Roast Chicken with Apples and Sage

Roasting a chicken vertically is not only easy, but results in deliciously moist chicken too. This recipe uses a vertical chicken roaster but can be made easily in a regular roasting pan as well.

Jump to Recipe (or scroll for photos and riveting information...)
Advertisement - Continue Below
A white platter with chicken, apples and shallots; thyme and sage leaves garnishing it and a carafe of apple cider and green towel next to it.

Roast Chicken for the Fall

I feel like a goldfish at the turn of every season. That is not to say I feel like everyone is watching me, but that my memory is so short that I’m once again excited about the change in the weather. It’s like I forget that this same thing happened last year, the year before that, the year before that, etc… Every season feels like a brand new start, a new experience, a clean slate. This roast chicken with apples and sage triggers that same excitement in me. The flavors of apples, sage and just roast chicken in general reminds me that the summer is coming to an end and we’re about to embark on a whole new set of meals, flavors and cooking techniques. This recipe is a great way to welcome in that change.

Ingredients on a wooden cutting board with a raw chicken on a mat and a cast iron vertical roaster in the background

A Few Simple Ingredients

Roasting a chicken is a very simple task, one that every cook should master. (Look at this page for a lesson on how to roast a basic chicken.) Once you are comfortable with the technique, adding flavors and variations to that roast chicken is a breeze. In this recipe, we simply add sage, thyme, apples and some apple cider and put it all together in a vertical chicken roaster for an autumnal roast chicken dinner. 

A hand pouring apple cider into the cavity of a vertical chicken roaster.

How to Use a Vertical Chicken Roaster

Vertical chicken roasters are not new to the market, but they’ve stuck around because they result in such a moist roast chicken. You place some aromatic ingredients (herbs, garlic, etc…) and a liquid of some kind in the center cavity, and then place the chicken on top. As the outside of the chicken roasts, the inside stays moist from the steaming liquid and the flavors added to the cavity are infused into the chicken. This, of course, is the concept of beer can chicken, where you roast a chicken on a grill over an open can of beer. The big advantage to a vertical roaster (beyond the fact that your beer doesn’t tip over and that the drippings into the grill don’t flame your chicken) is that you can add vegetables to the base, letting them roast in the chicken drippings. It’s also nice that you can a vertical roaster in your oven OR on your BBQ grill. (See this recipe for BBQ Beer Roast Chicken for help on the grill.) 

A raw, seasoned chicken on a vertical chicken roaster, ready for the oven.

Seasoning a Chicken for Roasting

Once you’ve added your cider and herbs to the center cavity of the chicken roaster, season the outside of the chicken with the seasoned oil (olive oil with salt, pepper and sage). The vertical roaster is actually very handy for this task, keeping the chicken in place. Then, pop the roaster into the oven (remember to remove your middle oven rack) and roast for 50 minutes. 

A partially cooked roast chicken on a vertical chicken roaster with shallots and apples around the base.

Adding Vegetables to Roast Chicken

The total cooking time for a 5-pound chicken is roughly 90 minutes, but the onions and shallots would be overcooked if roasted for that long. So, toss the apples and shallots around the base, along with a few sprigs of thyme after the initial 50 minutes and return the roaster to the oven for the remaining 30 to 40 minutes. You should check the internal temperature of the chicken with an instant read thermometer to know that the chicken is fully cooked. The thermometer should register 165˚F when inserted into the thickest parts of the breast and thigh. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving, to allow it to retain all those delicious juices. 

A plate with roast chicken, mashed potatoes and broccoli on a table with a bottle and glass of white wine.

How to Carve and Serve Roast Chicken

When the time has come, you can cut the chicken into pieces – drumstick, thigh, breasts on the bone – or you could carve the chicken in the same way you would carve a turkey. Here’s a lesson on how to cut up the chicken. I think this autumnal roast chicken with apples and sage goes really well with some mashed potatoes and any green vegetable that is in season. If you’re really going “full blown fall foods” with your side dishes, you might try these mashed sweet potatoes with maple and sage and some Brussels sprouts. Of course, gravy is always nice too. Here’s a lesson on how to make a basic tasty gravy. Altogether, this makes a delicious chicken dinner to give you strength to rake some of those autumn leaves! Exciting, no?

Featured Recipe Techniques

More about the skills used in this recipe.

Cooking School
How to Carve a Chicken

Once you've roasted your chicken, it's time to cut it into serving pieces. It's not hard and you can use...View Technique

Advertisement - Continue Below

Roast Chicken with Apples and Sage

  • Prep Time: 15 m
  • Cook Time: 1 h 30 m
  • Total Time: 1 h 45 m
  • Servings:


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons rubbed sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 5-pound whole chicken
  • 6 to 8 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 apples cut into 6 wedges
  • 4 or 5 shallots halved
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • Fresh sage leaves for garnish


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375°F and remove all but the bottom rack of the oven.

  2. Combine the olive oil, sage, salt and black pepper.
  3. Fill the cavity of the vertical roaster with the apple cider and a few sprigs of thyme. Place the chicken on the vertical roaster stand, over the cavity. Brush the chicken all over with the spice mixture, brushing the breast, back, legs, as well as between the thigh and breast and under the wings.
  4. Transfer the chicken to the 375°F oven for 50 minutes.

  5. Toss the apples and shallots with the melted butter and arrange the apples, shallots and remaining thyme sprigs around the roaster. Return the roaster to the oven and roast for another 40 minutes, until the chicken reaches the internal temperature of 165°F in the thickest part of the thigh and breast.

  6. Remove the roaster from the oven and transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving. Serve the carved chicken with the roasted apples and shallots and garnish with leaves of sage and sprigs of thyme.
Advertisement - Continue Below
Advertisement - Continue Below
Advertisement - Continue Below

Comments (3)Post a Reply

  1. 5 stars
    I found some of your recipes last week and have already made a few. I made this last night. I had to use a beer can because I didn’t have a vertical chicken pan ( will be on my Christmas list, lol), but this turned out amazing. It was juicy and full of flavor. Will definitely be on our dinner rotation.

  2. Dear Meredith:
    Truly, I am always inspired with a number of these recipes for fall – it’s one of my favorite times of the year as well… I was wondering about what you mentioned concerning if we might not have a vertical roaster… this would work in a regular roasting pan as well. If we use the roasting pan, how do you add the apple cider? It’s placed into the Vertical Roaster cavity – for the roasting pan – would you pour it into the cavity of the chicken or just pour it into the pan over the apples and shallots? What technique would you recommend? Thanks for considering my question. I would like to not only try the chicken, but the cake and several other of the dishes you suggested…. they all sound so good and comforting in this new season. Happy Fall! and Happy Cooking! – Perry

    1. You can make this recipe in a regular roasting pan and just pour the apple cider into the pan around the chicken. You can roast it at the same temperature and time but place it in the center of the oven rather than on the bottom rack. Enjoy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *