How Much Does a Whole Chicken Cost?

Written by: Staff

A whole chicken is just that – a chicken that has been packaged whole without any cuts or trimmings.

Butchers, local farms and grocery stores will seal and label the chicken with the packaging and expiration date and can be purchased from almost all local grocery stores, farmers markets, farms, online, and even at wholesale clubs.

A whole chicken is ideal for crockpot dishes, potlucks, parties, and soups.

Most of the time, a whole chicken is baked in an oven with light spices or stuffed with a stuffing.

2008_07_08 by sporkist, on Flickr
2008_07_08” (CC BY 2.0) by  sporkist

How much does a whole chicken cost?

On average, a whole non-organic chicken will cost $0.75 to $1.50 per pound, while an organic whole chicken can cost upwards of $2.50 to $5 per pound.  The average chicken is going to cost $10 to $25 as a whole, but it will depend on the weight, type of chicken, where you purchase it and the current promotion.

On the market, you will find broilers, roasters and Cornish game hens.  A game hen is a younger chicken, weighing less than two pounds, while a broiler chicken is about seven weeks old and can weigh about two to five pounds.  The biggest option — a roaster — can weigh more than five pounds and are processed at about 12 weeks old.

Meijer, for example, sells a young whole chicken for about $5.50, a roaster chicken for close to $9 each and an organic whole chicken for $14 each.

At Wegmans, the cost of a whole chicken, with no antibiotics or added hormones, can cost $1.49 per pound.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of a fresh whole chicken, as of 2017, was close to $1.48 per pound.

At Costco, when we checked out local location, they were charging close to $2.49 per pound for two organic roaster chickens.

Type of Whole ChickenAverage Price (each)
Non-organic Young Whole Chicken$6
Non-organic Roaster Chicken$9
Organic Whole Chicken$15

What are the extra costs?

For bulk chicken purchases, butcher fees may apply if you want to have a professional butcher process it.  When cut, it will include the legs, thighs, wings, etc.

Tips to know:

If the fat is white or deep yellow, it often means the chicken is fresh enough for consumption.

Make sure the label is well wrapped and there is no leakage, and always remember to check the expiration date.

The USDA recommends double-wrapping with foil or plastic wrap before freezing.  If stored properly, a whole chicken can last one year inside of a freezer.

When purchasing fresh, always try to cook within one to two dates or by the “use by” date.  If it has a strong smell and/or a slightly unappealing look, then be safe and don’t eat it.

Try to learn how to cut a whole chicken yourself.  Usually, it’s very easy.  All you have to do it unwrap it, remove the neck and gizzards and rinse it down.  From there, you can spice it as you like and either toss it over the grill, throw it in the oven or even place it in a crockpot for up to eight hours.  If you are able to master this skill, you will be able to save a lot of money compared to buying individual, already butchered pieces.

How long should you boil a whole chicken?  If fresh, about 90 minutes for the average four-pound whole chicken.

The many types of chickens

Cage-free chickens are those that are allowed to roam free within a certain area.  These chickens can lay eggs in nests as they do in the wild rather than being put in a specific cage within the building.

A capon is a larger male chicken that is sold whole.  This type of chicken can weigh as much and be as large as a small turkey.

A free-range chicken, which is the most common type, is one that is kept in a cage part of the time but also has time to roam and peck as they wish.

A natural chicken does not necessarily refer to the way the chicken is raised but more about the way that the meat is harvested.  A natural chicken will not have any artificial flavor or preservatives.

Organic chickens, usually the most expensive, are those that have been raised and fed in an organic environment.  This means that the chickens have not been treated with any hormones or antibiotics, and the food that they are given is 100% natural.

A pastured chicken is not confined to a pen with seed but is allowed more space to gather their own food such as insects and grass.  This makes their meat more flavorful, and the exercise allows them makes the meat more tender and juicy.

How can I save money?

If you want to buy organic, check with a local farmer to see what kind of specials they offer.  It also does not hurt to check out the local farmers market.

Check out local wholesale clubs like Sam’s Club and Costco.

If you are going to buy from a local grocery store, look out for special sales and promotions as meat is always on sale.  Also, do not forget to check for coupons.

If the chicken is getting close to its expiration date, most stores will mark it down.  Take advantage of this by freezing your chicken for later use.

Buying in whole, regardless of how you buy a whole chicken, will always be cheaper than buying in pieces.

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