Bake a Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker





Introduction: Bake a Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker

About: I work at instructables by day, and turn into a stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @jessyratfink to see what i'm working on! ^_^

I know, baking a chicken in a slow cooker sounds a little strange. But it works! I recently heard about this technique while browsing the food section on NPR's website and it just sounded so crazy. I had no idea you could cook a whole chicken in a slow cooker without adding any liquid.

I decided to try it out, and while I have to tell you it will not beat a oven roast chicken with crispy skin, it is a super simple and amazing way to cook a chicken so you have dinner 75% ready when you get home.

Here's the original article. I modified the KFC spice recipe a bit as I didn't have everything on hand, so I'll share my version in a couple steps. :D

Step 1: Ingredients + Tools

For best results, you will want to use a small 3-5 pound chicken. The chicken I chose to use here was a small free range one - about 3.5 pounds. If you can get your butcher to skin it, do that! It'll make it easier later. :)

I also recommend having a 6 quart slow cooker to make it in - any smaller and it might not fit the chicken. I use this one at home, and I love it.

Step 2: Prep the Chicken

Since we won't be getting a nice amount of heat like we would in the oven, we're going to want to remove the skin. Rubbery skin is one of my least favorite things ever to eat.

To do this, I cut a slit in the skin covering the breasts and begin to pull. I cut off the wing tips entirely because they're nearly impossible to de-skin and they don't taste that great when they're not roasted.

Keeping the skin in large pieces makes it easier to pull off, too.

Once the skin has been removed, trim away any excess fat. This often occurs near the neck and down near the body cavity, too.

Step 3: Apply a Spice Rub to the Chicken

You can really use whatever spice rub you like, but I chose to try the one from the original article. Upon closer inspection, I didn't have all the spices, so I subbed a bit.

KFC-inspired spice rub:
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • pinch of celery seed
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Measure out all the spices into a bowl and mix. Rub the entire rub mix over the bird until it's nicely coated. If you have any leftovers, rub it inside the body cavity.

Step 4: Slow Cook Your Chicken

Cooking times will depend on the weight of your chicken:
On high, you'll cook it for 3-4 hours.
On low, you'll cook it 6-7 hours.

I put my chicken in breast side up even though the author of the original recipe cooked hers the other way. Mostly out of habit and/or lack of reading comprehension. :)

Add NO liquid to the slow cooker whatsoever and put on the lid. Try your hardest not to open the lid while it cooks - all it's going to do is add time!

Once the legs begin to separate from the body of the bird, it's close to being done. It's a good idea to double check to make sure the chicken has reached 165 F (check the thigh!) and is cooked all the way through. If you have a crockpot like mine, you can even insert a probe and stop the cooking right when it hits that temp.

Step 5: Final Thoughts

The chicken tasted great! The rub really made up for the lack of skin. For the amount of effort I put in I was very happy with the results.

The chicken was nice and moist and fell apart easily, but I think next time I'll cook it for a little less time. This time I did the full four hours which might have been a little long for the size of the bird.

While it cooks the chicken releases a ton of liquid and fat that would probably really help to keep the breasts moist, so I'm going to try it breast side down.

I'm definitely going to do this again soon! It was so easy to do and we got some really great sandwiches and salads out of the chicken I cooked.



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    28 Discussions

    I marinade my Chicken in a Pilsner or a nice IPA beer for 24 hours. Talk about moist and tender. Hmmmm. "Finger lickin Good"

    I've also seen where they suggest balls of tinfoil under the chicken to keep it out of the grease. I wonder if you could use a cat food can - the little ones..? I think this is called faux rotisserie chicken. It's definitely cheaper than the $7.99 and up at the grocery store. It looks so odd without skin but if it wouldn't crisp up it I agree it would be nasty,

    2 replies

    Better the foil or cans is to use veg. When roasting, I always use halves of onions, sticks of celery or some other veg to make a platform for the meat.

    As for the skin, either cook with it on and take it off at the end (better for moisture) or stick the chicken under the grill (broiler, I think you call it in America?) to crisp up.

    I cook a whole chicken eegularly in i always keep the skin on (easy to pull off when cooked) and put it upside down and it's never dry and suuuuper moist.

    So I made a chicken like this but I left the skin on.... We won't eat the skin but I wonder if it will help keep the bird moist? I guess come 4:30 I will find out. :)

    I made a slow cooker chicken today with some added water (with no spices) but cooked it with the skin on. After it was done I cut most of it up and mixed it with chopped celery, chopped apples, Manderine oranges and honey mustard dressing. I put it on buns and send it as my husband's lunch for work. I raise my own chickens so I know how they were fed and raised. My birds get up to 12 pounds. We will be eating this for days :o)

    I will have to try this method when I buy a new slow cooker. Do you happen to like yours? I have been thinking about buying that type. Thanks Jessy for sharing!


    4 replies

    I do like mine! I don't use it too often, but it's been really great to have such a big one. It's a good chicken soup shortcut. :D

    Thanks Jessy. My daughter and I have purchased 4 crockpots in the last few years and on everyone of them the knob on the lid broke. So I have been looking at different styles to find something that did not have a knob like yours. there are not very many available. I think I will give this brand a try. Have a great day!

    Not sure if you've heard of the Nu Wave induction cook top, but I use it with a cast iron dutch oven as a slow cooker. The cook top is digital so it maintains a super low temp such as 175-200 and it can shut off whenever you want with the timer. I've made pulled pork, ribs, etc. in it. Anything a slow cooker can do, it can do.

    Thank you so much for sharing. I have a dutch oven and this sounds like it would be perfect for me. I shared this information with my girls! I like the idea of cooking at a lower temperature. Thanks again and I hope your day shines!


    I must admit to be pretty much clueless when it comes to cooking but this looks like something I could possibly manage. I'm just wondering if and how one might combine something like potatos with this, cooking the entire meal at the same time?

    1 reply

    If you wanted to add some veggies, I would suggest adding maybe 1/8 cup of liquid at the very beginning, popping them in and then putting the chicken on top. That way they won't scorch or dry out before the chicken starts to cook and release some liquid. :)

    Mmmmmmmmmmmmm, nice instructable!!! I could all most taste it!! But sorry, I like the crispy skin, how about taking the skin very gently with the hand working between the flesh and skin and undresing the chicken so as to say, then putting all the herbs and butter or what ever you fancy and then dresing the bird again with yet a bit more butter on the outside!! yum yum, let me know what you think!! I am off to the kitchen, starving!!

    The reason a chicken or turkey is cooked with breast side down, as because the juices will stay in the meaty breast area keeping it moist. I use a big electric roaster for my Turkey and cook it this way. In the hot seasons it can be done out on the porch which keeps from heating up the house.

    I like the dry spices as a rub. Never thought of doing that. I am definitely going to use the recipe.