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Chicken in a Crock Pot

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Every Sunday at our local farmer's market, I buy a whole chicken from the great folks at Healthy Family Farms (we also get our eggs from them). I like to make a Simple Roast Chicken every Sunday, but several weeks ago the farmer that sells the me chickens asked if I had ever tried cooking a whole chicken in a slow cooker. I had not. I listened as she told me just how easy it was to prepare, but I was still in disbelief at how simple her description was. No oil? No butter? No broth? Just a few herbs, lemon and salt? Really?! I immediately went home that afternoon and with practically no effort, prepared a chicken that was about as good as any I had ever tasted. My whole family was wide-eyed as we took our first bites -- the chicken was moist, tender and juicy and the consistency is almost like pulled pork because the meat literally falls off the bone.

This recipe is embarrassingly simple and incredibly healthy, but the best part is that it essentially cooks itself. There's almost no work involved, and I love that I can cook a whole chicken and then keep the meat in the fridge to make Weelicious Mac, Chicken and Cheese Bites, Chicken, Bean and Cheese Quesadillas or Chicken and Rice Burritos throughout the week!

Not only did Kenya, our friends, my hubby and I fall in love, but guess who ate more then her fair share of chicken? That's right, baby Chloe. She was like a little chicken eatin' machine, putting piece after piece into her mouth.

If cooking a whole chicken has always seemed daunting to you, try this version. It's so simple, you'll have a hard time finding reasons not to. Check out this video if you want to see how we did it.

Chicken in a Crock Pot  (Serves 4)

  • Cook Time: 4 hrs,
  • Rating:
    Rate this recipe
Every Sunday at our local farmer's market, I buy a whole chicken from the great folks at Healthy Family Farms (we also get our eggs from them). I like to make a Simple Roast Chicken every Sunday, but several weeks ago the farmer that sells the me...

Ingredients

  • 1 4-pound whole chicken
  • 2-3 thyme sprigs
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • salt (preferably kosher salt)

Preparation

  1. 1. Stuff the chicken with the thyme and lemon halves and sprinkle the outside with salt.
  2. 2. Place the chicken in a crock pot (also known as a slow cooker).
  3. 3. Place the cover on the crock pot and cook on high for 3 hours (3 1/2-4 hours for a 5 pound chicken).
  4. 4. Using a meat thermometer, make sure the chicken is cooked to 160 degrees (the times on different slow cookers may vary).
  5. 5. Allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes before cutting it into pieces (this allows the juices to redistribute and the chicken to remain extremely juicy).
  6. 6. Serve.
  7. *The skin on the chicken won’t be golden because this is more of a steaming method, but the meat will be outrageously moist, tender and juicy.
Chicken in a Crock Pot

Nutrition Information

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Comments






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  3. BusyBee74

    March 5, 2014 at 8:42 am

    May be a dumb question but… can you cook a frozen chicken in a crock pot?

    • Robin H

      April 29, 2014 at 6:04 am

      BusyBee74, I throw a frozen whole chicken in the crock the night before, turn on low and absolutely falls apart.. Really, put it in the crock in the morning (still frozen) and is ready by dinner time. Falls completely apart. My family gets so excited when they see me pulling out the crock pot and a whole chicken! I’m excited because I don’t have to spend time shredding left over chicken for the next day’s meal!

    • Catherine McCord

      March 5, 2014 at 10:45 am

      Yes you can! It will take a few hours longer!

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  5. eschmuel

    January 4, 2014 at 12:26 am

    Just made this today and it turned out great. My 18 month old twins were shoveling it in! Thanks for reminding me how awesome the slow cooker is. Your site is fantastic.

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  8. M.T.

    September 21, 2013 at 7:41 am

    Love, love, love this super easy way to cook chicken! I wish I had thought to try it out months ago!

    Is it just me or does that look like an orange in the photo?

  9. M.T.

    September 21, 2013 at 7:40 am

    Love, love, love this super easy way to cook chicken! I wish I had tried this out months ago! Thank you!

  10. Jennifer

    June 17, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Add paprika to the skin to give it that golden brown look!!

  11. Nicole

    May 24, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    Hi! I have a silly question…what size slow cooker would i need in order to cook a 2lb whole chicken? I have a 4 1/2 qt round slow cooker…would that work?

    • catherine

      May 24, 2013 at 12:37 pm

      Hmmm I have a 6 1/2 quart crock pot and usually cook a 4-pound chicken in it, so I think a 2-pound chicken would fit in yours!

