How to Cook a Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker

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Make things easy on yourself! Roast a whole chicken in the slow cooker for tender, delicious cooked chicken.

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bowl of shredded chicken

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 for lower prices and more tender meat. (Bone-in chicken tends not to try out like boneless can.)

It’s also a great way to bulk cook and provide for many meals in one fell swoop.

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.

Do you have to cook chicken before putting it into the slow cooker?

Nope! That’s what makes it one of the easiest way to prepare a whole chicken.

And the whole chicken in a crockpot will cook on a low setting in about 4 hours.

How do you cook a whole chicken in the slow cooker?

1. Thaw the 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.

2. Remove the giblets.

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, unless I’m making this recipe.) Pat the bird dry.

3. Season the chicken.

Place the chicken in your slow cooker. Rub on some butter or oil and then season it. 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.

You can even just give it a good dousing in or Herbed Seasoning Mix or Taco Seasoning Mix.

Buying herbs and spices in bulk and mixing my own spice mixes allows me a world of flavors for just pennies a teaspoon!

whole chicken in the slow cooker

4. Cover and cook.

Place the cover on the slow cooker and turn it on to high for 4-5 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 ideal for shredding or simply carve and serve.

Optional: since the chicken does produce a lot of drippings, I like to put it atop a steamer basket so that the chicken isn’t sitting right in all the liquid. It also makes it easier to remove the chicken in one piece.

Then go ahead and carve up that whole chicken. I typically serve sliced chicken and chicken pieces one night and then have enough leftover for soup or chicken pot pie the next night. I use the bones and drippings to make broth in the same slow cooker as soon as I’ve finished carving the chicken.

If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can roast your chicken this way in the oven.

Tools I use to make this recipe:

5 from 2 votes
How To Cook Chicken In The Slow Cooker
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
4 hrs
Total Time
4 hrs 10 mins

Make things easy on yourself! Roast a whole chicken in the slow cooker for tender, delicious cooked chicken.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken, slow cooker
Author: Jessica Fisher
  • one whole chicken completely thawed and giblets removed
  • 1/4 cup softened butter or olive oil
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons other spices of your choice: garlic powder dried chopped onion, rosemary, thyme, herbes de provence, oregano, basil, or sage
  1. Pat the chicken dry and place it in the slow cooker.
  2. Rub the chicken with the softened butter or drizzle it with oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper and your choice of spices.
  3. Place the cover on the slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 4 hours or on LOW for 6-8 hours. You can place it on a small roasting rack or steamer basket if you prefer.
  4. Carve and serve chicken or shred it for use in another chicken meal.
  5. Use the bones and drippings to make homemade chicken stock in the slow cooker.

Originally posted January 17, 2012. Updated 2017.

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Don’t worry if you don’t have enough time to completely thaw the bird. It will taste just as good if it’s frozen (or partially frozen). I only thaw the bird just enough to remove the neck and giblets. I season the bird the same (maybe put in a sliced orange) and it cooks just fine.

  2. Deborah Jennings says

    I put my whole chicken in and cover it with barbecue sauce and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. It is so good! I serve this with potato salad and some kind of beans. Baked beans, Chili beans, Pintos or whatever kind your family prefers. We all love it!

  3. Ginger Riggins says

    I actually did both (cooked and made broth)at the same time last week. I put my chicken in the crock-pot with a can of Rotel and a can of green enchilada sauce. Seasoned with a little salt and pepper and filled the crock to the top with water. Let it cook all day (6-8 hrs) and what a great flavor it had. I deboned and cut up the chicken for use later on. I also had a pot full of wonderfully flavored chicken broth that I will use for chicken enchiladas later this week!

    • Julie Jones says

      @Ginger Riggins,
      Can you share the enchilada recipe you would use the broth for???

