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The Best Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker Recipe

This recipe was originally published in February 2011. I just updated the photos and added some recipe notes based on the many comments and questions I have received over the last few years. This recipe is a family favorite of ours and I hope you’ll enjoy it if you try it!

Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker from TheLittleKitchen.net

My friend piqued my curiosity when she told me about her co-worker bringing in a slow cooker to work with just a whole chicken and slow cooking it for an entire day. She often brought her slow cooker in with some kind of concoction so she could bring dinner over to her friend’s house who was going through chemotherapy treatment. What a great friend, I’m sure her friend appreciated it. My friend told me their office often smelled really good during these days.

(Original photo this recipe was posted with in February 2011)

So when I was on the hunt for a chicken slow cooker recipe, I googled and found this one. It’s incredibly simple and the chicken goes into the crockpot in minutes. I added my own twist to it and guess what? The chicken is wonderfully moist and it’s very simple. After the chicken is done, you can throw it in your broiler to crisp up the skin. Carving the chicken is so easy because it just wants to fall apart. The breast comes right off the bone and is very easy to cut up. The chicken is really tender and flavorful and much easier than roasting a chicken in the oven.

I use a 3.5 to 4.5 pound chicken and it fits just fine in my slow cooker. I added the carrots and vegetables and the chicken rests nicely on them. Also, I added garlic and lemon. My favorite roast chicken recipe calls for garlic and lemon inside the chicken so I do the same when I make it in the crockpot.

This makes a wonderfully easy meal you can serve with mashed potatoes or rice and your favorite vegetable alongside the carrots and celery if you wish. And  I make chicken pot pies with the leftover chicken.

Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker from TheLittleKitchen.net

Updated: I recently did a lemon pepper version of this recipe & put together a video just to show you how easy it is to put together!

Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker from TheLittleKitchen.net

I put the vegetables in the slow cooker first. Then, prep the chicken.

Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker from TheLittleKitchen.net

Rinse the chicken with water and wipe it dry with a clean paper towel. Rub the outside of the chicken with garlic and place the garlic inside. Fold the wings back below the chicken.

Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker from TheLittleKitchen.net

Add the rub to the outside and inside of the chicken. And place the lemon quarters inside. I try to put the insides of the lemons up against the insides of the chicken, see how the outsides of the lemon quarters are touching?

Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker from TheLittleKitchen.net

Tie the chicken legs together with kitchen twine.

Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker from TheLittleKitchen.net

Place the chicken on top of the vegetables. This creates the best cooking situation for the chicken. Cooking a whole chicken inside of the slow cooker creates a lot of broth and resting the chicken on top of veggies keeps the chicken from failing apart too much.

I use turkey lifters to remove the chicken from the crockpot carefully. Place chicken in an oven safe dish or roasting pan & in the broiler for just about 4-5 minutes.

Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker from TheLittleKitchen.net

But it’s inevitable, the chicken does fall apart a little bit. The meat is so moist and tender and it’s honestly, the only way we make a roast chicken these days!

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Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker Recipe

Yield: 6 servings

Prep Time: 10 min

Cook Time: 8 hours

Total Time: 8 hours 10 min

It's incredibly simple and the chicken goes into the crockpot in minutes.

Ingredients:

Rub Ingredients for the Chicken

  • 4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

For the Crockpot

  • 1 cup chopped onion, approx 1 medium to large onion
  • 4 to 5 carrots, scrubbed, no need to peel, chopped in halves or thirds
  • 4 celery stalks, cut in thirds
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 whole lemon quartered
  • 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 lbs roasting or fryer chicken

Directions:

  1. Combine rub ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Prep the vegetables and place inside the slow cooker (I use a 7 quart oval one like this one.
  2. Remove chicken from packaging and remove neck and pouch with organs. Discard or reserve for later use in another recipe. Rinse chicken with water and pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Rub garlic all over outside of the chicken. Put garlic inside the chicken. Put the rub all over the outside and inside the chicken. Add quartered lemon to the inside of the chicken.
  4. Place chicken on top of the vegetables. Cover slow cooker and cook chicken on low for 4-8 hours. (When I used a 4 lb chicken, it took about 6 hours. The time will depend on the size of the chicken and your slow cooker.) Cook until the internal temperature of the leg is at 160 degrees F or use a pop-up thermometer as the original recipe calls for.
  5. Remove chicken and place in a 9x13 glass or ceramic baking dish. Place baking dish in the oven under the broiler for about 4-5 minutes. Allow chicken to rest after removing it from the broiler for 5-10 minutes.

