How To Cook A Whole Chicken So You Get Your Money’s Worth!

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At first glance, whole chickens aren’t the cheapest things to buy, particularly if you purchase the organic variety. But that’s only if you look at the upfront cost. The truth is, whole chickens make eating clean far more affordable. In fact, if you do it right, you could eat for the better part of a week on just one chicken. I’m here to show you how to cook a whole chicken so you get your money’s worth.

How To Cook A Whole Chicken So You Get Your Money's Worth!

I will tell you that I long ago gave up the notion of cooking my chicken in the oven. The only way I cook a whole bird these days is in my slow cooker or toaster oven (it has a rotisserie). But I will share all three methods.

HOW TO COOK A WHOLE CHICKEN:

TOOLS

  • 1 oven and a large baking pan (if you don’t have a slow cooker)
  • OR
  • 1 slow cooker (4 quart or bigger is best)
  • OR
  • 1 rotisserie (mine is in my toaster oven.)

METHODS

  • Oven – You have to watch this a bit closer to avoid overcooking, but if you don’t have a slow cooker, it’s still totally doable. Here’s how to do it.
  • Slow Cooker – A chicken can cook for about 8 hours in a slow cooker while you are busy doing other things. The meat is moist and literally falls off the bone. It’s tough to beat. Here’s how to do it.
  • Rotisserie – The average chicken will take about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours, depending on the weight.

HOW TO USE IT ALL

For an OVEN chicken:
  1. CookHere’s how to roast a chicken in the oven. Disassemble the bird after cooking and separate all the meat from the bones and skin. Don’t discard anything. Just separate the meat from the other bits on two different plates.
  2. Make Broth – Place the bones and skin in a large soup pot and add as much water as you can into the pot. The more water you use, the more chicken broth you will have. Just note that it must boil down some during cooking to get good flavor in your broth. Here’s a recipe.
  3. Make Dinner – Eat the cooked meat as is or use it in any dish you choose. Find a list below for ideas.
For SLOW COOKER chicken:
  1. CookHere’s how to cook a chicken in a slow cooker.  Disassemble the bird after cooking and separate all the meat from the bones and skin. Don’t discard anything. Just separate the meat from the other bits on two different plates.
  2. Make Gravy or Stock Concentrate – The liquid that you find in the bottom of your slow cooker is used for these. Simply strain out the bits and set aside for either use.
  3. Make Broth – Place the bones and skin back into the slow cooker and fill the slow cooker with water. Cook on low overnight or at least 14 hours.
  4. For Dinner – Eat the cooked meat as is or use it in any dish you choose. Find a list below for ideas.
For a ROTISSERIE chicken:
  • Cook – Here’s how to cook a whole chicken in a rotisserie. Disassemble the bird after cooking and separate all the meant from the bones and skin. Don’t sidecar anything. Just separate the meat from the other bits on two different plates.
  • Make Broth – See either of the first two options for making broth.
  • Make Giblet Gravy – Save the drippings in the rotisserie pan as well as the water you boil the giblets and neck in.
  • For Dinner – Eat the cooked meat as is or use it in any dish you choose. Find a list below for ideas.

NOTES ON THE BROTH

  • Cutting fat – You do not have to use the skin to make broth. If you are wanting to cut the fat content, discard the skin and use only the bones.
  • Additions – For the best flavor add carrots (and/or carrot greens), celery, onions and anything else you may have in your fridge. This is a great way to use up any extra veggies and/or herbs you may have hanging around. Just remember that you will be discarding these.
  • Not sure what to do with the broth? Here is a list of every recipe on my blog that uses chicken broth.

RECIPES FOR COOKED CHICKEN

While I have a lot of chicken recipes here on my blog, I thought you might enjoy these two recipes from some fellow food bloggers.

How To Cook A Whole Chicken

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30 Comments

  1. Thanks so much! This breaks the process down into a simple method that doesn’t seem too scary anymore! I’m assuming a turkey would be essentially the same process, although maybe need to cook longer if bigger…

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Amy – I’ve never done a turkey this way, but yes. I would imagine it would be the same process.

  2. Judy @Savoring Today says:

    Cooking whole chickens is so easy and economical, great post! Thanks for highlighting my Curry Chicken Salad recipe too, really appreciate that. 🙂

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Judy – My pleasure! Thanks for letting me share it!

  3. Great post! I’ve been intimidated by cooking and separating a whole chicken (I was a vegetarian for 15 years!). I’m still working up the nerve :), but it’s definitely the cheapest and less processed way to go.

