Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker

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Apologies for the photo of the raw chicken, but it had to be done.  Today I want to talk about cleaning and cooking a whole chicken.  Some of you out there hate dealing with raw poultry.  Some of you refuse.  And some are just plain scared.  I don’t blame you.  They’re pretty ugly.

I’ve got a list of ways to season a whole chicken as well as a list of recipes you can use the leftover meat in.  But first let’s talk about cleaning one of these birds.

How to Clean a Whole Chicken

Take the chicken out of the wrapper.  I like to do this in a clean sink so I have plenty of room to work.  Pull the bag of innards out of the cavity of the bird.  Then run cold water and rinse the chicken, inside and out.  Put it in the slow cooker with the breast meat on top.  If the chicken has a pop up timer, that should be on top.  Cook the chicken on high for 6-8 hours, depending on the size.  If it’s a big chicken and still a bit frozen, you’ll need closer to 8 hours.

See, that wasn’t so bad, was it?  Now you can scrub out your sink and you’ll not only have your dinner ready to go, but a shiny sink too.

Ideas for Seasoning a Whole Chicken

A lot of times, I just go with salt and pepper.  Sometimes I use Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  Other times, I just use the regular table stuff.  You can’t go wrong with plain salt and pepper.  If I want to end up with broth for making dumplings or noodles, I add several cups of water.

Here are some other ideas for seasoning:

  • Lemon pepper
  • Dried herbs, such as thyme, tarragon, basil, oregano
  • Fresh herbs, such as parsley, rosemary, thyme
  • Mix lemon juice or white wine with olive oil and rub on the chicken.  Add any herbs you like.
  • Spice it up with paprika, ground red pepper or chili powder

Uses for Leftover Chicken

I love to have leftover cooked chicken in the freezer.  I cut it or shred it and freeze it in 2-3 cup quantities.  This can be quickly thawed in the microwave and then added to all kinds of recipes.  Here are some of my favorites:

What about you?

Do you like to cook whole chickens?  How do you season them?  Do you have a favorite recipe to use the leftover meat in?

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  1. I like to slip fresh sage under the skin of a chicken or turkey. I had a sage plant along with other fresh herbs at my previous home and I used them in lots of dishes.

  2. I always cook beef & pork roasts in the crock pot but had not tho’t of doing a chicken it in. If you do not need broth, do you still need to add water? Or do you just add a small amount?

    When I have cooked chicken in the oven, my favorite spice was McCormick’s French herb seasoning (hard to find in my area!). It contains lavendar, garlic, rosemary, thyme, etc. Very yummy. This would probably work here too.

    • I’m going to have to look for the McCormick’s French Herb seasoning. I saw a similar blend in Williams-Sonoma a few weeks ago. It was $$$. Maybe I could afford the McCormick’s.

      • I haven’t been able to find the McCormick’s French Her seasoning, but found a recipe for the rub that is supposed to be the same:
        French Herb Roasting Rub
        Patting a cut of meat down with a spice rub before cooking infuses the meat with flavor during the cooking process. To make a French “herbes de provence,” combine 1 tbsp. thyme; 1 tbsp. chervil; 1 tbsp. rosemary; 1 tbsp. summer savory; 1 tsp. lavender; 1 tsp. tarragon; 1 tsp. marjoram; 1/2 tsp. oregano; 1/2 tsp. mint; and 2 chopped bay leaves. This mix makes about 1/3 cup and can be stored in an airtight container.

        Read more: http://www.ehow.com/list_7353817_discontinued-mccormick-spices.html#ixzz2f69gnZ5v

    • My sister often uses lavender from her garden in her chicken dishes. She said it has a great flavor.

  3. Tiffany, McCormicks is about $3 or so I believe. But it seems hard to find around here (Georgia). I have only one store where I can find it. It’s delish! I usually put it on roast chicken breasts (on the bone) & then slice it up for sandwiches afterwards. One of my fave sandwiches.

    • Penzey’s has a simular spice blend and since you can chose the size you want to order you can order the smallest to check it out first. Well unless you lucky enough to have one close to you, I don’t so I order my spices from them. They have a basic shipping price and I adore their spices, never got a bad one. Prices are good too.

