Make things easy on yourself when you cook a whole chicken in the slow cooker. Not only will you have tender, delicious cooked chicken, but you’ll also have luscious drippings to make into 5-Minute Easy Gravy or Homemade Chicken Stock.
A Crockpot Whole Chicken is a simple, hands-free way to cook dinner. Serve the chicken alongside Slow Cooker Potatoes for a delicious supper.
The slow cooker, aka Crockpot, can be a boon to the home cook. Not only could you use your slow cooker all month and eat incredibly well, but you can also save a ton of time.
Cooking a Crockpot Whole Chicken is a perfect example.
Why Make This
It’s a good deal. Cooking a whole chicken in the crockpot—as opposed to cooking pieces—can be a great way to stretch your grocery dollar. Not only do you get an abundance of cooked chicken plus a carcass to make homemade chicken stock, but you also benefit from lower prices and more tender meat. (Bone-in chicken tends not to dry out like boneless can.)
It’s a good way to cook a lot of chicken at once. A Crockpot Whole Chicken is also a great way to bulk cook and provide for many meals in one fell swoop. You won’t get the crispy skin that you do when you roast a whole chicken, but you’ll have great tasting chicken meat and yummy drippings to use in stock or gravy.
It’s easy! Cooking a whole chicken in a slow cooker is one of the easiest and tastiest ways to prepare a whole bird. It’s not hard. The meat is tender and juicy. And it saves you a ton of time in the kitchen.
Ready to learn? Here we go.
Here’s what you’ll need to make a Crockpot Whole Chicken:
a roasting chicken – These are usually available in sealed plastic bags in the meat department. When you see a sale, stock up as they freeze well.
butter – You can use dairy butter or plant butter. It will add flavor and make it easy for you to add seasoning under the skin.
seasoned salt – I make homemade seasoned salt, but you can use any spice blend you like as well as plain old salt and pepper. Sometimes I give it a heavy sprinkling of dried onion flakes as well as salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Consider thyme, herbes de provence, rosemary, oregano, basil, or sage to add to your seasoning. The possibilities are endless!
Step by Step Instructions
1. Place the chicken on a tray to catch drips and contain the mess. Pat the chicken dry and remove the neck and giblets from inside the bird. Sometimes they are packed in a bag, sometimes not. You can use these for cooking, like in homemade stock, or discard. Your choice. (I ditch them usually.)
2. I like to season my chicken with butter and seasoned salt. Rather than mess with softening the butter and getting your hands all greasy, cut the butter into pats and seasoned it generously with the seasoned salt.
3. With your hand loosen the skin from the chicken meat and slide the seasoned butter pats under the skin of the chicken. In this way, the melting butter and seasoning baste the chicken breast and keep it moist and flavorful.
Sprinkle more seasoned salt on the outside of the chicken.
4. The cooking chicken will accumulate quite a lot of drippings which is great for homemade gravy. However, it’s nicer for removing the chicken for carving, if the chicken cooks atop a rack of some kind.
You can use a collapsible steamer basket or a thick coil of aluminum foil to keep the chicken out of the juices. I prefer a steamer basket whose handle is removable. Makes it a lot easier for positioning the chicken.
5. Place the prepared chicken on the steamer basket. Once the chicken is settled in the slow cooker, cover it and cook on HIGH for 4 to 5 hours or LOW for 6 to 8 hours.
You do not need to add any liquid. Chickens today typically have some solution added, so they rarely need added liquid. At the end of the cooking time, the meat will be tender, practically falling off the bone.
This is why it’s so helpful to have the steamer basket for moving the chicken from crock to cutting board. The chicken is so tender, it’s liable to fall apart and send bits of chicken all over your kitchen. (Ask me how I know.)
You’re now ready to carve the whole chicken. Depending on the size of your household, you can serve sliced chicken and chicken pieces one night and then have enough leftover for soup or chicken pot pie the next night.
Be sure to use the bones and drippings to make chicken stock as soon as you’ve finished carving the chicken. You don’t even have to wash the slow cooker!
FAQs & Tips for Success
Be sure to thaw your chicken completely. Typically whole birds are stored pretty cold, so even the ones I buy from the store are often partially frozen when I bring them home. Store it in the fridge in a dish to catch drips while it thaws.
Nope! That’s what makes it one of the easiest ways to prepare a whole chicken.
A whole chicken in a crockpot will cook on a low setting in about 4 hours.
Either temperature setting is fine, it’s the timing that is important. Longer cooking times will result in very tender chicken that will be impossible to remove from the crockpot. Check at the lower of the cooking time for the temperature you’ve selected by inserting an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, not touching the bone. You want it to reach 165 degrees to be safe.
Vegetables can get soggy and mushy when added to the slow cooker at the same time as the chicken. For best texture and flavor, toss baby carrots and cubed potatoes with a bit of olive oil and season to taste. Tuck these into foil packs, sealing closed well and add the packs to the slow cooker during the last half of the cooking time.
You do not need to add any liquid. Chickens today typically have some solution added, so they rarely need added liquid. The melted butter will add moisture, so you’re good to go.
Depending on where and when you buy your roasting chicken, cooking a Crockpot Whole Chicken can be very affordable. Sale pricing is the answer to making this dish competitive with the ubiquitous rotisserie chicken.
The lowest I’ve seen whole chickens in the past few years is $0.99/lb. A three- or four-pound chicken will obviously cost $3-4. The butter and spices will be another $0.75 or so.
This is fairly competitive with a store roasted chicken, gives you the added benefit of drippings to use in stock, and allows you to control the ingredients. (The seasoning on rotisserie chickens can vary quite a bit.)
More Great Slow Cooker Recipes
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Crockpot Whole Chicken
- 1 roasting chicken 3 to 4 pounds, giblets removed
- 4 tbsp butter plant butter can also be used
- 2 tsp Homemade Seasoned Salt or other favorite seasoning blend
- Pat the chicken dry and place it on a tray. Remove the giblets, if any. Discard them or save them for another use.
- Slice the butter into several pats. Season them generously with the seasoned salt or other spices.
- Separating the chicken skin from the meat with your hand, slide the pats of seasoned butter into these spaces, distributing evenly. Season the chicken with any remaining spices.
- Place a steamer rack or a coil of aluminum foil in the bottom of the slow cooker to keep the chicken off the juices that will accumulate.
- Place the chicken on the rack. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours or on LOW for 6-8 hours.
- Once the chicken is cooked, to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees, remove the chicken to a cutting board. Carve and serve chicken or chop or shred it for use in another chicken recipe.
- The drippings can be strained and used to make gravy. Alternatively, use the bones and drippings to make homemade chicken stock in the slow cooker.
Originally published January 17, 2012, this post has been updated for content and clarity.