How to Cook a Whole Chicken

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on August 26, 2009

Recently there have been quite a few Tyson fresh chicken coupons out there!  I have used some when boneless skinless chicken breasts were on sale.  And I have used others for the much cheaper whole “cut up” chicken….which is what I used below.

I have seen whole chickens for as low as $.88/lb!

So here’s what you do…

1. Buy a whole chicken when it’s on sale…it’s MUCH cheaper than the slimmer, boneless skinless breasts. And you can do more with a whole chicken…get more meat…both white and dark…and make homemade stock, too!

2. Unwrap it and remove bag from the inside the chest cavity (I don’t use these parts…except if I wish to make gravy!).

3. Place your whole chicken into the crockpot with 1 cup of water.  I add water so that I can strain the juices after it has finished cooking and freeze them for use in soups (homemade chicken stock!).  Season chicken with salt, pepper, and other favorite spices…perhaps sage, poultry seasoning.  Toss in a some onions, garlic, carrots.  Whatever you like.

4. Set slow cooker to low and cook for 8-10 hours.

5. Once the slow cooker has finished cooking your chicken, carefully remove the chicken and place onto a large platter or cutting board.

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6. Let it cool for a bit, until you can comfortably handle it…cause your fingers will get messy!  Remove the bones, and set aside for making stock.   Shred all the chicken meat.  I find it’s easier to use my hands, but a knife will do the trick too.

7. Place the leftover bones/carcass into a pot and cover with water plus 2 inches.  Add a splash of vinegar (this pulls calcium from the bones). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 1-2 hours.  Strain and then let cool in the refrigerator.  Once cooled, skim off the layer of fat and pour the remaining stock into freezer baggies and freeze.

Homemade Chicken Stock.  Preservative and Additive Free! Plus about 6 cups of shredded chicken!

Not bad for $.88/lb, or usually less than $5!

Recipes that call for Shredded Chicken

I turned mine into Chicken Taco Bakes for the Freezer.  Although these were not originally on my “Stock the Freezer” list, they are now!

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Place shredded chicken into disposable serving trays.

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Add 1/2 can corn to each, 1/2 can Rotel to each, 1/2 can red kidney beans to each plus Salt and Pepper and some ground cumin.

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Mix.

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Cover and freeze.  Serve with rice and/or chips.

When ready to bake, let thaw in the refrigerator, then bake covered at 350  for 30 minutes.  Top with shredded cheese (if desired) before baking!

 

See more $5 Dinners Cooking Tutorials here

{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa August 26, 2009 at 6:47 pm

Wow! This is awesome! Thank you so much for sharing this!!

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Candace August 26, 2009 at 6:54 pm

Every once and a while whole chickens go on sale at my grocery store (HEB, in TX) for .77/lb! That’s when I really stock up!

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Glenna Yarnot August 26, 2009 at 7:28 pm

ok, I am looking forward to following this blog, I have a household of very picky eaters, 5 kids and a tight budget as everybody is in on activities!!

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Cindy August 26, 2009 at 8:41 pm

This recipe looks so good. I am a big fan of freezer cooking and will be trying out this recipe soon. Thanks!

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paula August 26, 2009 at 9:47 pm

This is how I have made my chickens for 19 years…But we usually make chicken and noodles with the chicken and I fill the crock put at least half if not fully and add some chicken boullion paste. I get extra juice for the next day when I make soup with left over chicken or add to other things to make pot pie or whatever. So if you don’t want to freeze or make stock you can certainly stretch a few days worth of meals from that one chicken. :)

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Kim August 26, 2009 at 9:53 pm

I usually boil my chickens or put them on the grill (we make beer can chicken). Never thought of making them in the crock pot…thanks for sharing. The Chicken Taco Bake looks easy and delicious!

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Annise August 26, 2009 at 10:10 pm

Thanks! Can’t wait to try it!

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Alisa - Go Dairy Free & Frugal Foodie August 26, 2009 at 11:50 pm

Sweet post! I have never cooked a chicken in a crockpot; I am bookmarking this for definite later use.

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Christina Baita August 27, 2009 at 5:19 am

Thanks so much for the ideas. I didn;t realize that vinegar would pull the calcium out of the bones. I will have to look in to the whole chicken venture. I just bought some thighs that were huge and on sale for less than $3 for each with 4 thighs in it. They were bigger than the whole chickens that the guy next to me was picking out. I didn’t think that I had time or patience for all of that mess but you make it look so easy with the crockpot. I guess I need a bigger crockpot too! ;)

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schroeder August 27, 2009 at 8:11 am

Kroger by my house has whole chickens for .89 a pound. I am going to guy buy 4-6 and debone and store the meat in baggies to make meals. I am only one but i can make a LOT of meals out of that many chickens.

