Chitlin’s & Other Frugal Ways to Use a Whole Chicken

chickenGuest post by my friend, Samara Root, a fellow whole foods enthusiast and my splitting partner on many bulk food products! Thanks dear for sharing with us!

I purchased 10 naturally-grown chickens last year from a local farm, and they were delicious! I have tried to use every part of the chicken to be frugal and reduce waste, but chicken skin was always gross to me and I threw it out. (And besides, isn’t that saturated fat terrible for you?). Recently I took my 4-month-old baby girl to visit my Grandpa in California. While there I observed my Grandma making Chitlin’s for him. I thought to myself, what a great way to use chicken skin! In this way, chicken skin releases all its oil and you have some great organic oil to use in frying eggs or any other savory dish (I pay about $40 a gallon for organic olive oil and organic coconut oil. Why throw away perfectly good organic chicken grease?).

UPDATE from the Readers: Aparantly, chiltin’s are more commonly known as the intestines of the pig.;) Fried chicken skin is often called cracklin’s. Sorry for the confusion! Just following what Grandma called them!


Skin a whole, raw, naturally grown chicken. Place the skin in a frying pan on medium-low heat for about 15 minutes. Turn the heat off, let the skin cool a bit if you wish, and chop into small pieces (1/2 an inch or so?). Replace the skin in the pan and turn to lowest setting for an hour, or more, or less. Stir occasionally. You will be left with a lot of oil in the pan and some dark brown, very crispy chicken skin! Remove the skin (chitlin’s) to a paper towel, and pour the oil into a jar and store in the fridge. This should keep for a couple of weeks. You can use the oil to fry an egg (delicious!!!) or any other savory cooking project. The chitlins are wonderful the day they are made on their own or used instead of bacon bits or croutons on anything you can think of. Enjoy your delicious food and the extra money in your budget!


Put your carcass into a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, cook on low for about 24 hours (adding water as necessary). Lindsay’s addition: You can also cook a whole chicken in a crock pot for the same amount of time with great results. The bones from one chicken can make about a gallon of broth. After it has simmered for 24 hours, remove carcass, and boil the broth down to a quart of liquid or so. This will take approximately 1-2 hours. Cool broth and freeze in ziploc bags, quart jars (leaving plenty of expanding space), or ice cube trays. Then you only have to freeze a quart of broth, and you can “reconstitute” it with 3 more cups of water. A good way to save on freezer space. And this broth is good for you, without any additives other than what you put in it.

I have heard you can give the soft bones to your dog or cat.


When you are making soup, cut the organs into small pieces and add them to the soup. No one will know. (Lindsay’s addition: or grind them up in the blender first!)

Now, you have successfully used every part of your whole chicken wisely!

For more frugal tips, visit Frugal Fridays.

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of four, homemaker, and writer. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

39 Responses to Chitlin’s & Other Frugal Ways to Use a Whole Chicken

  1. Patricia January 27, 2012 at 9:03 pm #

    Hi Lindsay and Samara! Tot to your website via a comment (about deodorant) on the GNOWFGLINS site. Even though the article was written awhile ago people still read them and so I wanted to correct the comment about giving the dog bones. We lost a dog (my first) from mega esophagus. His esophagus stretched out when dog food got stuck and expanded with water the way dry dog food does. This caused him to aspirate food into his lungs and get pneumonia. He would throw up and so he was starving to death. Once the esophagus is stretched, it cannot return. A dog was not designed by God to eat grain. You will never see a wolf or coyote grazing in a wheat field. Their digestive system is horizontal while ours is vertical. Anyway, after I lost my Pete I really started searching for answers. I am a research hound. In the way that the Weston A Price Foundation takes us back to eating the way our ancestors did for our good health, we need to look at how dogs have always eaten and feed them that way as well. “Dog food” is a new invention which would take too much time to tell and would make you sick to know it just as exposes on the food industry and what they do to our food makes you sick. I came across what is called the BARF diet for dogs. Bones And Raw Food. NOT cooked bones which splinter. Raw chicken bones can be cut with scissors. They are soft and don’t splinter. It’s not as easy or as cheap as poor dogfood, but Chef Boy-sr-dee is cheap too! And who wants to call that food and eat it!