      • Ginger Riggins says

        @Julie Jones,
        I usually boil my chicken for 1.5 hrs. De-bone it and put it aside. I reserve the broth to add later as well.
        Here is the main recipe:
        Chicken (from above or from crock pot recipe)
        1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
        1 can Cream of Chicken soup
        1 can chopped green chilis
        8 oz. sour cream
        1-2 cups of chicken broth (also from above)
        1 dozen corn tortillas
        2-4 cups grated cheese (colby jack, sharp, your preference)

        Combine the first 5 ingredients in a dutch oven. Slowly add the chicken broth to the desired consistency. I like my enchiladas to have a little sauce to them. Bring to a boil. Use a 13×9 in pan and coat the bottom with a little sauce. Use the corn tortillas to cover the bottom. (I usually use 2 whole and then half 1 or 2 to cover the bottom) Add the chicken mixture over the tortillas and cover with cheese. Repeat layers until all sauce is used. I get about 3 layers. Cook at 350 for about 20 mins or until bubbly.
        **I sometimes will use a can of green enchilada sauce to jazz the flavor. I usually just layer this dish but you could roll each tortilla with the sauce and make it that way as well. You can add or take away any ingredient to make it your own. I have even used left over beans/refried beans to add to the layers as well. Just try it several ways until you get it just right. I hardly ever make the same dish twice! 🙂

  4. erica says

    I season mine with season salt inside and out and then put balls of aluminum foil under it to keep it up out of the juices in the bottom of the slow cooker. It turns out just like rotisserie chicken from the grocery store (other than Costco’s, they are never big enough to feed our family)

  5. You can do the same thing with a turkey breast and will end up with the BEST moistest turkey for sandwiches. I add a stick of butter along with the seasoned turkey and then make fantastic gravy with the drippings.

  6. Suzanne says

    What a timely post. I just took a chicken out of the freezer yesterday to cook tomorrow! I was going to crock it, but I’ve always added water. I can’t wait to try it without the added liquid.

  7. eko says

    We never have chickens that low – I think the lowest is .89cents per pound. There is such a back and forth(ness) about whether or not to rinse a chicken. I am still of the mindset that one should, and then I have the excuse to scrub up the sink and surrounding area REALLY well.

    I have never coated my chicken with butter/or oil in the crockpot — what looks GOOD, I’ll do that next time.

    New(ish) reader – love your site. TY

    • Maureen says

      I know they say not to, but I can’t help but wash the chicken as well. Old habits die hard. Because we have poultry at least twice a week, it means that the kitchen sink and area get a good disinfecting! So I see it as a win-win!

  8. I like to rub mine with oil and seasoning salt. I put it upside down on top of canning jar rings in the crock pot with no water. Cook on high for 4 hours and it is falling apart, tender and so juicy!

  9. Bobbi Sue says

    I put a whole chopped onion in the bottom of the slow cooker. I don’t understand why you’d use oil…you really don’t need it and most of you probably take the skin off anyway. The slow cooker does it all by itself. Nice, juicy, moist..delicious! Just my personal opinion of course.

    • Jessica says

      I probably don’t do it every time, but when I do, I use olive oil so it adds some flavor.

  10. Trish says

    wow, what a great post, and really helpful comments. We dont eat a lot of chicken, because my husband really likes white meat and i can’t seem to roast chicken breasts – bone in or not – without them coming out dry. but just putting it in the crockpot sounds great! I love rotisserie chicken, and lately have found that the various stores all seem to be using some seasoning that I can’t stand! so they are out as a dinner option. but this will bring them back . so glad I read this!

  11. STL says

    I did this today, in fact. I do pretty much all of the things you mentioned with the chicken, except the next day I usually make burritos, taco casserole, pasta, or something that requires bite-sized chicken. Thanks to your freezer cooking info, I froze the last leftovers so I’d have chicken ready to go in a pinch someday. Today I just put the chicken in and poured some teriyaki sauce I’ve had sitting in my cabinet for a long time (almost out of date, but still good) over it for the first time. We’ll see how it comes out.

