How long does it take to cook a whole chicken at 350?

Cooking a whole chicken in the oven is a great way to prepare a delicious and inexpensive meal for the family. Many home cooks have asked the question: how long does it take to cook a whole chicken at 350 degrees Fahrenheit? The answer depends on a few key factors.

Key Factors That Affect Cooking Time

There are three main factors that will determine the total cooking time for a whole chicken at 350 degrees F:

1. Weight of the Chicken

The weight of the chicken is the most important factor. A small 3-4 pound chicken will take considerably less time to cook than a larger 5-6 pound bird. Generally, you can estimate 15-20 minutes per pound at 350 degrees F.

2. Stuffing

A stuffed chicken will take longer to cook than an unstuffed chicken. The stuffing inserts mass into the center of the bird, which will take longer to come up to temperature. Add approximately 10-15 minutes of cooking time for a stuffed chicken.

3. Oven Accuracy

Older ovens and cheaper models often run hot or cold by 25 degrees F or more. This can make a big difference in cooking times. It’s smart to invest in an good oven thermometer to gauge the true temperature of your oven.

Cooking Time Table for Whole Chicken at 350°F

Here is a general guide for the minimum cooking times for whole chickens at 350°F:

Weight Unstuffed Stuffed
3 – 4 lbs 1.5 – 2 hours 1.75 – 2.25 hours
4 – 5 lbs 2 – 2.5 hours 2.25 – 2.75 hours
5 – 6 lbs 2.5 – 3 hours 2.75 – 3.25 hours

As you can see, cooking time can vary considerably. A small 3 lb chicken may only need 1.5 hours, while a large 6 lb bird may require 3+ hours. Stuffing and oven accuracy will also change the time.

Guidelines for Cooking a Whole Chicken at 350°F

Follow these tips to ensure even cooking and a juicy interior:

1. Thaw Safely

Always thaw frozen chicken in the refrigerator, not on the counter. Plan for 24 hours of thawing time per 4-5 lbs of chicken.

2. Pat Dry

Dry the skin thoroughly with paper towels before seasoning or applying oil. This helps crisp the skin.

3. Season Well

Generously season the cavities and under the skin. Salt, pepper, herbs, lemon, and garlic are great flavors.

4. Use a Roasting Rack

Elevate the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan. This allows air circulation for even cooking.

5. Baste Frequently

Baste every 30 minutes with pan juices or melted butter. This keeps the meat moist and promotes browning.

6. Test Doneness

Use a meat thermometer to test the internal temperature, especially for a stuffed chicken. The thigh should reach 165°F.

7. Let Rest

Let the chicken rest at least 10-15 minutes before carving for juicy and tender meat.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Follow this simple process for roasted chicken success:

1. Prepare the Chicken

Remove giblets, rinse cavity, and pat dry. Truss legs with kitchen string. Generously season all over with salt, pepper, and other spices or herbs of choice.

2. Preheat Oven

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Be sure to give your oven plenty of time to fully preheat before cooking.

3. Prepare Roasting Pan

Place a roasting rack in a roasting pan and spray with non-stick cooking spray. You can also rub the rack with olive oil to prevent sticking.

4. Roast the Chicken

Place prepared chicken breast-side up on the roasting rack. Roast at 350°F, basting every 30 minutes with pan drippings or melted butter.

5. Increase Browning (Optional)

For golden crisp skin, increase oven temp to 400°F for the last 15-30 minutes once the internal temperature reaches 140°F in the thickest part of the thigh.

6. Test for Doneness

Use an instant-read thermometer to test the internal temp of the thigh. Thickest part of thigh should reach 165°F. Juices should run clear.

7. Remove and Rest

Once chicken reaches 165°F, remove from oven and loosely tent with foil. Allow to rest 15 minutes before carving.

8. Carve and Serve

Carve chicken and serve immediately. Enjoy your perfectly cooked roast chicken!

Factors That Shorten Cooking Time

There are a few scenarios where your 350°F roasted chicken will cook more quickly:

Smaller Bird

A 3-4 pound chicken will roast faster than a 5-6 pounder. Plan for a minimum 15 minutes per pound.

Higher Oven Temperature

Increasing temp to 375°F may shorten cooking time by 15-30 minutes. Do not exceed 400°F.

Younger Chicken

Younger broiler-fryer chickens cook faster than more mature roaster chickens. Reduce time for cornish hens.

Butterflied Chicken

Spatchcocking or butterflying a chicken opens it up for faster, even cooking. May reduce time by 30 minutes.

Cooking Individual Parts

Disjointed chicken parts like breast or thighs will roast much faster than a whole bird.

Factors That Lengthen Cooking Time

You may need to allow for extra roasting time in certain cases:

Larger Bird

A 6-7 pound chicken can take over 3 hours to roast fully at 350°F. Plan for 20 minutes per pound.

Lower Oven Temperature

Dropping the temp to 325°F will lengthen the cooking time. Watch closely with a meat thermometer.

