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Thanksgiving Chicken Recipe (with Gravy)

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Try our Thanksgiving chicken recipe for this year’s holiday feast! This juicy chicken with crispy skin is an excellent alternative to turkey, perfect for smaller gatherings.

overhead view of a silver platter with carved roasted chicken, brussels sprouts and clementines.

We love turkey, but roasting a whole bird is often too much, even for a holiday meal. And it takes a while. Roasting a Thanksgiving chicken is easier, faster, and cheaper. And if you would still like some turkey, but in smaller portions, check out the Air Fryer Turkey Legs.

Why should you cook a chicken Thanksgiving dinner?

  • Small party: Roasting a chicken instead of a turkey is perfect if your family is small.
  • Cheaper: You will pay at least half of what you would pay for a small turkey, probably even less than that.
  • Faster: a sizeable whole turkey will need hours in the oven, while this Thanksgiving chicken only needs about one and a half hours, depending on size. And mind you, my chicken was larger than average. However, remember the salting time; for a super juicy and flavorful roast, you should allow the salted bird to sit in the fridge for 24 hours.
  • Delicious: juicy, tender meat flavored with clementines, garlic, and herbs, and crispy, spicy skin. What could be better?
  • Gravy: The recipe comes with gravy. Use the pan juices to make the most delicious sauce.

What do you need?

raw chicken, stock, clementines, garlic, rosemary, spices, oil, flour on the table.

Chicken:

  • Considering that this is a Thanksgiving chicken recipe, I chose a large whole chicken weighing 6 lbs (2.7 kg). Your bird can be smaller or even larger according to your needs, although I doubt you can get one that’s much larger than 6 lbs. All you have to consider is to adjust the roasting time accordingly.
  • Salt: Two teaspoons for salting the bird inside and out. I always use fine sea salt or Kosher salt. If using table salt, only take about 1 ½ teaspoon, it is more potent than the other two kinds.
  • Oil for rubbing the chicken. Use a type of oil with a higher smoking point like canola or sunflower oil. Extra virgin olive oil is not suitable for this purpose.

For the stuffing:

  • Mandarins or clementines.
    • They are more or less the same thing. Mandarins are a type of orange, which is smaller, flatter, milder in taste, and easier to peel. Clementines are an even smaller type of mandarin, which is usually seedless. I can’t tell the difference between them most of the time, but I supposed I had clementines this time because they were seedless.
    • It is preferable to buy organic clementines, as you will use them whole, peel included. And they are usually so highly treated with pesticides and waxed on top of that; you really don’t want all that in your meal.
    • You will need 2 for stuffing the bird and one for adding to the roasting pan.
    • Oranges or lemons are a good substitute.
  • Garlic: A whole bulb, cut horizontally in the middle.
  • Rosemary: Dried rosemary for the rub and fresh for the filling. The fresh herbs are great, but they are not mandatory. Use a little bit of extra dried rosemary instead, or replace the rosemary with other fresh herbs like parsley or thyme.

For the gravy:

  • Pan juices, chicken stock or broth (preferably low-sodium), and all-purpose flour.

How to cook the recipe?

Salt the chicken:

  • Remove the giblets from the bird. Use them to make chicken stock together with the leftover roasted bones.
  • There is no need to rinse the bird; it will only spread the bacteria all over your sink. This bacteria will only be killed during the cooking process.
  • Rub the bird with the salt all over, including the cavity and under the wings.
  • Place it in a roasting pan (or another container) and refrigerate it uncovered for 24 hours.

Prepare for roasting:

  • Remove from the fridge about 1 hour before roasting to allow it to come to room temperature.
  • Preheat the oven to 480 degrees Fahrenheit (250 degrees Celsius). Line a shallow roasting pan with aluminum foil.
  • Pat it dry with paper towels (inside and outside), removing the excess salt and excess moisture.
  • Rub it thoroughly with 3 tablespoons of oil. Mix another ½ teaspoon fine sea salt with ½ teaspoon ground black pepper and 1 teaspoon dried rosemary in a small bowl. Rub with this mixture all over, outside, and inside the chicken cavity. You can use a little bit of poultry seasoning instead.

