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You roast a whole chicken, and you bake chicken Parmesan, right?

Well, yes. But these days, the difference is mostly a question of semantics. Initially, "to roast" meant to cook over an open flame as in a whole chicken on a spit. Today, though, you typically roast that whole chicken in the oven — where you do your baking, too. Both methods use dry heat to cook the insides and crisp up the outsides.

Chef John's Salt Roasted Chicken
Photo by Chef John

If you want to get technical, there's this. When you roast a chicken or butternut squash or rack of lamb, you're roasting something that is essentially whole. It has a complete structure, a one-ness about it. On the other hand, when you bake bread or a chicken casserole, you're cooking a collection of distinct ingredients into a uniform whole; through baking, they become one. Here are some top-rated Chicken Casserole Recipes to help you ponder the distinction.

There are other quasi-defining features of roasting versus baking. Is the oven temperature around 400 degrees F? You're heading into roasting territory. Did you cover the pan? You might be baking. Just be careful that you're not braising (which would require a little liquid in the pot and a tight lid). Did you baste? You're probably roasting.

Bottom line: There are plenty of gray areas where you could use baked and roasted interchangeably.

Ready for some top-rated chicken dinner ideas? Check out a dozen of our very favorite Baked Chicken Recipes.

Watch this quick video to see how to make a top-rated roasted chicken with fresh orange, a little garlic, and fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage.


Want more? Check out our collection of Baked and Roasted Chicken Recipes.