Frequently asked questions:

Do I need to add water to the crockpot?
Nope no water needed. This recipe actually makes broth while it's cooking the chicken. You can strain it and use it for a later recipe if you want!

How do I get the skin crispy?
After it's done in the crockpot, see the instructions in the recipe to crisp up the skin in your oven broiler.

Can I cook this recipe skinless?
I have never tried it but I have seen other bloggers post a recipe where they did it. If you want to, definitely try it! I can't guarantee it will turn out the same as with the skin (moist and tender) since I haven't tried it myself.

Can I make this recipe with a frozen chicken?
Can you believe I haven't tried this yet? I usually buy whole chickens fresh at the grocery store the day before I make this recipe. I would think you can use a frozen chicken but it will take longer in the slow cooker. I would say if you know you're going to make this recipe in advance then move the chicken from the freezer to the refrigerator so it can defrost for a couple of days but be sure to put it on a plate in case there's condensation or water accumulates.

Modified and adapted from food.com.


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I have made this recipe so many times now that I can’t even count. It seriously is the best recipe for making a whole chicken in a crockpot! I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to blog about it. Be sure to check out next week what I do with the leftovers!

kitchen supplies for whole chicken in a slow cooker

Crock-Pot 7 Quart Slow Cooker Glass Prep Bowls Anchor Hocking glass baking dish Turkey Lifters OXO Fat Separator Italian Bakers Carving Knives Image Map

Tools I use for this recipe:

  • Crock-Pot 7 Quart Slow Cooker - We use our slow cooker at least a few times a month if not more. It’s easy to use and I have had one that doesn’t have bells and whistles forever and it works just fine.
  • OXO Fat Separator – Super easy and super durable, get rid of the fat from the chicken juices so you can make a sauce or use it as a broth.
  • Italian Bakers -I love these baking dishes for this recipe and for making scalloped potatoes!
  • Turkey Lifters – I have a similar set I bought years ago that we use every Thanksgiving and every time I make this recipe. The best way to remove the entire chicken out of the slow cooker in one piece. (Amazon | Sur la Table)
  • Anchor Hocking glass baking dish – We have a cobalt blue one that we have had forever. It’s great for this recipe, potatoes. You can never have too many baking dishes because of holiday baking!
  • Carving Knives – We have had a similar set for years now and love it. Love this brand, we have cheese knives from them that are amazing too! (Amazon | Williams-Sonoma)
  • Glass Prep Bowls – These were given as a gift to us from my in-laws and I use them EVERY DAY. So convenient for prepping meals and we use them as storage in the refrigerator too!

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post – that means if you click on the link and make a purchase, I make enough for a cup of coffee or two. Thanks!

419 Responses to “The Best Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker Recipe”

  1. 241
    Riquel — June 29, 2014 @ 8:32 pm

    I’ve made this chicken at least 4-5 times already. First I cooked it with the vegetables and wasn’t crazy about it. So since then I only cook the chicken. Best recipe ever! The chicken is so juicy once it’s ready to eat. The flavoring is so tasty! I add more lemon than normal and it’s amazing!!!

    [Reply]

  2. 242
    Sharon — June 30, 2014 @ 9:05 pm

    Savory perfection at its best. I added mushrooms, and other than that if I wasn’t so full, I’d have another helping. The lemon infused chicken parts were so tasty! Included a side of rice and sautéed kale for a balanced meal. Definitely a keeper. Thanks!

    [Reply]

  3. 243
    Elaine stewart — June 30, 2014 @ 9:56 pm

    Delicious. Making it again tommorrow for second time.

