(Photo Credit: Lindsay Linton Buk/Linton Productions)
What is up with America’s fascination with chicken breasts?
If you thumb through most cookbooks or Pinterest, you’d quickly come to the conclusion that that chickens don’t even have other edible parts. The vast majority of recipes are suspiciously absent of wings, thighs, or drumsticks in the ingredient lists.
Which is all fine and dandy until you start raising your own birds and start realizing that you are badly in need of recipes that use the WHOLE bird, so you aren’t left with a pile of wings and drumsticks…
My Whole Chicken Routine
We try to raise 1-2 batches of meat birds each year, and I usually roast a whole chicken 3-4 times per month. Here’s my whole chicken routine:
- Cook/roast a whole chicken for supper one evening and eat it with potatoes, veggies, whatever.
- Pull all leftover meat from the bones, trim away fat/gristle, and dice it
- Pop the carcass in the Instant Pot or slow cooker to make a gallon or so of chicken broth
- Use the leftover meat in soup, pot pie, or a chicken skillet meal the following night and use the broth throughout the next 1-2 weeks.
Since most recipes call for chicken breast only, I generally ignore that part and just use the meat I have. No one complains and it ensures we use all the chicken meat as best as we can.
In my cookbook, I tried really hard to include recipes that can use leftover meat from the entire bird, not just breast meat. You’ll find my tried-and-true recipes for things like Sticky Honey Chicken, Chicken Poblano Chowder, and Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup that are delicious not matter if you use leftover white OR dark meat.
Admittedly, roast chicken is one of my favorite meals, and it’s so stinkin’ easy. However, even the most avid roast chicken fan can get a little tired of the same old recipe after eating it once a week, so I’ve gathered over 30 ways to creatively season and cook your whole chickens to mix things up a bit!
30 Ways to Use a Whole Chicken
Cooking whole chickens is not only budget-friendly, the leftovers can be used in creative ways to make quick and easy dinners later in the week. However, cooking whole chickens does not have to be boring! There are a huge variety of cooking methods as well as flavors for whole chicken recipes. Let’s take a closer look:
Oven-Roasted Whole Chicken Recipes
One of the most common ways to cook whole chickens is by using the oven. I searched the Internet for as many creative ways as possible that uses the oven to cook whole chicken.
1. Simple Herb-Roasted Spatchcock Chicken from I Heart Umami
2. Crispy Roasted Garlic Chicken from Gimme Some Oven
3. Citrus and Herb Roasted Chicken from The Organic Kitchen
4. Easy Sheet Pan Garlic Butterfly Chicken and Veggies from Whole Kitchen Sink
5. Crispy Roasted Chicken with Vegetables from The Seasoned Mom
6. Garlic Herb Butter Roast Chicken from Cafe Delites
7. Slow-Roasted Garlic and Lemon Chicken from Deliciously Organic
8. Honey Orange Roasted Chicken and Gravy from A Spicy Perspective
9. Lemon Roasted Chicken from Spend with Pennies
10. Roasted Chicken and Potatoes with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto from Our Happy Mess
11. One-Pan Orange Honey Garlic Roasted Chicken from Cotter Crunch
12. One-Pan Garlic Thyme Roast Chicken with Cauliflower from Abra’s Kitchen
13. Orange Cranberry Roasted Chicken with Rosemary Balsamic Butter from The Endless Meal
14. Whole Roasted Masala Chicken from Manilla Spoon
15. Peruvian-Style Roast Chicken with Green Sauce from Once Upon a Chef
16. Dutch Oven Red Curry Whole Chicken from I Heart Umami
17. Buttermilk Marinated Roast Chicken from Samin Nosrat (this one is RIDICULOUSLY GOOD)
Slow Cooker Whole Chicken Recipes
The slow cooker is an ultra-handy way to handle the roasting of a whole chicken when I’ve got a busy day or week ahead. Just pop the chicken in the Crockpot with the other ingredients and forget about it until supper time.
17. Slow Cooker Rotisserie Chicken from The Nourishing Home
18. Slow Cooker Garlic Balsamic Whole Chicken from Real Food Whole Life
19. Slow Cooker Lemon Thyme Whole Chicken from Everyday Good Thinking
20. Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken & Vegetables from The Kitchen Magpie
21. Slow Cooker Garlic Butter Whole Chicken with Gravy from 40 Aprons
22. Slow Cooker Lemon Pepper Whole Chicken from The Rising Spoon
Instant Pot Whole Chicken Recipes
I’ve been in love with my instant pot for a while now, so I had to include some whole chicken recipes that use the instant pot. Don’t forget to also check out my other favorite instant pot recipes.
