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How to Keep a Chicken Moist While Roasting

author image Maria Christensen
Since 1997, Maria Christensen has written about business, history, food, culture and travel for diverse publications, including the "Savannah Morning News" and "Art Voices Magazine." She authored a guidebook to Seattle and works as the business team lead for a software company. Christensen studied communications at the University of Washington and history at Armstrong Atlantic State University.
How to Keep a Chicken Moist While Roasting
Let a roast chicken rest for 15 minutes after cooking so the juices reabsorb into the meat. Photo Credit: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

Roasting chicken is a healthy cooking method, allowing much of the fat to drain off, but the white meat in particular can dry out in the oven if you aren't careful. There's more than one way to keep chicken moist while it's cooking, so pick the method that works best for you. Serve 3-ounce portions of meat to keep the fat and cholesterol content of your meal at reasonable levels. A serving of cooked chicken contains 160 calories, 70 milligrams of cholesterol and 7 grams of fat.

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Brine is similar to a marinade but it incorporates a much higher concentration of salt, which helps chicken to retain juices while it is roasting. Prepare a brine with water and salt in a ratio of about 1 cup of salt to a gallon of water. Proportions can vary depending on the length of time the chicken will brine and the size of the bird. Create a flavor profile by adding herbs, citrus slices, sugar, garlic cloves or soy sauce to the brine. Heat some of the water with the salt and any other ingredients you are using until the salt is dissolved. Add cold water to cool the mixture and soak your chicken in the brine for 2 to 4 hours, then rinse it well and let it sit for an hour before roasting.

Simple Method

Chicken is generally roasted in an oven set at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, but to brown the skin and help seal in juices, start with a hotter oven and then reduce the heat. Set the temperature at 450 degrees and preheat it completely. Coat the chicken in butter and seasonings and stuff the cavity with aromatics, such as herbs. Lemon slices add flavor and moistness to chicken. Put the chicken on a rack over a roasting pan, and after it cooks for 15 minutes at high heat, lower the temperature to 375 degrees until it's done cooking.


Basting is only necessary for chickens under 3 pounds, which have less fat and dry out more easily than larger birds. Basting can also help brown the skin without overcooking and distribute juices evenly over the meat during the cooking process. Take the chicken out of the oven every 20 minutes and, using a baster or spoon, pour the pan drippings over the chicken.


Using foil to cover the breast of the bird near the end of cooking can help prevent the meat from drying out and the skin from getting too brown. Watch carefully in the last 30 minutes and lay foil over the top of the chicken if necessary. Another method is to completely cover the roasting pan with foil in the beginning, which retains much of the moisture. Uncover in the last 20 minutes of cooking and baste frequently to brown the skin.

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