I’ve tried a ridiculous amount of crock pot chicken recipes, and this is by far the best (and easiest) slow cooker whole chicken recipe that keeps the chicken super moist and falling-off-the-bone delicious—plus it’s a great way to switch things up if you usually roast chicken! And if you have a well-stocked spice cabinet, you’ll hardly have to buy anything to make this dish.
How to Cook Chicken in a Crock Pot
Simply combine a few basic herbs and spices, rub them all over the chicken (I even season inside the cavity and under the skin on the breasts), add the onion and chicken to the slow cooker, and cook on high for 4-5 hours. That’s it!
Once the chicken is done, it is flavorful enough to eat by itself as the main dish, or you can incorporate it into something else like pasta, chicken salad, chicken pot pie, or a casserole (I’ve listed some of my favorite ideas below). You don’t need anything fancy, we use a very basic crock pot that can be purchased on Amazon for about $40.
Another great trick (that I learned from a friend!) is that after you pick off the good chicken meat you can leave the bones in the crock pot to make some stock—more on that below.
Wow!! Mind blown! Thank you so much for this recipe. I had to call my mom and my mother-in-law about this recipe. The chicken is perfectly cooked. We are cooking the stock right now and I’ll make homemade noodles to go with it. I’m a teacher and mom of four who loves to cook authentic dishes. Way to go!
The Best Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot Recipe
Some helpful tips from readers:
- If you use boneless skinless chicken breasts in this recipe, you’ll need to add some water to the dish before cooking, otherwise they may come out dry.
- You could also cook a small turkey breast with this recipe; place it breast side down.
- You can cook this on low (for example, if you’re going to be at work all day and you want it to cook while you’re gone) if you start it first on high for an hour.
- If you do the Overnight Chicken Stock in the Crockpot you can use a hand immersion blender to blend up all the veggies in the stock (after taking out the skin and bones) so there’s no waste.
Crock Pot Whole Chicken FAQ
How Long to Cook Chicken in a Crockpot?
For a typical 3-4 pound chicken, you’ll want to cook in your slow cooker for about 4-5 hours on high. Timing may vary based on the size of the bird as well as your individual slow cooker, but it shouldn’t take longer than 5 hours to reach 165 degrees.
Cooking Tip: Try not to lift the lid during cook time, as you’ll want to keep the heat in. Once it’s about done, you can then check for doneness with a thermometer to see if it’s reached the appropriate temperature.
Can I Cook a Frozen Whole Chicken?
Due to food safety reasons, you should not cook a frozen whole chicken in the slow cooker. Make sure to thaw it out completely before cooking (see how to safely defrost meat for more info).
The ideal way to defrost meat is in the fridge overnight.
- A small chicken (5 pounds or less) usually can defrost in 24 hours or less
- A large whole chicken can take 2-3 days to safely defrost in a refrigerator
Is It Safe to Cook a Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker?
Absolutely. You always want to make sure you cook the whole chicken on high heat for at least the first hour (if you also plan to cook on low). Since we’re cooking it on high the entire time for this recipe, it’s perfectly safe.
Should I Add Water?
There is no need to add water as the chicken will create its own juices while cooking. Adding water will just produce a soggy chicken in the end.
How to Get Brown, Crispy Skin
If you’re a fan of crispy chicken skin, you can still achieve this by placing the chicken on a rimmed baking sheeting after it’s done and placing it under the broiler for about 4-5 minutes. Be sure to let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before serving.
How to Remove Meat from a Whole Chicken
With this recipe, the meat basically falls off the bone once it’s done. But since the chicken will be very hot, you must be careful not to burn yourself while getting as much meat off of the chicken as possible. Here are some tips:
- Use tongs and a fork to remove the large parts of the chicken (thighs, legs, wings) from the slow cooker and place them on a platter/cutting board separately so they can cool briefly.
- Run your fingers (or a spoon) under each breast to separate from the rib bones and then remove the meat in one piece.
- Trim the large parts if wish to serve them whole, or carve off pieces of meat and set aside. Throw any skin/fat/bones back in the crock pot as you go.
- Next, remove the carcass from the slow cooker and place it on the platter/cutting board. When cool enough, use a fork and your fingers to pick off every little piece of meat and place in a bowl or storage container. The little bits are great for making chicken salad, soups, enchiladas, etc.! Put anything other than meat back in the crock pot.
How to Make Chicken Stock
I’m so glad I learned about this from a friend of mine years ago. Once you are done picking off all the meat, throw the carcass and bones back into the crock pot so that you can make chicken stock. It’s a great way to not waste any part of the chicken.
I usually start the chicken stock after dinner by filling the slow cooker to the top with water and then adding whatever I have on hand … bay leaf, carrot, celery, onion, parsley, and/or thyme. Even if I am missing parsley or celery I still make it anyway, and it always turns out just fine. I keep it on low all night and then in the morning, I strain it into wide-mouth jars to store in the freezer (the pictured jars have shoulders and are not wide-mouth). It works great and couldn’t be easier!