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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!

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!

Disclosure: There are a couple of 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!

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

  1. 201
    Fredric — February 16, 2014 @ 7:18 am

    Veggies slow cooking for 4-8 hrs will get mushy won’t they?

    [Reply]

    • Kelly replied: March 4th, 2014 @ 6:06 pm

      No, shouldn’t. I slow cook frozen chicken in cream of chicken for about 8 hrs low, and used whole carrots and they were perfectly fine.. still had a little bit to them that you didn’t feel like you were eating mush.

      [Reply]

  2. 202
    Alma Warner — February 16, 2014 @ 5:45 pm

    Great recipe thank you so much!You and your recipes and the wonder responses from your friends. It often answers my questions. I am 80 years old, this us a fantastic recipe!!!!!!!a

    [Reply]

  3. Pingback: The Great Chicken Dilemma | Acquiring a Taste

  4. 203
    Dana — February 18, 2014 @ 9:27 am

    I just saw you on a Top 10 list. Congrats!!! Looks good. I follow Smitten Kitchen and Cooking With Mr. C.  I will now add you to my favorites.    Dana

    [Reply]

  5. 204
    katie — February 19, 2014 @ 10:53 am

    I remember when you originally posted about this recipe. With the baby coming I’ll need to give this a try–sounds like the ideal meal for a new mom :)

    [Reply]

  6. 205
    Shiran @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet. — February 19, 2014 @ 1:17 pm

    I’ve never seen a chicken that looks so good! :) The photos are so beautiful!

    [Reply]

  7. 206
    Jennifer — February 20, 2014 @ 7:35 pm

    This looks SO delicious! I have a whole chicken in the freezer right now, I’m going to try this once I thaw it! It would make a great Sunday dinner!

    [Reply]

  8. 207
    Tamerra — February 23, 2014 @ 3:57 pm

    I have this on now – an 8lb whole chicken. It has been in the crock pot for about 6 hours. I don’t have food thermometer. How can I know if it is fully cooked?

    [Reply]

  9. 208
    maryann — February 24, 2014 @ 4:07 pm

    This recipe is horrendous, barely edible. Too much lemon makes the juices bitter. We were looking forward to tasty pan juices but we tossed it. The carrots were inedibly bitter. The cooking time caused the chicken to practically disintegrate!!! Did you really test this recipe?

    [Reply]

    • Julie Deily replied: February 24th, 2014 @ 4:16 pm

      Hi Maryann,

      I’m so sorry this recipe didn’t turn out for you. YES, I really did test this recipe and have made it least 30+ times the last couple of years if not more. And from the countless other comments of success for others, I’m bummed this recipe didn’t turn out for you. The lemon goes into the chicken for this recipe so I don’t usually taste lemon in the pan juices. We like the carrots but they definitely aren’t for everyone. The chicken does sometimes falls apart when it’s in the slow cooker longer. Anyways, again, I’m sorry it didn’t turn out for you. Not every recipe works out for everyone and I get that. No need to be rude about it. I’m not going to bother publishing your other comment. Hope you have a nice day.

      [Reply]

      • KeriAnne replied: February 25th, 2014 @ 2:02 pm

        Maryann,
        It seems to me like you didn’t read the recipe thoroughly. Did you cook set the crock pot to low? Did you put the lemon and garlic inside the chicken? Was the lemon and garlic fresh? Did you test the temperature of the meat at 4 hours to see if it was ready? This is actually a lovely very basic and common slow cooker recipe with a mild rub that is good for all pallets. it has a few spice twists which I like, none of which should cause bitterness though as you are stating it did. So unless you don’t pay attention to the directions it’s really hard to mess up. If you believe that you did follow the recipe accordingly I suggest you check the expiration date of all your spices and that of the chicken you used.

        [Reply]

  10. 209
    Glenda — February 25, 2014 @ 11:46 pm

    Yum Yum!! My husband and I loved it—juicy with great flavor. Now on to making a stock with the leftover juices and carcus…Thanks!

    [Reply]

  11. 210
    Jennifer — February 26, 2014 @ 12:20 pm

    I got my chicken in the slow cooker right now, thanks for the recipe!! I bought 2 whole chickens in a package so I put both chickens in the slow cooker :) I love using my slow cooker a lot as I work noon to 8pm shifts and supper is ready when my common law and son get home at 5pm :D looking forward to tasting it tonite!!

    [Reply]

  12. 211
    Lita Harrold — March 1, 2014 @ 11:48 am

    I’ve made this reicpe before and it’s wonderful. I just wanted to tell your followers I use a cheesecloth sling in my crocpot that easily lifts the bird out of the crockpot and onto a casserole dish to brown up in the oven/broiler. My broiler is at the bottom of my stove so I can’t fit the bird there to brown up, instead put in a hot oven 500 for a few minutes and works like a charm to brown the skin. Thanks for this wonderful crockpot recipe. My grandkids think they are getting an oven roasted cicken when they come over for their weekly Thursay eve meal. They are 16 and 18 and we have doing weekly dinners since they stared grade school and now they have their little loves they bring, now I have four grandchildren every week for dinner :) I love this recipe!!

