Monday, October 24, 2011

{31 Days} Cooking from Scratch: A Whole Chicken

I did it. 
You can too.

For the first two years of marriage I put off cooking a whole bird because the whole process looked overwhelming. Not to mention… I hate touching raw meat*.  Gross.  

But, being bound and determined as I am, I decided I would do it.  I’d cook a turkey.

You know me, I like to ease into things… first recipe from scratch – an apple pie with homemade crust, first bird – a turkey, for Thanksgiving.  Maybe I should have taken my from scratch course first!

Why a whole bird?  Can’t I just use a chicken breast?

We love and cook often with just chicken breasts, but the whole bird is simple economical. 

All that from one bird?  You bet! 


Three Tips for Cooking a Bird

(1) Check the inside of the bird!  Don’t forget to pull out the packet of giblets and neck pieces, if they are included with your bird.  I forgot to do that once… oops. 

(2) Try the crockpot first.  The bird will be so moist – and so easy, it will make you confident with your poultry cooking. 

(3) For amazing gravy and poultry flavoring, cross two-four strips of raw bacon over the top of the bird before cooking.  Oh. My. Goodness.

Easy Crockpot Chicken

Making a bird in the crockpot is simple.  First, remove the bird {should be thawed} from the package – I do this in our sink to reduce the mess.  Carefully rinse the bird, removing the packet from the inside, if your bird has one. 

Place the bird breast side up in the crockpot.  Yes, breast side up – trust me on this one. 

Lightly spray the outside with olive oil and season with poultry seasoning, seasoned salt, garlic, or other herbs. 

Cover, and cook on low for 8-10 hours depending on the size of the bird.  Check for doneness by inserting a meat thermometer and checking for an internal temperature of 180 degrees. 

Carefully remove from the crockpot and plate for serving. 

Not sure you want to start with a whole bird? 

Try a whole bird that’s been pre-cut for you by the butcher at the grocery store.  Or, try chicken legs in the crockpot.  You can still make that meal stretch all week – save those bones!

Thanksgiving Bird This Year?

Why not?  Give it a try – grab a turkey when they are cheap (even organic, free-range turkeys are at their best price of the year around Thanksgiving), and try it.  Even if you don’t make it on Thanksgiving – purchase one on sale and store it in your freezer until you’re ready to give it a go!

You’ll need:

  • A big roasting pan (tinfoil is just fine)
  • A turkey
  • Bacon
  • Olive Oil
  • A large spoon or a baster
  • Poultry seasoning
  • Cookie Sheet

Pick up a big roasting pan {a tinfoil one works fine} – one that fits nicely on a cookie sheet, but is also big enough to hold your bird.  We found that by putting the roasting pan on a cookie sheet, it makes handling that big bird manageable. 

Our recipe for our Thanksgiving turkey is coming up at the beginning of November, so be sure to come back for that one! 

*As a reminder, treat all raw poultry as though it carries bacteria – wash your hands thoroughly after touching with warm water and soap, wash all countertops, faucet handles and other items that come into contact with the meat!  Practice safety first in the kitchen. 

Have you cooked a whole bird before?  Any tips?  Please share below!


  1. I *love* roast chicken. It is one meal everyone in the family agrees upon. Crispy skin is my favorite, so I always oven roast it. I stuff it with an onion, garlic, and a lemon, shove slabs of butter under the skin, drizzle olive oil over the top and season with salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, oregano, and then roast it at 375 until it's done (by temperature). After dinner, I take the meat off the bones, add the carcass to my Crock Pot along with onion, garlic, celery, carrots, peppercorns, and cook it all night on low (at least 12 hrs) for my bone broth. My advice: don't stress over roasting a chicken! I find it's really hard to mess it up.

  2. I too, who HATES touching raw meat, have mastered cooking the whole bird. Love the slow cooker way, so easy. Plus, my hubby, bless his heart, de-bones the meat for me.

    Now, I just need to get over the raw meat thing, as I want to learn to cut up a chicken. I've heard it's pretty easy, but there is still that raw meat/cutting bones thing to get over. :)

    Your series has been great by the've really broken it down for those just starting in the kitchen.

  3. I was scared of cooking a whole chicken for FOREVER until I finally did it about a year ago. I was amazed at how easy it was! Totally worth it.

  4. Even though I had cooked several turkeys for different Thanksgivings, I was always leery about whole chickens (weird, I know). But I started by doing them in the crockpot, and loved the results, because the meat just falls off the bones! (I have a "thing" about picking meat off bones.) It turns out so beautifully moist and delicious - NO FAIL!

  5. I know! It took me almost 4 years to roast a whole chicken, but I've never tried it in a crockpot. Do you spray/season the underside too, or just the top?

    Also, have you ever seen those vertical chicken roasters. They look almost like bundt pans. You set the chicken upright in the center and pack the "bowl" part with veggies. I almost bought a pottery one last summer but was too skeptical! -liz@carpeseason


Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear from you; especially how you're finding JOY in your kitchen.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...