We’re all getting used to a new (temporary) normal where we can’t always find our first choice ingredient at the grocery store. Meat has been especially hard to come by for many, so today I’m excited to partner with our long-time sponsor Farmer Focus to share all the ways you can cook different parts of the chicken in this chicken recipe guide.
Even if it’s just out of necessity, now is a great time to try cooking something new in case your usual go-to (boneless, skinless for most) is not readily available!
I actually love, and regularly use, all different parts of the chicken (minus the head and feet … I know some do, but not me!). Not only are the bone-in cuts more economically priced, but I think they often have more flavor than boneless, skinless chicken breast. They are also especially great when using your slow cooker … when the meat literally falls off the bone for you!
My Go-To Chicken: Farmer Focus
I’ve always said if you can’t buy chicken that’s been raised locally, then store-bought organic is the next best choice! And I love how organic chicken is becoming more readily available, even at mainstream supermarkets nowadays. We’ve clearly been voting with our dollars!
Personally, we always look for Farmer Focus Chicken at the store. We love how much they care about their farmers—hence the name!—and we also love how they offer pretty much any cut of chicken you could ask for, from whole to boneless.
Their chicken is certified organic, from beginning to end, and they let their farmers own their chickens and maintain control of their farm (something that’s sadly not always the case!). They even offer a “Farm ID” on every package that you can enter into their website to see photos and read stories about the farmers who actually raised the chickens!
See where you can find Farmer Focus products at a store near you.
Recipe Guide for Different Chicken Parts
The Whole Chicken
Chicken is separated into two types of meat, white and dark. The breast, breast tenders, and wings are all made up of white meat, which is the leanest part. Dark meat consists of the drumsticks and thighs, which are usually more tender and have a stronger flavor due to the higher fat content.
If you’ve never cooked a whole chicken before, I highly encourage you to do it … and this recipe is where you should start! You’ll end up with super moist, falling-off-the-bone, delicious chicken that reminds me of grocery store rotisserie chicken (except way better!). This is my #1 go-to anytime I need cooked chicken for a recipe.
When this recipe is done we either break it up and eat it as is, or I pull all the good meat off the bone and use it in recipes such as the following…
Recipes that call for cooked chicken:
- Chicken Salad (so many options here including Loaded, Sour Cream & Onion, and a Fave from My Childhood)
- Chicken Enchiladas
- Chicken Pot Pie
- BBQ Chicken Quesadilla or Pizza (recipe is in my first cookbook)
- Soups (again, lots of options, including Chicken Noodle and Chicken & Orzo)
- Cheesy Chicken Dip
- Chicken Lettuce Cups
- Chicken Tostadas
The most important thing to remember when making this recipe is to not discard the bones! Once I pull off all the good chicken I put everything (bones, onion, juices) back in the slow cooker and make the most delicious homemade bone broth overnight while I am sleeping.
Once the broth cools, I freeze it in freezer-safe jelly jars, leaving room at the top for the liquid to expand. I seriously never buy store-bought broth anymore!
The other fabulous thing about this recipe is that you don’t have to have a whole chicken to make it. You can use any bone-in cut including drumsticks, breasts, and/or legs.
I’ve actually found that buying a pack of organic drumsticks, just because I am low on broth and need the bones, is cheaper than buying boxed broth. And, bonus, you get some cooked chicken to snack on in the process!
I also sometimes roast a whole chicken, and I share the details in this post along with the safest and faster way to defrost chicken (in case you forgot)!
Chicken Thighs: Bone-in
Chicken thighs tend to be much more tender and flavorful than white meat due to the higher fat content, and because of the muscles within it. They are great for slow cooker and sheet pan dinners.
Full of so much flavor, this Sheet Pan Chicken and Vegetable Dinner is a quick and easy one-dish dinner. We love sheet pan meals!
Bone-in chicken thigh meals to try:
Chicken Thighs: Boneless
Boneless chicken thighs, much like boneless chicken breast, are extremely versatile and basically foolproof. And while dark meat is less lean than white, thighs are still relatively lean as long as you avoid the skin.
RECIPE: Easy Chinese Chicken
Chicken Breast: Boneless
This part of the chicken has the leanest meat and mildest flavor, so chicken breasts can take on any form or flavor that you can imagine, making it the most versatile part of the chicken. Great for anything from grilling, sheet pan, skillet, or even slow cooker recipes.
This Breadcrumb Roasted Chicken dish is fabulous right out of the oven, but it’s also pretty tasty leftover on salad greens or over pasta with cream sauce.
Boneless chicken breast recipes to try:
Usually known as party favorites, chicken wings can be a healthy option as long as you keep them away from the fryer and highly processed sauces.
These are definitely the Best Oven Baked Chicken Wings, in our opinion! The secret is all in the smoked salt (an ingredient worth buying). Pair these with homemade ranch dipping sauce for a real winner.
Drumsticks are the perfect kid-friendly chicken part because the shape is easy to hold. Dark meat tends to be juicier and has a stronger flavor than white meat due to the higher fat content from the muscles.
RECIPE: Jason’s Jerk Chicken
We can maybe travel in our minds right now with this flavorful Jerk Chicken recipe inspired by a stop in Jamaica a couple of years ago. Oh, those were the days!
Well, there you have it. Loads of recipes to try using all different parts of the chicken! Are any of these parts something you’ve never cooked with before? I hope I’ve inspired you to try something new … what do you plan to make first?