Get to Know Your Chickens
Broilers: Chickens 6 to 8 weeks old and weighing about 2 1/2 pounds
Fryers: Chickens 6 to 8 weeks old and weighing 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 pounds
Roasters: Chickens less than 8 months old and weighing 3 1/2 to 5 pounds
Stewing Chickens: Chickens (usually hens) over 10 months old and weighing 5 to 7 pounds
Capons: Castrated males that weigh 6 to 8 pounds
Cock/Rooster: Male chickens over 10 months old weighing 6 to 8 pounds
Broilers, Fryers & Roasters
Broilers, fryers, and roasters can generally be used interchangeably based on how much meat you think you’ll need. They are young chickens raised only for their meat, so they are fine to use for any preparation from poaching to roasting. You may need to adjust cooking times or amounts of other ingredients (like stuffing) based on what the recipe called for and the size of your chicken.
Stewing chickens are usually laying hens that have passed their prime. They are older and their meat is usually tougher and more stringy. This type of chicken is best used in stews (as the name implies!) where the meat has time to break down during the long, moist cooking.
Since they’ve been castrated, capons don’t develop in the normal way of a hormone-crazy chicken teenager. They grow more slowly and put on more body fat. Because of this, their meat is more tender and flavorful than that of any other chicken of the same weight. Capons are great for roasting but can also be used for braises and poaching.
Cocks & Roosters
Roosters are tough old birds with low body fat and lean, ropey muscles. They’re rarely found in chain grocery stores, but can be found in specialty markets and many Asian markets. Like stewing chickens, roosters are best used in slow cooked stews and braises, like the traditional Coq au Vin.
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