    I put my veggie scraps in one resealable bag in the freezer… even carrot and potato peels. When it’s full, I pull it out and make a stock. Lots of flavor and no additional dollars spent!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Katie – Yes! Scraps are great for broths!

  4. Alyssa (Everyday Maven) says:

    Thank you for including my soup in this post! We cook a whole chicken at least 1x a week and always get a couple of meals out of it somehow 🙂

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Alyssa – Thanks for letting me share it! Whole chickens are fantastic!

  5. how about a list of recipes to use the broth in? I’ve got a batch, frozen in all the jars I could find, but now what? 🙂

  6. What do you do with the broth? (And the gravy recipe looks divine–we have corn and dairy allergies and miss good gravy. Will be trying this soon.

  7. What happens if you use a frozen chicken? Is it a no no because it may not get to a high enough temp to fully cook it? I have read other sites that say you can put in a frozen chicken, just curious. Thanks!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Amy – Oh gosh. I would never put a frozen whole chicken in the slow cooker. Smaller, individual pieces maybe, but certainly not a whole chicken. And for the the very reason you mentioned. The slow cooker would not heat up fast enough to keep bacteria from growing. I’m sure some people out there do it, but personally, I wouldn’t take the chance. Not worth the risk in my book.

  8. Well that makes since, plus i was thinking there are always a bag of giblets etc in there.. you would be cooking the plastic bag they come in etc lol not exactly clean eating right? lol thanks for confirming!! I did see a receipe online and they put it in frozen for 10 hours.. mine is defrosting in the fridge.. anxiously awaiting to be cooked in my slow cooker! lol

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Amy – Glad I could clear that up!

  9. Again…another great post. I’ve been doing just as you have written for quite some time, cooking whole chickens and using all week. I save the bones in the freezer because I cook up a large stock pot (5gal) of broth a few times a year and freeze in bags. I use broth in many dishes such as soups, stirfries, and the liquid to cook rice. The chicken meat last all week for many dishes including soup.
    Your comment about purchasing organic chicken; We switched to farm raised organic and found the price close to supermarket except you get more bird and less water (or what ever it is) in the farm raised from our local market. The taste is far superior and the meat more moist in the organic.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Mike – I bet it is! I really need to find a local source here.

  10. Christy Hopkins says:

    Great tips! Hope to find more of this on the facebook page. . .I just “liked” your page:)

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Christy – Thanks! Happy to have you there. 🙂

  11. I cook a whole chicken once a month and can get 4-5 meals using just the meat out of a 4lb chicken for my family of 3 (one of whom is only almost 4, but gorges himself on chicken). I haven’t tried making broth yet, but I think I’m going to now. Love that you just throw it in there overnight, so much easier than what I was thinking! One thing that helps stretch the meat is plating the meals for my family and loading them up on veggies. I split the remaining meat up into 1-2cup portions and usually get 4-5 cups of leftover meat.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Ashely – Awesome! Thanks!

  12. I finally did it! I cooked a whole chicken, and it wasn’t tough at all – just like you said. Though, I didn’t want to buy it at first….old habits die hard…but the store was out of chicken breasts and tenders so I really had no choice. But it was so easy, and I can’t believe you DO actually get more meat! I put mine in a pot with about an inch deep of water and baked in oven until heated through and it was overall pretty moist and tender. I will definitely have to try it in the slow cooker next time. Thank you for your down to earth advise! So helpful 🙂

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Samantha – My pleasure! I’m so happy you enjoyed it! 😀

  13. StoneMaven says:

    I was taught to put a “glug” of cider vinegar in with the bones for stock. It is supposed to leach the minerals out of the bones and into the soup. It doesn’t make anything taste sour and it does seem to make the bones more crumbly after a long cooking…but is it contraindicated for clean eating?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      StoneMaven – Depends on the vinegar. It seems even that is no safe from alterations. If it’s just vinegar in the ingredient list, it should be fine as long as it’s not the plain white vinegar which is derived from GMOs.

  14. In making the broth I go ahead and put the skin & fat in with the bones, strain the finished broth (to remove bones, skin & vegetable bits), and then refrigerate it to get the solid chicken fat. I toss what I stained out to my chickens and use the rendered fat to make puppy cookies (working dogs need that fat).

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Marjorie – Interesting! I’m sure the pups love it!

  15. I have trouble with my crockpot chicken turning a funny texture – it’s hard to describe, but the closest term would be “mealy”. Kinda like grainy almost. Any tips to avoid this?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Jody – That’s odd. What else are you putting in there with it?

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