What to do with whole chickens?

Michelle asked:

I bought several of the whole fryer chickens on sale at Albertson’s last week, and I need some help with them! Can I freeze them in the packaging they came in? What is the easiest way to cook them?

When I buy whole chickens, I usually throw them in the freezer without doing anything.  Not really sure if that’s proper, but it’s what I do!  And as for cooking, well, I usually throw it in a pot and cook it on top of the stove for an hour or two, then shred and use for enchiladas, barbecue chicken sandwiches, etc.

So yeah.  We’re real exciting when it comes to whole chickens.  What do you do when you’re able to stock up on whole chickens for cheap?  Do you do something special to freeze or thaw?  What’s your favorite thing to make?



  1. I just freeze them as the are. I will put one in the crockpot and simmer all day on low then shred it for enchiladas, homemade chicken noodle soup, chicken lasagna, etc. Yummy!

  2. I did the same thing..bought them last week with not knowing what in the world to do with them!! I put mine in the freezer just the way they were…i got one out to thaw yesterday and was just going to bake it in the oven and see what happened and maybe make a McY D’s run if need be..but when I couldnt get the giblets out cause they were still frozen, I decided to cut it apart…I got 4 really big pieces out of it…I put them in a baking dish and topped it with Kraft BBQ sauce that was on sale for a buck last week. I baked it on 350 for 1 hr. It was so yummy and tender!! I was so proud of myself…and the pieces were so big our family of 5 only ate 2 pieces of it, so there were leftovers!!

  3. Heather R says:

    I am with you just throw them in the freezer. I thaw them in the fridge for 24 hrs. They then go into the magic meat pot ( a cast iron dutch oven thing I got from my husband’s grandma that makes any meat juicy and yummy). We carve and eat, use the leftovers for pot pie the next night, then boil the carcus for chicken stock. What you don’t use for the chicken stock can be divided into portions and frozen for later. Have not bought chicken broth in years.

  4. I freeze them whole just like you buy them then I have a bunch of different crock pot recipes for them. I put them in there frozen and cook all day on high (usually 7-9 hours) after they have been in there about 2-3 hours I pull out the insides and toss them…very easy! I use organic broth for flavoring/juice (and you can make gravy in the end too) then season with rosemary, onion, garlic etc. Others days I will stuff it will stuffing after I take the insides out and then throw some cream of celery soup and some onions on top…there are so many ways you can cook them really, anything will work. The one thing I do suggest NOT doing is cooking them either stovetop or in the crock in water, you lose a ton of flavor use a broth instead or a white wine mixture, very yummy!

  5. same here… I freeze them whole. I figure if it’s good enough for a turkey it’s good enough for my chickens. :0)

    I got a rotisserie a few years back (remember “set it and forget it”?) A little over an hour in there and we get some delicious chicken. I debone the rest of the meat for soup later in the week (usually chicken noodle or chicken tortilla). I love getting 2 meals out of one bird!

  6. Same here, throw em in the freezer. I usually just throw mine in the crock pot frozen but I usually buy birds without the icky stuff inside. I guess I will have to thaw before so I can get the ick out. I don’t add any liquid in the crock pot and later after it’s cooked I take out the broth and freeze it for later use.

  7. I freeze as is also. I usually roast mine with red potatoes, carrots and onions. I think that with roasting they taste better stuffed so I either make real stuffing or put lemons, garlic and onion inside and butter, salt, pepper, thyme and rosemarry on the outside. 350 for 90 minutes then cover until done.

  8. I put mine in the freezer as is too…I usually roast mine in the oven over potatoes…it takes a couple of hours, but is so easy and yummy. Cut up potatoes and then put oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, thyme, and parsley over potatoes (or whatever seasons you have on hand) and do the same over the chicken…put in the oven on 350 or so for a couple of hours…it’s a great meal when company is coming!!!

  9. I smoke them in our smoker. We eat some of it right away, then I take the rest of the meat off the bones and freeze it in about 2 cup portions (whatever you would use in a recipe) that way I have cooked chicken on hand for making enchiladas, or chicken pot pie or soup or sandwiches or…well, you get the idea.

  10. A friend of mine will actually cut it into breasts, thighs, wings and drumsticks and freeze in plastic bags by those cuts. It often comes out less expensively than buying the cuts at the store – especially the breasts. Then she’ll pick off the extra meat for things like stir-fry and fajitas, and boil the carcass to make broth.

    • Carrie Isaac says:

      I tried that – once. ;) I decided to buy the pieces we eat (really only the thighs, actually) when they’re on sale for $0.69/lb and save my knife. ;)

      • We purchased some trauma shears from a local medical supply store and they are used specifically for cutting up chickens. They work so good and it’s very fast! :0)

    • You can ask the butcher at Albertson’s to cut them up for you before you buy them. Then just freeze like regular package of whole cut up chicken. I leave some whole and get some cut up.

  11. I do all sorts of things with them, but I think my favorite is roasting them. There are some great videos on YouTube that show you how to properly cut up a whole chicken. We recently found one showing how to butterfly it for grilling and it turned out great!

    • Carrie Isaac says:

      Sheri, I watched a YouTube video on how to butterfly a chicken recently, too – wonder if it was the same one! We’ve been cooking burgers on the charcoal grill and then throwing a whole chicken on after they’re done cooking – a charcoal grill stays hot long enough to cook it. Then, I already have another meal ready without having to heat up the grill!

