Thanksgiving Roast Chicken

Overhead shot of Thanksgiving chicken carved and on a platter with sage and thyme.

Look, I’ve got nothing against turkey—I just wanted to create a Thanksgiving Roast Chicken for people who do. Or, for people who are hosting Thanksgiving for a small family, a cozy party of two, or even for the 20+ crowd that needs a second protein. 

I was inspired by the spiced and glazed turkey that Brad and Andy made on Bon Appetit’s YouTube series, Making Perfect. Filmed partially in the test kitchen at Bon Appetit and partially in Brad’s hometown of New Jersey, the two Test Kitchen Editors tried several different turkeys, dry rubs, glazes, and cooking methods until they came up with the best one. The perfect one. 

I wasn’t about to mess with the flavors or the cooking method that Brad and Andy literally perfected over the course of several hot days in July. I just wanted to swap out the main ingredient. Turns out, the perfect Thanksgiving turkey can also be the perfect Thanksgiving chicken. 

Let’s make Thanksgiving Roast Chicken

Andy and Brad first determined that a dry brine was better than a wet brine for the bird, which is good news for all of us. A dry brine is much easier to work with. 

The brine is a spicy, slightly smoky, ever-so-sweet combination of pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, and light brown sugar. Whenever I see a recipe that contains both garlic and onion powder, I know it’ll be a flavor bomb that I can’t resist.

Next, they determined that roasting the bird in parts, rather than whole, creates the most delicious result. Breaking up the bird allows it to cook more evenly. 

Plus, cooking a turkey (or a chicken) in parts makes the whole process a lot faster. 

Did I mention that this Thanksgiving chicken cooks in under an hour?

Piece of thanksgiving chicken getting picked up with a fork.

Finally, rubbing the dry-brined turkey parts in oil instead of butter created the shiniest, crackliest, crispiest skin. Since I have a lactose-intolerant family member, I consider this another win.

So I diligently followed Brad and Andy’s lead, making adjustments to the quantities, cooking time, and, okay, I reduced the amount of sugar by half. I found the spice rub and the glaze to be plenty sweet enough without it, and I was worried about burning it in the oven.

Andy and Brad’s turkey might be perfect, but a chicken that cooks in under an hour and suits a small family or supplements a big crowd? That’s something to be thankful for.

What to serve with this roast:

Thanksgiving Roast Chicken

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Dinner American
By Adapted from Bon Appetit Serves: 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cooking Time: 45-65 minutes Total Time: 50-70 minutes

Quick & easy, incorporates all the best Thanksgiving flavors with none of the hassle. Great for a small crowd or as an extra main dish.

Ingredients

  • 4-5 lb whole chicken
  • 4 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt (or half as much Morton)
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp plus 3 Tbsp (packed) light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp neutral oil (such as vegetable, peanut, or canola)
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
  • 2 strips orange zest
  • Small handful of hardy herbs (such as sage, rosemary, bay leaves, and/or thyme)

Instructions

1

Break down the chicken into parts, leaving the breast, wings, and legs whole. It's just like carving the chicken, except it hasn't been cooked yet. You can ask your butcher to do this for you.

2

Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and 1 teaspoon brown sugar and stir to combine.

3

Place chicken pieces, skin side up, on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet lined with 2 pieces of foil. Pat the salt mixture all over the chicken. Chill bird, uncovered, overnight and up to 24 hours.

4

Before cooking, take the chicken out of the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about a half hour—this helps it cook more evenly.

5

Place a rack in the middle of oven; preheat to 425°F. Rub chicken with oil and pour 1/2 cup water into baking sheet. Roast chicken, rotating baking sheet halfway through, until skin is mostly golden brown, 15-20 minutes.

6

Meanwhile, in a small pot, combine soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, orange zest, herbs, and remaining 3 tablespoons brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and glaze thickens slightly (it will continue to thicken as it cools), 8–10 minutes. Remove glaze from heat.

7

Reduce oven temperature to 300°F and continue to roast chicken, brushing with glaze every 10 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 160°F, and 175°F when inserted into the thickest part of the thighs, 30–40 minutes longer (total cooking time will be 45–65 minutes). Start checking after 10 minutes (when you go in to glaze), as the smaller pieces will cook more quickly. The breast will take the longest.

8

Transfer chicken to a cutting board. Let rest 10-20 minutes before carving. Drizzle on any additional glaze, don’t let that stuff go to waste.

Nutrition

  • 452 Calories

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9 Comments

  • Reply
    chefboyrdee
    November 8, 2019 at 2:24 pm

    Photos are stunning! Looks extremely yummy

  • Reply
    Calli
    December 6, 2020 at 4:53 am

    Randomly googled to find this recipe thanksgiving day — skipped the overnight marinade but holy cow this chicken was DELICIOUS! Our guests couldn’t stop raving over it. Thank you!!!

    • Reply
      Samantha
      December 6, 2020 at 8:26 am

      Hi Calli,

      Yay! That is wonderful news. Really appreciate the feedback!

      Cheers,
      Sam

  • Reply
    Beck & Bulow
    November 7, 2021 at 1:26 am

    Yummy, now I have another yummy one to add to my prep for Chicken!! and please visit us: https://www.beckandbulow.com

  • Reply
    Ryan
    November 22, 2021 at 10:20 am

    This will definitely be our main for Thanksgiving this year~such great ideas. Thanks Samantha!!

  • Reply
    Koala23
    November 26, 2021 at 5:37 pm

    Hey! I’m new to the country and I wanted to cook for my first thanksgiving. My oven wasn’t big enough to fit a turkey and I googled a chicken alternative. Man, was this good or was this good! It’s easy and delicious!

    • Reply
      Samantha
      November 29, 2021 at 6:36 am

      This comment made my day, so happy you enjoyed!

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