How to Cook a Whole Chicken
Why a whole chicken?
Cooking a whole chicken is easier than you think, and better for your budget, too. Whole chickens are one of the most economic cuts we offer, especially if you decide to make your own stock from the carcass.
They are also more nutritionally dense than boneless, skinless breasts, as the bones and skin are rich with collagen and minerals.
You’ve likely cooked chicken from the store before, boneless and skinless that’s ready to salt, pepper, and throw on the stove. A whole chicken is similar, but has one extra step - to pull the meat off the bone. That's it!
Our Go-To Method
Our family’s go-to for cooking a whole chicken is the InstantPot, but you could easily use a small crock pot or roasting pan to achieve the same thing.
1.To start, you’ll want your chicken thawed. Pull it from the freezer and set into a pan in the fridge to thaw the chicken over 2 days. When it’s thawed and ready to cook, take off the packaging and remove any giblets inside the chicken cavity.
2. From there, you need only oil and season it. Salt, pepper, sage all go well with chicken, but you can season it however you like. Spicy or savory, it’s up to you! A BBQ blend is always a tasty choice, too. :)
3. After the chicken is rubbed generously with oil and seasoning (inside and out), set it in your cooker (InstantPot, slow cooker, air fryer, or roasting pan).
***Pro tip from Tina: I stick balled up aluminum foil on the bottom of my crock pot so the chicken is moist and the skin gets crispy.
4. Cook the chicken until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. The InstantPot offers a poultry setting you can use, otherwise refer to a recipe for specific slow cook or roasting instructions. Refer to this roast chicken recipe submitted by a customer for oven roasting instructions.
For a slow cooker, set the chicken inside the pot with any desired seasoning and cover the bottom of the pot with water, then set on low for 8 hours with the lid on to cook the chicken. This won't result in crispy skin, but it will cook the chicken through if you don't want to turn the oven on or want to be able to cook it during the day.
You can also use an air fryer if you have one that fits your size whole chicken (3-4 pounds - make sure the chicken will fit in your basket before trying). This is one of my favorite ways to cook whole chickens now. It's like rotisserie at home! Oil and season as you would otherwise, then set in the air fryer basket at 350 breast down for 30 minutes, then flip and cook another 20-30 minutes or until internal temp reaches 165 degrees.
5. Let rest, then get ready to serve! To serve, simply pull the meat off the bone and enjoy! Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes, then use forks or other utensils to help pull the hot meat off the bone.
You can always just pull off the amount of meat you'll need for your meal, then set the rest of the chicken in the fridge to finish pulling later. Be conscious of small bones.
Bryce works on pulling the meat for dinner after taking the chicken out of the Instant Pot.
BONUS - DIY Bone Broth: After the meat is cleared, you can make a hearty chicken broth with the remaining bones and tissue.
Simply transfer the bones and scraps to a stock pot with 4-6 quarts water, a splash of apple cider vinegar, and any desired herbs/vegetables (onion, garlic, carrots, celery). Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for a few hours. Strain the broth into a jar and you’ve got it! Use it over the next few days in a meal, enjoy on it’s own, or freeze for the next time you need chicken broth. Find full instructions on how to make your own bone broth here.
You can also freeze leftover chicken to have an already cooked, convenient go to protein for later on. Perfect for a quick pizza topping, alfredo dish, chicken salad, or quesadilla later! Freeze spread out on a pan for an hour or so before putting collectively in a bag so you can easily separate the chicken pieces later as needed.
Try it yourself
A whole chicken is truly a great thing to cook and enjoy with your family! Give it a shot if you haven’t before, and let us know if you have any questions. Thanks!