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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.

The Best Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker Recipe from thelittlekitchen.net
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.
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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!

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.

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!

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

  1. 281
    Berniece — November 6, 2014 @ 2:59 pm

    I use my crock pot all of the time to roast a whole chicken . I like to wrap baking potatoes in aluminum foil and put them in the bottom of the crock and I let my chicken sit on those while it cooks . Everything is done at the same time and tastes great . The chicken is still tender and juicy and the texture of the meat does not seam as mushy when I do it like this.

    [Reply]

    • Christie replied: December 3rd, 2014 @ 10:01 pm

      That’s a great idea. Strange question, but does the chicken get a metallic taste at all or no? I might have to try this. Do you put vegetables in or just the potatoes and chicken?

      [Reply]

  2. 282
    Lisa — November 7, 2014 @ 12:53 pm

    I made this yesterday. Did not have any lemons so left them out — basically just used the rub recipe. I didn’t even brown it in the oven because I usually take the skin off anyway. It was so good! Better than any rotisserie chicken I’ve bought, and better ingredients! I used the leftover broth and bones to make stock… just added some celery and Turmeric, strained it, and I have the BEST tasting broth I’ve ever tasted.

    [Reply]

  3. 283
    Ian D — November 10, 2014 @ 8:05 am

    The recipe sound great, and simple (though I’ve yet to try it).
    I would take issue with your first step though. Chicken should never be washed prior to cooking!
    Yes, there is bacteria on the surface of the chicken, but they will be destroyed in the cooking process. But droplets of water (containing the same bacteria) bouncing off the chicken in the washing process will land on your draining board, worktops, utensils and wall surfaces where they will multiply to dangerous levels before you get the chance to remove them.
    As you will see from my website, I am a Food Safety trainer, and the above advice is not simply an opinion, but is evidence based.

    I’m off now to cook my chicken as you suggest (but without washing it!)

    Ian

    [Reply]

    • Andria replied: December 7th, 2014 @ 3:54 pm

      If you clean your work area immediately after rood prep, with an antibacterial how will those bacteria “multiiply to dangerous levels”?? I never heard of bacteria multipleying to dangerous levels within minutes.

      [Reply]

  4. 284
    Thom Davis — November 14, 2014 @ 11:40 am

    Did this yesterday. Chicken meat was luscious. Added step of crisping the skin works well-suggest convection broil for 5 minutes if your oven has that since more of the skin will crisp. Definitely need to separate fat from broth to make gravy. Two minor issues with the result, 1) the spices get lost in the final product and I was liberal; 2) the breast meat tasted a little dry-not as dry as oven roasting. I may have overcooked a trifle since while in the crockpot it did not look like it was cooking, so I switched to high after 2 hours and cooked a total of 6 hours. After 6 hrs I checked meat with thermometer because it still didn’t look cooked, but it was.

    [Reply]

  5. 285
    Kelly — November 19, 2014 @ 5:43 pm

    This looks great and so easy! Will try this tomorrow.

    [Reply]

  6. 286
    Lucy — November 23, 2014 @ 9:47 pm

    My husband and I are allergic to garlic. Can you suggest a substitute?

    [Reply]

    • Grace replied: January 16th, 2015 @ 11:40 am

      I have been roasting chicken in crock pot for years. Never heard of the lemon but will try. I always use rosemary to season mine.

      [Reply]

    • Nicole replied: January 20th, 2015 @ 9:27 am

      I had ran out of garlic at one time while preparing this…I amended the recipe with 1/4 tsp more each of black pepper, onion powder, and cayenne pepper. It was just as delicious as the original recipe!

      [Reply]

  7. 287
    Chantal — November 29, 2014 @ 6:39 pm

    I am planning on making this overnight in my cooker. My chicken is a little over six pounds. I am planning on transporting it to my inlaws and eating it for a noon meal. Because I am transporting I would like to be able to have my whole meal in one pot. I know you say to put on top of veggies and that was my plan. I want to use potatos and would like to know if they will taste ok or should I plan on making them on the side?
    Thank you!

