How to Use A Whole Chicken for Multiple Meals


Join me as we learn how to use a whole chicken for multiple meals. We will learn how to cook the chicken and make three separate meal options with it.

Instant pot with a whole chicken inside next to a produce bowl on top of a granite countertop

When I realized how much cheaper a whole chicken was in comparison to buying chicken breasts or thighs I was astounded. I bought a few and learned that I could make several meals out of a whole chicken. I was also super pumped to be able to get some nutrient dense bone broth as well!

How do you cook a whole chicken in the Instant Pot?

  1. Set up your Instant Pot by placing the wire rack in the metal liner and adding about a cup of water in the pot. Don’t fill past the metal wire rack.
  2. Prepare your chicken by removing the giblets that may be inside. Save those for cooking later. If that is your sort of thing click here for a good recipe. If not, then toss them or feed them to your dog.
  3. Place the whole chicken in the Instant Pot with breast side up. See image below to see what that looks like.
  4. Sprinkle seasonings on top of your chicken. I like to keeps things simple with this part. Just some salt and pepper. Sometimes I will add garlic if I have the time. You don’t really want to get too specific with the flavors as you will be making different meals with this chicken.
whole chicken in an instant pot with salt and pepper on it. the pot is sitting on a kitchen counter
This post contains affiliate lings. This means I may earn a small commission at no cost to you. You can read my full disclosure here.

How long does it take to cook a whole chicken in the Instant Pot?

After your Instant Pot and chicken are set up and ready for cooking, secure the lid on the Instant Pot and push the poultry button. Set the timer for 45 minutes, push the nob at the top back to seal and let it cook. You can let it naturally release for about ten minutes and you’re ready to go!

How to use a whole chicken for multiple meals

Four images, instant pot, chicken broth in mason jars, whole chicken in instant pot, and salad with chicken on it.

Now is the fun part. You can get pretty creative with this. I will give you some ideas of what I have enjoyed making from my whole chickens in order to get your creative juices flowing. You likely have some of your favorite recipes that could easily incorporate a part from your whole chicken.

Separate the meat cuts

I remove the chicken from the instant pot using tongs and put it onto a plate with a ridge. This way it captures some of the juices that drip from the chicken. Gather a serving dish, a Tupperware dish and have your Instant Pot metal liner that you cooked handy. Make sure to take out the wire rack and leave in the juices.

Whole chicken on a plate next to a pair of tongs on a kitchen counter

Separate the chicken breasts

There will be bones going down the center of the whole chicken. Using a sharp knife start cutting just to the right of the middle of the chicken. If it is hard to cut, you may be hitting bone and will need to shift over to the right a bit more. Cut all the way down until you hit the bones at the bottom. Use your tongs to then grab the chicken breast and pull it off. Place it in the Tupperware container.

Two chicken breasts in a tuppaware container on top of a kitchen counter.

Chicken breast uses

I usually put these in the refrigerator and store for a meal I will be doing a day or two later. Meals that would be perfect for these pre-cooked breasts would be anything that calls for shredded chicken. Things I have used them for are: Fajitas, taco soup, white chicken chili, any soup that calls for chicken, enchiladas, or BBQ chicken sandwiches. The sky is the limit!

Use the dark meat for that night’s dinner

two pictures, top picture is of shredded dark meat. bottom picture is of a chicken salad with shredded meat on it.

My family loves the dark meat from a whole chicken. It is not dry and hard to chew, especially for young children. Start by peeling off all the dark meat that you can get. Make sure to flip the chicken over to get the meat at the bottom.

Once you have all the dark meat, sprinkle some salt and pepper on the pieces. Our favorite meal to use the dark meat with is a chicken salad. I will cook up some quinoa, slice up whatever veggies I have on hand and add them on top of fresh salad greens. Sprinkle your shredded chicken on top and you have a tasty meal!

We like either plain chicken salad or barbecue chicken salad. For barbecue salad, I toss the chicken with BBQ sauce and do salad greens, corn tortilla strips, blue cheese etc. If salads aren’t your thing, you can do BBQ chicken sandwiches. I usually try to make this meal on the simpler side as I just spent time cooking and shredding the whole chicken.

How to use the bones from a whole chicken

chicken bones in water inside an instant pot for making bone broth

As you are shredding your chicken, place the bones back into the Instant Pot. I like making the chicken broth right after cooking the whole chicken so I don’t dirty two pots. If you aren’t familiar with making bone broth, this post goes into great detail on how to make the perfect bone broth. When you finish, the broth will look like this:

two wide mouth jars of chicken bone broth made in the instant pot on a farmhouse table

Homemade bone broth is delicious and packed full of nutrients. This broth can be added to soups or be used to cook your rice in. I like finding any way I can to pack this super liquid into my regular cooking.

So now you have three cost-effective uses from one whole chicken! Save this post as your how to and get yourself a whole chicken next time you’re shopping. You won’t be disappointed!

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *