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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!

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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.

Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker Recipe

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 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.

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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 | 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!

556 comments

  1. Hi! I just tried this recipe tonight and its pretty spicy. I think next time I will omit the cayenne pepper, white pepper and thyme and just keep it simple with salt, pepper, and garlic. But no doubt, it is fall off the bone. The vegetables seemed hold up. Other than that, it wasnt too bad.

    • Hi, Jennifer, I haven’t heard that complaint (I don’t think) but then again, I like things spicy.

      I would say try it with the thyme and omit the cayenne & white peppers. The thyme gives it a nice flavor. Glad it turned out good except for the spicy part though!

      All the best to you!

  2. Wow, what a disappointment.  Have tried many sloe cooker recipes with many proteins and really loved them. I put an instant read thermometer as well as a pop up in the chicken. 5 hours. Pulled it out. Just a test tastte before the oven to crisp skin. All the spices and lemon were great.  …….DRY CHICKEN.  Maybe I went wrong on something but I ended up serving leftovers. What did I do wrong?  Might be a great recipe, but not for me!!!

    • Hi Bob, That stinks! I’m sorry this happened.

      What size chicken did you use, how many pounds was it? Also, what did you do use for the heat level…high or low?

      I always have tender and moist chicken when I use this recipe. Feel free to email me so we can troubleshoot further.

  3. This recipe is always my go to chicken recipe! It’s successful every time! Even when I haven’t had the veggies or lemon it is so tender and delicious.

  4. I made this tonight and it was outstanding. I knew I was in for a treat when I poked the chicken with a thermometer and a bunch of juice came squirting out.  Delicious and not even a tiny bit dry!  Just be careful when broiling. I burned the skin a little but it was okay. 

  5. Not usually a fan of making roast chicken dinners, I tried this method for the first time, but without the spices (just salt and pepper) and extra veg – parsnips and celeriac. I was at work so it cooked for over 9 hours on low! (though I’ll admit the bird was still slightly frozen going in!). It was delicious… the veg a little soggy of course by this stage , but so tasty, and the meat succulent and moist. I like this method also because I’m not good at carving and usually waste good meat because of this – so I loved the way it fell cleanly off the bones, not wasting a scrap.  
    I crisped up the skin under the grill as suggeste, and thickened the juices with a little corn flour and boullion powder to make a delicious gravy.
    Thank you for this excellent recipe!

  6. Honestly I don’t think I’ll ever go back to roasting chicken in the oven after this recipe. Simply amazing ! The chicken retained all its juices and was flavorful, just like a rotisserie chicken. The veggies even stayed intact ! I put cooked it for 4 hours on low then 1 hour on high because the chicken was still at little pink. I want to experiment with different rubs, maybe something more smoky/bbq next. Thank you !

  7. I’ve made this twice now, and my husband says, “I don’t know why we eat chicken any other way.” Thank you for such a great recipe.

  8. Dont let your chicken sit in the bottom of a crock pot or it can dry out…Place root vegs or foil balls under so the chicken is off the bottom.

  9. Hi Julie! Thanks so much for this recipe! I made this today and found it while looking for something “fast” in a crock pot. This fit the bill. And it’s so versatile, which was great. I needed to prep quickly to get it cooking on time, so I dried the chicken off with paper towels inside and out, rubbed it all over with sea salt and cracked black pepper and fresh garlic cloves, quartered a lime (out of lemons) and threw it inside the cavity with the garlic. Placed it on top of the carrots, celery and leeks (out of onions) and put it on high for 4 hours (even though the recipe says to put it on low – I just didn’t want to risk it not being done). When we returned just in time for dinner, I put it in the oven to broil for 4 minutes, as instructed (I had it on a high broil, but next time I’ll just stick with low broil), let it rest for 10 minutes, and then served dinner. It was moist, tender chicken – a great one-dish meal. Served it with potatoes that were cooking in another slow cooker at the same time. I’ll make this again and play with the spices next time. Thanks again!

  10. This recipe is terrific. Thank you so much. I used whatever I had on hand underneath the bird: parsnips, fennel root. It was so delicious. I was in a rush so I cooked it on high. I had a 4.5 lb chicken on high for about 3 hours, then did the broil step to crisp up the skin. I noticed that my carrots were still a little too crunchy so I put them into the pan for the broil step. Everything came out perfect. Loved this, will add it to the regular rotation and make it once a month. The outside was a tad spicy for my kid who thinks everything is too spicy, but I just gave him inside pieces. Thank you for this wonderful recipe.

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  12. Very much impressed with how simple it was to get this prepped & into my slow cooker in no time at all, came home to the most amazing aroma. Followed the above recipe exactly but did not need to crisp the skin, the chicken & vegetables were perfectly cooked, meat fell from the bone – new favourite meal, could mean an end to roasted whole chicken.

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