    [Reply]

  8. Pingback: Meringue Kisses Recipe {Weekly Menu Plan} - Dine and Dish

  9. 288
    Will — December 3, 2014 @ 5:59 pm

    Apparently it’s not safe to put a frozen chicken in the slow cooker, because the temperature does not increase fast enough to kill all the bacteria – it will stay at a dangerous temperature for too long.

    [Reply]

  10. 289
    Ellie — December 16, 2014 @ 2:35 am

    Hi there and thanks for the recipe! Will be trying it out today.
    A couple of pointers however. You should never rinse chicken due to the spread of bacteria when washing it.
    Also, as Will said, it is not advisable to cook a chicken from frozen.
    Thanks for the ideas! :)

    [Reply]

  11. 290
    Bridget — December 16, 2014 @ 4:16 pm

    Love this idea! Wondering if I could use a Turkey instead of a Chicken? Have you tried that before?

    [Reply]

    • Julie Deily replied: December 17th, 2014 @ 8:27 am

      Hi Bridget,

      I have not but my former boss has and it there’s a lot of liquid but it turned out really good. He brought it into work once! I would mix up the spices a little bit. Maybe I’ll try it in the new year and post about it! :)

      [Reply]

  12. Pingback: WIAW: A WHOLE Chicken in the Crock Pot | Heather Runs Fast

  13. 291
    Mary — December 18, 2014 @ 5:19 am

    I wonder if you can make a roast turkey in the slow cooker. Has anyone tried it out?

    [Reply]

  14. 292
    Krissy @ Pretty Wee Things — January 14, 2015 @ 8:15 pm

    My chicken is cooking this very minute! Thanks for the recipe, and for the helpful tips below. I wasn’t sure if I needed to add water so it was super helpful that you had the answer right there! Can’t wait to see how my first whole slow cooked chicken works out!
    Xx

    [Reply]

  15. 293
    Erica — January 15, 2015 @ 10:17 am

    I don’t have any twine & was wondering if I can just skip that part & put it in the crockpot without tying the legs together!?? This sounds amazing I can’t wait to try it!!!

    [Reply]

    • Julie Deily replied: January 15th, 2015 @ 10:19 am

      Hi Erica,

      Yes you can! Hope you enjoy!

      [Reply]

      • Erica replied: January 15th, 2015 @ 10:20 am

        Thank you so much for the quick reply!! I’m getting ready to put it in the crockpot for dinner tonight yummm!!

        [Reply]

  16. 294
    Diane — January 15, 2015 @ 10:49 pm

    I made this tonight for a birthday dinner for 6 adults and it turned out great. Everyone enjoyed it and had seconds of everything. This was the first time I’ve made a whole chicken in a crockpot and it is going to be a 3-4 times a month dinner for us.

    I did changed up the recipe a bit. I added fresh mushrooms, carrots, onions and skipped the lemon (family is not a fan of lemons in food). I stuffed the chicken with celery, onions and garlic gloves. Instead of rubbing the garlic clove on the chicken I minced 2 cloves and rubbed over chicken before the dry rub. I used all dry spices in recipe and added 1 teaspoon of basil. The veggies were delicious. Then I made chicken gravy with the stock for mashed potatoes.

    I was afraid it would not feed 6 people but it was the perfect amount….hardly any leftovers **chicken was 6 1/2 lbs and 2lb bag peeled carrots.
    So happy I found this fabulous recipe!!

    [Reply]

  17. 295
    GAry — January 25, 2015 @ 9:42 am

    Hi
    I tried this last weekend. Having cooked for most of my life, I was sceptical as to whether this recipe would work due to the no liquid and the not browning the meat first.

    Well I trusted the recipe, with plan B being we would just roast off the chicken in the oven if it wasn’t cooked.

