Roast Chicken with Rosemary-Mustard Crust with Browned Onions

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Editor's Note: You can never go wrong with the classic Roast Chicken with Rosemary-Mustard Crust with Browned Onions! This easy chicken recipe will likely be gobbled up in record time when you make it for family and friends. If you're lucky enough to have leftovers, then you'll have quite the feast for lunch at work the next day. If you always thought preparing a roast chicken would be difficult, you'll think again when you see this recipe. The chicken will roast for about an hour before it is cooked thoroughly, giving you plenty of time to relax with a good book! Just keep in mind you to prepare the chicken about 24 in advance of when you plan to roast it.

Dijon mustard is at its best when you only get a hint of its spice and heat. In this roast chicken, the mustard coats the skin, along with chopped rosemary and a sprinkling of brown sugar, forming a rich browned crust. Scatter the onion slices under the chicken to catch the juices, a trick that Fine Cooking editor Susie Middleton taught me. The onions don’t quite caramelize but they do brown and soak up all the richness of the roasting bird, becoming sort of a sharp onion jam (sherry vinegar gives them a tangy edge).

Cooking MethodRoasting



Total Timea day or more

OccasionBuffet, Buffet Meal, Card Night, Casual Dinner Party, Family Get Together

Recipe CourseMain Course


Taste and TextureCrisp, Herby, Meaty, Savory


  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 3½- to 4-pound chicken(s), rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 2 large Spanish onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar


  1. Sprinkle 2½ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper all over each chicken, including the cavity. Place a rack in a pan, put the chicken on top, and let sit for up to 24 hours, uncovered, in the refrigerator. (If you’ve brined the chicken, skip this step. Just sprinkle the bird with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper and proceed with the rest of the recipe.)

  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Set an oven rack to the middle position. Mix the mustard, oil, rosemary, and brown sugar together in a small bowl and brush all over the chicken and inside the cavity. Toss the onion with the vinegar and ½ teaspoon salt in a large roasting pan. Set a rack in the pan and the chicken breast side up on the rack.

  3. Roast the chicken until the breasts are nicely browned all over, about 35 minutes. Gently flip the chicken (I like using tongs to clutch the inside of the cavity and the side of the bird) and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees F to 170 degrees F — this should take another 15 to 20 minutes.

  4. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes, breast side up. Meanwhile, return the pan to the oven to finish browning the onions for 10 minutes. Carve the chicken, drizzle with any juices accumulated on the cutting board, and serve with the onions.

The Second Time Around

The onions and this mustard-crusted bird pair nicely with saucy preparations like soups, stews, and braises.

Catch Those Juices

While I do love making pan sauces, I often go without. That’s not to say I serve a bird without any adornment. I find that the juices that accumulate on the cutting board while the bird rests before carving board while the bird rests before carving are a light but adequate stand-in for a pan sauce. For the juices to properly accumulate. You’ll need a carving board with grooved ridges running along its length to catch them.

No Rack?

Alter the Basic Roasting Method a Bit: While I am a big proponent of using a rack for roasting chicken, I understand that you may not have one but still want to roast. If this is the case, I would suggest inverting the order for flipping in my method. When oven-roasting a chicken without a rack, I like to start the bird breast side down (for about 20 minutes) and then finish it breast side up so that the skin on the breasts is crisp and browned upon serving. 

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