When you want to roast your chicken buy boneless breasts or thighs as roasting these parts is easier and quicker than roasting whole birds. Skinless is an option, but choosing skin-on boneless parts will provide you with more flavor and moisture. Skinless breasts, in particular, are notorious for drying out in the oven.
If you're cooking boneless, skinless breasts or "tenders," which are actually part of the breast, you're not necessarily destined for dryness. A quick trick at the beginning of the cooking process keeps moisture and flavor in whether your breasts are skinless or not.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prepare the breasts by rubbing them with olive oil and seasoning the outsides liberally with salt and pepper. This is what keeps the chicken moist and flavorful. Add any other seasonings, including dried spices and herbs. Surround the breasts with vegetables you'd like to roast at the same time such as carrots and potatoes. Place fresh herbs, like rosemary and sage, in and around the chicken along with slices of lemon.
For skinless chicken breasts, cover with parchment paper greased with a little butter, butter-side down on top of the chicken. Press it snugly around the breasts. The parchment helps keep the breasts moist. Do not cover skin-on chicken with the parchment or the skin will fail to crisp up.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 F when inserted in the thickest portion of the breast.
Boneless thighs have a meatier flavor and moister texture than breasts. Roast them skin on, or off. Just like with breasts, though, skin-on thighs tend to be more flavorful and moist.
Preheat the oven to 425 F.
Prepare the thighs by seasoning them with salt and pepper and any other spices of your choice. Place the thighs in a shallow baking pan; no need to grease it. A drizzle of olive oil over the top will help the thighs brown in the oven -- skin on or off.
Place the chicken in the oven to bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 F when inserted into the thickest portion of the meat. Skin-on thighs should have crispy looking skin, while skinless thighs should have darkened substantially in color.
Spices and herbs punch up plain roast chicken. Skin-on pieces often have adequate flavor without a sauce or marinade. For skinless pieces, add Asian flavors with a splash of soy sauce, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar. For more classic flavors toss the chicken with Dijon mustard, minced garlic, red pepper flakes and balsamic vinegar before roasting.
When you do cook skin-on pieces, separate them slightly so the skin gets exposed to the heat of the oven rather than to steam from the rest of the cooking chicken.
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.