cooking whole chickens

Healthy Cooking with Poultry

Canadians are eating more poultry than ever and with sound reasoning. Poultry contains less fat, saturated fat and cholesterol than other meat choices such as pork or beef. Consequently, Canadians are looking for healthy cooking with poultry methods to add to their diets to help better their lifestyles. The bird is the word!

In this blog, we will go over some of the significant health benefits to cooking with poultry, preparation and storage tips, and the top 3 methods to achieve healthy cooking with poultry in your own home. We will even throw in a few of our favorite recipes at the end.

Health Benefits

  1. Poultry is Nutritious. It is a lean (low in fat), high in protein meat choice that contributes to muscle growth and development. It contains essential nutrients such as B vitamins, iron, and zinc.
  2. Natural Anti-Depressant. You know that feeling you get when you eat a big bowl of homemade chicken soup? It’s not all in your head! Eating poultry increases the serotonin amino acid levels in your brain which leads to mood enhancement, and makes you feel less depressed.
  3. Strong Bones & Teeth. If you are concerned about your bone health, healthy cooking with poultry can help to alleviate some of the stress. Eating poultry will aid in your fight against bone loss due to the amount of protein it withholds. Consuming just 100mgs of chicken breast will fulfill half of your necessary protein intake for the day. Furthermore, poultry is high in phosphorus and helps to maintain the proper functioning of the liver, kidneys and nervous system.
  4. Body Weight Maintenance. Looking to slim down? Whether it is for medical or cosmetic reasoning, poultry is the answer! This high protein choice provides you the necessary to energy to function properly, while keeping your stomach full, longer. Nutritionists suggest incorporating poultry, such as chicken, into your diet 2-3 times per week. However, be sure you are using cooking methods that provide nutritional benefits as well!

Safe Storage & Preparation


For healthy cooking with poultry, it is especially important to keep your food out of the temperature danger zone. Within these temperatures, bacteria are most likely to grow and can, therefore, make you quite sick.

 For healthy cooking with poultry, it is especially important to keep your food out of the temperature danger zone. Within these temperatures, bacteria are most likely to grow and can, therefore, make you quite sick.

Chill your poultry safely with these tips:

  • Keep your fridge set to 4C (40F) or lower and your freezer set to -18C (0F) or lower.
  • Cook fresh poultry within 2 to 3 days after purchasing.
  • If you do not plan on cooking within those 2 to 3 days, freeze it! Poultry will keep for up to a year if stored correctly.
  • Always keep wrapped in a clean container, away from unwrapped food. If neccessary, use a plastic bag to avoid any leaking raw juices from contaminating other items.


Be sure always to thaw poultry in the fridge or cold water, NEVER at room temperature. It is important to remember to keep your poultry wrapped at all times, or in a container that prevents the contamination of other surfaces. When defrosting is completed, cook protein right away with your desired method – do not refreeze.


There is no reason to fret when cooking poultry products! Healthy cooking with poultry is an easy task when following the steps we provided for you in this blog today. Follow these simple rules when preparing your poultry for your next meal:

  • Always wash your hands before and after you touch any raw poultry. Wash with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds!
  • Do not rinse raw poultry to remove the bacteria – this makes it much worse! The bacteria may wash off the poultry itself, but anywhere the water splashes may now be contaminated.
  • As with all meat preparations, preparing poultry to the proper temperature is crucial. Never eat raw or undercooked poultry. If you are unsure, use a food thermometer and follow guidelines.

Healthy Cooking Methods

Many people assume that because poultry is already a lean, nutritious choice of protein, it can be cooked however you’d like. Unfortunately, this is very untrue. Individuals need to be mindful of the cooking techniques they use to prepare their “healthy” meals. We have compiled our top 3 methods of healthy cooking with poultry to share with you:


Deemed the healthiest way to cook poultry! Similar to the way you would poach eggs, all you will need is your poultry of choice and some hot water. Essentially, this is the most healthy because you aren’t introducing any other ingredients during the cooking methods such as oils or fats. Typically, you will bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. From there, you slowly submerge the protein into the pan and simmer until fully cooked. Try adding your favourite herbs, spices, and veggies to the water for added flavour. Recipe: Poached Chicken or Turkey Breast


Is your go-to method of cooking chicken to grill or bake it? Nutritionists say this is still a healthy option of cooking, as long as you are aware of the other ingredients you are using. When grilling or baking, be mindful of the number of additional fats you add to the dish. A good tip is to use a brush to cover the poultry, and using plant-based oils that are low in unsaturated fats. If you are looking to add extra flavour – marinate beforehand. Much like with poaching, use fresh herbs & spices and tenderizers such as vinegar or citrus. Recipe: 14 Healthy Grilled Chicken Recipes


Third on our list, but still a beneficial way to healthy cooking with poultry. Much like grilling, sauteing requires you to use some time of fat to cook with to minimize sticking to the pan. However, we suggest investing in a high-quality pan to help cut down the amount of fat that is necessary. In addition to stopping food from sticking, a quality non-stick pan allows for better minimization of fats being used. A quick tip for this method: If you want that crispy outer layer without the extra calories, sear the poultry on the stove over medium/high heat and finish by baking in the oven. Recipe: Sauteéd Chicken with Fresh Herbs & Ginger

Get Cooking!