S

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Lisa August 27, 2009 at 10:19 am

I have really REALLY been enjoying reading your blog lately. (that says allot considering the tons I keep up with). Keep up the good work.

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Sara August 27, 2009 at 10:32 am

Thanks for putting the freezer meal idea in there too! We are trying to cut back on eating out, even just the dollar menu stuff, due to not feeling like cooking. We keep kosher and I have a whole cut up kosher chicken just waiting to be used! Leaving out the cheese makes this the perfect fun recipe and with two adults and a one year old one pan should last two meals!

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Angie August 27, 2009 at 11:57 am

I went to Winco (in CA) yesterday and they had their double pack of Foster Farms whole chickens for $.88/lb. Excellent deal for my family of 5. Their single whole chickens were $1.29/lb. I was going to buy at least 2 anyways, might as well get the better deal. Thanks for posting.

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Kristi August 27, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Love this!!! Thanks so much for it!!

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Veronica August 27, 2009 at 4:05 pm

I love your website but I am a little confused about the stock for this. Is the crockpot stock added to the bones and water or is this 2 separate chicken stocks?

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Erin August 27, 2009 at 4:21 pm

I can be 2 separate stocks!

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Amber S August 27, 2009 at 9:24 pm

How many pounds was it?

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dawn August 27, 2009 at 11:44 pm

I started doing this just for the bones to make broth, as a way to watch my sodium. now i’ve found there are youtube videos on how to debone a chicken!! so i’ve even made my own boneless skinless breasts! today at kroger i got the .99/lb split breasts, smallest packs, used my $1 tyson q’s plus a $3-off-$15-meat that they’d mailed me.. i ended up paying $0.54/lb for breasts (got 18 lbs! LOL) AND will have the bones for several batches of free broth. going to bed feeling very smart indeed ;D

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schroeder August 28, 2009 at 8:23 am

ok, last night i went to my Krogers and bought SIX whole chickens for .89 a pound. i am going to prepare them in a crock pot like you mentioned here. I am going t debone and freeze in small packets to pull out and make meals from. I am also going to attempt to make chicken stock and freeze it like you suggested. Thank you Erin for all these great ideas.

S

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Gwenn August 29, 2009 at 9:08 am

I never thought about doing that in the crockpot!! duh.

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Jennifer August 30, 2009 at 6:47 pm

I am sorry if this is a dumb question…but is the whole chicken thawed or frozen when it goes in the crock pot?

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Erin August 31, 2009 at 6:41 am

I put them in thawed…have not tried frozen…I imagine it would work, would just take longer to cook through.

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Shawna January 15, 2010 at 9:07 am

@Jennifer,

My crockpot book says that if the meat is frozen, warm water should be used instead of cold for any water amount that is called for in the crockpot recipe. It has something to do with the temperature change within the crockpot because the meat is frozen and not thawed.

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Amanda August 30, 2009 at 9:00 pm

Every time I put the broth from the crock pot (the water/juice that the chicken cooked in) into the refrigerator it turns into a solid, jelly mess. I can scrape off the first layer of fat — but it’s all gel underneath, no liquid. That’s not broth?! What am I doing wrong?

When I boil the bones it comes out fine — but the first round has too much fat in it, I guess?

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Erin August 31, 2009 at 6:43 am

Huh? I’ve not had that problem. Perhaps dilute the liquid from the crockpot with some water before adding it to the fridge? I do get the layer of white fat which I skim off…otherwise mine stays liquid. Let me know if that helps.

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mystic_eye_cda October 8, 2009 at 3:25 pm

@Amanda,

Its just more concentrated, plus you boiled the cartilage which forms gelatin easier than bones. Keep in mind that’s how headcheese is made, with the natural gelatin from the meat and bones (yeah yeah people think head cheese is gross), I’ve also been brought up that gefilte fish was formed by boiling fish until they naturally became gelatinous, but I’ve since found that’s not true.

When you heat it it will stop being gelatinous. If you add about 25% water before tossing it in the fridge it probably won’t gel up. Adding 25% cold water also cools it down and allows you to put it in the fridge faster (safely). You can even toss in ice.

If you happen to have time I recommend brining chicken, but if you’re like me and you forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer….