    [Reply]

  4. 244
    Megan — July 8, 2014 @ 11:11 pm

    Loved the rub recipe – I used the stock left in the crockpot to make a gravy. The spices gave the gravy great flavor! I used this recipe as a base http://www.rachaelray.com/recipe.php?recipe_id=3061, but didn’t add the spices because the stock was already flavored.

    [Reply]

  5. 245
    Alex — July 23, 2014 @ 11:45 am

    Whole chicken cooks great with slow cookers. Keeps the chicken moist. Looks great!

    [Reply]

  6. 246
    Rebecca — July 29, 2014 @ 12:05 am

    Is this on high or low for 8 hours? I assume low…I am new at this.
    Thanks!

    [Reply]

    • Julie Deily replied: August 7th, 2014 @ 8:59 pm

      Yep, in the instructions it says “Cover slow cooker and cook chicken on low for 4-8 hours.” Hope you enjoy it if you make it!

      [Reply]

  7. 247
    Nancy — August 7, 2014 @ 8:52 pm

    Best. Chicken. Ever!

    [Reply]

    • Julie Deily replied: August 7th, 2014 @ 8:59 pm

      Ahhh, Nancy, thanks so much!!!! :)

      [Reply]

  8. 248
    Peter Carton — August 11, 2014 @ 3:07 pm

    Tried it in new slow cooker. Unfortunately no lemons but everything else as your recipe.
    Did it for 1 hour high then about 6 hours low.
    Couldn’t believe how delicious it was and it fell off the bone as it was being lifted out !
    Will definitely do it again. Thank you very much !

    [Reply]

    • Julie Deily replied: September 16th, 2014 @ 11:34 am

      Yay, that’s awesome, Peter!! :)

      [Reply]

  9. 249
    Jessica — August 21, 2014 @ 9:46 pm

    is the broiler on high or low? I have the chicken in the crockpot now smells amazing!

    [Reply]

    • Julie Deily replied: September 16th, 2014 @ 11:35 am

      Jessica, I’m sorry I missed your question. I put it on the highest my oven goes, when I hit broil, it says 550 degrees F. Hope it turned out awesome! :)

      [Reply]

  10. Pingback: Slow Cooker Whole Chicken in Crock Pot Recipe — Best Recipe Box

  11. 250
    Samantha — September 14, 2014 @ 10:22 am

    Will the whole chicken still be moist and fall off the bone like if I have carrots, celery and potatoes under the chicken? This is my first time doing a whole chicken in the crock pot and I want to do it right!

    [Reply]

    • Julie Deily replied: September 16th, 2014 @ 11:32 am

      Hi Samantha, that’s how I cook, so yes! I have done potatoes too! Good luck and let me know how it goes! :)

      [Reply]

  12. 251
    Clarissa — September 16, 2014 @ 1:23 am

    I love that this is meal is a one crock”pot” meal. I’m cooking this tomorrow night for dinner. It is still in the 100′s here and i’ve been craving roasted chicken but haven’t wanted to go near the oven so I am so excited I found this recipe! My only question is do the veggies get soggy? Would it be better to put the chicken on a rack in the crock pot and add the veggies part way through? Can’t wait for diner tomorrow :)

    [Reply]

    • Julie Deily replied: September 16th, 2014 @ 11:34 am

      Hi Clarissa,

      The veggies do get soggy but I don’t mind it that much. The veggies are important for flavor and to keep the chicken higher than it’s juices so it stays intact. I have always done it that way. You can always make veggies on the side outside of the crockpot. Hope it goes well, please report back! :)

      [Reply]

    • Heather replied: September 22nd, 2014 @ 12:14 pm

      To elevate the chicken, I use rolled up balls of foil to make a platform.

      [Reply]

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  14. 252
    Heather — September 23, 2014 @ 3:34 pm

    It had a bland taste. It was o.k. I wanted to be able to have slices of chicken for dinner to serve gravy over but when I went to lift it out of the crockpot it just fell apart.

