With a crispy sumac and garlic crusted skin and a juicy lemon-kissed interior, our Cast Iron Roast Chicken Recipe is not only perfectly delicious but the perfect fall dinner. Alongside the chicken, we scatter fingerling potatoes and whole carrots to sop up every bit of salty juice that drips to the bottom of the pan. Serve with an easy kale salad and a glass of vino.
Cast Iron Roast Chicken
Oftentimes when we think of fall meals we gravitate towards creamy soups, hearty pasta dishes and anything and everything pumpkin. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m absolutely one of those people who relish in those meals as well (Have you seen our soup and pasta section?) but I also think there is nothing more fall worthy or comforting than a classic Cast Iron Roast Chicken.
With a crispy, seasoned skin and a juicy lemon-kissed interior, this roast chicken is the only roast chicken recipe you’ll need in your back pocket from here out.
We douse the outside of the chicken in a compound butter laced with lemony sumac, garlic, salt and dried thyme. As the chicken roasts, the butter melts and forms a really lovely crust over the skin while it crisps.
About a third of the way through cooking we scatter carrots and fingerling potatoes also flavored with sumac to roast alongside the chicken.
All you need to finish this easy fall meal is an easy kale salad. I also wouldn’t mind doubling up on the starch and serving it with our favorite spinach orzo.
Ingredients in Cast Iron Roast Chicken
Chicken. I like to use a free range organic chicken because they tend to be more tender and smaller. However, any whole chicken will work great. Look for one in the five pound range.
Butter. Some people don’t use any fat at all. Some use a little bit oil. Me? I prefer to slather my cast iron roast chicken with butter. Not only does it add moisture and flavor but it further facilitates a crispy exterior.
Spices. My most simple roast chicken just calls for salt and pepper for the seasoning but this one has a more flavorful crust. We use lemony sumac, garlic powder, plenty of salt and thyme. To compliment the citrus flavor of the sumac I also throw in a little bit of lemon zest.
Garlic. We use one whole head of garlic. Half goes in the bird and half goes on the outside to roast alongside the chicken.
Lemons. Almost all of my roast chicken recipes include lemon in some way. I love to put it in the cavity to help the flavor penetrate the chicken. I also nestle a few halves around the chicken to squeeze on it after cooking.
Onion. A little bit of onion goes in the cavity.
Carrot + Potato. My husband is a meat and potatoes guy and when it comes to cast iron roast chicken, so am I. The classic combination of carrot and potato is my choice, but I also love sneaking in some fennel or brussels sprouts.
To keep things a little interesting, I like to find funky looking seasonal potatoes and carrots but anything will do.
Let’s make cast iron roast chicken!
Clean the chicken. I’ll never forget the episode of RHOBH when one of the women tried to wash a chicken with dish soap and water. When you wash a chicken all you need to do is rinse it inside and outside with water. Sometimes if I’m feeling lazy II won’t even do that.
If there is anything inside cavity of the chicken, discard it.
Let it rest. I like for the chicken to rest at room temperature while the oven preheats and I prep everything else.
Make the rub. Add softened butter, sumac, garlic powder, lemon zest, thyme and salt to a small bowl. Mix until combined. Spread the butter mixture all over the chicken. If you want, you can also nestle some of it under the skin.
Nestle the lemon and garlic around the chicken and pop in the oven.
While the chicken is cooking, peel and chop the carrots along with the potatoes. Add them to a bowl. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil, more salt and sumac. Toss to combine.
Add the veggies. About 15 minutes into cooking, add the carrots and potatoes around the chicken. Place back in the oven.
Advantages of Cast Iron Skillet
You can of course use a regular roasting pan for this roast chicken but I like to use a cast iron skillet for a few reasons. First, it heats evenly which will help to cook the chicken evenly as well (and you need all the help you can get when roasting a whole chicken).
Two, the bottom gets incredibly hot and browns the potatoes and carrots really nicely.
Three, it’s pretty. 🙂
Can I make Cast Iron Chicken in Advance?
Unfortunately I wouldn’t recommend cooking our Cast Iron Chicken a day ahead. However you can make it a few hours in advance and just tent it with foil. Just before serving carve it, and spoon hot chicken stock over the chicken. This will gently warm it up without drying it out.
Uses for leftover roast chicken
- We love this Chicken Salad
- You could also throw the leftover chicken into our favorite Cheesy Chicken Pot Pie or Chicken Spaghetti or Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
- Whip up this salad for lunch the next day and serve with shredded chicken.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- Be sure to set the chicken out at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before spreading the compound butter mixture on the chicken. If you spread the butter over cold chicken the butter will solidify making it hard to evenly coat the exterior.
- Watch the veggies. If they start to get too brown, remove them from the pan and let the chicken finish cooking.
- Let the chicken rest! This is SO SO important. If you don’t let the chicken rest for at least 15 minutes after it’s done cooking, all the juices from the chicken will drain and you will be left with dry chicken.
- When checking to see if the chicken is done, make sure to put your thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh closest to the bone.
Other Cozy Chicken Dinners You’ll Love
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 1/2 tsp sumac, divided
- 1 4-5 lb whole chicken
- 1 large lemon, quartered
- 1 large garlic head, halved horizontally
- 2 large carrots, peeled or scrubbed
- 8-10 fingerling potatoes
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- Cast iron skillet
- Let chicken sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before preparing. Positiion a rack in the middle of your oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Rinse the chicken inside and out with cold water. Use paper towels to thoroughly dry the chicken. This is super important to get crispy skin.
- Add the butter along with the garlic powder, thyme, and 1 teaspoon sumac to a medium. Mix until combined. (Make sure to use a medium bowl as you will use it again later.)
- Place the chicken in a large cast iron skillet. (Mine is 12 inches but anything up to 15 inches will work. You don't want the surface to be too large or the juice could burn.) Again make sure the chicken is very dry.
- Sprinkle the chicken all over with salt and pepper. Use your hands or a spatula to spread the softened butter all over the chicken. Sprinkle with a little bit more salt.
- Place the skillet in the oven and set the timer for 35 minutes.
- While the chicken cooks, prep the veggies. Half the carrots lengthwise and then cut into 2-3-inch pieces. Cut the fingerling potatoes in half lengthwise. Add the veggies to the same bowl you mixed the butter in. Add the olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon sumac. Toss to combine.
- When the timer is up, pull the chicken out. Spread the veggies around the chicken. Place back in the oven for another 35 minutes. After 35 more minutes, start to check the temperature of the chicken. It's done when the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165 degrees on an instant read thermomter. Pull the chicken out and let rest at least 15 minutes before carving.
- To carve: I gently cut the skin where the leg connects to the body and then gently pull off the thigh and drumstick. Find the middle of the breast bone. Use a large sharp butcher's knife to cut down the breast bone on one side. Take the knife and slice the bottom of the breast to remove the whole breast in one piece. Repeat on the other breast. Cut each breast into slices.
- Serve the chicken with the vegetables and spoon juice on top.