Recipe Guide for Different Chicken Parts

Different parts of the chicken laid out on a cutting board.

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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!

Blue bowl loaded with rice, beans, corn, and chicken topped with sour cream and avocado.

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.

A whole chicken from Farmer Focus sitting on a kitchen counter.

RECIPE: The Best Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot

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.

Two pieces of chicken on a dinner plate with a side salad.

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:

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.

Farmer Focus Bone-In Chicken Thighs

RECIPE: Sheet Pan Chicken and Fall Veggies

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!

Sheet Pan with roasted chicken thighs and Brussels sprouts and butternut squash.

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.

Farmer Focus chicken thighs on 100 days of real food

RECIPE: Easy Chinese Chicken

Skip the take-out menu and unwanted additives with this super tasty Easy Chinese Chicken recipe from my newest On a Budget cookbook.

Easy Chinese Chicken on a rectangular white serving dish next to chopsticks.

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.

SVO Farmer Focus Chicken on 100 Days of Real Food

RECIPE: Buttery Roasted Chicken with Breadcrumbs and Herbs

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.

Baking dish with roasted chicken topped with breadcrumbs with a serving spoon in it.

Chicken Wings

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.

Farmer Focus Wings

RECIPE: The Best Oven Baked Chicken Wings

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.

Oven baked wings in a red basket and yellow checkered paper.

Chicken wing recipes to try:

Chicken Drumsticks

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.

Farmer Focus Chicken Drumsticks

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!

White dinner plate with grilled jerk chicken, green beans, and side of corn on the cob.

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?

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