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 tablespoon butter plant butter can also be used
- 2 teaspoon 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.
sounds like a great way to make a whole chicken!
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!
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 http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/
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!
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
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.
Ralphs does this about once a quarter.
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!
@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.
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.
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.
Thanks, I’ll start keeping an eye on their ads! 🙂
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.
Ralph’s runs this sale about once a quarter. This week they are 79cents I think. But, they go lower.
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.
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!
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.
I probably don’t do it every time, but when I do, I use olive oil so it adds some flavor.
@Jessica, For me, I do the oil to make the outside crispy, instead of stewed flavor!
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!
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
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!
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.
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.
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)
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!
Can you share the enchilada recipe you would use the broth for???
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! 🙂
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!
Wilson Family Adventures
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.