Cooking a whole chicken in the slow cooker or crock pot is an incredibly simple way to cook chicken for a week of easy lunches or dinners.
You know the kind. The ones that are ooozing with cheese. Or that are slathered in a decadent sauce. Even those healthy recipes made with totally fresh, vibrant seasonal colors can be totally seductive. The kind that when you set them on the table, people exclaim, “Ahhhh…That looks sooooooo good.”
This is a good recipe. Great even. But it certainly isn’t sexy.
This is a totally utilitarian recipe. One that you keep in your back pocket. The one you pull out when life’s busy schedule is dealing you a mix of 2’s and 3’s but you’re ready to ante up to a full house.
Its true. You can be a winner in the kitchen.
And this is how it’s done.
Weeknight cooking is always the worst. And it seems like Monday nights at our house are the absolute bottom of the barrel. Even though I work at home—creating and photographing recipes for God’s sake—half of the time neither me nor my husband can seem to pull it together and plan for the daily $64,000 question, “What do you want for dinner?”
Pulling out your crockpot aka slow cooker on Monday morning makes dinner a whole heck of a lot easier.
The formula is simple. Simply toss in a few vegetables with a whole chicken and you’ve just created the base for a whole week of eats.
About the Recipe
Cooking a whole chicken in a slow cooker produces a good amount of delicious stock that you can save for soup, or mix a bit into shredded chicken for a super moist bite. If you’d really like some great broth simply begging to be made into matzo ball soup or chicken noodle soup, add 2 cups of water plus 2 chicken bouillon cubes before setting your cooking time. The result is an incredibly flavorful broth worthy of any family recipe.
Slow cooking the chicken won’t produce a golden crust since the chicken is essentially braised with the moisture that is produced from the chicken and vegetables. I’ve combined kosher salt with paprika to add a more colorful skin, but if you want a deeply golden crust, simply transfer the cooked chicken to a baking sheet or roasting pan and place under the broiler for 5 minutes or until desired color.
I’ve cooked the chicken before with the breast up, and with the breast down. I can’t say for sure, but it does seem that cooking the chicken with the breast down produces a bit more juicy breast. However, if you’re serving it as a whole chicken for the dinner table, the skin on the breasts won’t look as good. I tend to remove my skin after cooking anyway, so I’m more about having a juicy bird.
Each slow cooker cooks differently so adjust your cooking times to reflect the size of your bird, the size of your slow cooker (I use this 6 quart cooker) and cook the chicken to 165 degrees internal temperature or until the juices run clear.
Recipe Ideas for How to Enjoy Your Chicken
- Avocado and Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad
- Best Chicken Enchiladas Ever
- Peanut Noodles with Chicken
- Light Chicken Salad
- 5-Ingredient Chipotle Chicken Taquitos
- Quick and Easy Chicken Noodle Soup
- Pulled Chicken Sandwich with Creamy Ranch Sauce
- 1 5 pound chicken, giblets removed
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces baby carrots or whole peeled carrots chopped into 2-inch pieces
- 4 large red potatoes, halved
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 anaheim pepper, halved and seeded
- 6-8 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- Handful of Italian flat leaf parsley
- Rinse the chicken well and pat dry. Mix the kosher salt and paprika together and season the chicken generously with the kosher salt mixture and freshly ground black pepper.
- Scatter the vegetables in the bottom of a 6 quart slow cooker then place the seasoned chicken on top of the vegetables so they act as a shelf for the chicken.
- Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 8-9 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F and the juices run clear.
- Remove the chicken from the stock and let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes. If serving immediately, cut the chicken into pieces. You can serve the vegetables with the chicken or strain the vegetables from the broth and save the broth for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or freeze for up to 3 months.
- Or if you want shredded chicken, allow the chicken to cool for about 15 minutes then shred with two forks and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Sure this is a tasty dinner recipe on its own, but I’ve made it into something really good that I’ll be sharing later this week. Until then, warm up that slow cooker, pop in a chicken, and forget about it.
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