  4. I just roasted a whole chicken on Monday. I just season with Himalayan salt and pepper, rub inside and out and then put it in the oven for 45 min at 425º. Nice crispy skin that I try not to eat too much of! I’ve done chicken in the crock pot before with a few veggies and some seasoning. But the flavor and texture isn’t as good. But works when I need dinner ready when I get home.

    I was wondering, why do we need to clean the chicken? Maybe I’m really missing something here. But I just put the chicken in the roasting pan and cut up the giblets to give to my cat for dinner (yes, my cat eats them raw, he’s on a 100% raw diet! has been for just about all his 14 years, tried the dry stuff once, made him throw up!)

    • LadyLep, I had to do a search to answer your question. According to the Pilgrim’s Pride website rinsing a chicken before cooking is a matter of personal preference. I’ve just always done it that way, but I guess it’s a step that can be skipped.

  5. I always cook mine in a slow cooker but place my chicken on top of about 4 or 5 “tennis ball” sized balls of aluminum foil. Just wad up the foil place in the bottom, season my chicken (sometimes we use dry Italian dressing mix) and place on top of the aluminum foil balls. Cook for 8-9 hours while we are at work and we have chicken that tastes like a rotisserie chicken you buy at the supermarket. YUMMO!

    The balls hold the chicken off the juices and let the chicken kind of steam. Oh so moist and yummy!

    • The balls of foil are interesting. I put thick slices of potatoes on the bottom for the same purpose.
      Your foil balls probably have advantages, but some might like the potato option too.

      • I like the idea of the potatoes as it adds an ingredient for a meal or meals. There are many who don’t like to use foil due to certain issues. Sometimes I add baby carrots and onions underneath meat to make a complete meal.

      • Georgia Cajun says:

        Small red potatoes would be perfect instead of aluminum balls…

        • using potatoes would be brilliant – you might need to cut them up to get them to cook through; Strangely, vegetables seem to take longer in the slow cooker than meat.

    • I’ve always use celery sticks or carrots for the same thing! I never eat the veggies afterwards — they end up kinda greasy and soggy. But the sticks of carrot or celery hold up the chicken so it’s not right on the cooking surface, and I think it helps the chicken taste more “roasted” and less “boiled”.

    • When I do a whole chicken in my slow cooker..I put stalks of celery and chopped onions on the bottom to rest my chicken on. It is wonderful!!

  6. I do two a week in the crockpot (ds takes chicken every day for lunch and I like to have stashes in the freezer). I use the McCormick Toasted Onion and Garlic seasoning mix or the McCormick Oven Roasted Potato mix (we prefer the first one by a nose). I don’t usually use prepackaged mixes because of the salt, and if I am going to use the liquid that builds up in the pot I will mix up my own blends, but this is SUCH an easy way to do a chicken! Be warned, though, when you go to lift it out, it WILL fall apart! I pick all the meat while it’s still warm and bag it up by white meat/dark meat.

    NB – if you want to make your own seasoning blends, be sure to check out Penzey’s Toasted Granulated Onion. This adds the most wonderful flavor to everything with its lightly toasted goodness. My whole pantry is now all Penzey’s all the time and even though it can cost more for some things I find that the flavors are so much better that I can use less AND we use a LOT less salt in this house.

    If you haven’t tried this chicken method before do it this weekend and I guarantee you will be a convert!

  7. This post is most appreciated. I have a fear of cooking a whole chicken. I think I will try it now. It doesn’t look that hard and slow cooking makes it even easier to handle.

    Side note: I made the beef and black bean taco bake last night. It was wonderful. Keep those recipes coming! Thank you!

  8. I tried to cook a whole chicken in the crockpot once and there was just SO much juice and the chicken fall apart. I couldn’t get it out whole, or even near whole. The aluminum balls sound like a good idea, but will that scratch the crock pot at all?

    I also liks a crispky skin, so having to put the chicken in the oven after doing it all day in the crock pot seems like double the work. If I do something in the crock pot, I want it to be ready when I am.

  9. Great post!!!

    A whole chicken in the crockpot has endless options! I love keeping chickens on hand for this very reason!

