slow cooker chicken

$7.16 / 5 lb. chicken
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.67 from 9 votes
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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

Finished whole Slow Cooker Chicken on plate, garnished with greens

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Slow Cooker Chicken

4.67 from 9 votes
Avoid having to heat up the whole oven by making this slow cooker roasted chicken.
Servings 6
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 4 hours
Total 4 hours 15 minutes


  • 4-5 lb. whole chicken ($5.97)
  • 1 medium lemon ($0.69)
  • 1/2 bulb garlic ($0.29)
  • 1/4 bunch parsley ($0.21)


  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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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.


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 6369.7kcalCarbohydrates: 20.6gProtein: 372.6gFat: 526.2gSodium: 1328.6mgFiber: 3.2g
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Step By Step Photos

whole raw chicken in packaging
This 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.

raw chicken and stuffing ingredients on counter
Remove 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 chicken on tin foil
So, 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.

raw stuffed chicken placed on tin foil and lowered into slow cooker
Placing 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.

chicken in slow cooker with lid on and ready to cook
I 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 chicken in slow cooker
And 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 chicken taken out of slow cooker and placed on baking sheet
Use the foil sling to lift the chicken out of the slow cooker and onto a baking sheet.

left over juices in bottom of slow cooker
One 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.

chicken on baking sheet placed in over to broil
My 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 chicken (browned on top)
I let mine broil for exactly five minutes, although it probably could have gone a few minutes more. Even still, it was pretty!

Finished golden brown Slow Cooker Chicken
Let 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 bones separated out and put in Tupperware
I 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!!

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  1. I just got a couple of chickens and was curious if I could cook one in a slow cooker/pressure cooker/rice cooker thingy I got a couple of years ago and seldom use. The recipe you posted was exactly what I wanted…cook it whole and enjoy it a lot! I can’t imagine a better result. I skipped the foil, as I don’t use it, but did everything else the same. I’m amazed at how easy it was to debone. Didn’t even have to boil the carcass the next day! As you said…it fell apart and the bones slipped out, as well as the skin slipped off. A little bit stuck to the pan, but pried loose easily and was a treat, since it was sorta fried in the chicken fat/lemon/parsley/garlic and tasted delicious! Thanks for making this questionable venture an easy one! It’s delicious and tender. I won’t look further for another recipe, I assure you!

  2. I tried this method for cooking chicken today and was very pleased with the results. I mostly followed the instructions here but added melted butter, garlic and zest from the lemons under the skin of the chicken and place some onion halves under the chicken as well as the lemon. I also added a parmesan rind from my last piece in the slow cooker dish, which I save to add to most things I make in the slow cooker, including stock, Bolognese sauce, stews, etc.
    The chicken was so tender and juicy and falling off the bone. Pull what was left over and have put all the bones and skin back in for stock. Chicken soup tomorrow!
    I love the fact that once all the prep is done you can walk away and forget it until it’s time for the rest of the meal to be cooked. I’ll most definitely be doing this again and play around with what I put in with the chicken.

  3. Instead of “discarding the giblets”, hear me out, you could make a delicious giblet gravy with those beautiful chicken drippings left in the slow cooker to serve over the chicken and some mashed potatoes on the side. I also sometimes cook them up for my dogs. Delicious and nutritious for both humans and dogs alike.

  4. thank you for teaching me how to make a whole chicken, you explained it so simply! Love your blog btw, its my go to for new recipes <3

  5. I see I am only now rating this recipe. Another amazing recipe Beth.

    I am this time going to add the giblets to the bone stock. Can’t hurt too much and makes me feel better about using all the chicken I can get nutrition out of.