    Love your site

  2. Katherine Clemons January 21, 2012 at 2:09 pm #
    Here is the Jewish recipe for the chicken skins, called gribenes.

  3. Amy October 11, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

    So, I just made my first nourishing stock. It was easier than I thought, but I made a realization. I am not a “pick through the cooked debris for the leftover chicken” kind of girl…..I did it, and only rendered about 1/2- 3/4 cup. I am sure there more, especially around the neck, but I couldn;t handle it. That said, I am proud of myself for making it and not gagging, and either way (picking or not), I still saved a LOT of money!! Thanks for the tips!!

  4. Lynn October 18, 2010 at 5:45 am #

    I also keep chicken grease in the freezer and make sure I use the oldest up first. One of my favorite ways to use it up is in desserts, in place of oil. Of course, the dessert must not be left sitting out of the refrigerator, but that’s no problem. . . and absolutely NOBODY can tell that the dessert has chicken grease in it!! Great way to save $.

  5. Cath September 6, 2009 at 4:31 am #

    You can also use the feet! (If you cull your own, of course). Most people I know think this is gross but if you’re trying to make the most out of a bird…..I’ve read that the feet are high in gelatine or something which is great for our bones/joints. To prepare, clean the outside, stick them in boiling water for 30 seconds. Take them out and the nails and scales fall off like a glove. THROW OUT THE WATER! :) You are left with clean feet which you can add to your carcass for making stock. It doesn’t add much in terms of flavour but it does produce a naturally thicker consistency stock. For fun I once casserolled some feet in honey and soy sauce. An interesting texture, I must say!

  6. Stephanie June 3, 2009 at 7:09 am #

    We are going to be processing 200 farm-raised chickens on Saturday. If your chicken has been range fed, you will notice a difference in that the fat is more yellow and doesn’t harden like wax when it is refrigerated. It stays soft and means that it is very low in saturated fat, is much more healthful and can even help lower cholesterol. Free-range chicken eggs that have dark yellow yolks are the same, and so is yellow butter from pastured cattle. Please note that just because a chicken is labeled “organic” at the store doesn’t make it healthful. It means they were fed more expensive “organic” feed, but were likely raised as most chickens are, in confinement, and were commercially processed.

  7. Dana June 2, 2009 at 5:43 pm #

    i actually grew up calling them chicharones (mexican grandma) guess i just assumed chitlins was the english word for it. :)

  8. Melody Joy June 2, 2009 at 3:59 pm #

    A note on the broth/stock. If you put about a tablespoon or two of vinegar in the stock pot with the chicken, it will draw more of the marrow out into the broth. Also you can throw some veggies and garlic in for the whole time it is simmering, and that adds some nice flavor, too.

    We make stock once a month or so, and use the broth when making soups, sauces, and our rice. We make up a big pot of soup whenever one of us gets sick, and it chases sickness out pretty quickly (of course, we also put lots of garlic in it, and garlic is a pretty powerful antibiotic).

    Basically, I take 4 or 5 cloves of garlic, a small onion, a few stalks of celery, and a few carrots, along with a whole (raw) chicken. I add 1-2 T of vinegar, and let that simmer for a day. In the last hour or so, I sometimes add some freshly chopped parsley. Then we strain it, keep some for soup, and freeze a few pints of it right away.

    It’s a real life-saver when we’re sick (which, the more we adjust our foods to be more natural, the less often we are), and it is great to have on hand for white sauces and such.

  9. Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship June 1, 2009 at 3:25 pm #

    I hope I’m not being a nuisance with 3 comments in a row! Just wanted to let people know that the cracklin’s (?) worked with roasted chicken skin. I cooked the chicken first, then fried up the skin. Pretty tasty – but your house smells like a fast food joint! Cheers!

  10. Dana June 1, 2009 at 11:02 am #

    oh how wonderful! i grew up eating pork skin chitlins and since we don’t eat pork anymore, i was a little sad. but now i can make them with chicken, hooray! i’ve been so wastful when i think of how many chicken carcuses i have thrown out instead of using it to make broth, especially since i use chicken broth for everything. now i don’t have to feel bad paying the extra money for free range chicken because i will be saving money by not having to buy free range chicken broth! thanks! :)