Stuff:

  • Wash the clementines with hot water and dry them well. Halve two of them and quarter the third one.
  • Cut the garlic bulb horizontally (unpeeled, of course).
  • Place the clementines halves in the cavity and add the garlic and fresh rosemary sprigs.

Tie:

  • Use kitchen string to tie the chicken legs. You can skip this step, but I don’t recommend it; tying them together keeps the filling inside, and the roasted chicken looks 100 times better once cooked.
  • Tuck the wing tips under the bird.
uncooked whole chicken in a roasting tin.

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Roast:

  • Place chicken into the prepared pan.
  • Roast for 15 minutes at a high temperature.
  • Reduce temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius) and continue roasting until cooked through.
  • The cooking time depends very much on the size of the bird.
roasted whole chicken in a roasting pan.

Gravy:

  • Rest: Allow the Thanksgiving chicken to rest on a warm platter for 10 minutes before carving. Make the gravy in the meantime.
  • Cook: Pour the pan juices into a small saucepan. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil on medium-low heat.
  • Thicken: Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the flour. Bring to a boil while whisking continuously and simmer for 2-3 minutes until thickened.

Serve:

  • Remove the stuffing and carve the chicken. Place it on a sturdy cutting board and use a sharp knife. First, cut the legs at the joint, then separate the drumsticks from the thighs. Next, separate the wings, cut the chicken breasts off the bone, then slice them. Arrange nicely on a serving platter with the roasted clementine halves (not those from the stuffing).
  • Serve with gravy, mashed potatoes, and roasted or cooked vegetables. For example, we had roasted Brussels sprouts.
  • For a proper Thanksgiving feast, serve other appropriate side dishes like Cornbread without Buttermilk, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, and so on. Then, make a pumpkin pie or Easy Brownie Blondies for dessert.
pouring gravy on a platter with roasted chicken pieces.

Expert Tips and FAQ

Roasting times:

  • My 6 lb (2.7 kg) bird needed 15 minutes at 480 degrees Fahrenheit (250 degrees Celsius) + 1 hour and 30 minutes to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius).
  • A smaller bird will need less time; start checking after 1 hour already.
  • The best way to check is with a digital meat thermometer; the internal temperature should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius). Alternatively, check by piercing the bird in the thickest part of the thigh. However, this method is not reliable when cooking a large bird; it might lead to overcooking it.

Why salt the chicken?

  • Flavor: The salt penetrates the meat and adds more layers of flavor.
  • Moisture: Salt changes the protein structure of the meat, making it moister.
  • Crispiness: It will also dry out the skin a bit, making it crispier.

Do I have to salt the chicken?

  • It’s not mandatory but highly recommended.

Why refrigerate it uncovered?

  • This will allow the skin to dry out as much as possible, a step that will make it extra crispy once roasted.

Why use oil and not butter?

  • Oil (canola, sunflower, grapeseed, avocado oil) has a higher smoking point. As you will start roasting the bird at a very high temperature, butter or olive oil are not a good idea.

How to store leftovers?

  • Refrigerator: The meat keeps for 2-3 days in an airtight container. Keep the gravy in a separate container.
  • Freezer: You can keep leftovers in an airtight container for about 3 months.
  • Defrost it in the fridge and reheat before serving.

What to do with leftover bones?

  • Use those and the giblets that might have been in the cavity of the chicken to make chicken stock. The leftover bones can be frozen for future use, but if the giblets come from a defrosted bird, don’t freeze them again. Instead, roast them in the pan with the chicken, remove them after about 30 minutes, let them cool and then freeze them.

How to reheat leftovers?

  • Meat: Place them on the baking tray lined with parchment paper. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and reheat at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius) for about 20 minutes or until everything is piping hot.
  • Gravy: In a small saucepan on the stove or in a bowl in the microwave. Add a splash of broth or water to loosen it slightly and stir frequently.
close up golden and crispy chicken for thanksgiving.

