How to Cook a Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker(Guide)


Cooking a whole chicken can seem daunting, especially for those new to cooking or with limited kitchen space. However, there’s no need to worry because using a slow cooker is an easy and efficient way to cook a delicious and juicy whole chicken. Not only does it require minimal preparation, but it also frees up your time to attend to other tasks.

In this blog post, we will guide you on how to cook a whole chicken in a slow cooker from a desired perspective so that you can enjoy a mouthwatering meal without any hassle. Whether you’re looking to impress your family, friends or want to treat yourself to a flavorful dinner, this recipe is perfect for you. So, get ready to fire up your slow cooker, and let’s get cooking.

How to Cook a Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker(Guide)

With the help of a slow cooker, it’s quite easy to achieve juicy, flavorful chicken that falls right off the bone. Plus, the slow cooker does most of the work for you, so you can sit back, relax, and let it do its magic.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken (3-4 lbs)
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth

1. Choosing the right Chicken

The two most common types of chicken in the grocery store are conventionally and organically raised chicken. Conventionally raised chicken is raised in large quantities and is often given antibiotics and other medications to prevent disease and promote growth. On the other hand, organically raised chicken is raised in smaller quantities and is not given antibiotics or hormones. It is important to note that organic chicken does not necessarily mean it was raised free-range or cruelty-free.

Another option is free-range chicken, raised outdoors and allowed to roam freely. Free-range chicken is often considered more humane and healthier than conventionally raised chicken. However, it can be more expensive and less readily available in some areas.

When selecting a chicken for your slow cooker, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, the size of the chicken matters. Slow-cooking a chicken requires a bird that is not too large or too small. A bird that is too small will cook too quickly and could dry out, while a bird that is too large may take too long to cook and may not fit properly in your slow cooker. A chicken that weighs between 3-4 pounds is generally a good size for slow cooking.

Next, consider the fat content of the chicken. The chicken’s fat helps keep it moist and tender during cooking. However, a chicken that is too fatty can make your dish greasy. Look for a chicken with a good balance of fat and meat, with a nice layer of fat under the skin.

Another thing to consider is the freshness of the chicken. Always look for a chicken that has a good color and firm texture. Avoid chicken that looks discolored, slimy, or has a strange odor. Fresh chicken tastes better than a bird sitting in the store for too long.

2. Preparing the Chicken

Before cooking a whole chicken, cleaning it thoroughly to remove any dirt, bacteria, or contaminants on the bird’s surface is important. To clean the chicken, rinse it under cold running water and pat it dry with paper towels. Make sure to remove any giblets or neck bones that may be inside the cavity of the chicken.

Once the chicken is cleaned, it’s time to season it. There are many different ways to season a whole chicken. Still, some popular options include rubbing it with a mixture of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika or using a store-bought poultry seasoning blend. To infuse the bird with flavor, you can also stuff the chicken cavity with fresh herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, or sage.

Don’t forget to truss. Trussing the chicken means tying it up with kitchen twine to help it cook more evenly and maintain its shape during cooking. To truss a chicken, start by tucking the wings under the bird’s body. Then, tie the legs together with kitchen twine, making a knot to secure them. Finally, tie the twine around the bird’s body to hold it together.

In addition to seasoning and trussing, there are many other ways to add flavor to a whole chicken before cooking it in a slow cooker. Here are some ideas:

  • Marinade: You can marinate the chicken in a mixture of oil, vinegar, herbs, and spices for a few hours or overnight before cooking to add flavor.
  • Rub: Use a dry rub to coat the chicken with herbs, spices, and brown sugar. Let it sit for a few hours or overnight to infuse the chicken with flavor.
  • Stuffing: Stuff the chicken cavity with herbs, garlic, onions, and lemon slices for additional flavor.
  • Vegetables: Add vegetables, such as onions, carrots, and celery, to the slow cooker with the chicken for a flavorful one-pot meal.

3. Cooking the Chicken

Cook the chicken on low heat for 6-8 hours or on high heat for 3-4 hours. The cooking time will depend on the size of the chicken and the heat of your slow cooker. Ensure that the chicken’s internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C) before serving.

4. Serve the Chicken

Once the chicken is cooked, carefully remove it from the slow cooker and place it on a platter. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes before carving. Serve the chicken with the juices from the slow cooker and your favorite sides.

Tips:

  • If you want crispy skin, place the chicken in a preheated oven at 400°F (200°C) for 10-15 minutes after cooking in the slow cooker. Make sure to watch it closely so that it doesn’t burn.
  • Add vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and celery to the slow cooker and the chicken for a complete meal.
  • Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone. It should read 165°F (74°C) when the chicken is fully cooked.
  • If you have leftovers, store the chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months.

What temperature should the slow cooker be set to when cooking a whole chicken?

The ideal temperature for cooking a whole chicken in a slow cooker is 165°F (74°C). According to the USDA, this temperature is the minimum safe internal temperature for poultry. Cooking the chicken to this temperature ensures that any harmful bacteria or pathogens present in the chicken are destroyed, making it safe to eat.

The slow cooker should be set to low heat to achieve this temperature. Cooking the chicken on low heat allows it to cook slowly and evenly, preventing it from becoming dry or tough. A slow cooker set to low heat typically maintains a temperature between 170°F to 200°F (77°C to 93°C), which is ideal for cooking a whole chicken.

How do I ensure that the chicken stays moist and tender in the slow cooker?

