I love making roast chicken, but I don't seem to be able to get the skin to crisp to that nice mahogany color, like this:

enter image description here

Some of the things I have tried:

  1. butterfly and roast at 500 (Alton Brown method)
  2. pat dry and brush with oil before roasting at 375
  3. flash under broiler
  4. brown breast on the stovetop in a very hot cast iron skillet before placing in oven

results: #1 & #2 don't seem to work at all -- The skin cooks but it doesn't crisp. #3 only the peak of the breast gets seriously brown. parts further from the broiler are less and less brown. #4 just the parts touching the pan brown

I do have an in-oven thermometer, so I know the temps are correct

UPDATE: added #4

2 Answers 2


Place bird on a rack over a pan. Salt skin, do not add oil or marinade. Place in refrigerator, uncovered, for up to two days. This will help remove moisture from the skin, which will allow it to crisp more readily in the oven.

  • how do you do this in conjunction with brining? I usually brine my birds. maybe brining is the problem?
    – rbp
    Nov 20, 2015 at 20:24
  • You could brine, remove, pat as dry as possible, then refrigerate as I suggest above. The idea is to remove as much moisture from the skin as possible. I find that if I have a good product, brining (particularly chicken) is not necessary...but that is personal preference.
    – moscafj
    Nov 20, 2015 at 20:28
  • bringing then drying seems excessive.
    – rbp
    Nov 20, 2015 at 20:30
  • @rbp see my edit above...it is all about what you are trying to achieve. If you want crisp skin, you need to lose moisture.
    – moscafj
    Nov 20, 2015 at 20:31

One of the problems with using the broiler to brown the skin, is your chicken isn't equidistant from the broiler, so your breast will burn if the rest browns.

A few ways I've gone about ensuring properly crispy skin.

  1. Separate the skin from the meat prior to cooking. This will let more of the fat render out and allow the skin to dry out quicker. I actually put oil and spices underneath the skin to achieve this.
  2. Brown the chicken either before or after cooking it. If you have a cast iron skillet as in the picture there, that works really well. Cook the chicken to proper temp, get your skillet really, really hot add some oil when the oil starts to smoke, toss the chicken in (so you don't cook the actual meat much more).
  3. Buy a blowtorch (a proper one from the plumbing section of a hardware store). Cook chicken slowly to right temp and then blowtorch the skin. Serious suggestion... Alton Brown suggested it even in one of his podcasts. Also see here.

Edit: Something else to consider. You mention that your mother never had this problem. The chickens today might have more fat than the ones your mother used. The skin won't brown completely till the fat itself renders out. Giving it time to do that, separating the skin, and making sure the surface is really, really dry may help. You really want to reduce the amount of moisture that is on/around the skin.

  • I always lube under the skin, and I have tried #2 (updated OP). #3 seems excessive: my mother never had a blow torch and her skin came out crispy
    – rbp
    Nov 20, 2015 at 20:20
  • I've used the blowtorch simply because it's convenient for me and it works. I suspect that's why Heston Blumenthal (the chef in the linked article) does it, is he can easily control the browning easier. He roast the chicken low and slow for 6 hours, then just quickly browning the skin with the torch at the end. The alternate technique mentioned is quickly frying it afterwards.
    – talon8
    Nov 20, 2015 at 20:33

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