How to Bake a Whole Chicken
Note that if you just want some broth and meat to use in recipes, see this post on how to cook frozen chicken in the pressure cooker. This recipe, however, will give you a nice crispy skin and is a great, simple feel-good meal.
Here's an email I received recently:
I stumbled across your blog a few weeks ago and have been reading all your past posts trying to get caught up and digest all the information. I am a mom of three children, three and under. I have always cooked for my family…I thought nutritiously, but now I am finding out otherwise.
I am completely overwhelmed by traditional eating and all that it entails since that is not how I have been running my kitchen :o) I just ordered “Nourishing Traditions” to try and learn more.
I thought a good place to start would be to make the bone broth you discussed. I found your directions for the broth and chicken soup, but confession of all confessions… I can't do step one: make a chicken dinner! I have never in my life cooked an entire chicken or turkey. I always just cooked with chicken breasts, thinking that was healthiest.
Where can I learn to make a chicken? I bought a small organic chicken this weekend and put it in the freezer. My husband has fears; he asked, “Aren’t there bones in that?” This is probably a sad commentary on society that my husband actually fears his chicken coming with bones, and that I don't know how to cook a chicken with bones.
Any direction you could point me in would be helpful.
Thank you, Lori
What a cute email – you gave me a good laugh, but not because I think you're odd, instead because I used to be the same way!
Here's how to bake a whole chicken:
- First thaw it safely – in the fridge for a couple days or in cold water for a few hours.
- Preheat the oven to 450* — this temp helps it have a crispy dreamy flavorful skin when it's done.
- Rinse out the cavity, pat dry with a little paper towel, and place breast-side up in a buttered baking dish. We use our stoneware that has a cover, but you don't have to use a covered dish.
- Salt and pepper the cavity of the chicken for extra flavor, but we forget sometimes.
- Again, you don't have to do this, but it adds more flavor: use your hands and spread some softened butter around the outside of the bird, then season well with more sea salt, pepper, and other herbs and spices you like, such as garlic powder, onion powder, some Italian seasoning, paprika, thyme, rosemary, etc. Even if you don't use butter, at least salt and pepper the bird.
- We usually throw in some extra chicken leg or other chicken pieces because one whole chicken isn’t enough for our family now, not enough to have leftovers anyway, and I have to have leftovers so I can make another yummy recipe the next day with the chicken broth…
- You could also throw in hunks of washed vegetables cut into chunks, like potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, and some garlic cloves too.
- Be sure to add a little water so the bones in the chicken will make broth as it cooks, which you will turn into gravy, of course. 🙂
- Bake a 3-4 pound bird for 50-60 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165*. Larger birds and those filled with stuffing take longer to cook.
- If you cook it uncovered, just watch it and if it starts to get too brown, cover with some foil.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and rest it on a cutting board for 15 minutes to allow the juices to settle back into the bird. (We don't always do this and it's still good right away!)
- Meanwhile, make gravy from the pan drippings! Here's how to make gravy.
- Carve and serve the chicken and enjoy.
- Be sure to save the bones for chicken broth! Here's how to make bone broth.
- Once you're done eating and the chicken is cool, pick through it to get the rest of the bones out and to get all of the meat off for your leftover recipes. Quite a few of these poultry recipes can be made quickly once you already have the chicken cooked.
The picture at right is Kent getting a chicken ready for the oven. Let me know how your chicken comes out!
Readers, tell us if you make yours a little different? BE SURE TO READ MORE TIPS IN THE COMMENTS!
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Meal Planning Help!
Sick of planning meals and answering the question, “What am I going to feed these people?” No matter what kind of eater you are (traditional, GF, paleo, vegetarian)… Check out these affordable interactive easy-to-use meal plans where the work is done for you. NOW recipes also available from Nom Nom Paleo, The Paleo Mom, and Wellness Mama all in one spot! You can read over my review here.