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!
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.
I put the vegetables in the slow cooker first. Then, prep the chicken.
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.
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?
Tie the chicken legs together with kitchen twine.
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.
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!
If you make any of recipes and decide to share them on instagram or twitter be sure to tag me @thelittlekitchn and use the hashtag #thelittlekitchenrecipes! I love seeing your posts and photos!
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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Remove chicken and place in a 9×13 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.
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!
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 | Williams-Sonoma)
- 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!