How to Get 5 Meals From a Whole Chicken

Can you turn one meal into a variety of different meals? Do you know how to get 5 meals from a whole chicken?

I am always looking for ways to take one main course and use it in several different ways.

I enjoy cooking for my family, but our chaotic life means dinner needs to be simple and on the table quick. Let me tell you how to get 5 meals from a whole chicken. Incidentally, the size of your family may require two chickens in order for this to work. The principal is the same with one chicken or two. Be sure to account for how much you know that your family will eat of each meal you are expecting to prepare with your chicken.

How to Get Five Meals From a Whole Chicken


Cooking Your Chicken

I prefer to buy whole chickens and cook them myself. I can control the seasonings that way as well as the size of the chicken. If I know that the meals I want to prepare need a bigger chicken, I can shop accordingly.

A great benefit to cooking your own is that you can use the broth from the cooking process for making homemade chicken noodle soup. It makes use of the broth and eliminates the need to spend money on the store bought versions. As a result the meals you prepare will have so much more flavor. I challenge you to try it! My homemade version is made in my Instant Pot . You can read all about how I make my own broth here.

Buying Your Chicken

When you are short on time buying a cooked chicken from your local grocery store will be the easy choice. Most grocery stores have rotisserie chickens ready for quick dinners if cooking it yourself is unappealing. However, some of them can be on the small side. I have found Costco to be the exception for this. Their whole chickens are a very good size. If you want great broth for use in soups and other dishes, cooking your own is definitely the way to go. It may be scary the first time, but I promise it is much easier than it seems.

How to Make Five Meals From a Whole Chicken

What to Make with Leftover Chicken

  • Chicken Noodle Soup is the first thing that comes to mind. I recommend the leg and thigh meat for use in the soup. It will give it a nice rich flavor. Celery, carrots, the broth from your cooked chicken, noodles, salt, pepper and a few other spices are all you will need.
  • Cold Chicken Salad is a favorite around here with leftover chicken. I use celery, chopped red apples, walnuts or pecans, shredded cheese and mayo with a few seasonings thrown in. The breast meat of the chicken is perfect for this dish.
  • Chicken Quesadillas are great for using up a whole chicken. Breast meat works best in this one as well. I use a little chicken broth and taco seasoning on the chicken to give it flavor. Then use it on top of tortillas topped with cheese, tomatoes, onion and cilantro for a wonderful authentic flavor. Top with a second tortilla and brown on each side for a very easy dinner.
  • Chicken Tacos are similar to the quesadillas in the way you prepare them, yet they are in a category all their own. Taco Tuesday, anyone? Again, I use chicken broth and taco seasoning on the shredded chicken. Then add to soft or crunchy (my personal fave) tortillas with whatever toppings you prefer. I highly recommend cilantro if you are a fan. It is so delicious on tacos! Tacos are a good way to use your leg and thigh meat from a whole chicken.
  • Chicken Chili is something this Texas girl doesn’t really go for, but there are plenty of people who love it. Chili is always a good idea even with chicken in it instead of beef.

5 meals to make with one cooked chicken


Savvy tips for cooking, organizing and cleaning


Cooking doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. Preparing ahead is how to get 5 meals from a whole chicken. You can do it, too!