Don’t Waste a Thing! Creative Ways to Cook a Whole Chicken


What is a Whole Chicken?

A whole chicken refers to an entire bird that has not been cut into parts or pieces. It includes all the edible components, such as the breast, wings, thighs, drumsticks, and giblets (heart, liver, and gizzard). Whole chickens can vary in size, breed, and weight, depending on factors like age, diet, and farming methods.

Why Buy a Whole Chicken?

Purchasing a whole chicken offers several advantages over buying pre-cut or processed chicken parts. One of the primary benefits is cost savings. Whole chickens are generally more economical than purchasing individual chicken breasts, thighs, or other cuts. This cost-effectiveness makes whole chickens an excellent choice for budget-conscious shoppers or those feeding larger families.

Another compelling reason to buy a whole chicken is versatility. With a single whole bird, you can create a variety of dishes, from roasted chicken to soups, salads, and sandwiches. The ability to utilize every part of the chicken, including the bones for making stock, ensures nothing goes to waste, maximizing your investment.

Leftovers are another advantage of buying a whole chicken. After enjoying a delicious roasted chicken meal, you can repurpose the remaining meat for multiple additional meals throughout the week. Chicken salad, chicken pot pie, and chicken fried rice are just a few examples of how to transform leftover chicken into new and exciting dishes.

Finally, whole chickens often offer superior flavour compared to pre-cut or processed chicken parts. The bones and skin contribute to a richer, more intense chicken flavour when roasted or cooked whole. Additionally, many consumers prefer the taste of chickens raised on farms or in more natural environments, directly from farmers, like Farmway Foods’ whole chickens.

Preparing a Whole Chicken for Cooking

Proper preparation is key to ensuring a flavourful and juicy whole chicken. Here are some essential steps to follow:

Thawing: If your whole chicken is frozen, it’s crucial to thaw it safely to prevent bacterial growth. The best method is to thaw it in the refrigerator, allowing 24 hours for every 5 pounds of weight. Alternatively, you can thaw it in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes until fully thawed.

Brining: Brining is a process that involves soaking the chicken in a salt water solution, which helps to season the meat and keep it moist during cooking. To brine a whole chicken, dissolve 1/2 cup of salt in 1 gallon of cold water, and submerge the chicken in the brine for 8 to 12 hours in the refrigerator.

Trussing: Trussing involves tying the legs and wings of the chicken close to the body with kitchen string. This compact shape ensures even cooking and a beautiful presentation. To truss, tuck the wing tips under the body, then tie the legs together with kitchen string.

Seasoning: Seasoning is essential for adding flavour to your whole chicken. You can rub the chicken with a blend of herbs, spices, and aromatics like garlic, lemon, or butter. Consider stuffing the cavity with aromatics like onions, herbs, or citrus for an extra flavour boost.

Once your whole chicken is properly thawed, brined (if desired), trussed, and seasoned, it’s ready for your preferred cooking method, whether roasting, grilling, or braising. Remember to use a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken reaches a safe internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) before serving.

Cooking Methods for Whole Chicken

Whole chickens are incredibly versatile, lending themselves to a variety of cooking methods that can bring out their rich flavours and juicy tenderness. Here are some popular techniques for preparing a delicious whole chicken:


Roasting is perhaps the most classic way to cook a whole chicken. Preheat your oven to a high temperature (around 425°F/220°C), pat the chicken dry, and generously season it with salt, pepper, and your favourite herbs and spices. Place the chicken breast-side up in a roasting pan or on a rack, and roast until the juices run clear and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165°F/74°C. Basting the chicken with its own juices or melted butter during the cooking process can help create a crispy, golden-brown skin.


Braising is an excellent method for producing a tender, fall-off-the-bone chicken with a rich, flavourful sauce. Start by searing the chicken on the stovetop in a heavy pot or Dutch oven, then add aromatics like onions, garlic, and herbs, along with a liquid such as broth, wine, or cider. Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven, braising at a low temperature (around 325°F/165°C) until the chicken is cooked through and the meat is incredibly tender.


Frying a whole chicken results in an irresistibly crispy exterior and juicy interior. The process typically involves coating the chicken in a seasoned flour or batter mixture, then carefully lowering it into hot oil or melted fat and frying until the skin is golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 165°F/74°C. Deep-frying or pan-frying are both viable options, depending on your preference and equipment.


Grilling a whole chicken imparts a delicious smoky flavour and char-grilled texture. Prepare the chicken by trussing it and rubbing it with oil, salt, and spices. Place the chicken breast-side up on a preheated grill, cooking over indirect heat with the lid closed for even cooking. Rotate the chicken periodically to ensure even browning and baste with melted butter or a flavourful basting sauce if desired.