  12. Kat says

    My family absolutely loves whole roasted chickens, but we don’t ever see them at THAT great of a price where we are in So Cali. Would you mind sharing the name of the store that you find such great deals at? We normally end up settling for a Costco rotisserie bird, just because it’s cheaper than buying a whole bird for 12.00 or 14.00 dollars and then roasting ourselves. I’d really rather do it myself so I know exactly what my family is eating.

    • Jessica says

      Ralph’s runs this sale about once a quarter. This week they are 79cents I think. But, they go lower.

  13. Kat says

    Thanks, I’ll start keeping an eye on their ads! 🙂

  14. Kristi says

    I love to do a whole chicken in the crock pot. It’s on our menu for tomorrow night. I like to put olive oil on the chicken, then use Emeril’s creole seasoning. (I got the link to that recipe here on your site.) It makes the chicken have more of a “roasted” look.

    • TSandy says

      I love Emeril’s spice blends. I’ll have to try the creole on a whole chicken. Quarter a lemon and an onion. Stuff the cavity with both and it adds so much flavor to the chicken.

  15. Michelle says

    I do this all the time! In fact, I usually do 2 birds in the crock at the same time. One for dinner, one to shred for tacos/enchiladas later. One thing I for the life of me can’t understand is how you hav e leftovers?!?! We are a family of 3: me 5’2″ 110lbs, hubs 6′ 170 lbs and a five-year old girl 32lbs. We usually only have enough chicken left over from o e bird for “1” of us to have lunch the next day! And that’s with at least 2 side dishes!

    • Rob Dobbs says

      @Michelle, If you want more leftover chicken, increase the number of side dishes beyond your normal 2, such as serving potatoes and bread or stuffing, 2 different raw or cooked vegetable sides, and fruit.

  16. Where are you getting chickens at that price, I must know! I’m in L.A. Also have been loving the pantry challenge. I haven’t been quite as organized as you in planning but I’ve still made quite a dent and saved money.

    • Jessica says

      Ralphs does this about once a quarter.

  17. Anna R says

    Hey Jessica 🙂 Does the skin come out all white and yucky when you cook a bird in the crock pot or does it brown like in the oven? I’m not a skin eater but the thought if white yucky skin has been enough to keep me from attempting this in the past… Thanks!

    • Jessica says

      I would describe it as somewhere in between. I wouldn’t call it browned, but it’s not white either. But, definitely NOT crisp. It’s not gross, though. imo

  18. M says

    I don’t usually find conventional chickens that low in IN- maybe .89/lb. I’ve been trying to move to organic (or at least hormone/antibiotic-free) for the past few years and have found that buying whole chickens is the only way we can afford to. When I find the organic chickens on sale at $1.50/lb, I try to buy 3-5 and freeze them.
    I “roast” a chicken in the crockpot 1-2x/mo and dice/shred the leftovers for other meals. We had a chicken for supper Thursday night and the broth made over night is now simmering with black beans for soup. There are a few good flavor options at

  19. I’m going to try this! I bought a couple whole chickens real cheap and didn’t know how to cook them. This looks perfect!

  20. Shirlene says

    sounds like a great way to make a whole chicken!

  21. Debbie says

    I cannot wait to try this! Thanks for a great idea. This sounds perfect for my big family!

    • Tracie says

      If it wasn’t for chicken my large family would have starved. We use to take chicken and bake it and then take left over pick off bones and make chicken salad sandwiches or chicken nachos you have to be creative we didn’t have the benefit of the Internet then

  22. Deborah says

    Finally tried this yesterday. How simple! Much easier than roasting the chicken in the oven, simpler cleanup. Need to play around with the cooking time, as 7 hours on low was too long for this bird in my crockpot, but the chicken was nonetheless a hit at our house! Thanks!

  23. Jada says

    Yes, and keep the broth going. I throw the bones back in with seasonings and vegetable peels, etc. Take out what you need; then, add more water. Another blogger calls this perpetual broth. Usually lasts for about a week. Then, I start the process over again.