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mystic_eye_cda October 8, 2009 at 3:28 pm

@mystic_eye_cda,

…or if you’re like me you’d have forgotten you didn’t take the chicken out of the freezer because your glass pie dish exploded and you have glass and burned cheese on the bottom of the oven =))

I’ve gotta find some cola or beer(to clean the oven)!

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Vicky January 15, 2010 at 8:31 am

@Amanda, You’re not doing anything wrong. That’s natural gelatin from the bones and it is good for your joints as it contains glucosomine, chondroitin, hyaluoronic acid (probably all spelled wrong!), you know, all the stuff we pay good money for at the vitamin store to keep our joints healthy. It will return to its liquid state once you heat it up. It’s free joint supplements! Btw, I also add egg shells when I make chicken broth as they also contain all those supplements, and also btw, anything that is good for your joints is also good for your skin and helps prevent sagging!

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Jen VG September 1, 2009 at 9:47 pm

I was always told the “gel” was a sign of a good stock. Like more chicken “juice” and less water.

It has always worked fine with me for broth… will melt when heated and you can add extra water.

Jen VG

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Jenna September 2, 2009 at 10:14 am

Love this blog! I found this last night and I am so excited! I have been looking for cheap meals because we are on a budget.. I am even more excited that you have some gfsfcf meals in case we start doing that diet!

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Michael Nolan September 6, 2009 at 7:25 am

Erin,

Great idea here but did you know you don’t have to add any water at all to the crockpot? It’s true! I rub my chicken down with oil, add seasonings and stuff it with 1 chopped apple and 1 chopped onion. That’s it!

The chicken releases the thickest, most amazing stock you have ever had! It is so thick that it will completely congeal when it cools!

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Jessi September 15, 2009 at 6:34 pm

I love buying whole chickens and using them for all sorts of things. I can get them as low as $.69 a pound sometimes, which is just way too low to pass up. I love it. I’m going to have to try the recipe you suggested, too….seems like it’d really stretch some of the ingredients I already usually have on hand anyway.

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JENNIFER WALKER September 19, 2009 at 8:54 pm

Erin,

This website is awesome. It has changed the way my family eats in a positive way. However, I am really interested in preparing meals and storing them in the freezer for later. Can I use the method you used here of the disposable alums and how long can you store this meal or most meals in the freezer?

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Ad K. October 1, 2009 at 10:11 pm

Our local store has chickens on sale for 69 cents a pound this week. Guess I will have to load up. DH is working all weekend so this might be a good time to have a cooking frenzy. He loves homemade soup and your chicken taco bake looks yummy! Used my slow cooker for pot roast today while I went shopping with my BFF.

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Lacey October 10, 2009 at 12:16 am

This is great! I’m always too intimidated by the whole chickens. I’m going to have to try this. Thanks for sharing.

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Lisa October 12, 2009 at 1:05 pm

This looks great! I’m always looking for stuff I can freeze!

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Lisa October 16, 2009 at 4:58 pm

I’ve done this type of cooking for years; I’m a pastor’s wife with 4 children and always trying to stretch the budget. Thanks for the great ideas! Another thought…I never throw away broth when I boil potatoes for mashed potatoes or potato salad, etc. I remove most of the potatoes and add salt, pepper, onions, parsley, and chives to the broth. Viola! Potato soup! Put it in the freezer for another meal!

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Jennifer January 15, 2010 at 8:02 pm

@Lisa, I LOVE this idea!!! I have really been enjoying potato soup lately, so I look forward to trying this. I’ve always hated the idea of throwing out the vitamins and minerals with the cooking water.

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Lisa-Marie October 26, 2009 at 6:09 pm

This is great – just googled how to do a slow cooker chicken. Should have tried this years ago! Thanks a lot for sharing this. Lisa-Marie, New Zealand xxo

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jan October 31, 2009 at 12:58 pm

I don’t know if this has been mentioned before, but old tired carrots (cleaned and peeled?) make a nice roasting rack in the crockpot. I crock-roast beef, pork or chicken this way.

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Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom October 31, 2009 at 4:15 pm

@jan,
Excellent tip! Thanks for sharing!

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jan November 1, 2009 at 10:31 am

re: carrot roasting rack– if you add a bit of broth, juice (or even leftover wine) on the carrots, they cook better and make a nice side-dish.

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Jia December 22, 2009 at 5:33 am

It’s a great recipe, but obviously free-range chicken is going to add up to a lot more than buying abused birds. And there’s no way that a smart, funny, full-of-personality bird like a chicken being sold at 69c/pound has not been abused during its short life :(

Still, the rest of the recipe is economical and I will enjoy trying it – thanks!