    [Reply]

    • Julie Deily replied: September 23rd, 2014 @ 6:55 pm

      Hi Heather,

      That’s definitely a risk — it falling apart depending how long you have it in the crockpot, how long did you cook it for? I’m sorry you think it’s bland! I think it tastes great and from the many comments, many here do too. Did you adjust the salt or any of the herbs and spices at all?

      [Reply]

      • Heather replied: September 23rd, 2014 @ 7:01 pm

        I cooked it for 3 hours and it was a 5 1/2 lb chicken. Only thing I did different with the spices was add some rosemary and thyme. It was very dry, which was weird with all the juices it was sitting in. Even the dark meat was dry. We picked at it but mainly ate the sides.

        [Reply]

        • Julie Deily replied: September 23rd, 2014 @ 7:17 pm

          Hi again, Heather,

          Do you mean you only used rosemary and thyme? Because thyme is in the original ingredient list here. I’m not sure what happened, again so sorry and feel free to send me an email so we can troubleshoot further.

          Thanks!
          Julie

        • Heather replied: September 23rd, 2014 @ 7:35 pm

          I added rosemary and extra thyme along with the other listed spices.

  15. 253
    dawn b — September 28, 2014 @ 6:40 pm

    Hi I don’t have an oval crock pot, but a round one instead. Will that be a sufficient shape for the chicken?

    [Reply]

    • Julie Deily replied: September 28th, 2014 @ 6:46 pm

      Hi Dawn,

      I would think it would work just fine as long as the chicken you use fits nicely in there…not too tight as you can see from my step by step photos above. Hope that helps!

      [Reply]

  16. 254
    Ayanna — September 30, 2014 @ 1:17 pm

    I don’t usually comment on blog posts, but I HAD to with this one. My wife and I prepped the chicken to the letter with the exception of the lemon (neither of us is a big fan of lemony chicken). She set her alarm for 1 a.m. and turned the slow cooker on. We had errands to run that morning, so we didn’t get to try it until around 1:30 p.m. (we had it set to Keep Warm from around 10:00 until we ate it). I can’t even tell you how incredibly delicious it was. It was so delicious, in fact, that we went to the store and bought two more birds, one of which we cooked Saturday night. Yes, two birds in one day!

    My wife is training for her first marathon and I’m on day 9 of my third Whole30 and you are honestly a sanity saver. I was able to make chicken salad out of some of the leftovers, and will be using the stock to make kale & collards in the slow cooker this evening. You are a gem!

    [Reply]

    • Julie Deily replied: September 30th, 2014 @ 1:28 pm

      Hi Ayanna,

      What an awesome comment. Thank you so much! So glad you both enjoy it! We make it all the time and the leftovers…what you can make with them is endless! :) Thanks for making my day!

      [Reply]

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  18. 255
    Beryl Murraybrown — October 3, 2014 @ 3:50 am

    I rubbed brown onion soup on the chicken which gave it a nice colour and then
    thickened the sauce for the gravy.
    Delicious made it several times.

    [Reply]

    • Julie Deily replied: October 4th, 2014 @ 7:45 pm

      That sounds awesome, Beryl!!

      [Reply]

  19. 256
    Sasha — October 3, 2014 @ 11:51 am

    Has anyone tried with a frozen chicken? I posted before but can’t find my post.

    [Reply]

    • Julie Deily replied: October 4th, 2014 @ 7:47 pm

      Hi Sasha,

      I have not! I’m sorry I can’t help you! I would try to defrost it first.

      [Reply]

    • Mike Stroud replied: October 5th, 2014 @ 6:09 am

      You must defrost it first! Thoroughly! Preferably in the fridge for 12-24 hours.

      [Reply]

      • Sasha replied: October 8th, 2014 @ 3:17 pm

        I defrosted and put in the crock pot this morning but hour and a half later, I noticed I had it on warm setting instead of low. I’m wondering if my chicken has gone bad now :( My skills in the kitchen are absolutely depressing!

