How to Cook a Whole Chicken

As I mentioned in a previous post, I buy whole chickens from a local farmer, and 98% of the time, I cook them the same way.  It is SO easy and only takes me about 5 minutes of hands on time, but requires a bit of planning.  I usually do this on the days I work in Philly since it takes such a little bit of time to do.

Since my chickens are frozen, I take one out to thaw out overnight at room temperature.  When I wake up in the morning, so early in the morning


I cut the chicken from the plastic wrap:

IMG_1833And I put it in the crock pot (here is the MOST IMPORTANT PART!!) breast side down.  How do you know it’s breast side down?  It is the opposite of every whole cooked chicken shown on TV or cartoons.  The legs should be facing down.  This causes all of the juices to drip down onto the commonly (but not this time!) dry breast meat.

IMG_1834Next step, put the lid on the crockpot:


and set to low (for a 10 to 14 hour cook time) and high for shorter cook times.  I think it needs at least 6 to 8 hours to cook well.  This is all you need to do.  I don’t put spices or add any liquid.  I used to add some spice, but I noticed it didn’t make that big of a difference for the taste of the chicken.  This is what you can do when you buy high quality meat.  The flavor of the meat is so wonderful, you don’t need to add a lot of extras.

Please note, when it is done cooking, it does not have a golden brown skin.  This is the only real downside of this method of cooking.  If you are questioning the chicken’s doneness, go ahead and use your instant read thermometer.  (place  the thermometer in the leg of the chicken, avoiding the bone.  The accepted safe temperature is 165 degrees F for chicken)  It will fall off the bone.  Sometimes, I can only get it out in pieces (not the last time I cooked a chicken, though).  Can you say TENDER?


When I get home from working a long day, I get a wonderful hot meal.  Generally, on the first night, we eat the chicken with some sides.  Like I said above, the light colored skin is nothing to be worried about.  The chicken is fall of the bone tender, and incredibly delicious.  This chicken can also be used in any recipes that require cooked or grilled chicken.


After we are done eating it, we use the left overs to make broth (I will make a post about how I do that), or for chicken recipes.  I have a few I’m crazy about!  I will post them later.  In the meantime, please remember that any recipe that call for chicken breast can use ANY parts of the chicken.  More about that later!!




3 thoughts on “How to Cook a Whole Chicken

  1. Sara

    Thanks Julia. I love my crackpot! Working nights is the same way. Put it in go to bed and wake up to a wonderful dinner. Do you have “leftover” dishes that are dairy free?

    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Sara,

      My broth (which goes into soups, making rice, or anywhere they call for broth) is dairy free. I will be posting how to make that soon.

      One of my favorite diary-free things to do with leftover chicken is to shred it, and smother it in BBQ sauce, and eat it as a sandwich or on a salad. We also really like chicken salad (chopped chicken, chopped celery, hard-boiled eggs, mayo and spices).

      Thanks for reading!

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