Cooking chicken in a slow cooker can be tricky, and one of the biggest challenges when cooking chicken in a slow cooker is keeping it moist and tender.

1. Choose the right cut of chicken

The first step to ensuring that your chicken stays moist and tender in the slow cooker is choosing the right chicken cut. Chicken thighs and drumsticks are ideal for slow cooking because they have more fat and connective tissue than chicken breasts.

The meat’s extra fat helps keep it moist during the long cooking process. Chicken breasts can dry out easily, so avoiding them or adding extra moisture in broth or a sauce is best.

2. Don’t overcook the chicken

Overcooking is the biggest enemy of moist and tender chicken. Slow cookers are designed to cook food slowly over a long period, so avoiding overcooking the chicken is important.

The general rule of thumb is to cook chicken on low heat for 4-6 hours or on high heat for 2-3 hours. If you cook the chicken too long, it will dry and tough.

3. Add enough liquid

Adding enough liquid is important to keep the chicken moist and tender. The liquid can be in the form of broth, water, or sauce. A good rule of thumb is to use about 1/2 to 1 cup of liquid for every pound of chicken.

Add vegetables like onions and carrots to the slow cooker to add more flavor and moisture.

4. Season the chicken properly

Seasoning the chicken properly is important to enhance the flavor and keep the chicken moist. You can use a variety of seasonings, such as salt, pepper, garlic, herbs, and spices. Rub the seasoning on the chicken before placing it in the slow cooker, or mix it with the liquid to create a marinade.

5. Use the right temperature setting

The right temperature setting is crucial to keeping the chicken moist and tender. Cooking on high heat will cause the chicken to cook too quickly and become dry. Cooking on low heat for the recommended time will ensure the chicken cooks slowly and stays moist.

6. Let the chicken rest

After the chicken is done cooking, it’s important to let it rest for a few minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, making it more tender and juicy.

Can I add vegetables to the slow cooker with the chicken?

Adding vegetables to your slow cooker chicken dishes is a great way to make your meals more nutritious and flavorful. Just remember to choose the right vegetables, cut them to a similar size, and add them at the appropriate time to ensure they cook through properly.

Below are some specific vegetables that work well in slow-cooker chicken dishes:

  • Carrots are a classic choice for slow cooker recipes and work well with chicken. Cut them into large chunks and add them at the beginning of the cooking process.
  • Potatoes: Another staple for slow cooker dishes, potatoes can be cut into large chunks or even left whole, depending on their size. Add them towards the beginning of the cooking process.
  • Onions: These add a great depth of flavor to slow cooker dishes and can be added at the beginning of the cooking process. If you prefer your onions to have a bit more texture, add them towards the end of cooking.
  • Bell peppers: These add color and sweetness to slow cooker chicken dishes. Cut them into large pieces and add them towards the end of the cooking process.
  • Mushrooms add an earthy flavor to slow cooker dishes and pair well with chicken. Add them towards the end of cooking to prevent them from becoming too soft.
  • Green beans are great for adding some green to your slow cooker dish. Add them towards the end of cooking to prevent them from becoming mushy.
  • Broccoli: This is a great option for adding cruciferous vegetables. Cut it into florets and add it towards the end of cooking.

Cook a Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker Recipe

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken breasts, chicken moist, garlic powder, slow cooker dishes

Materials

  • 1 whole chicken (3-4 lbs)
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth

Instructions

  • The first step in preparing a whole chicken for slow cooking is to clean it thoroughly. Remove any giblets and excess fat from the chicken cavity, then rinse the bird inside and out with cold water. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.
  • Mix the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, rosemary, salt, and black pepper together in a small bowl. Rub this seasoning mix all over the chicken, making sure to cover every inch of the bird. You can also season the inside of the chicken cavity.
  • Place the lemon wedges, chopped onion, and minced garlic inside the chicken cavity. This will infuse the chicken with extra flavor and aroma as it cooks.
  • Place the chicken in the slow cooker, breast side up. Pour the chicken broth over the chicken.
  • Cook the chicken on low heat for 6-8 hours or on high heat for 3-4 hours. The cooking time will depend on the size of the chicken and the heat of your slow cooker. Make sure that the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F (74°C) before serving.
  • Once the chicken is cooked, carefully remove it from the slow cooker and place it on a platter. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes before carving. Serve the chicken with the juices from the slow cooker and your favorite sides.

Video

Notes

  • If you want crispy skin, you can place the chicken in a preheated oven at 400°F (200°C) for 10-15 minutes after it has finished cooking in the slow cooker. Make sure to watch it closely so that it doesn’t burn.
  • You can also add vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and celery to the slow cooker along with the chicken for a complete meal.
  • Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone. It should read 165°F (74°C) when the chicken is fully cooked.
  • If you have leftovers, you can store the chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months.

Conclusion

Cooking a whole chicken in a slow cooker is a convenient way to prepare a delicious and healthy meal and saves time and effort. With just a few simple steps and ingredients, you can have a tender and juicy chicken perfect for a family dinner or meal prepping for the week ahead.

The key to a successful slow cooker chicken is to make sure it is seasoned well and cooked in the appropriate setting and time. Whether you prefer a classic seasoning blend or a more flavorful spice mix, the slow cooker infuses the flavors into the meat for a delectable result.

Don’t forget to take advantage of the chicken leftovers. You can shred the remaining meat in salads, sandwiches, tacos, or soups. The broth can also be used as a base for other recipes or frozen for future use.

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