slow cooker chicken

$7.16 / 5 lb. chicken

Cooking a whole bird is probably my least favorite task in the kitchen. Something about it just makes me want to moan and groan and … well, just find someone else to do it!

Until I found this method. It’s SO EASY. I first saw this on Slow Cooker From Scratch, and have since been seeing it all over pinterest. So, of course, I had to try it out.

It’s easy, you can season it any old way you like, and it’s a great alternative to the store bought rotisserie chickens. The meat is ultra tender when done and with just a few minutes under the broiler, the skin is just as golden and crispy. You can serve this whole as a main dish or pick the meat off to use on sandwiches (say good bye to salty deli meat!), burritos, tacos, enchiladas, salads, or a million other things.

I have a fairly large slow cooker and to this day I still don’t know it’s official size – it’s somewhere between 5 and 7 quarts. I chose a 5 pound chicken, which by the look of it, would fit nicely in my cooker. It just barely fit. So, my suggestion is to find a chicken that looks like it will fit, and then pick one that is smaller than that one ;) My chicken yielded about 6 cups of cooked meat.

Slow Cooker Chicken

Slow Cooker Chicken

slow cooker chicken
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $7.16
  • 4-5 lb. whole chicken $5.97
  • 1 medium lemon $0.69
  • ½ bulb garlic $0.29
  • ¼ bunch parsley $0.21
  1. Remove the chicken from its packaging over the sink and allow the juices to run out. Remove the giblets from the cavity and discard them. Fold a long piece of foil lengthwise to form a sturdy sling and place the chicken on it (see photos below).
  2. Cut the lemon in half and then cut one of the halves into quarters. Stuff the quarters inside the cavity of the chicken. Peel the garlic cloves and stuff them into the cavity along with the whole sprigs of parsley.
  3. Take the second half of the lemon and place it face down in the center of the slow cooker. This will help the chicken sit up off of the bottom of the cooker. Using the foil sling, lift the chicken into the slow cooking, placing it on top of the lemon. Fold the sides of the sling into the cooker, secure the lid, and cook on high for four hours.
  4. After cooking on high for four hours, carefully lift the chicken out of the slow cooker using the foil sling and place on a baking sheet. Set the broiler to its low setting and cook the chicken under the broiler (5-6 inches from the flame) until the skin is golden brown and crispy (5-10 minutes). Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before cutting or serving.
Some recipes suggest cooking on low for 8 hours, but I don’t condone this. Even on high the chicken takes quite a while to heat through and get out of the “danger temperature zone.” If you want to cook it longer, at least set it to high for the first two hours to prevent the chicken from being at optimal bacteria temperatures for too long.

Step By Step Photos

whole chickenThis was the chicken that I bought for $1.18 per pound. There was another brand that was $0.99 per pound, but I felt better about this one. Call it a gut feeling. Plus, I figured I could afford the extra dollar. Sometimes you have to compromise.

chicken stuffingsRemove the packaging from the chicken. Do this over the sink because there will be quite a bit of juice/water that comes out. Remove the giblets and whatever else (eww) may be stuffed inside. (This is why I usually want someone else to do it!). I stuffed my chicken with lemons, garlic, and parsley because I like those things, but you could do anything like rosemary, thyme, or whatever else you like.

stuffed chickenSo, I stuffed those yummy things into the cavity of the chicken. I used half of the lemon (in the background) to prop the chicken up off of the bottom of the pot.

foil slingPlacing the chicken on a foil sling not only helps keep it up off of the bottom, but it also makes it SUPER easy to lift the chicken out afterwards. The chicken will be really tender, so if it weren’t for the sling it would have fallen apart while trying to take it out. The second half of the lemon is sitting under the chicken. I also sprinkled salt and pepper on the chicken, but later realized that was completely unnecessary since I just removed the skin anyway.

ready to cookI tucked the ends of the foil sling in so that the lid could make a good seal around the edge and hold the heat in. Turn the slow cooker on to high and let it go for four hours.

cooked chickenAnd now the chicken is cooked through and tender! As you may notice, the skin is very blond. You only get that nice golden, crispy skin with dry heat, so we have to pop it under the broiler for a few minutes. It really is a quick and easy step.

cooked chickenUse the foil sling to lift the chicken out of the slow cooker and onto a baking sheet.

oopsOne of the wings was touching the slow cooker and it stuck… the meat was so tender that it came right off as I lifted it out! Ooops.

broilMy broiler is actually in a drawer under the oven, while most electric ovens have a broiling coil on the roof of the main oven compartment. Turn the broiler on to low and make sure that your oven rack is set so that the top of the chicken will be about 5-6 inches from the heat source. Let it broil until the skin is golden brown and crispy. This will likely be a different amount of time for every oven and every chicken, so just keep an eye on it. You’ll hear the skin popping and crackling.

broiled chickenI let mine broil for exactly five minutes, although it probably could have gone a few minutes more. Even still, it was pretty!

Slow Cooker ChickenLet the chicken rest for about 10 minutes before cutting so that the steam pressure can reduce and the juices stay in the meat. If you’re going to pick the meat, let it cool to a temperature where it is easily handled. I find that a warm chicken is easier to pick than one that has been refrigerated. Ummm, pay no mind to those chocolate muffins in the background… those are for the cookbook!

chicken meat and bonesI got about 6 cups of chicken meat off of my 5 lb. chicken. I also saved the carcass because I made chicken stock with it! You’ll see that post later this week!!


  1. Cristen says:

    I made this recipe the other day and didn’t have a lemon. Instead I used an onion as my platform to keep the chicken off the bottom of the pot. It worked well and was delicious.