    [Reply]

  13. 212
    sarah McDill — March 4, 2014 @ 9:09 pm

    What temperature should the oven be on to broil it?

    [Reply]

  14. 213
    Rachel — March 5, 2014 @ 1:55 pm

    Best crockpot chicken! Not a fan of lemon in my chicken and kids don’t like things spicy so I left out the lemon and cayenne pepper. Made gravy with the drippings. Thanks for sharing!

    [Reply]

  15. 214
    Erin — March 6, 2014 @ 10:44 am

    This recipe is in my crockpot as I write this comment. Although I didn’t use the lemons and I added my own twist and turn. I place onion slices on the bottom of my crockpot and put quartered onion inside my chicken. Then I place the chicken on top the onion slices then add my carrots and potatoes on top. I let cook for about 8 hours on low depending on the size of my chicken. Currently I have about a 5 pounder cooking. Been in there for an hour and my house is starting to smell yummy.

    [Reply]

    • Ginger replied: March 6th, 2014 @ 10:50 pm

      So glad you posted this comment Erin. I am getting ready to cool this tomorrow and realized I don’t have lemmons. Thanks for your rendition

      [Reply]

  16. 215
    Chris — March 14, 2014 @ 6:49 pm

    Hi Julie, I made this crockpot chicken last night…really easy and quite tasty really but my chicken seemed a little on the mushy side…could I have cooked it too long? It really was falling off the bone, so I’m thinking that could of been the problem. Have you ever had that happen?
    Thanks!

    [Reply]

  17. 216
    cami — March 16, 2014 @ 7:48 pm

    Made this recipe tonight. I omitted the lemon because I didn’t have one on hand……but it still turned out absolutely delicious! One of the best crockpot chicken recipes I’ve ever tried. Thank you! I’ll be keeping this in my *favorites*.

    [Reply]

  18. 217
    Mariah — March 17, 2014 @ 2:04 pm

    I am really eager to try out this recipe (the hubby and I have been really craving chicken and veggies) however, we LOVE to have potatoes also. I’m new at cooking so is it ok to add a couple quartered potatoes with the other veggies?
    Thanks!!

    [Reply]

  19. 218
    John — April 6, 2014 @ 7:01 pm

    Just made this as a student bachelor. The aromas filling the condo were extraordinary. Had a small morsel of chicken after it had browned in the oven and can confirm that this meal is definitely worth the wait.

    [Reply]

  20. 219
    Michelle — April 7, 2014 @ 6:56 pm

    Made this tonight and it was DELISH!! I’m going to add green beans next time. Served it with mashed potatoes and everyone loved it!

    I do have a lot of broth leftover…has anyone made soup with the broth?

    [Reply]

  21. 220
    Greta — April 11, 2014 @ 10:02 am

    I loved this recipe. I actually used a 7 pound chicken because it was the only thing I had and I was worried about that because I had to stuff it into the crockpot. The top of it was pressing against the lid. It turned out perfect anyway. I boiled the leftover chicken a week later in its own broth plus additional water and it was the best soup I ever tasted. Yum!!!

    [Reply]

    • karen replied: April 13th, 2014 @ 6:22 pm

      How long did you cook the 7 lb chicken? I work for 10 hours and my chicken is about that size. Wondering if 10 hours will be way too long?

      [Reply]

  22. 221
    Kat — April 13, 2014 @ 6:51 am

    Hi I live in the UK and I have been trying to find some great slow cooker recipes, made this last weekend and it came out perfect I loved it! I’ve got it on the slow cooker again today, thank you!

    [Reply]

  23. 222
    sarah — April 13, 2014 @ 3:29 pm

    Hi I made this follow the recipe, unfortunately it tasted bitter, I don’t know what I did wrong. The instructions on here differ from the youtube video. I used 2 lemons.

    The breast was dry. Was it overcooked??

    [Reply]

    • Julie Deily replied: April 13th, 2014 @ 3:50 pm

      Hi Sarah,

      The recipe on the video is a different one — for lemon pepper, yes. For this recipe, I only use one lemon inside the chicken. I’m not sure why it came out bitter for you.

      And if the breast was dry, it was probably overcooked, how long did you cook it for and what level (low or high)?

      Thanks and sorry it didn’t turn out right for you.

      [Reply]

  24. 223
    Julia Noran — April 14, 2014 @ 6:36 pm

    Julie, I made this tonight, and it was AMAZING. I will definitely be making this again and again. I wonder if you could use the veggies and broth to make chicken noodle soup?

    [Reply]

  25. 224
    Chef Innfatkid — April 15, 2014 @ 3:59 pm

    This looked so good that I had to try it as a welcome home meal for my girlfriend. I made a few variations to the ingredients, but I can not wait until this evening to see how it turns out.

    [Reply]

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