  12. CP

    May 21, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    I can’t wait to try. I use my crockpot all the time. If you use a crockpot bag, clean up is simple and easy.

  13. Jack

    April 30, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Wow! This turned out great. I used seasoned salt on the outside of the chicken, and sprinkled half a teaspoon of kosher rock salt on top so it would slowly disolve and marinate the meat as it cooked. It’s amazing how much flavor the ingredients impart.

    I used the juices left in the slow cooker to make a tasty gravy.

    If you want to make the skin on some of the individual pieces somewhat crispy and a little browned, you can place them under the broiler for a couple of minutes.

    This recipe is a keeper.

  14. jmiyasato

    April 22, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have been so afraid of cooking a whole chicken. But I took the plunge with this recipe and it was so easy! Now I am planning my recipes for the chicken and looking forward to my next whole chicken!

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  16. Penny

    November 24, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    I love this recipe!
    The first time I made it, I used the lemon and the chicken and stock was just too lemony. Now I simply stuff whatever fresh herbs I feel like inside of the chicken and cook it for 4 hrs (seems to be perfect for the average size of chicken available in store).
    The meat is so tender, and when I have too much, I freeze it in 1 or 2 cup bags for future use.

  17. Christine

    October 19, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Do you think this would turn out with dried thyme? The store was all out of fresh.

    • catherine

      October 19, 2012 at 9:22 pm

      You can use dried thyme, but I would use no more than 1/2 teaspoon and just rub it all over the chicken!

  18. Marta

    October 19, 2012 at 10:51 am

    I didn’t have Thyme so instead used fresh Rosemary and the chicken was flavorful and moist…and so easy! My family liked it a lot..

  19. erinmw

    September 13, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Lol I was just about to post the exact thing! I too cooked my chicken then made some yummy crock pot stock. Thank you soo much or this idea, my poor crock pot had been sitting dusty and lonley on top of the cupboard until today! Now it’s not going back!

  20. diana

    August 28, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    i stumbled upon this recipe a few weeks ago and i have to tell you that it has changed my life! i have made it every week for a month and its just pure genius! after i shred the chicken i put the carcass right back in the crock pot and make stock – its just been so great and easy. thanks a million for posting this. if there were a pulitzer price for recipes this one should win it!

    • catherine

      August 29, 2012 at 12:04 pm

      Thank you so much! I am thrilled you like it so well!

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  24. MMD

    January 25, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Do you think I could add vegetables – like carrots and potatoes to the slow cooker with the chicken?

  25. personal trainer

    January 7, 2012 at 10:51 am

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  26. Michelle

    November 10, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I am so clueless when it comes to cooking meat, and I love it when I can make it look like I know what I’m doing. ;) We make this at least once a week. It’s wonderful!

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  28. Cindy

    September 14, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    Couldn’t tell from the video…did you cook the chicken with the skin on?

  29. jellyjello

    August 3, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    this is the best thing ever!! made sunday and just finished the last of it today.added it to the cheese carrot n broccoli orzo! cant wait to make another one this sunday!

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  34. Jeanne

    April 15, 2011 at 9:45 am

    This may be a dumb question, but I have only tried cooking a whole chicken once… do you have to remove the inside pieces before putting in the crock pot? I think that was the worst part about cooking the whole chicken.

    thank you!

  35. Laurie

    April 14, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Courtney–

    the stock turned out fantastic! I made a chicken/wild rice soup with it (the March Southern Living recipe, very good). The next time I made the stock, I noticed that the flavor was slightly bitter (but just fine to use with a soup that has a hamhock or other flavor booster). I think the problem was that I let the chicken carcass go too long in the slow cooker… I am going to give it another go next week, and only cook it for an additional 3 hours and see how it turns out.

    How did your attempt go??

  36. Michelle

    March 23, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    I made this last night and it was seriously so easy! It was so tender and juicy that when I tried to take the chicken out of the crockpot to let it sit for 10 minutes, it just started falling apart, which was nice since I was a little nervous about cutting the chicken. There was a good amount left over so I am deciding what to make for dinner tonight with the leftovers. Quesadillas or chicken salad sandiwiches…hmmmm….

  37. Rose

    February 28, 2011 at 11:21 am

    I am wondering about being gone all day too. Can I cook it on low with out somehow drying the bird out? What do you suggest?

