The Reason A Cast Iron Pan Is Ideal For Roasting A Chicken

Cast iron pans have been around for thousands of years for good reason — they're incredibly durable, they conduct and hold heat amazingly well, and they can become virtually non-stick over time. While most people might be familiar with using cast iron to sear a steak or fry an egg, there is one particular use where a cast iron pan really shines, and that's for roasting chicken.

It might not seem like a kitchen tool most often found on the top of the stove would be ideal for popping into the oven, but there are several reasons one might want to make a cast iron skillet the go-to when it comes to roast chicken, and a quick online search will pull up dozens of recipes that do just that.

Writer and chef Alissa Fitzgerald at Insider is just one of the many cooks who reach for a cast iron pan when it comes time to cook a whole chicken, liking the pans not only for their heat retention but also for their ability to provide that holy grail of roast chicken perfection — a crispy, browned skin.

How to roast chicken in cast iron

Whether it's a plain cast iron skillet, like a Lodge, or a cast iron-enameled pan or Dutch Oven, like a Le Creuset, preheating the pans in a hot oven while the chicken is being prepped is the key to achieving an even roast and crispy skin.

By starting with a preheated pan the cook is providing two forms of heat in which the chicken will cook — the overall heat of the oven, and then the direct heat of the pan. This dual heat combo both roasts and sears at the same time, and the thickness of the cast iron ensures an even temperature, cutting down potential hot spots that could burn the bird.

Another upside to using a cast iron pan when roasting a chicken is that when the chicken is finished the juices remain behind in a skillet that's ready to go right back on the stove and be turned into gravy. No need to dirty another pan!

It's worth noting that the cast iron roasting trick works for both whole chickens and individual cuts, like with this split chicken breast recipe.

And even though there can be some nervousness around maintaining and cleaning the pan, with just a few cast iron tips and tricks these pans will last a lifetime, rightly becoming a workhorse in any kitchen. Next time a chicken dinner seems to be on the menu, give the roasting pan a break and reach for the cast iron.