Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken

The Del Close Marathon was this weekend in New York and Kramer and I saw some great shows! Our favorite was Improvised Shakespeare from Chicago. If you are ever lucky enough to have these guys come to your city, go see them! It was hands down the most impressive show I’ve ever seen. Not only did they do amazing improvisation, but they perform in an Elizabethan style, or the type of English that Shakespeare would have used. I wish I could have seen all of their shows and I’ll absolutely be on the look-out for their next appearance in NYC, as should you!

It was Kramer’s idea to make this roasted chicken. I had heard of Thomas Keller’s infamous recipe before, but I had never tried it for some odd reason (even though we make a roast chicken at least once or twice a month). I was a bit skeptical because there are really only three ingredients, other than the chicken, involved in this recipe: salt, pepper, and thyme. I was worried that without any butter or olive oil, the chicken would be dry, but in all honesty, it was one of the most moist roast chickens I’ve ever had in my life. The absence of the extra fat actually helps to make the skin extra crispy and golden in a way that I’ve never experience before. The simplicity really works in this dish, and you don’t need to serve it with anything fancy; a simple green salad or steamed asparagus is a beautiful accompaniment to the star of the show: the chicken. You can serve mustard and butter on the side, but Kramer and I went without and enjoyed the chicken on its own in all its glory. The possibilities for leftovers from this delicious bird are endless, from sandwiches to salads to eaten cold straight out of the container. You are going to make this your go-to recipe for a roast chicken, I promise you.

Thomas Keller's Roast Chicken
The ingredients. Look at that!

Thomas Keller's Roast Chicken
Remove the wishbone so that you can more easily carve the chicken after it is cooked. Here is a good tutorial. It is not completely necessary to do if you don’t like handling raw meat.

Thomas Keller's Roast Chicken
Now you are going to truss the chicken, which helps it keep from drying out as it cooks. You’re basically just tying the wings and legs close together, with the drumsticks covering the breast of the chicken. Another good tutorial can be seen here.

Thomas Keller's Roast ChickenThomas Keller's Roast Chicken
Mince your thyme.

Thomas Keller's Roast Chicken
Rub the chicken with salt, pepper, and thyme.

Thomas Keller's Roast Chicken
Place the chicken in a large, oven-proof pan or skillet. Place it in a 450 degree F oven and cook for 45-50 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to rest on another surface for 10 minutes.

Thomas Keller's Roast Chicken
Baste the chicken in some of its juices before serving.

Thomas Keller's Roast Chicken

Thomas Keller's Roast Chicken
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 2-3 pound whole chicken
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced thyme
  • unsalted butter, room temperature (optional, for serving)
  • Dijon mustard (optional, for serving)
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Rinse the chicken with cool water, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. You want the chicken to be very dry so that the skin becomes crispy as it cooks.
  2. Rub the inside of the bird with salt and pepper, then truss it. Trussing a chicken keeps the wings and legs close to its body, with the ends of the drumsticks covering the top of the breast, which keeps it from drying out. Trussing a chicken simply helps it to cook more evenly overall. See the photos above for some video tutorials.
  3. Now, salt the chicken by rubbing the salt into the skin on all sides, then season with the pepper and thyme. Place the chicken in a sauté pan or roasting pan and place the chicken in the oven only after it has finished preheating. Do not add olive oil or butter, as this will create steam which will add moisture to the skin of the chicken and stop the skin from becoming beautiful golden and crispy. Roast for 45-50 minutes, until the juices run clear. Baste the chicken with the juices and thyme and let it rest for 10 minutes on a different surface.
  4. Remove the twine and carve. Serve with softened, unsalted butter and Dijon mustard on the side.
Adapted From


26 Responses

  1. Wei-Wei says:

    Oh wow, that looks amazing! The lack of ingredients is particularly stunning… Great recipe! :)


  2. Tina says:

    I love a good roast chicken ! My husband just said last night ,that he could go for a roasted chicken or turkey breast . So leave it to you to have a post like this today !Looks great !! You know we will try this ! Thanks for the super easy recipe ! Have a great day !

  3. Juliana says:

    Oh! What a nice roast chicken…I am so afraid of roasting whole chicken…after seeing your, I may be able to give a try. Great pictures!

  4. Anthony says:

    I have to confess I’ve never made a roast chicken in my life. That may have to change, now. :)

  5. iiiiitsgg says:

    LOVE improvised shakespeare! i literally go once a month here in chicago haha and i’m friends with a couple of the guys!

    your chicken looks great!

    • Sydney says:

      iiiiitsgg: Let me know the next time that they’re touring so I can bake them some big chocolate chip cookies because they are HILARIOUS! I’m jealous that you get to see them so often!

  6. Memoria says:

    What a simple, yet effective recipe!! This bird looks amazing! I have trouble preparing whole birds because they look so close to their alive state LOL!! I always get someone else to clean it out and season it.

  7. Dana says:

    What a lovely looking bird you’ve got there! A chicken roasted simply is such a marvel.

  8. Juliana Moretti says:

    Mmm, this looks wonderful! I have a Cornish hen that’s been living in my freezer for a while now and taking up room… Do you think this recipe will work as a preparation for one of those, too?

  9. Jen says:

    Now that’s a postcard I’d like to get.

    This reminds me of the chicken that Hemingway wants to get with Fitzgerald in Lyon, France. Looks soo soo good!

  10. Jen says:

    I meant to say the chicken that Hem and Fitz want to get in Lyon in the book “A Moveable Feast”. Whoo.

  11. Tom Baker says:

    Looks great. I think I want chicken for dinner and I’ve already eaten dinner. This blog is awesome. I will be back. Also, I love the name. Very creative.

  12. Lizzy says:

    I could only find a 5 lb chicken at my local market. About how long should I cook it for at 450?

  13. Jenny says:

    I’ve tried to roast chickens in the past, and since your post this is the only way I’ve roasted! It comes out so succulent and juicy every time – thanks for sharing!

Leave a Reply

©2022 The Crepes of Wrath