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Americans love chicken—there’s no denying it. According to the USDA, consumption started climbing in the 1940s, finally overtaking pork as the second most consumed meat in 1996. How much are we talking? In the 1970s, per capita poultry consumption in the U.S. was about 40 pounds. In 2021, it’s estimated to be about 98 pounds per person, according to the National Chicken Council. Availability is better than ever, too. Not only can you find chicken in grocery stores everywhere (or at your local farmers’ markets or butcher), but in this modern era, there’s another place to turn: the Internet.
We’ve compiled some of our favorite places to order quality chicken online, so you can save that grocery trip for another day.
Best Overall: Rastelli’s
Rastelli’s, once a singular small butcher shop turned chain of butcher shops turned online retailer, has a lot to offer. According to the website, its chickens, which are certified antibiotic-, steroid-, and hormone-free, come from a small organic farming collective in the Shenandoah Valley, where they are able to roam throughout the pastures, forage, and are fed an all-vegetarian, GMO-free blend of corn and soybean meal.
They are certified by the Global Animal Partnership, and “each chicken is traceable to the farm where it was raised, creating a bridge between farm and consumer.” In addition to whole chickens, you can purchase various parts (breasts, strips, thighs, wings, drumsticks, ground), and even partially prepared components to make your life even more convenient, like Bacon and Cheddar Stuffed and Breaded Chicken Breasts.
Best Heritage: D’Artagnan
You can tell that D’Artagnan takes chicken seriously, as there are 41 items available when you search the “poultry” section of the website. Not only does D’Artagnan sell individual chicken parts (breasts, thighs, drumsticks, sausage, wings, and more), but you can also find comprehensive Heritage (certified humane, air-chilled, and vegetable-fed), Green Circle (certified humane, air-chilled, vegetable-fed), or Organic (and free-range) chicken bundles (titled “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner”) that include several different chicken parts and a whole chicken.
There are even some meal kit-esque options like a Coq Au Vin bundle, which not only includes a whole chicken, but also gives you a recipe and other key ingredients like pancetta, mushrooms, and demi-glace, so you are set up for kitchen success.
Best Subscription: ButcherBox
Meal kits are all the rage—you truly can’t beat the convenience—so if you take proteins seriously, why not subscribe to a protein-centric kit? ButcherBox is the perfect meal kit for those who appreciate high-quality protein, like free-range organic chicken, delivered right to your door. An added bonus? Shipping is free! And while it is a subscription service, the website claims you can cancel at any time (so you’re not locked into it permanently), and you can select the frequency depending on your lifestyle and cooking needs.
Choose from four “curated boxes,” or you can customize your own box (if, for example, you only want chicken). Speaking of chicken, its free-range organic chicken is USDA certified organic (with certified organic feed), never given antibiotics or added hormones, humanely raised, and Global Animal Partnership (GAP 3) certified.
Best Heirloom: Cooks Venture
If you’re seriously into chicken, this box is for you. Three of the four available boxes offer chicken: one bundled with beef, one with either four or six whole chickens (better make room in that freezer!), and one with select chicken parts (including chicken breasts, thighs, drumsticks, a 3-pound spatchcock chicken, and two half chickens).
Cooks Venture holds itself to high standards when it comes to its animals: The special heirloom breed is raised without antibiotics, they’re able to roam and forage on a pasture, and they’re fed non-GMO Project Verified feed. The chicken is also air-chilled, leading to crispier skin and flavorful meat.
Best Bundles: Crowd Cow
Don’t let the company name fool you—Crowd Cow offers a wide variety of chicken products, all shipped right to your door. From whole chickens and seasoned spatchcocked whole chickens to chicken tenders and pasture-raised chicken thighs, Crowd Cow offers every cut you could possibly want. It also sells a variety of creative bundles and family packs, like a “Chick Me Out” (which includes a pasture-raised whole chicken, breasts, thighs, and drumsticks) or a “Dark Meat Lover Pack” (which includes pasture-raised whole chicken, thighs, and drumsticks).
Best for Gifting: Harry & David
Harry & David is known for its stellar giftable goodies—baskets filled to the brim with assorted crackers, gourmet fruits, elegant chocolates, and much more—but it also offers a few choice meats, one of which is chicken. You can purchase two whole Rastelli’s chickens, which are USDA-certified organic and free of hormones, steroids, and antibiotics. Additionally, if you’re a chicken pot pie fan, Harry & David offers a whole chicken pot pie meal (which conveniently comes with sides and dessert!).
Best Chicken Sandwich: Williams Sonoma
There are few things better than a fried chicken sandwich, so we recommend checking out Williams Sonoma’s Organic Coup Fried Chicken Sandwich Kit, which has everything you need to recreate the famous sandwich of San Francisco’s Organic Coup, “the country's first USDA-certified organic fast-food restaurant.” The chicken is air-chilled, organic, and cooked in organic refined coconut oil.
This is a “heat and eat” situation, so no need to bring the deep fryer out and make a mess. In addition to the prepared chicken, you’ll receive brioche buns, BBQ ranch sauce, mustard vinaigrette, red wine vinegar, and the recipe for Organic Coup Signature Slaw. Whether you are treating yourself or gifting this to a fried chicken-loving friend or family member, you can’t go wrong.