  11. Nancy June 1, 2009 at 3:24 am #

    Kaate yes, if you pull the skin off before roasting it will be dry.
    And of course you can pull the skin off after it is roasted.
    regarding eating chitlins, cracklins or CHICKLINS :) , I rather not swallow any, and yes I use to break the necks of chicken on the farm dip them in the black kettle of boiling water and pluck the feathers off for my mom to fry for Sunday dinner. Best Chicken every she just fry up the hearts,gizzards and we would fight over them. (7 Kids)
    But people are healthier back then than now, I sure it healthier than all the fried “JUNK foods we buy, chips etc
    It would seem to me that Chicken grease would fall under those unhealthly categories of “bad” oil.That is one reason that people tricyerides are so dangerously elevated. Thought the taste might be wonderful and of course all those southern foods are delicious but look at the statistics. FAT is not all good! Advice, use the good FATs and OILS. Moderation is also the key. Though my Parents are pushing 88 and 91 they use the bad oils all their lives and grew up on the naturally organic stuff they grew and raised until their later years so what can anyone really say?

  12. Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship May 31, 2009 at 5:51 pm #

    One more thought: If you want to eat organ meats (liver, etc) they should be only from organic animals…

  13. annie May 31, 2009 at 4:10 pm #

    I agree, those sound like cracklins. I thought all that chicken yumminess was called “schmaltz”, but when I looked it up, it appears that the rendered chicken fat is the schmaltz and the crispy bits are gribenes (yiddish).

  14. Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship May 30, 2009 at 6:57 pm #

    I have a chicken in the fridge for tomorrow; I can’t believe how timely this post is! I’m going to roast the chicken first…do you know if I can pull the skin off once cooked? I wonder if it would still be good to skin the chicken and then roast it, or if it would be dry. ??

    I have to chime in on the chicken broth, too. Vinegar draws the minerals out of the bones – such an easy, healthy step! See full details here:

  15. Sherri M May 30, 2009 at 6:55 pm #

    On feeding the cooked chicken bones to your dog…IF they are soft enough for you to squeeze & mash them with tongs or fingers (which does happen after cooking for 24 hours)then yes, you can feed them to your dog without any fear of splintering. However, with that said, if the bones have been cooked a long time with the intention of getting all the minerals out of them, then what nutrition is actually left for the dog? I speak from personal experience on this one….we had been feeding our newly acquired dog raw chicken (which is just fine and they love it). After preparing chicken stock and had all these bones left over, I decided to give them to the dog. I believe the lack of nutrition lowered her immunity enough that she succumbed to a disease (Parvo) and died within a few days. Sorry for the sad story…but I haven’t yet found a use for the cooked bones. Even my compost book says not to do that since it attracts other wild animals. Anyone have a use for the bones???

    • Kate June 1, 2009 at 10:05 am #

      Parvo can be picked up in the pound or where ever you got the dog. I feed our dog dog food, and as a treat cooked chicken, NO bones.

  16. Sonja May 30, 2009 at 5:35 am #

    We use do fight over the heart and gizzard as kids but never the skin. Guess it is all what you grow up with. You can also roast the bones for a half hour or so before you boil them for more color and flavor. Thanks for the tips, Lindsay.

  17. ruthee May 30, 2009 at 4:55 am #

    You can also use the rendered fat (from any animal) to make soap. Sounds gross, I know but it is another frugal approach. We keep cans in the freezer – separate ones for beef fat, chicken fat and bacon fat. One large can of beef fat provided 12 bars of soap.

    I also use the rendered/saved fat for crockpot recipes for a bit of moisture.

  18. Jessica May 30, 2009 at 4:48 am #

    I love being frugal… with that said… couldn’t do it. Gross, no way!
    I live in Eastern Europe and there are A LOT of butchers here. They usually have whole skinned lambs hanging from the ceiling by their rear legs. It took me just one month of living here before my husband had to start buying the meat. I can’t do it.

  19. Kim May 29, 2009 at 10:20 pm #

    Ok…glad to see I am not alone in thinking that chitlins are pig intestines. But it did get me to wondering so I googled it & wouldn’t ya know – there’s lots to be learned about the matter. There is even a history of chitlins. You can read about it here

  20. Vehement Flame May 29, 2009 at 5:41 pm #

    what a great post! Peter Rihenart has a recipe in his Bread Bakers Apprentice for cornbred- It is THE BEST CORNBREAD!!!! He uses a pre soak and whole corn and FRIED TURKEY SKINS to top it off- the whole recipe cracks me up b/c he talks about how much he loves the crispy skin of the bird…. My son would get along with him great- he will anyone’s chicken skin:)

  21. b. May 29, 2009 at 1:36 pm #

    Yeah…that sounds more like “cracklin” to me. But hey…sounds like you have a good thing going no matter what the name! My mom used to boil chicken legs with mere salt and pepper when she was in a hurry and needed something to eat after working late. The chicken was mighty pale but it was good!