23. Instant Pot Classic Whole Chicken from The Real Food Dieticians
24. Pressure Cooker Whole Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary from Our Best Bites
25. Instant Pot Beer Can Chicken from Family Fresh Meals
26. Instant Pot Pickle Chicken from The Foodie Eats
More Creative Whole Chicken Recipes
There are a few other ways you can cook up a whole chicken, including using the grill and using an air fryer.
27. Air Fryer Whole Roasted Chicken from Amy in the Kitchen
28. How to Butterfly and Grill a Whole Chicken from Tasty Yummies
29. Grilled Beer Can Chicken from Simply Recipes
30. Grilled Root Beer Can Chicken from Iowa Girl Eats
31. How to Cook an Old Chicken (my favorite way to use an old hen or rooster!)
Other Ways to Use Leftover Chicken
After enjoying one of the delicious whole chicken recipes mentioned above, you’ll probably have leftovers. Leftover chicken can be used in a variety of ways:
- Use the bones from the whole chicken (and other veggie scraps) to make your own broth. Here are my instructions for making broth.
- Use the leftovers with some homemade barbecue sauce and hamburger buns for chicken shredded sandwiches.
- Make a homemade pizza with shredded chicken (here’s my favorite pizza dough recipe!)
- Use the shredded chicken for tacos, enchiladas, or burritos (topped with some homemade roasted poblano salsa).
- Use the leftover chicken in your favorite soups (chicken noodle is a classic!)
- You can also make chicken pot pie, salads, chicken chili, and so much more with the leftover chicken. Remember– usually you can get away with substituting dark meat for recipes calling for cubed chicken breast with good success.
Other Chicken Posts & Recipes for You:
- The Prairie Homestead Cookbook (all of our favorite weekly recipes!)
- What We Learned from Our First Year of Raising Meat Birds
- How to Butcher a Chicken
- How to Butcher a Turkey
- How to Cook a Pastured Turkey (this technique can be used with chicken as well)
What’s your favorite way to use up a whole chicken? Share your fav recipes & techniques with me below!
I think the chicken breast craze was another question of brainwashing by the news media. Remember when all we ever heard was the breast meat is the lowest in fat thus lowers cholesterol etc. So-o-o many people out here can’t get beyond that little fallacy that most people still believe. So to most people, chicken breasts it’s got to be or nothing else.
Liz (Eight Acres) says
I agree that far too mamy recipes focus on chicken breast, but the WHOLE chicken also includes the legs (great in stock), the liver (make pate), the heart, kidneys etc (for the dogs), feathers, blood etc (for the compost)…. you get creative when you have the whole chicken to use 🙂
We eat a LOT of chicken. I too roast a chicken pretty much once a month or so. Chicken soup, chicken tacos and pot pie are a few of the favorites to stretch the chicken. In the summer I add eggs to Romain and chicken with other veggies for a cold salad on hot days. With chicken salad we stuff homegrown tomatoes or peppers. Love your article and the recipes ??
Okay so I have a question that you can hopefully answer! Yesterday we butchered for the first time…four, 4.5 mo old roosters. Now I’m trying to figure out how to cook them! Assuming I need to use slow cooker? I put them straight into the freezer…was I supposed to age them in the fridge first? Do you think I ruined them?
Kimmet Kamp says
I have always preferred the dark meat and use the breast for chicken tacos, enchiladas, or some recipe with a sauce.
Kayla- Prairie Homestead Assistant says
Yup! That’s the best way!
Since I have a particular cooking style, my leftovers that are not soup usually turn into gumbo.
Shelby DeVore says
We also raise our own meat birds and have to find ways to use the entire chicken. My grandmother is from Thailand, so we use a bunch of Asian and Thai influences recipes for chicken, especially since those recipes turn out better with dark meat. My go to recipe for older birds is homemade chicken and dumplings. Boiling the whole chicken with parts usually tossed (kidneys and livers) makes the most flavorful broth. I’ve never had leftovers when I make chicken and dumplings!
Emily M says
I am loving your cookbook! I made sticky honey chicken tonight and it was good, but it doesn’t have any honey listed in the ingredients. Is that right or was it a misprint?
Kayla- Prairie Homestead Assistant says
Glad you’re enjoying the cookbook! The first ingredient in the sticky honey chicken should be 1/3 C. of honey.