Frugal Food: Crispy Upside Down Roast Chicken

Upside down roast chicken

We love roasting a whole chicken in the oven, especially when we’ve bought the chicken for 49 cents a pound! 

This family fave is a classic recipe turned upside down – literally.  Roasting a chicken breast side down in a rack and then flipping it halfway through cooking yields crispy skin all over and juicy white meat.  The recipe is my own design.  Feel free to experiment with your own spice blend.


5 – 6 lb whole chicken – rinsed and patted dry with paper towels (Crispy secret #1)
1 Tbsp kosher salt (use half this amount for table salt)
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp thyme
zest of 1/2 a lemon
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 – 2 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cooking time, 1 hr 30 min (45 min per side) for a 5-6 lb bird, 1 hr (30 min per side) for a 3-4 lb bird.

In a small bowl, mix together the spices and lemon zest.  Pre-baby, I used to add cayenne pepper to the mix for some zing.  In another bowl, whisk together the oil and lemon juice.

Most people season the outside of the chicken.  I like to season under the skin of the chicken as well.  This not only adds to the flavor of the breast and thigh meat, but it will cause the skin to crisp up nicely in the oven (Crispy secret #2).

Carefully slide your fingers under the skin over the breast.  Use your fingers to break the clear connective membrane holding the skin to the meat.

Gently lift the skin covering the entire breast and thigh area.  You can see in my photo the skin slightly split.  This is due to me being unable to take pictures with my left hand at the same time that I’m feeling a chicken up with my right.

Make sure your chicken is nice and dry (Crispy Secret #1).  If the skin is wet when you put it in the oven, it will take extra time for the water to cook out and the skin to dry before it will start to crisp.  Drizzle the lemon juice/olive oil mixture over the chicken and work it into the skin.  Make sure you do the back and get some juice under the skin and over the breast.

Spoon some spice under the skin and rub it into the breast and thigh meat.

Use the rest of the spice mixture to season the outside of the chicken.   Don’t be shy.  Rub it into all the nooks and crannies, the chicken doesn’t mind.

Crispy secret #3 – put the chicken on a rack in the roasting pan upside down.  Put it in the oven for 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes, pull the chicken out and admire the crispy behind.  Baby got some serious back!  

Carefully lift the chicken and flip it breast side up.  I have these large rubber heat resistant gloves from Ronco.  I’ve also used a wooden spoon in the cavity combined with tongs and also plain old (clean) potholders.  (Note: please wash the potholders before using again) 

After another 45 minutes, pull out your beautiful bird.  Yum! 

Use an instant read thermometer and make sure the thigh meat registers 180.  Transfer the chicken to a plate and tent with foil for 10 minutes.  Letting the chicken rest lets the meat cells close up to lock in the juices.  If you were to cut into the chicken right away all the juice would run out leaving you with dry meat.  Speaking of juices, you can make a gravy or pan sauce out of the drippings in the pan if you wanted.

And the final verdict?  Frugal – our chicken cost just under $3 at 49 cents per pound – and delicious – Oliver gave this 2 thumbs up –  it was frugalicious!

After you finish picking apart your bird do NOT throw away the carcass.  Stick that and the bones into a ziplock bag and throw it into the freezer for chicken soup.  I’ll be posting that recipe some other Friday.

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