By Vanessa Greaves
Photo by Vanessa Greaves

Every cook has a few no-recipe recipes stored in his or her head. They're the go-to dishes you can whip up at a moment's notice without using a cookbook or the Internet. Here's one for roast chicken that's as easy to memorize as it is to make.

Two-Ingredient Roast Chicken


  • 1 whole chicken
  • Kosher salt


  1. Preheat oven to 450° F.
  2. Remove giblets and excess fat from inside the chicken. Dry the chicken thoroughly inside and out with paper towels. Rub inside and out with kosher salt, a little under a tablespoon for every pound of chicken. Tuck the wing tips under the chicken and tie the legs together.
  3. Place chicken in a skillet (don't use a non-stick) and bake for about 45 to 55 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken, or until an instant-read thermometer reads 160° F in the thickest part of the thigh. (Don't let the thermometer touch the bone.) I like to tip the chicken with a long fork to see if the juices that run out of the cavity are at all pink. If so, I put the chicken back into the oven for a few more minutes to finish cooking.
  4. Put the chicken on a platter or cutting board and tent lightly with foil for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

While the chicken is resting, you can make a simple pan sauce. Spoon off the fat from the skillet, leaving the chicken juices behind. Heat the skillet and pour in a bit of white wine or broth or even plain water, stirring to dissolve any roasted crusty bits. Cook until the sauce thickens slightly. Taste before seasoning because the sauce might already be salty enough. Add any juices that accumulate from the resting chicken.

Notice you didn't do any basting or flipping the chicken breast-side down to keep it juicy. You didn't even have to stuff any aromatics into the chicken, although you can if you want to. (My personal favorites are garlic, lemon, and rosemary.) But the point is, you'll get beautifully roasted results using just chicken and salt.

Find more riffs on roast chicken, including Chef John's Salt Roasted Chicken. His version includes a lemony pan sauce with butter and thyme that you've just got to try.

Think about it. I'll bet you have your own collection of no-recipe recipes filed away in your mental cookbook. Why not write them down and share them on Allrecipes?

[Photo by Vanessa Greaves]