By Carl Hanson

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. You roasted 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 a butternut squash or rack of lamb, you're roasting something that is essentially whole. It has that complete structure, that 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. Did you cover the pan? You might be baking. Just be careful that you're not actually braising (which would require a little liquid in the pot and a tight lid). Roasts, as they did back in the days when meat hovered over open flames, are often cooked without covering. Did you baste? You're probably roasting.

Bottom line: there's plenty of gray area; and you certainly wouldn't be ridiculous using 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.