Guide to Cooking a Whole Chicken

Our chickens have so much flavor because of the way they are raised- slow and naturally outside on green grass where they forage for bugs and seeds in the pasture.  These plump birds are juicy and flavorful. Or if you want to read a bit more about how and where our chickens are raised, click here to read "Countdown to Summer: 8 Weeks to Grow out a Chicken."  A whole chicken can yield a few great meals for your family: plan ahead, and let the frozen bird thaw in your fridge for at least 2 days before cooking. If you want more to read, check out our original Chicken 101 Class Guide written by Parker Bosley

If you want to cut up your bird into pieces first, click here for directions. 

Rinse the whole chicken (cavity and skin) with cold water, and remove the neck and the giblets (reserve for stock– keep reading!)  Dry well with paper towels. Place a few large pieces of chopped onion, carrot and celery with a half teaspoon of dried thyme and a bay leaf in the cavity. Place the chicken breast side up in a shallow roasting pan. Soften two tablespoons of butter or olive oil and combine with a tablespoon of minced fresh herbs—parsley, rosemary, thyme, tarragon—and a little salt and pepper. Rub the skin and inside the cavity with the herbed butter.


Roast the chicken for 20 minutes to ½ hour at 450 degrees.  Lower the heat to 350.  A small chicken—3 to 4 lbs—will take about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes; 5 to 6 lbs will take about 1 hour and 45 minutes.  Chickens over 6 lbs will take 2 to 2 ½ hours.


Set your oven to 250. Roast the chicken for 3 hours at 250. Stir the vegetable from time to time. Baste the chicken with the oil, butter and juice in the pan. To finish, raise the temperature to 375. Add some sprigs of herbs to the pan. Roast for an additional ½ hour to 45 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the oven when the temperature of the thickest part of the thigh reaches around 160 degrees- it will carry over the last 5 degrees when resting. Place a carving board on a tray (to collect any overflowing juices) and then place the chicken on the board. Tent in foil and allow to rest 10 minutes. Then, carefully remove the whole leg and then separate into leg and thigh portions. Remove the breast meat and cut in half as well.


Cold, cooked chicken makes for a fantastic lunch. Toss diced chicken with lemon juice, olive oil and minced garlic and serve on a bed of greens with some sliced cherry tomatoes and you’re good to go!

Parker also likes to add cold boiled potatoes, chopped hard cooked eggs and some minced parsley and other herbs. Toss it with a teaspoon of Dijon mustard with 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil and toss with the chicken and potatoes. 

Or, try our Summer Pesto Spelt Berry Salad with some cold, cooked chicken mixed in!


Or make a sandwich: On top of some toasted bread, add some homemade mayo, some lettuce, sliced cooked beets with half of a hard cooked egg. Season with a little salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and a small piece of Pepper Havarti. Or, you know, however you like to make chicken sandwiches!


Another great full meal is to make a Chicken Pot Pie-- use up a bunch of root vegetables and have a piping hot dinner on the table in less than an hour.


Dice carrot and onion to equal ½ cup each. Place these in a heavy bottom pan with a little olive oil. Cover the pan and place over low heat for about 20 minutes to sweat the vegetables. Add a teaspoon of dried thyme.

Into a soup pot, add about 3 cups of chicken stock and egg noodles, and cook until almost done (you can pre-cook egg noodles separately as well.) Mix into pot shredded chicken breast meat and softened veggies and season with salt and pepper. Taste to adjust seasoning.

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