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  39. zpmom

    February 20, 2011 at 10:20 am

    I like to put things in the crock pot while I’m at work but I’m gone 8+ hours do you think this would turn to mush if it was cooking on low for that long?

  40. Laurie

    February 16, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Jen-

    The juice in the bottom of the slow cooker is LIQUID GOLD! I let it cool in the crock, then pour it through a strainer. Pop it in the fridge, and the next day you can easily skim the fat off of the top. What is left behind is like chicken jello, which apparently is the holy grail of chicken stock. You add about a quart of water (I “guesstimated”) and you have wonderful, home made chicken stock. I used it in a soup I made the next day.

    I am making the chicken again today, and after I remove the chicken from the bones, I am adding the skinned carcass back into the crock with a couple of quarts of water, a stalk of celery and a couple of carrots, and cooking on low for 5 or 6 more hours. Should make a lot of delicious stock.

    Just wanted to reply because I had the same question, and did major research to find out if my “chicken jello” was edible… such an awesome perk of making this great recipe!

    • Ashley

      July 1, 2011 at 11:15 pm

      This is a great tip! I’ll be trying this with the leftover liquid tonight. Love this site and appreciate all of the feedback from everyone too :)

      • Laurie

        September 12, 2011 at 12:52 pm

        Update: I realized that the slight bitterness in my stock was from the lemon. Duh. Easily solved… if I want stock, just leave out lemon, which isn’t a big deal if you are using the chicken for bbq sandwiches, chicken salad, burritos, pretty much anything except for just plain old chicken.

    • Courtney

      March 31, 2011 at 3:09 pm

      Hi Laurie. I’m trying your 2/16 stock recipe right now — how did yours turn out by the way? Courtney

      • Laurie

        April 14, 2011 at 2:30 pm

        Courtney–

        the stock turned out fantastic! I made a chicken/wild rice soup with it (the March Southern Living recipe, very good). The next time I made the stock, I noticed that the flavor was slightly bitter (but just fine to use with a soup that has a hamhock or other flavor booster). I think the problem was that I let the chicken carcass go too long in the slow cooker… I am going to give it another go next week, and only cook it for an additional 3 hours and see how it turns out.

        Right now I am trying bone-in chicken breasts in the crock pot, no lemon. Trying to make toddler food for my daughter while we are gone for a couple of days.

        How did your attempt go??

        - Laurie

    • Michelle

      March 23, 2011 at 1:44 pm

      I wish I would have seen this post! I just dumped all the goop out. Oh well…next time!

  41. Jen@Dear Mommy Brain...

    January 31, 2011 at 11:35 am

    I’ve made this several times, but was wondering if all the juice left in the bottom of the slow cooker is good for anything? Is it like stock?

  42. Katie

    November 30, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    I have done this a few times and the kids and my grandmother loved it. My twins who don’t eat meat couldn’t stop! I also added a little chicken stock and tossed in some veggies, dinner was done in 1 pot

  43. Jaime

    November 4, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    Also..not sure if anyone mentioned it, but you can scrunch up some tin foil into balls underneath the chicken so it creates more of a ‘crockpot baked chicken’, I also do this with chicken breasts. I just find it makes still juicy but without the ‘steam’ feel that it sitting in the bottom gives it.

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  45. Teice

    September 12, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    I made this today so I could make chicken and noodles. My grandma used to make chicken and noodles using a whole chicken but I was always freaked out by using a whole chicken, but this was so easy. I left it in the crock pot until it was so easy to just pull off the bone. It was better than cooking a few chicken breasts and cutting that into pieces. Thank you so much.

  46. Missy K.

    September 5, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Hi. I’m looking to cook this recipe as part of a holiday meal for a large group. Could I cook chicken parts, bone-in, so I could fit a bit more chicken in my slow cooker? Do you think it would cook as well? I could add a few extra thighs…

    Thanks!
    Missy

    • catherine

      September 7, 2010 at 1:01 pm

      That wouldn’t be a problem but your cooking time may have to be extended more. I would say an extra hour or 2. Haven’t tested it but let me know how they turn out!

  47. Daria

    July 29, 2010 at 12:52 am

    How long should I cook a 3 lb (or slightly less) chicken? (and if it’s all the same, the longer the better on a lower temp.)

    • catherine

      July 29, 2010 at 2:05 pm

      On low cook it for 3 1/2 -4 hours and on high cook it for 2 1/2-3 hours.