Dense Bread Stuffing

Bready stuffings like cornbread take longer to cook than rice or aromatics. Add 10-15 minutes to total time.

Frozen Chicken

Do not roast frozen chicken! Always safely thaw in fridge 1-2 days before cooking according to weight.

Overcrowded Oven

Cooking multiple chickens or excessive oven loads lowers temperature and increases time. Stagger cooking if needed.

How to Tell If Chicken is Done

With poultry cooking, use more than visual cues to check for doneness. Rely on these methods:

Meat Thermometer

This is the most reliable way. Insert into the thickest part of the thigh, avoiding bone. 165°F indicates doneness.

Juices Run Clear

When chicken is pierced with a fork or knife tip, juices should run clear with no traces of pink.

Leg Moves Easily

The leg joint should feel loose enough to move easily when chicken is done cooking.

Skin Browning

The skin will turn a deep, inviting golden brown when fully cooked. But check temperature too!

Rotating Leg

When done, the thigh bone should rotate easily inside the socket when gently twisted.

Is My Chicken Undercooked?

If your whole chicken shows any signs of undercooking, return it to the oven:

Pink or Red Juices

Meat juices that run pink or red when pierced means the chicken needs more time to cook fully to 165°F.

Pink or Red Meat

Pockets of raw pink or red meat, especially around bones, indicate undercooking. Cook longer.

Bloody Bones

Bones should never show redness or blood traces when chicken is fully cooked.

Tight Leg Movement

Thighs that seem stiff and legs that won’t rotate easily mean undercooked chicken.

Spongy Flesh

If the breast meat has a soft, spongy texture instead of being firm, return to the oven for more time.

Is My Chicken Overcooked?

It’s easy to go past perfect doneness with chicken. Look for these clues that your chicken is overcooked:

Very Firm Flesh

Breast meat that is very firm and dry indicates overcooking. Some moisture should remain.

Extreme Browning

While properly cooked chicken will be golden brown, excessive blackening or charring means overcooking.

Dry Interior

If the inside seems dried out, leathery, or unappetizing, you went too long in the oven.

Loose Joints

When chicken is overcooked, the leg and wing joints will seem unnaturally loose and may separate.

White Fibers

Look for white fibers starting to form through the meat, a sign it has dried out from overcooking.

Tips for a Moist and Tender Chicken

Follow these guidelines to help ensure your roasted chicken stays juicy and tender:

Brine First

Soaking in a saltwater brine hydrates the meat so it better retains moisture.

Leave Skin On

Roasting with the skin keeps meat from drying out. Crispy seasoned skin is delicious too!

Use Aromatics

Stuff the cavity with lemon, herbs, garlic, and onion for flavor and moisture.

Baste Frequently

Basting adds back in surface moisture lost from oven heat. Drippings or butter work well.

Avoid Overcooking

Follow a meat thermometer and remove from oven at 165°F to prevent drying out.

Rest Properly

Allowing the chicken to rest seals in juices before slicing. Never skip this step!

Common Mistakes to Avoid

It’s easy to make missteps when roasting a whole chicken. Here are some common mistakes to watch out for:

Not Trussing

Neglecting to truss wings and legs closely leads to uneven cooking.

High Oven Temp

Too high of a roasting temp causes dry, inedible meat. Stay under 400°F.

No Basting

Forgetting to baste regularly lets moisture evaporate from the skin.

No Resting

Carving too soon after cooking causes juices to run out. Always rest 10-15 minutes.

Incorrect Doneness

Eyeballing doneness often leads to under or overcooking. Always use a meat thermometer.

Oven Crowding

Overfilling the oven with pans causes uneven heating and cooking.

Frozen Chicken

Never cook a frozen chicken! Thaw fully 1-2 days in the refrigerator first.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have questions on roasting chicken at 350°F? Here are answers to some common FAQs:

What temperature kills bacteria in chicken?

Chicken needs to reach an internal temperature of 165°F to kill potentially harmful bacteria like salmonella. Use a meat thermometer to verify doneness.

Can I roast a chicken at 325°F?

Yes, 325°F can be used to roast a chicken but extend cooking times. The lower heat leads to slower cooking. Watch temperature closely.

Is 350°F the best temperature for chicken?

350°F is ideal for roasting a whole chicken. It balances cooking the meat through without drying it out. Higher heats speed cooking but increase drying.

Can I stuff my chicken and then freeze it?

It is unsafe to freeze stuffed raw chicken. Always cook chicken fully to 165°F before freezing. Stuffing slows cooling.

Should I cover my chicken while roasting?

Do not cover chicken completely while roasting. Tenting loosely with foil only after browning allows some steam to escape.


When cooking a whole chicken in the oven at 350°F, allow 15-20 minutes per pound for optimal results. The total roasting time will vary depending on the size of the chicken, if it is stuffed, and your specific oven’s accuracy. While cooking, baste frequently, use a meat thermometer to test doneness, and let rest before serving. Following proper roasting guidelines will reward you with a golden brown and juicy roasted chicken everyone will love.

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