time, you can try tenting the chicken with aluminum foil while roasting in the cast iron pan to speed up the cooking process, but roast uncovered for at least 20 minutes to crisp the skin.
Tips for perfectly juicy chicken:
Let the chicken sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.
Make sure the cast iron pan is nice and hot when the chicken is added.
Roast the chicken in the oven with the thickest part of the breast facing the back of the oven - this is the hottest part of the oven and will help the chicken cook at an even rate.
Or just follow this recipe. Sorry, I'm being a little cheeky, but seriously, jut follow the directions and you'll have a beautiful chicken.
To get perfectly crispy skin, roast a whole chicken at 425°F for about 13-15 minutes per pound or until the thickest part of the breast reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
You can roast a chicken at a lower temperature for a little longer if you need to match the temperature for something else in the oven.
The high heat of 425°F really produces perfect roasted skin and is worth it!
Making gravy from pan drippings
Listen, if you want a place in the chicken hall of fame - make the dang pan gravy!
All that beautiful richness from the drippings, and the deep flavors from the herbs and organ meat is just begging to be put to use!
This pan gravy is one of my favorites because its easy is so ridiculously delicious.
All you have to do is strain the herbs, garlic, and organ meat from the drippings. Then simmer the drippings with white wine.
Once that's reduced a little, slowly whisk in some liquid corn starch.
TIP: Prevent clumps in your gravy by slowly adding liquid (pan drippings or water) to the cornstarch, first making a paste, then enough that it's a thin consistency with no lumps.
Once the gravy is thickened to your personal preference, it's done!
Where ready to eat!
What to serve with a whole roasted chicken
The possibilities are pretty mind-boggling, but my standard recommendation is a little starch and veggies! Here are some of my personal go-to side dishes!
If you made this, I'd love for you to leave a star rating in the recipe card below and tell me how you served it in the comments! Thank you so much for your support!
Cast Iron Roast Chicken (with Pan Gravy!)
- Cast Iron Pan
- kitchen string
Garlic Rosemary Roast Chicken
- 1 6 to 8 pound whole chicken
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 sprigs rosemary
- 1 head garlic, halved (sliced horizontally)
- ¼ bunch fresh parsley
- ½ lemon (cut in two wedges)
- salt and pepper
- organ meat for pan gravy (optional)
Pan Dripping Gravy
- ⅓ to ½ cup strained pan drippings (will vary depending on the size of the chicken)
- ½ cup white wine
- ¾ cup chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons corn starch or flour
Cast Iron Roast Chicken
- Remove the chicken from the packaging and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Let rest at room temperature while you gather your ingredients.
- Preheat the oven 425°F. Remove the organ meat (usually in a package) from the cavity of the chicken and set aside. You'll add this to the pan to add great flavor to the gravy. This is optional, but definitely worth trying!
- Tuck the wing tips over. In the cavity of the chicken, stuff 3 springs rosemary, ½ head of garlic, ¼ bunch parsley, and 2 lemon wedges. Tie the legs together with kitchen string. Generously season all sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter with the remaining garlic and 3 sprigs rosemary in a cast iron pan over medium heat until fragrant. Place the chicken in the center of the pan, breast side up. Spoon the garlic rosemary butter all over the top of the chicken.
- Place the chicken in the oven with the thickest part of the chicken facing the back of the oven. Roast the chicken in a 425°F for 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 35 minutes or until the thickest part of the breast reaches 165°F. Half way through cooking, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan, melt, and spoon over the top of the chicken, return to the oven until cooked to the proper temperature.
- Carefully transfer the cooked chicken to a cutting board and let rest for about 10 to 15 minutes before carving.
Pan Dripping Gravy
- While the chicken rests, prepare the gravy. In a measuring cup or small bowl, mix the cornstarch (or flour) with a small amount of liquid until a lump-free slurry forms. The liquid can be water or chicken stock.
- Using a wooden spoon or spatula, gently scrape the bottom and side of the pan and strain through a fine mesh strainer. Return the strained drippings to the pan over medium high heat.
- Add the ½ cup white wine to the pan and bring to a simmer. Stir in ¾ cup chicken stock. Return to a simmer before slowly adding in the cornstarch slurry, adding a little at a time until your desired gravy thickness is achieved. Note: the cornstarch will continue to thicken as it cooks. If it thickens too much, you can add a little more chicken stock to thin it out. Serve immediately with the roasted chicken!
- When stuffing the cavity of the chicken, I like to use the bottom half of the head of garlic so the pieces are still together. The remaining garlic pieces are used with melted butter to flavor the chicken.
- Place the chicken in the oven with the thickest part of the breast facing the back of the oven. This is, generally, the hottest part of the oven and will help to cook the chicken evenly.
- To carve the chicken, remove the wings and thighs at the joints where the pieces connect to the body of the chicken. Find the breastbone of the chicken and slice alongside it, the breast meat should easily separate from the breast bone then repeat on the other side.
- This recipe can also be made with other cuts of chicken! Try it with chicken thighs, spatchcock chicken, or buy a whole chicken already quartered. Just reduce your cooking time to about 20 to 35 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (165°F for breast meat, 175-190°F for thigh meat).