The rotisserie method produces a beautifully browned, evenly cooked whole chicken with minimal effort. Truss the chicken and secure it on the rotisserie spit, then set it to slowly rotate over a steady heat source. The constant rotation ensures even cooking and a crispy, golden-brown skin. Rotisserie chickens are often seasoned with aromatic herbs and spices, infusing the meat with incredible flavour.


No matter which cooking method you choose, a whole chicken is a versatile and delicious centrepiece for any meal. Experiment with different techniques, seasonings, and flavours to find your perfect roasted, braised, fried, grilled, or rotisserie chicken.

Carving and Serving a Whole Roasted Chicken

Proper carving and serving techniques are essential to enjoy a perfectly roasted whole chicken. After the chicken has finished cooking, it’s crucial to let it rest for at least 10-15 minutes before carving. This resting period allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, ensuring it remains moist and flavourful.

When carving, start by removing the leg and thigh portions. Using a sharp knife or poultry shears, cut through the skin between the breast and leg, then gently pull the leg away from the body, separating it at the joint. Repeat the process on the other side. Next, remove the wings by slicing through the joint connecting them to the breast.

For the breast meat, make a horizontal cut along the breastbone, slicing down to the board. Then, using the tip of your knife, gently separate the breast meat from the carcass, slicing along the ribcage. Once the breast is removed, you can slice it into desired portions.

When plating, arrange the carved chicken pieces attractively on a serving platter or individual plates. Garnish with fresh herbs, lemon wedges, or roasted vegetables for a visually appealing presentation. Serve the carved chicken hot, accompanied by your favourite sides or sauces.

Remember, proper carving technique not only ensures neat and attractive presentation but also allows you to maximize the yield from your whole roasted chicken, ensuring every delicious bite is enjoyed.

Recipes and Meal Ideas for Whole Chicken

One of the great advantages of cooking a whole chicken is its versatility. A single roasted bird can provide the foundation for multiple delicious meals throughout the week. Here are some classic recipe ideas to make the most of your whole chicken:

Classic Roast Chicken

Few things are as comforting as a perfectly roasted chicken, crispy on the outside and juicy within. Rub the bird with butter or olive oil, season with salt, pepper, and your favourite herbs and spices, then roast until the juices run clear. Serve with roasted vegetables and potatoes for a satisfying Sunday dinner.

Chicken Noodle Soup

After enjoying your roasted chicken, don’t discard the carcass! Simmer it with aromatics like onions, carrots, and celery to create a rich, homemade chicken stock. Remove the meat from the bones and add it back to the stock along with noodles for a classic, nourishing chicken noodle soup.

Chicken Salad

Shredded or diced cooked chicken makes a fantastic base for chicken salad. Mix it with mayonnaise, celery, onions, grapes, and a touch of Dijon mustard for a delightful sandwich filling or salad topping. Customize with your favourite herbs, nuts, or dried fruit for extra flavour and texture.

Chicken Pot Pie

Transform your leftover chicken into a hearty pot pie filling by combining it with a creamy sauce and vegetables like peas, carrots, and potatoes. Top with a flaky pastry crust or biscuits for a comforting, all-in-one meal.

Chicken Quesadillas or Tacos

Shredded chicken is a perfect protein for Mexican-inspired dishes like quesadillas and tacos. Sauté it with taco seasoning, stuff it into tortillas with cheese, salsa, and your favourite toppings, then grill or bake until melted and crispy.

With a little creativity, a single whole chicken can provide the base for a week’s worth of delicious meals. Experiment with different flavours and cuisines to keep things interesting and make the most of your roasted bird.

Leftover Recipe Ideas:

Leftover cooked chicken is incredibly versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes, such as:

– Chicken salad sandwiches or wraps

– Chicken quesadillas or enchiladas

– Chicken fried rice or stir-fries

– Chicken pot pie or chicken noodle soup

– Chicken pasta dishes, like alfredo or primavera

– Chicken tacos or fajitas

– Chicken casseroles or pot pies

Remember to always follow safe handling practices and use your senses (sight, smell, and taste) to determine if the leftover chicken is still fresh and suitable for consumption.

Nutritional Benefits of Chicken

Chicken is an excellent source of high-quality protein, providing all the essential amino acids our bodies need to build and repair tissues.

In addition to its protein content, chicken is a rich source of various vitamins and minerals. It is particularly high in niacin, which plays a crucial role in energy production and maintaining healthy skin, hair, and eyes. Chicken also provides significant amounts of vitamin B6, which supports a healthy immune system and aids in protein metabolism.

One of the key advantages of chicken is that it is a leaner protein source compared to many red meats. Chicken breast, in particular, is low in saturated fat and relatively low in calories, making it a great option for those watching their weight or trying to maintain a balanced diet. Even with the skin on, chicken is still considered a leaner meat choice compared to cuts like ribeye or pork belly.

Furthermore, chicken is a good source of essential minerals such as phosphorus, which is vital for strong bones and teeth, and selenium, an antioxidant that supports immune function and may help protect against certain types of cancer.