As much as I love the convenience of boneless skinless chicken breasts, I always prefer to buy whole chickens. Whole chickens are significantly cheaper than chicken breasts or thighs, and you truly get so much more for your money. With just one chicken, I can typically make 2-3 meals and several cups of homemade chicken broth!
I am going to show you my favorite way to prepare whole chickens and truly get the most for your money (and if you have to handle raw meat – blech, it has to be worth it, right?). Best of all, it’s all done in the crock-pot so it takes very little time!
The first thing I do with my chicken is make Crock-Pot Roast Sticky Chicken (recipe below). This recipe only requires about 5 minutes of prep and then the crockpot does the rest. This chicken is so delicious, everyone in our family loves it. It really is not spicy despite the spices used, but if you’re concerned, you can omit any spices you don’t want. I’ve left out spices before due to not having them on hand, and the chicken still turned out delicious.
Crock-Pot Roast Sticky Chicken
- 4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 large roasting chicken
- 1 cup chopped onion
In a small bowl, thoroughly combine all the spices. Remove giblets from the chicken, clean the cavity well and pat dry with paper towels. Rub the spice mixture into the chicken, both inside and out, making sure it is evenly distributed and down deep into the skin. Place in a resealable plastic bag, seal, and refrigerate overnight. (Don’t worry if you forget to do this the night before, I forget all the time and it still turns out fine.)
When ready to cook chicken, put the onions into the cavity, put the bird into the crock-pot, and do not add any liquid. As the cooking process goes on it will produce it’s own juices. Cook on low 8 to 10 hours and it will be falling off the bone!
After the chicken is done, you have a few options. You can serve the chicken as a main course for dinner, or you can stretch the meat and incorporate it into several meals like casseroles or soups. We typically serve it as a main course and then use what is left to make another meal like soup on another day. Our way makes only two meals for a family of four, but you could possibly make three meals if use all of it for soups and casseroles.
You’ll want to get all the meat off the bones, so wait until the chicken cools and then use your fingers to get all the meat. You then refrigerate your meat and let it fully cool. Then shred the chicken and freeze it. You can also set it aside until you are ready to use it in your recipe. Leave the bones and everything else in your crockpot. Now you’re going to make chicken broth!
Homemade Chicken Stock
- leftover bones and skin from 1 large whole roasted chicken
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 3 celery stalks, chopped in 2-3 pieces
- 2 carrots, chopped in 2-3 pieces
- salt and pepper, optional (I prefer plain, can add spices later when using in a recipe.)
- cold water
Put your leftover chicken bones and skin into a large crock-pot. Add in the vegetables.* Fill the crock pot with water, leaving a couple inches of space at the top. Set your crock-pot to cook on low for 10 hours.
Let the broth cool then strain the liquid into a glass bowl or container. Discard the solids. Put the liquid into the refrigerator overnight or until it cools completely. Transfer it into 1-2 cup containers** and freeze, or use it right away.
*Frugal Tip - Make it more frugal, use the ends and peels of your vegetables since you won’t be eating those parts anyway.
**Frugal Tip – Save your empty yogurt and sour cream containers and use them for freezing your stock. Do not fill to the top, liquid expands when freezing.
If you use only veggie scraps, your homemade broth essentially costs you nothing! Makes you wonder why they charge so much for the canned stuff, doesn’t it? Plus, you don’t have to worry about preservatives, MSG, or BPA when you make your own.
I love making homemade chicken noodle soup using crock-pot roast sticky chicken and homemade chicken stock. It’s frugal, healthy, and delicious!
Once you’ve made this chicken and chicken stock a few times and realize how easy and frugal it is, you will have a hard time paying so much for boneless chicken breast!