Jamie Oliver's Oven Rack Hack Makes The Juiciest Roasted Chicken

If you've ever traveled around the Mediterranean, chances are you've seen rotisserie chickens cooking by the roadside. As the whole poultry slowly cooks, the juices drip down onto trays of potatoes or vegetables beneath, infusing them with the bird's rich, savory flavor. This unbeatable combo inspired British chef Jamie Oliver to create his own version of this dish, which can easily be made at home.

Oliver's hack doesn't require any special equipment; all you need is a regular oven rack and a tray. But what's really clever about the technique is how the oven rack is used. The chicken pieces do not sit on top of the metal grill, as you might expect. Instead, they're positioned between the bars of a wire rack, so they can hang as they cook.

The trick of wedging the ends of the drumsticks within the bars means the chicken pieces cook evenly as they dangle, remaining moist and juicy inside while also developing a crispy skin. It's certainly a novel and visually striking way to make roast chicken at home, offering a rotisserie feel.

Wedge marinated chicken legs in a rack for juicy meat

Many roast poultry dishes begin with safely marinating the raw chicken, and Jamie Oliver's recipe is no exception. While a yogurt marinade is great for creating juicy meat, Oliver opts for a simple mixture of lemon, honey, and fresh oregano. Pounding the herbs in a mortar and pestle with salt and pepper creates a vibrant green paste, while freshly squeezed citrus adds brightness. Once mixed with olive oil, it forms a Mediterranean-style marinade that would be equally delicious if used for fish or vegetable dishes.

When poking the knuckles of the marinated chicken legs through the rack, it helps to bend the metal bars slightly if needed to help them squeeze through. The meat will then securely hang down vertically, rotisserie-style, ready to be cooked in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

As the legs roast, the juices from the marinade and the meat, along with the delicious rendered fat, will drizzle down onto the vegetables; they gently cook in the fatty juices, while the chicken hanging above remains exceptionally succulent. Oliver's top tip is to put halved lemons in with the potatoes; as they roast, the zesty fruit takes on a deliciously jammy quality. The whole meal takes just 40 minutes to cook together in the oven.

More hacks to make rotisserie-style chicken at home

Roast chicken can be a relatively simple dish to cook. But if you crave rotisserie style, then there are several ways to recreate a restaurant-quality interpretation at home. Timings vary depending on the method of preparation and cooking.

The things we love most about rotisserie chicken boil down to the flavor and texture of the meat. While marinating is one of the best tips to keep poultry juicy and tender, you might want to consider brining. Add aromatics such as citrus juice or alcohol like white vermouth, along with herbs, for extra flavor and succulence. Some chefs believe that it's best not to baste the bird as it cooks, as this can actually cause it to dry out rather than making it tender.

To attain the flavor of rotisserie poultry, try rubbing garlic and herb butter under the skin to keep the flesh moist and tasty as it cooks. Use a dry rub with spices such as cumin and sweet paprika, in addition to salt and pepper, to season the skin so it's akin to a store-bought flavor. While you could use a traditional spit to cook a whole bird, or the oven for Jamie Oliver's rack hack for individual pieces, consider the air fryer for a fast result; it could take as little as 45 minutes for a full chicken, depending on your model.