      (I was saving that for another blog post, but Sheri stole my thunder. ;))

  12. I usually just throw them in the freezer like they are, too, unless I am going to use them right away. A lot of times they are already somewhat frozen when I buy them, anyway.

    My two favorite recipes I use them for are homemade chicken noodle soup (with homemade noodles, too) and roast butterflied chicken. The roast chicken is supper easy and very tasty! Butterfly the chicken and rub butter and seasonings under the skin. Put it on a broiler pan. Put sliced potatoes with seasonings In the bottom of the broiler pan. Chicken and potatoes in one pan! The potatoes get fried in the chicken drippings. Now, the potatoes probably don’t end up being all that healthy, but they sure do taste good :)

    I got the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. It is in the 2006 America’s Test Kitchen recipe book (can be found at the library) or you can get it online at cooksillustrated.com if you have a membership (or can sign up for a free trial membership.) Crisp-Skin High-Roast Butterflied Chicken with Potatoes is the actual recipe title.

  13. I freeze ’em as is (especially when I find them on Manager’s Special). It usually takes 2-3 days to thaw (depending on how cold your fridge is).

    I’ve only ever made a DELICIOUS roasted chicken (which only takes about 1 1/2 hours). I then use the carcass to make chicken stock.
    Roasted Chicken:
    1 4lb chicken
    4 teas salt
    2 teas paprika
    1 teas onion powder
    1 teas thyme
    2 teas black pepper
    1/2 teas garlic powder
    1 onion, quartered

    Preheat oven to 350F. Remove giblets and neck from chicken. Rinse and pat dry.

    In a small bowl, combine spices. Rub chicken with spice mixture inside and out. Place quartered onion inside cavity. Place whole chicken (breast side down for juicier breasts) in a roasting pan.

    Bake at 350F for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on size of chicken, until a meat thermometer inserted into inside thigh reads 180F.

    • Also, if you let the whole chicken “rest” for about 10 minutes on a cutting board before carving, more juices will be retained. The same goes for most types of meat, like pot roast.

  14. I’m up for sharing recipes. I use the whole chickens to make just about anything that calls for chicken.

    I’ve even used them to make my own taquitos. Just used my food processor to finely chop the cooked chicken…added cheese and rolled them up. Then freeze and bake like you do the store bought ones. :0)

  15. http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/
    is a wonderful site with lots of crockpot recipes – she has a “rotisserie chicken” one that I do often.
    Thaw your chicken before cooking otherwise it typically doesn’t cook right/all the way thru- or something. I tried once and had a mess :-)

  16. Bought a couple of these chickens, cooked one for meal than used leftovers for lunch. I’m interested though in how you “shred” the chicken. Can anyone educate me?

    • If your chicken is cooked tender, you simply pull a hunk off the bones and use a couple forks to shred. Start with your forks back to back and pull in opposite directions. Keep going until it’s shredded as thinly as you like and you have enough for your recipie.

  17. I make a copycat of Costa Vida chicken…it is so good. I usually attempt to at least cut the whole chicken in half, sometimes more, but it doesn’t have to look good…I just use my knife a little and rip it. The recipe I use is:
    5 lbs chicken (or almost)
    8 oz. Italian dressing
    1 Tbsp chilii powder
    1 Tbsp cumin
    3 cloves garlic.
    Cook in crockpot for 4 hours or until done, pull out the meat and shred it. Return meat to crockpot to soak up the juices and cook for another hour.

    This freezes great! We make salads with it with more copycat recipes for the black beans, cilantro lime rice, and jalepeno ranch dressing. Delicious!

  18. Michelle says:

    Wow – thanks for the great ideas everyone! Good thing I bought more than one chicken so I can try these many different ideas!

  19. Kay – to shred the chicken you basically just pull it off the bone in chunks and pull apart the chunks in as small of pieces as you want them to be! Very simple, but a little time consuming. Does anyone have a better method?

    • You can also shred chicken with the paddle attachment on your stand mixer (just make sure it’s boneless!) Very quick and easy.

  20. Ooops! Better clarify! It needs to be cooked first!!!!!!!!!

  21. Mindy R. Austin says:

    BEER CAN CHICKEN!!!! its the best! …. we don’t like beer, so we use the near-beer in cans… use a beer can chicken holder (sold at any garden/bbq store), put the can of beer with the chicken on it, salt, pepper and oil on the outside… cook on low on bbq for about an hour…. the best chicken ever.

  22. My absolute favorite whole chicken recipe came from a friend – she calls it Greek Chicken.

    4-5 potatoes (whatever is on sale), peeled and quartered.
    1 bulb of garlic, cloved and peeled (so like 10 cloves, or more if you want)
    4 lemons, halved
    olive oil
    lemon pepper

    Put the potatoes in the bottom of a 9×13 backing dish. Put whole chicken on top. Rub garlic over chicken and tuck into whatever crevices you can find in the chicken. Squeeze lemon juice all over chicken and put the halves in the chicken and nestled into the potatoes. Brush chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with seasonings. Bake at 350 for about an hour – hour and a half.
    The potatoes soak up the lemon flavor and taste amazing!!!!

  23. Jerry Carlson says:

    the whole chickens are cryo-vac which means most of the air is sucked out so its best to freeze as is so the chance of freezer burn is greatly reduced if not eliminated all together

    freezer burn is when the food dehydrates in the freezer so less air means less dehydration


  24. Keep in mind to buy chickens four pounds or larger; otherwise you pay for too much bone!

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