More quick Thanksgiving ideas:

close up golden and crispy chicken for thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Chicken Recipe (with Gravy)

Try our Thanksgiving chicken recipe for this year’s holiday feast! This juicy chicken with crispy skin is an excellent alternative to turkey, perfect for smaller gatherings.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
1 day
Servings: 4 -6
Calories: 878kcal
Author: Adina

Ingredients  

Chicken:

  • 1 chicken 6 lb/ 2.7 kg Note 1
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt or Kosher salt Note 2
  • 3 tablespoons oil canola, sunflower Note 4

Rub:

  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt or Kosher
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Stuffing:

  • 3 clementines or mandarins Note 5
  • 1 garlic bulb
  • 3 fresh rosemary sprigs divided

Gravy:

  • pan juices
  • 1 ½ cup chicken stock or broth preferably low-sodium
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Instructions

Salt the chicken:

  • Remove the giblets from the bird (Note 6).
  • Rub the chicken with salt all over, inside and outside, under the wings as well.
  • Refrigerate uncovered for 24 hours.

Prepare for roasting:

  • Remove from the fridge about 1 hour before roasting to allow it to come to room temperature.
  • Preheat the oven to 480 degrees Fahrenheit (250 degrees Celsius). Line a roasting tin with aluminum foil.
  • Pat dry with paper towels (inside and outside) to remove the excess salt and moisture.
  • Season: Rub the bird thoroughly with 3 tablespoons of oil, inside and outside. Mix another ½ teaspoon fine sea salt with ½ teaspoon ground black pepper and 1 teaspoon dried rosemary. Rub with this mixture all over, inside and outside.

Stuff:

  • Wash the clementines with hot water, dry well. Halve two of them and quarter the third one.
  • Cut the unpeeled garlic bulb horizontally.
  • Stuff cavity: Place the clementines halves in the cavity. Add garlic and fresh rosemary sprigs.
  • Tie the legs of the chicken with kitchen string, tuck wing tips under the chicken.

Roast:

  • Place chicken into the prepared roasting tin. Add remaining clementine quarters and rosemary sprig.
  • Roast for 15 minutes at 480 degrees Fahrenheit (250 degrees Celsius).
  • Reduce temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius) and continue roasting until cooked through; it took me another hour and 30 minutes.
    The roasting time depends very much on the size of the chicken; if your bird is smaller, don’t overcook it! Start checking with a digital meat thermometer after one hour already and keep checking until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius).

Gravy:

  • Rest: Allow the chicken to rest on a warm platter for 10 minutes before carving. Make the gravy in the meantime.
  • Cook: Pour the pan juices into a small saucepan, add chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  • Thicken: Whisk in the flour. Bring to a boil while whisking continuously and simmer for 2-3 minutes on low heat until thickened.

Serve:

  • Carve: Remove the string and the stuffing. Carve the chicken. Serve with gravy, mashed potatoes, and roasted or cooked vegetables.

Notes

  1. This is a large chicken suitable for Thanksgiving. Choose a smaller one and adjust the roasting time accordingly.
  2. If using table salt, you will need a bit less, about 1 ½ teaspoon. Salting and leaving the chicken in the fridge for 24 hours is optional but recommended.
  3. Don’t use butter or olive oil for this recipe. The chicken will be cooked at a high temperature first, so that you will need oil with a high smoking point.
  4. Two clementines for stuffing the chicken, one for adding to the roasting pan. Use organic ones.
  5. Use leftover roasted bones and the giblets that might have been in the cavity of the chicken to make chicken stock. The leftover bones can be frozen for future use, but if the giblets come from a defrosted bird, don’t freeze them again. Instead, roast them in the pan with the chicken, remove them after about 30 minutes, let them cool and then freeze them.

Nutrition

Calories: 878kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 64g | Fat: 61g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 14g | Monounsaturated Fat: 28g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 248mg | Sodium: 655mg | Potassium: 824mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 462IU | Vitamin C: 33mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 4mg
Keywords: chicken for thanksgiving, chicken thanksgiving dinner, thanksgiving chicken, thanksgiving chicken recipe, thanksgiving roast chicken
Recipe Rating




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