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What's the Difference Between Baking and Roasting Chicken?

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

Chef John's Salt Roasted Chicken

Photo by Chef John

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.

But 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?

Favorite Baked Chicken Recipes

Greek Lemon Chicken and Potatoes

Photo by Kim's Cooking Now

Favorite Roasted Chicken Recipes

Butterflied Roast Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary

Photo by foodelicious


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


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Carl Hanson

About Carl Hanson

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