What to Do with a Whole Chicken Besides Roast It

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Anytime I pick up a whole chicken from the grocery store, my first instinct is always to roast it. It feels like the default, right? The thing is, there are a ton of other ways to prepare a whole chicken than roasting. Here are my favorites.

1. Slow-cook it.

Cooking a whole chicken in the slow cooker is a hands-off process that could not be easier, and rewards you with the most juicy, tender, fall-off-the-bone meat. You won’t achieve the dark, crackly skin you get from the oven’s dry heat, but the meat is so juicy and delicious you’ll never regret using this method.

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(Image credit: Sara Kate Gillingham)

2. Braise it.

Do not reserve braising for those big cuts of beef and pork. Lean whole chicken is also a great choice for this low, slow cooking method. While you could use any liquid to braise chicken, we’re hard-pressed to find one better than milk or coconut milk. It makes for a super-flavorful meal with succulent, fall-off-the-bone meat.

(Image credit: Colin Price)

3. Cook it in an Instant Pot.

If you haven’t already heard the good news, know that you can totally cook a whole chicken in your Instant Pot. And yes, it really is as amazing as it sounds. While the skin gets a good sear using the sauté function, it doesn’t quite get the crispiness you’d achieve in the oven, but in return this version is ready in a fraction of the time, with ridiculously juicy meat.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

4. Simmer it into a soup.

Chicken soup made with a whole chicken is one of the most comforting and cozy meals of all time. You’ll want to save it for a day you’ve got an ample amount of time on your hands, because while it’s not terribly difficult, it does take a while. Whether on the stovetop or in the slow cooker, the chicken is first simmered with a bunch of aromatics to make a full-flavored broth, then the meat is pulled from the bones to round out the soup.

Use a Whole Chicken for a Batch of Soup

5. Cut it up and cook the pieces.

There is a ton of versatility that comes with buying a whole chicken, and it can also be less expensive than buying individual pieces. Instead of cooking the whole bird as is, cut it up into pieces (you’ll get two breasts, wings, thighs, and drumsticks per chicken), and cook each one the way you like.

How else do you prepare a whole chicken besides roasting it?