Best for Registry: Williams Sonoma Butcher Counter Organic Chicken Box
Williams Sonoma is a popular registry choice for newlyweds, thanks to an abundance of quality cookware and other household items perfect for a couple transitioning into a new kitchen together. So why not add Williams Sonoma’s top-tier protein boxes to that registry? The online retailer offers quite a variety of protein boxes for those who want just chicken or other meats, as well. These boxes contain organic Bell & Evans chickens, which are humanely raised, free-range, 100 percent air-chilled, and are fed a diet of organic grains.
You’ll receive one whole chicken, skinless breasts, skinless thighs, and skin-on thighs—all certified organic. If organic isn’t your thing, Williams Sonoma also sells a similar box that’s not organic but offers the same proteins at a lower price point.
Overall, if you’re looking to order chicken online, Rastelli’s is a great “a la carte” option. The chicken is antibiotic-, steroid-, and hormone-free, and in addition to whole birds, you can buy various parts and even some semi-prepared options. If you’re looking for a larger quantity that’s already bundled together, look no further than D’Artagnan, which not only offers “a la carte” chicken parts but also offers some larger bundles so you can buy in bulk.
What do you look for when buying chicken online?
This is a big one. Some companies offer free shipping, while some require a minimum spend before you hit free or discounted shipping. Compare shipping fees and check how much you have in your cart; if you’re only a few dollars away from free shipping, it may not hurt to add an extra item!
This is a personal choice. Check the description on the website to see what certifications the chicken has. Note that you’ll likely have to pay more for organic chicken products than non-organic.
Many of the bundled chicken options involve multiple whole chickens and several different parts. Assuming you’re not planning on cooking everything upon arrival, make sure you’re prepared with enough freezer space at the ready! Plan ahead and clear out some room in your kitchen freezer (not a bad idea to rummage through there every so often to remind yourself of what’s hiding!), or consider investing in a freezer chest (for your basement or garage, if room allows) if you are an avid freezer-user.
What is free range chicken?
According to the Humane Society, “free range” implies that a bird must have outdoor access at least six hours per day and that each has at least 2 feet of outdoor space. This is different from pasture-raised, which means that a bird is on a pasture (that is “covered with living vegetation”) for at least six hours per day and that each has a minimum of 108 feet of pasture space.
What is organic chicken?
For chicken to be certified “USDA Organic,” it must follow specific standards set by the USDA. This includes being fed organic feed, not being given hormones or unnecessary antibiotics, and being “raised in living conditions accommodating their natural behaviors,” according to the ASPCA.
What does certified humane chicken mean?
According to the Certified Humane organization, “The Certified Humane® Raised and Handled® label on meat, chicken, pork, eggs, pet food or dairy products means that the food comes from farms where Humane Farm Animal Care’s precise, objective standards for the humane treatment of farm animals are implemented.” When it comes to chicken, this involves “compliance with scientific standards,” “freedom of movement,” “continuous access to nutritious feed,” “shelter with shade and protection,” “perches for roosting,” and “competency in handling.”
How long is frozen chicken good for?
Good news—if you keep your chicken frozen continuously, it should be safe indefinitely, according to the USDA. However, to get the best quality out of your chicken purchase, you won’t want to wait that long. The USDA recommends the following: for optimal taste and texture, your best bet is to only keep a whole raw chicken frozen for up to 1 year. For raw chicken parts, limit the freezer vacation to 9 months, and for raw giblets or ground chicken, use them up by 3-4 months. When it comes to cooked chicken, limit the freezer stay to 4 months. For cooked chicken-containing casseroles or other mixed dishes involving a broth or gravy, you will want to defrost and eat before 6 months. For chicken patties or nuggets, give them 1-3 months tops.
How do you thaw frozen chicken?
Food safety is key here; according to the USDA, when a food is thawing and becomes warmer than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, bacteria that may have been present before freezing can multiply. You do not want to thaw anything that’s perishable on the counter or in hot water for more than two hours, the USDA advises. Instead, it recommends three safe ways to thaw, and points out that it is also safe to cook directly from frozen (just don’t forget that your cook time will be about 50 percent longer than the recommended cook time):
- In the refrigerator: This is the easiest option when you have the time.
- In cold water: This is faster but requires more hands-on attention, and the chicken must be in a well-sealed, leak-proof wrapping. You should fully submerge your wrapped chicken in cold tap water, and then set an alarm to change the water every 30 minutes until it is thawed.
- In the microwave: This is a fast and easy method too, but you’ll want to make sure you cook the chicken right away once it’s thawed, so as to prevent the chicken from being in the “danger zone.”
How long does chicken last in the refrigerator?
According to the FDA, you only want to keep fresh chicken (whole, parts, or giblets) for 1-2 days. Leftover cooked chicken can last 3-4 days in the fridge.
The Spruce Eats writer Alyssa Langer is a registered dietitian and foodie, always curious about the next food or ingredient craze and hungry to learn and try more. Having worked in cookbook publishing, CPG label data, nutrition writing, and meal kits, her diverse background and varied interests provide a unique perspective that fosters clear, well-researched, and trustworthy reviews. She enjoys eating chicken (especially chicken Parmesan) and ordering meal kits, so this topic hits close to him.