    I prepped the chicken, bunged it in the slow cooker, stuck the temp thingie on high and went out for the day coming back 7 hrs later to a wonderfully smelly house.

    perfect chicken, skin crisped off in oven, served with some steamed veggies it was the ultimate easy meal.

    This weekend I am doing the lemon version as I write this, and again the house is smelling yummy.

    Thank you for giving me a recipe that was outside of my comfort zone. It has already been discussed, alomng with pictures I took, in the office where I work.

    Much love

    Gary Buckingham UK

    [Reply]

  18. 296
    RMH — February 7, 2015 @ 5:42 pm

    I tried this recipe and loved how the chicken turned out! I did not, however, like the taste of the carrots/celery that I put under the chicken in the crockpot. All-in-all, I would use the chicken recipe again, but prepare the vegetables separately.

    [Reply]

  19. 297
    Susan Klatman — February 8, 2015 @ 8:49 am

    Cooking a 8lbs. On low I am wondering if 8 hours is long enough

    [Reply]

    • Julie Deily replied: February 8th, 2015 @ 11:30 am

      Hi Susan,

      I have never done a chicken that was 8 pounds before (that’s a big chicken!) so I’m not sure. It will probably take longer on low heat in your slow cooker than 8 hours.

      [Reply]

      • Susan Klatman replied: February 8th, 2015 @ 12:25 pm

        Should I cook it on high

        [Reply]

  20. 298
    Helen Downing — February 11, 2015 @ 9:24 pm

    This recipe sounds wonderful! The only thing that makes me nervous is putting the chicken under the broiler in a glass or ceramic baker. I’ve done this before and the dish cracked! Just relating my experience! I think I would feel safer with a metal pan. Going to cook my chicken tomorrow. Wish me luck!

    [Reply]

    • Julie Deily replied: February 12th, 2015 @ 2:23 pm

      Hi Helen,

      That happened to me before with a ceramic baker but luckily it was just one crack and the whole thing didn’t break. But this happened because I filled it up with water. If it’s a good high quality oven-safe bakeware, you’re fine…but I do understand your reservation! Hope you enjoy the recipe!

      [Reply]

  21. 299
    Jk — February 12, 2015 @ 1:50 pm

    I made this today but skinned the chicken as I didn’t want a lot of fat in the juice. Would use maybe only half a lemon next time but otherwise it was very tasty. Slow cooking is a bit hit or miss for me but this was one of my better efforts.

    [Reply]

  22. 300
    Helen Downing — February 14, 2015 @ 8:09 pm

    I started a bit late so put my 3.5 roaster in the pot on High.It took about 4 hours. My thermometer said done, but the legs and thighs were not ready to fall off the way I like my poultry. At that point, I put it on a foil lined pan and finished baking it in the oven at 375 since I still wanted to make a gravy. I had made a butter and flour roux so poured the juices from the crock pot in the pan and stirred until smooth adding unsalted chicken broth from a box. Then I put in the veggies from the bottom of the crock pot in with the simmering gravy since they were still a bit firm. I used all of the ingredients except the onion powder for the dry rub since I was out of it. The flavor of the chicken was fantastic! The skin was crisp too. Next time I will allow more time so that I can follow the exact directions. I really don’t think there’s enough to make a soup with the leftovers, but I am going to put it back in the crock and make chicken broth to freeze. I use it all the time for cooking! Thanks for the delicious recipe, I was very pleased with it even if I did modify due to time constraints. I would try a slightly larger chicken next time! There are just 2 of us, but we gobbled it up!

    [Reply]

  23. 301
    judith Bowles — March 12, 2015 @ 7:00 am

    just using your recipe for cooking a whole chicken in the crockpot and noticed the comment on doing it skinless – here’s what i do: i always cook the chicken upside down then the juices drain through the breast and keep it moist. if the skin is off it is still moist and tender this way as it is protected by the vegetables and the lemon drains into the meat making it tastier.

    Jude

    [Reply]

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