Why Ina Garten Suggests You Always Choose The Smallest Chicken

A big roast chicken makes for a beautiful centerpiece to any feast. Presented across all cultures, this versatile dish can be jazzed up to your liking with different brining techniques or seasoning mixes — and let's not forget the different ways you can serve it. From stuffed and trussed, to spatchcocked or broken down in pieces, preparing a whole chicken in itself is quite an accomplishment. In fact, it comes with a lot of perks. According to Epicurious, not only is buying a whole chicken actually cheaper than purchasing its pieces, but you get hands-on experience on how to break it down yourself — which is crucial kitchen knowledge — and you can save the carcass to make your own homemade stock.

Overall, a big bird makes a statement at any dinner table. However, while it's often assumed that the bigger the bird, the better, Food Network star Ina Garten begs to differ.

The smaller the chicken, the more flavorful

When strolling the supermarket, oftentimes our eyes gravitate towards the larger cuts of meat. While the mentality of having more is appealing, when it comes to whole chickens, the Barefoot Contessa confesses that smaller birds are best. According to Food & Wine, Garten states that this piece of wisdom came with time, as in her earlier years of cooking, she found that larger birds didn't roast quite as easily. Ina suggests purchasing a whole bird that is no more than 5 pounds will do wonders. The smaller the bird, the more flavorful it is. And if you're feeding a larger crowd, simply purchase more than one small whole chicken.

In her recipe for her Engagement Roast Chicken, Garten calls for a 4 to 5 pound whole chicken, which she cooks to perfection. Other phenomenal chicken recipes by Garten that call for small chickens include her Skillet Roasted Lemon Chicken and her Roast Chicken with Bread and Arugula Salad.