Within this blog, we have provided you with the fundamentals to start your journey into healthy cooking with poultry products. Looking to source your poultry from a local, reliable source? Here at Hilltop Acres Poultry, we strive to provide the freshest meat and poultry products possible to you and your family. We always have, and always will believe in going the extra mile to respond to your needs as a customer, and a fellow cook. Check out our list of products today!


How to Cook a Whole Chicken

Whether you want to learn how to cook a whole chicken for the first time, or you have cooked many. This blog discusses proper cooking times for various types of chicken. We’ll also include some helpful tips, and some tried and true recipes for the most amazing tasting chicken.

Cooking Times

Proper cooking times are not just about safety. In fact, most Canadians end up overcooking their chicken, which can leave it dry. The cooking times vary drastically depending on what you are cooking. Here is a simple chart to use as a reference when you are cooking anything from chicken breasts to learning how to cook a whole chicken. Make sure you are cooking your chicken to perfection each and every time!

Internal temperatures are measured using an instant-read food thermometer. You need to insert the thermometer in different spots of the meat. Make sure to pay special attention to the chicken breasts and thighs which are the thickest parts of the meat. If you do not have a food thermometer, they are available at most grocery stores in various formats and price ranges.

Cuts of Chicken

The most common form of chicken that is being cooked in family homes are chicken breasts. The versatility of how these can be prepared make them the top choice. There are many forms of how chickens are cut. Other popular cuts are wings, fingers and thighs. Check out this chart to see all the possible cuts of chicken.

How to Cook a Whole Chicken

Once you have chosen your chicken, make sure to always let the bird come to room temperature. Do this by leaving it out of the fridge, covered, for an hour before cooking it. You need to take this first step because the chicken will cook unevenly otherwise. Many recipes for how to cook a whole chicken suggest that you should rinse your bird before roasting it, but for most store-bought chickens this step isn’t necessary. Take a paper towel and pat it dry before you begin seasoning it so the skin is dry. This ensures you will have a nice crispy skin when you remove the bird from the oven.


Once your chicken has reached room temperature you can begin to season it. Begin by rubbing some olive oil on the skin.  A tried and true method is to then simply season it generously with salt and pepper. Make sure to season the bird on the inside and the outside. There are many variations of seasonings. You can use a couple of tablespoons of softened butter and rub in onto the skin instead of olive oil. You can put a halved lemon, halved onion or a halved garlic bulb into the cavity of the chicken for additional flavour. Many people enjoy the crispy skin of the whole chicken and sprinkle fresh or dried herbs on the skin, such as thyme, sage or rosemary.

Another way to have a very flavourful chicken is to stuff herbs under the skin. This will infuse the meat with great the taste of your favourite herbs and still allows for a nice crisp skin. Add a handful of chopped herbs (such as thyme, sage and rosemary) into a bowl and then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. At the top of the opening of the cavity, separate the skin from the breast by gently tugging and inserting your fingers under the skin to form a tunnel on either side. Put the herb and oil mixture directly under the skin. Push it in and as far down as you can go. When you go to cut the bird there will be a nice layer of herbs between the skin and the breast. This tastes great and also looks very nice when served on a platter.

Roasting a Whole Chicken

The simplest way to roast a chicken is to just put it in the oven in a roasting pan. Roast at 350ºF for about 1 hour and 30-40 minutes depending on the size, or until the internal temperature reaches 180ºF. Check out the link to the chart above for cooking times. There are many variety of dishes and pans you can use to roast a whole chicken. A traditional roasting pan with a rack is ideal, as it ensures even cooking and allows for the drippings to be collected in the pan for gravy. Who doesn’t like having the chicken gravy to cover your potatoes! You can also use a cast iron skillet, a casserole dish, a Dutch-oven or any other kind of oven-proof dish that will allow the bird to sit comfortably within it.

Juicy Roasted Whole Chicken

Did your mom or grandma teach you how to cook a whole chicken, but you forget all the steps? This is a recipe that is guaranteed to have everyone around the table silent and in awe of the juiciest chicken they have had.

1 (3 pound) whole chicken, giblets removed
salt and black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 cup margarine, divided
1 stalk celery, leaves removed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the chicken in a roasting pan, and season generously inside and out with salt and pepper. Sprinkle inside and out with onion powder. Place 3 tablespoons of margarine in the chicken cavity. Arrange dollops of the remaining margarine around the chicken’s exterior. Cut the celery into 3 or 4 pieces, and place in the chicken cavity.
Bake uncovered 1 hour and 15 minutes in the preheated oven, to a minimum internal temperature of 180 degrees F. Remove from heat, and baste with melted margarine and drippings. Cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest about 30 minutes before serving.

Quick Chicken Tips

Here are a few tips that will come in very handy when learning how to cook a whole chicken:

  • save the chicken carcass and make stock for gravies and soups
  • use your pan drippings to make a fantastic gravy to serve alongside your chicken
  • always make sure to cook your chicken to an internal temperature of 180ºF
  • invest in a good roasting pan – buy one bigger than you think you will need
  • buy a digital thermometer

Now that you have read about some ideas as to how to cook a whole chicken you are ready to host a dinner. Order your chicken, grab the fresh herbs of your choice, invite your friends and family and enjoy the flavours of a lovely cooked whole chicken.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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