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Karen Owen January 3, 2010 at 12:02 pm

I am trying this recipe with two chickens in my crock pot now. However I live in Canada and where i live in Vancouver, BC I can not find a whole chicken for less then $3.00/lb. I did pick up a 10lb Turkey here at the grocery store yesterday for $15 off so that will work out to less then $1/lb. I still really like this site and am glad I found it! Looking forward to trying more of these recipes. Thank you.
Karen

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Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom January 3, 2010 at 3:41 pm

@Karen Owen,

Great deal on that turkey! And keep those eyes peeled for other great deals on chicken and meat!

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Lisa S February 1, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Whole chickens are on sale for 49 cents this week. I bought 4 and froze 3. Can you believe I got 4 whole chickens for around $10!? Anyways, I made the first one yesterday in the slow cooker, before I saw this post. I did not think to keep the chicken juices for chicken stock!! I’m kicking myself now. Oh well, at least I have 3 more chickens.

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Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom February 2, 2010 at 8:55 am

@Lisa S,

Great deal…and now you know for next time!

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Marie March 2, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Instead of water, subtitute 1 cup dry white wine, or 1 cup chicken stock, or 1 cup chicken broth or 1 cup beer. It will give the chicken much more flavor.

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Rachelle Nelson April 19, 2010 at 5:59 pm

I was just thinking of how to cook my chicken that was low fuss as I have a houseful of kiddos. I have seen whole chickens, off brand, for $ .69 lb. I would pick up a couple but sadly I have a very small freezer. Thank you for all the wonderful ideas!

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Maria May 23, 2010 at 11:14 am

I have never cooked a whole chicken in my life – until now! I’m glad I found your web site. Our local Food Lion had whole chickens on sale this week for .64/lb!

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Rebecca August 16, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Don’t forget to do step 2! The first time my hubby and I tried to roast a whole chicken we forgot to take out the bag of stuff. We didn’t discover it until we started pulling the meat off the chicken. Yuck!

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Kathleen August 17, 2010 at 10:20 am

You do not add any liquid to the chicken taco bake except the small amount of juice in the tomatoes?

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Josephine February 20, 2011 at 12:31 am

happy to report that i just tried this out tonight. made a whole chicken in the slow cooker last nite; .89/lb foster farms. made a huge container of chicken stock. made two trays of chicken taco bakes. served it tonight over mexican rice accompanied by tortillas. thanks!!!

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Lindsey March 1, 2011 at 9:30 am

Mmm, made this last night and we enjoyed it very much :-) Great recipe!

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Angie June 16, 2011 at 10:44 am

Thanks so much. I always wanted to know the proper way of making stock and skimming the fat. Great mexican recipe as well. Know my family will love!

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SugarMags October 3, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Recently learned that Tyson pumps up it’s chickens with horrible stuff — that’s why they are stringier and spongier than “real” chicken. It might cost a little more, but no Tyson coupons for me! :P

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Jackie Brown October 4, 2011 at 4:10 am

I’ve started freezing the filling, such as this one, in a quart bag to save space, then I thaw and dump into a pyrex for reheating. It’s a space-saver and money saver since you’re using less aluminum trays. This is a great recipe, thanks for sharing!

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Caryl December 6, 2011 at 2:50 pm

These are great ideas. I will try them this week because I am cleaning out my freezer and using up to restock .
I actually found 3 whole chickens buried at the bottom. So can’t wait. I will probably freeze the chicken taco in a bag as well and cook in one of my Pyrex dishes. Thanks so much for sharing!

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Amy December 13, 2011 at 8:15 am

ShopRite in NJ had Coleman Organic Whole chicken on sale, got a 4.75 lb chicken for $10.71. I made chicken noodle soup, chicken pot pie and chicken salad with the remainder. 3 Meals from one chicken! Love it!

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Nora March 11, 2013 at 12:39 am

Exactly what I was looking for. Perfect. Thank you!!

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Amy H August 24, 2013 at 1:18 pm

I stumbled across your website yesterday and I think it’s my new favorite! I’ve been wanting to get into the kitchen more and you have made it EXTREMELY easy, very non-threatening. Since I’m fairly new to the scene, I wanted to confirm the type of vinegar to use to pull the calcium out. I know there are different types, and I am wanting to know which kind(s) could be used in this. The most common vinegar I saw cooked with was cider vinegar (I believe, the caramel colored one).

Also – great way to store and easily re-use your stock is in ice cube trays. Just fill, freeze, and pop out as many as you need for your recipe :-)

Thank you!

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