  2. I’m doing this for dinner tomorrow night. Thanks for all your tips. :)

  3. very nice thank you so much =)

  4. Anonymous says:

    I haven’t thought about broiling it after to get the browned skin, will definitely try that next time. I like to layer quarters of onion and chunks of bell pepper on the bottom to hold mine up. It gives a really good flavor and I leave them for making chicken stock with the carcass.

    • Esther says:

      All the people that say they used an onion, green pepper or other vegetable to hold the chicken up off the bottom, did you use the aluminum sling also? And if you did not, how did you handle getting the bird out of the pot?

  5. Anon – Having liquid in the slow cooker definitely helps heat transfer, which is why it is usually suggested. But, for some recipes you can get away without. Because we’re dealing with raw chicken here, you definitely want to make sure to cook it on high for the first four hours so that the temperature rises as quickly as possible.

  6. Anonymous says:

    hi i wanted to try this, but i thought you had to add some sort of liquid to a slow cooker. to clarify, no water at all is needed with the lemon at the bottom? thanks!!

  7. This is genius! Already did it once and left the carcass in the slow cooker to make broth, worked splendidly! Doing it again today for round two!

  8. Thank you for sharing. Recently I have been purchasing whole chickens and smoking them. The leftovers last for a few days and they cook in 1 hour 20 minutes.

    I am going to try this recipe. It looks delicious. Thanks again.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I laughed out loud when I saw the wing sticking to the inside of the crock pot! I will definitely try this… I have never done a whole chicken myself but this looks so easy.

  10. Thank you thank you thank you for your wonderfully detailed posts and pictures! I’ve tried this chicken, the broth, and chicken noodle soup and it’s all come out wonderfully! I just wanted to give a shout-out to you and thank you for putting this blog together! :)

  11. I made this recipe this morning and it came out divine! I did forget the foil tho -_-

    I added rosemary sprigs to the cavity because I had some on hand, and I rubbed some salt and pepper under the skin on the breast to add flavor. Thanks for posting! I love your blog!

  12. Gloria says:

    I have been hesitant to buy a whole chicken. My weirdo thinking being it is cheaper by the pound, but the waste with all the bones, skin, etc. Now I am def gonna rethink my logic. Just use up the skin and bones for broth! Awesome idea to use up the scraps, thank you!

  13. Aluminum has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease. I would just leave the foil part out anyway, why add something that could introduce unnecessary chemicals to the mix?

  14. Angela – it should work quite well with a skinless chicken without having to make any changes. The slow cooker keeps it nice and moist :) But, yeah, I’d skip the broiling part.

  15. angela w. says:

    any tweaks you could offer if i prefer to use a skinless whole chicken? would i just skip the broiler part?

  16. Marikay – I think it should work just the same with no changes… although I’ve never tried to cook a chicken standing up before ;)

  17. Marikay says:

    I have a crockpot the is deep instead of wide like the one you have. Do you think I would have tweak the directions at all? I think I may have to put the bird in standing up instead of on its belly. Thanks!

  18. I made this! So easy, and cheap.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I did take the fat of my chicken. The end result was delicious but very dry. Suggestions?

  20. I wrap potatoes in foil and place in the bottom to keep the chicken up so it’s “roasts”, then I have potatoes to go with it.

  21. Kathleen says:

    Looking forward to trying this out…here’s a recipe I’ve used before…no broiling, only use the crockpot so it’s super easy and delicious!

  22. Angela says:

    No flack, Beth, it was just a suggestion to help. :-) You do what you enjoy, no point cooking something if you don’t like the flavour. lol

  23. we just roasted a chicken in the oven for dinner tonight. so good! i’ll have to try the crockpot method sometime! :)

  24. Hahah, somehow I knew I’d catch flack for that. I should have listened to my instinct. ;) I’ve just never liked the giblet flavor.

  25. Angela says:

    Bubby, you are so right. The giblets make a wonderful stock. I was really surprised to find that they were thrown away, especially as Beth focuses on good food at low cost: throwing something away seems counter this idea. :-)

  26. I love the idea of using the lemon on the bottom to keep the chicken elevated. We cook a whole chicken in the crock pot every week or two, and I use loosely balled up aluminum foil under the chicken. Might keep that in mind if you don’t have a lemon :)

  27. Bubby says:

    I’m surprised you recommend discarding the giblets. I use these tasty morsels with the skin and bones to make a nice broth that I use for soup, gravy or my bread stuffing!

  28. Denise – Nope, I didn’t add any water.

  29. Eniat says:

    I suggest if anyone feels squeamish handling a whole bird like this (it can honestly be intimidating), they can simply use rubber/plastic gloves. I can’t handle Thanksgiving turkey each year without them.

  30. did you add water to the slow cooker?

  31. Theresa – I did make broth with mine, in fact, but I wish I would have thought to just put it right back in the slow cooker! I made mine on the stove top the next day but your way makes SO much more sense :P

  32. I’ve done lots of Crockpot chickens, but never thought to do the foil sling. Love it!
    After I’ve pulled all the meat off, I put all the skin and bones back in the Crockpot full of juices with some veggies and fill with water to make broth. I let it cook on low all night and strain it in the morning. But maybe that is your post for tomorrow :)

  33. I’ve never thought about putting a whole chicken in the crockpot before! This recipe looks wonderful. I think I may have to give it a try.

  34. boobookitty – I’m sure the butter would help the other parts brown faster. It browned really fast as it was and I was afraid of the top burning, so I took it out a little too soon :P

  35. Looks yummy! I’m wondering if it’d make a difference to brush the chicken with a little melted butter or olive oil prior to putting it under the broiler. Would that make a more even golden color to the bird? And I bet those juices left in the crockpot would make an awesome gravy! :D

  36. Your chicken looks great! So glad you liked that idea.

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