    Last night I made Chicken and Dumpings. Not sure what we’ll make tonight, but the house smells delicious with the broth simmering.

  24. Judy says

    I like the recipe with the mason jartop in the bottom of the crock and the chicken placed on top. I think I’ll try that one. Got some good ideas from this site.

  25. Jordan says

    Can you cook just a whole chicken breast this way and not the whole chicken? And if so, do you need to add broth?

    • Jessica says

      I often fill the crock with chicken breasts to cook them. It’s so easy and the meat stays super moist. I never add liquid. Unless you’re buying organic or kosher, you won’t need liquid. Conventional chicken has solutions added that make up for the liquid.

  26. Betty says

    I would like to try the chicken in the crock pot. What size crock pot would I need. Thank’s for your help.

    • Jessica says

      A small fryer fits well in a 6qt.

  27. Christine says

    Just wondering about the liquid when you are done cooking the chicken. I usually use the leftover chicken, bones, etc. with veggies to make broth the next day. Do you ever use the first liquid you get from cooking the chicken as broth? It looks good – wondering if it would make good soup all on its own.

    • Jessica says

      @Christine, absolutely use the first liquid. I usually make gravy with it. If I don’t, I add it to the stock pot.

      • kim g says


        I usually use the broth to make potato soup…it gives it such a rich flavor.

    • vb lum says

      What we do with the liquid is put it in a gravy separator and let it settle. Then we use the clear broth to create chicken gravy for a Sunday chicken dinner: chicken, gravy, mashed potatoes, broccoli…etc. If there is a great deal of fat, we let it solidify to use in Jewish recipes, etc. Just package and put in the freezer for use later. Nothing goes to waste! 🙂

  28. Paige Talley says

    I slow cooked (on low) a 5lb organic chicken for 7.5 hours and it came out dry! I’ve often slow cooked 3 lb chickens for about 5 hours and they are delicious and tender; any suggestions on what happened?? I rubbed it first with grass fed butter and then salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, basil & parsley; sat it on a sliced onion and fresh rosemary and even stuffed the cavity with rosemary and sliced apple.

    • Do you always use organic chickens? Conventional chickens have a lot of solution added to them so that can produce different results from organic or kosher chickens.

    • Maureen says

      Elevate the organic chicken with a steamer, foil balls or canning rings and then add a bit of liquid to the bottom of the crockpot; water or even orange juice. You may also try replacing the apple wedges with lemon. I always use organic and never have an issue. The bird may have been cooked a wee bit too long. Chicken is a crazy one. Usually meat tenderizes with time, but poultry gets tougher.

      • I have found that I don’t have to add liquid. There’s so much in the chicken already.

  29. Amber says

    I’ve never not added water & bullion. I’m going to put a bird in and hope it turns out well….
    I enjoyed reading your post and all the comments.
    Thank you, Amber

    • And I’ve never added water. 😉 Unless you have an organic chicken, you shouldn’t have any issues. Mine is usually swimming in juices.

  30. It looks like you place the whole chicken on a metal steamer basket, but there is no mention of this in your post.

    • I’ve added that as an optional step in the post. Sorry for that oversight. It’s not necessary, but it makes it easier to remove the chicken from the crock. It gets so tender sometimes it just falls apart.

  31. Sarah says

    Great information! I appreciate the tip for the steamer basket, too. Thanks, also, for being specific with some of the spice recommendations. I don’t have a good sense of what combos or types of spices are good in recipes, so it helps me when the recipe gives examples. I will try this soon!

  32. Alice E says

    Do you always cook chicken breast down in the slow cooker? I haven ‘t buy think I will try both that and the steamer. I have always added liquid, but will have to try this. It looks scrumptious!

  33. sharon says

    Do you cook fryers or roasters in the slow cooker??

  34. Adelle F says

    I do whole chickens in my slow cooker regularly but the veggie steamer idea is GENIUS!

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