  22. Jenny May 29, 2009 at 12:09 pm #

    I googled it and the only chitlins I could find are pig intestines, I even typed in chicken chitlins…I think what you are referring to are Fried Chicken Skins, sort of like pork rinds. Many families gives their own names to things. My grandma used to call cottage cheese hoppy cheese, no one ever knew why…

  23. Kristen May 29, 2009 at 11:29 am #

    Yup, Chitlins are fried pig intestines in the South. I couldn’t believe I was reading about Chitlins on Passionate Homekaing. *wink*
    Then I realized it must have a different meaning in the North West.

  24. Audrey May 29, 2009 at 11:25 am #

    I actually posted an in-detail “recipe” (more of a guideline, haha) for chicken stock here.

  25. Meggan May 29, 2009 at 9:08 am #

    Well, no one would know the organs are in the soup but ME! I know they may have the nutrients, but I just don’t think I could do it psychologically!

    • Helen May 29, 2009 at 11:32 am #

      I’m also from the south and agree with the comments on chitlins being the intestines. ‘Round here, the crispy bits of skin are referred to as “cracklins”…

      • Mrs. Paradis May 30, 2009 at 3:49 pm #

        I live in the north and we call the chitlins the intestines and the skin I don’t know about chicken but we call cracklins the pig skin cut up into little squares and you keep them in the freezer and then when you want some you put them in some hot oil and they kinda turn out like homemade pork rinds but taste so much better than the store kind.Oh don’t forget to sprinkle them with salt when done cooking them too.When you put them in the hot oil they puff out really big!

  26. Becky May 29, 2009 at 5:59 am #

    And don’t forget the vinegar for broth. ;) Interesting on the chitlins. I’ve never heard of eating the crispy skin. I’m scared yet eager to give it a try. Thanks for the great frugal idea, Samara (and Lindsay)! Hey, Lindsay… any new pix of the baby boy? I’d love to see how he’s changed. Take care.

  27. Jacqualine May 29, 2009 at 5:34 am #

    I LOVED reading this post. I have always wanted to buy whole chickens, but do to the waste I never have. Now I can confidently go get my chickens and know that I am being a good steward!! Thanks for the post…

  28. Jennifer May 29, 2009 at 4:47 am #

    I live in the south and we consider chitlins to be the fried intestines of a pig. UGH – no thank you!

    • Kate May 29, 2009 at 11:47 am #

      Up North too! I had to ask a few of my friends.. to make sure there wasn’t another chitlins! They are were like no. I’m going on Facebook and doing a survey to see what people call chicken skin lol.

      • Samara Root May 30, 2009 at 7:03 pm #

        hehehe…sorry guys, I just called it what my Grandma called it! Let me know if you find another name!

  29. Sarah May 29, 2009 at 4:28 am #

    My mom always simmered the organs separately and then chopped them up and added them to gravy…we loved them that way! And, as an added benefit, we all ate them from the time we were tiny. No “ewwww! I’m eating what?!!!” was heard in our house!! LOL

  30. [email protected] May 29, 2009 at 3:15 am #

    I just rendered lard for the first time this past week… now I know how to render chicken fat, too! Thanks! I’ll have to give those chitlins a try… I’m sure my southern raised DH will be pleased!

  31. Kate May 29, 2009 at 1:07 am #

    Chitlin’s are the intestines of the pig. I never heard it called the skin of the chicken.

    You can make stock instead of broth, by adding veggies to the chicken in the pot.

  32. Annalea May 28, 2009 at 9:17 pm #

    Organs are where most of the nutrients hide, but as it’s culturally unpopular, I’ve found it hard to ever eat any of them. That soup idea is great!

  33. Julie May 28, 2009 at 6:38 pm #

    I thought chitlins were pig intestines…hmmm…

    • Cortney June 2, 2009 at 4:40 am #

      Pig intestines are spelled chitterlings, but are pronounced as “chitlins”. However, this is my first time hearing of chitlins. I hope this helps.