        [Reply]

  20. 257
    Mike Stroud — October 5, 2014 @ 6:06 am

    I’ve got one cooking right now! I picked some lemons from our garden and decided to pick some rosemary too. I also put a bit of butter under the skin with the rosemary and garlic. And a jalapeno pepper :) It’s starting to smell good…

    [Reply]

    • Julie Deily replied: October 6th, 2014 @ 6:27 pm

      Nice, Mike! I can’t wait to hear how it turns out!!

      [Reply]

  21. 258
    Adam — October 6, 2014 @ 6:01 pm

    HI, this is my first time doing this recipe and I was wondering what sides go good with it other than the veggies in the pot? I was thinking corn and potatoes but was looking for some feed back.

    [Reply]

    • Julie Deily replied: October 6th, 2014 @ 6:29 pm

      Hi Adam,

      You can definitely serve it with other veggies, we do potatoes sometimes and usually serve it with corn too! Hope you enjoy it if you make it!

      [Reply]

      • adam replied: October 7th, 2014 @ 6:46 pm

        How do I tell when the chicken is done if I do not have a thermometer?

        [Reply]

  22. 259
    Sasha — October 8, 2014 @ 10:31 pm

    Well, that was a waste of time and ingredients. My chicken is very dry! I don’t understand why nothing turns out for me. UGH!!

    [Reply]

    • Julie Deily replied: October 9th, 2014 @ 1:00 pm

      Hi Sasha,

      I saw your comments from above. Can you email me and let me know what you did? Let’s try to troubleshoot this. This recipe is a family favorite and we have made it TONS of times. Thanks and sorry you had a hard time!

      Julie

      [Reply]

  23. 260
    Kaia Ariel — October 10, 2014 @ 1:44 am

    Yum, yum, yum!!! Thank you this was totally delicious even though I perhaps cooked it too long. I am new to cooking meat again and have cooked two very dry roast chickens in the oven before trying this. It tasted like how I remember chicken, succulent, delicious. It was a chicken I had defrosted so there is no problem with that. I would imagine you would be able to gauge the timing by when you start smelling the lemon as I think this happened quite soon before it was cooked. Thanks so much.

    [Reply]

  24. 261
    Connie — October 10, 2014 @ 7:41 pm

    4 to 8 hours seems like. Big difference in hours. So is it four or eight?

    [Reply]

    • Julie Deily replied: October 10th, 2014 @ 7:45 pm

      Hi Connie,

      It really depends on your slow cooker and the size of your chicken. I only have one slow cooker and not everyone owns the same one so that’s why there is a range. Hope that helps!

      [Reply]

  25. 262
    Lisa — October 12, 2014 @ 2:57 pm

    Hi. Can I cook this in the Oven? The chicken and veggies just fit in my crockpot.
    Thanks

    [Reply]

    • Julie Deily replied: October 12th, 2014 @ 5:12 pm

      Hi Lisa,

      You certainly can…it would be a roast chicken. I haven’t tried this exact recipe in the oven so I can’t tell you how long or how it will turn out but if you do, let me know how it goes!

      [Reply]

  26. 263
    Alyssa — October 14, 2014 @ 10:46 pm

    This was THE BEST CHICKEN I have ever cooked! I loved it! what did you do with all the chicken juices? I’ve saved all of the juices but have no idea what to do with them. Thanks in advance!

    [Reply]

    • Julie Deily replied: October 22nd, 2014 @ 3:32 pm

      So glad you loved it, Alyssa!! You can use it as a chicken broth for soup or to make mashed potatoes?

      [Reply]

  27. 264
    leann — October 17, 2014 @ 3:12 pm

    Can i add broth if i want an if so how much

    [Reply]

    • Julie Deily replied: October 22nd, 2014 @ 11:53 am

      Hi Leann,

      I don’t add broth to the slow cooker because while it’s cooking, it creates a lot of broth by itself.

      [Reply]

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  32. 265
    Kerry Gales — October 22, 2014 @ 6:14 pm

    In “The Best Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker Recipe” Do we use ground black pepper and white pepper?

    [Reply]

    • Julie Deily replied: October 22nd, 2014 @ 9:19 pm

      Hi Kerry, yes I use both white and black pepper.

      [Reply]

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