      • Daria

        July 30, 2010 at 12:34 pm

        I “winged it” yesterday before I got your response – it was DELICIOUS!! And my 3 year old loved it too!

  48. Andrea

    July 24, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    Made this today. Maybe its my crockpot but it took WAY more than 2 hours to cook the chicken. More like 4. I looked up other chicken in a slow cooker recipes and they said 4 hours for a 3 lb chicken on high.

    Just wondering if anyone else found this with their crockpots?

    • catherine

      July 26, 2010 at 4:32 pm

      How many pounds was your chicken? That’s a huge factor in the cooking time.

      • Etta

        February 5, 2014 at 4:38 pm

        I can’t believe you’re not playing with mea-ht-t was so helpful.

      • Andrea

        July 30, 2010 at 7:49 pm

        4.2 lbs

        • catherine

          August 2, 2010 at 3:58 pm

          I would cook it for 3-3 1/2 Hours. My crock pot will cook it in 3 hours.

  49. Jessica

    July 23, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Was that a 1-4 pound chicken or a 14 pound chicken? I’m clearly a novice. Thanks.

    • catherine

      July 26, 2010 at 5:04 pm

      It is a One 4 lb Chicken :)

  50. lindey

    July 12, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    made this for tonights supper. it was a huge hit with the hubby & big kids (16 & 9) i pulled the meat of one breast to make your mac chicken & cheese with & OMG…the kids *loved* it! i’m on a VLCDiet so didn’t have any, but it sure smelled and looked wonderful :o) you’re the best!
    up tomorrow…pizza pinwheels!

  51. Heather

    July 10, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Have you ever tried doing chicken breasts using this method in the slow cooker? I wonder if it would work… I might give it a try! Next time I have a whole chicken in the house, I’m definately going to use this recipe.

    • catherine

      July 12, 2010 at 2:29 pm

      I haven’t used chicken breasts, but if I do, I would use the bone-in kind so that the breast are juicier :) I’m so happy you like the recipe!

  52. jenni

    June 27, 2010 at 9:03 am

    i made this just this morning to take on our family picnic today. i used my nesco 3 in 1 on slow cooker mode and added some fresh rosemary(because i adore it!)to your recipe. IT CAME OUT PERFECT! thank you so much for your wonderful recipes. now im off to vote for your tv show!

  53. Kerri

    June 18, 2010 at 11:58 am

    I am going to make this tomorrow. We have a day trip planned to a family dairy, and this will be waiting for us when we get home! We have tons of thyme in our garden right now, so it will be great to have a recipe for it. Thanks! Already looking forward to tomorrow’s dinner!

  54. elizabeth

    May 16, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    I made this tonight with great success! I was going to be gone for 4 hours, so I cooked a 5# chicken on low for 5 hours. It was perfection when I arrived home. We had some tonight for dinner and the rest will be filler during the week. thanks for the great method.

  55. Janine

    May 12, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    Hi! OK, so I made this tonight and my little guy ( 4 yrs) had thirds! Yes, thirds! Thank you so much :):) We had the Mac n Cheese in a rice cooker with it too, plus veges of course.
    I was wondering how long would you suggest to cook the chicken on low? I want to share this with my mommy friends who work out of the home.
    Thanks!
    Janine

    • catherine

      May 13, 2010 at 4:04 pm

      I would suggest around 3-5 hours, but I would definitely go in around 3 -4 hours and measure its temperature and with a meat thermometer and see if its temp is at 160-165. Make sure your chicken temp is between 160-165 that is when you know the chicken is fully cooked. Make sure you put the thermometer between the breast and leg or thickest area of the chicken.

  56. Katie

    March 18, 2010 at 5:22 am

    HI!
    I absolutely LOVE your website!!!!
    thankyou so much! as you tell us all the time, good nutritious meals are especially difficult for working moms who are not home during the day. which leads to my question…..can i put this chicken on low all day- 10 hrs if i put some water on the bottom? and still expect a great meal?
    thanks, Katie in Connecticut

    • Erina

      February 4, 2014 at 6:28 pm

      Look to the upper right hand of the page. Just under the navigation bar on the right. You’ll see the Serving size and the hours for all ricpees right there.VN:F [1.9.20_1166](from 0 votes)

  57. hungrysmurf

    March 16, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    Hi! What kind of crock pot do you use? I have been meaning to get one and this recipe is making me want to run out and buy one tomorrow!

  58. Erica

    March 16, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    I’m cooking this right now :)