    Awesome list of recipes as well.

    Sign up for my Get Buttoned Up giveaway:

  10. i would love to see a after pic of the chicken in the cooker!

  11. I always cook my chickens in the slow cooker now! Love it! The meat is so moist and tender and delicious! However, I take a small, sharp knife and slice most of the skin off first. I don’t worry too much about the skin on the legs or the wings, but I get as much skin off as I can and then put the seasoning directly on the meat. The slow cooker makes sure the meat does not dry out and then there is less fat as well and no slimy skin.

  12. To get even more mileage out of your chicken. Put the skin and bones back in the crockpot with a sliced onion, a couple celery stalks and carrots. Add 4 – 5 cups of water, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook overnight on LOW. Remove all the “stuff” in the morning, strain broth through cheesecloth to remove all the bits and pieces (personal preference, you can leave it as it as well). Freeze in 2 cups containers. Makes the BEST chicken broth.

  13. In addition to Jenny’s (#14) comments, I put my broth in zip-loc(double zip) freezer bags and lie them flat on cookie sheets. When frozen, they stack upright side by side like books. Saves so much room.

    I’m with Candace – I’m lookin’ for a pic of the ‘afterwards’ Chicken!

  14. Hi everyone!

    Thanks for all the great tips. I can’t wait to try the whole chix.
    If you’re looking for something new and fresh, pour orange juice over your bird, season and let it go. Fabulous. Orange juice is great on pork chops too!
    Happy eating @ home!

  15. I like making Slow Cooker Chili Chicken Tacos. They are easy to make: combine chicken thighs, chicken broth, salsa and a few chipotle peppers in a dobo sauce, chopped (I seed them because of our kids). Cook on LOW for 7-8 hours. Serve on corn tortillas with any taco toppings you like. Thanks for the chance to enter.

  16. I love all your recipes, but im having terrible trouble with the weights/measurements..I live in New Zealand and we are in metric..I don’t even no your oven settings..Thanks for sharing..Brenda

    • Brenda, you might try googling to find the metric equivalents. I’m not sure about those either.

      • Hi Tiffany, thank you so much for your quick response. Someone else told me too Google it.. I’m not very computer literate 🙁 I don’t what to even put in there..I Google something but what.lol..as soon as I get this sorted ill be making my recipes..Thank you so much for your lovely site and sharing it with us.

  17. When I was working I used to put carrots, onion and potatoes in the bottom of the slow cooker, rub the chicken with butter, salt, pepper, paprika and poultry seasoning, put the lid on and come home to a nice chicken dinner.

  18. grammylaurie says:

    Hello, I am so excited that cooler weather is here. I love this time of year. I like to do a roaster full of chickens at a time. I take the big Nesco Roaster and put 8 whole chickens in it. I set it on low and let them cook all day on my day-off. Then I pick them off the bone and bag them up for easy week-night meals. Same thing as a slow cooker but larger quanity at a time.
    Enjoy the Autumn.

  19. Thanks for the reassuring post about whole chicken! I cannot handle taking one apart and still eating it afterward, so I either have to buy boneless, skinless parts or use the slow cooker for a whole chicken (sometimes I get my dh to prepare the chicken). I too sometimes take off a good portion of the skin. At least this way I have time to get over it before dinner. Lol
    I usually make Salsa Chicken which I learned from my mom-in-law. I just throw some onion, carrot, and celery in the slow cooker (optional) and place the chicken on top, then pour two jars of salsa over it! By dinner it’s all falling apart so I pick out the bones, and we have the mexican-flavored chicken over rice with a veg on the side. The next day, I use the leftover as a base for chicken tortilla soup! Yum!

  20. Miriam Kearney says:

    I’m just getting my slower cooker back in action after several years of hiding it in the back of the pantry! I saw an idea on a TV cooking show that said to put the chicken in breast side down not up so that the juices will drip down and the breast meat would be more tender and moist. I tried it and it worked wonderfully. I put a spice rub all over it, put it on low and cooked it for 5 hours. Next time I think I would only cook it 4 hours (maybe depends on the size of the bird but most of the whole chickens I can get around here are pretty small.)

    Thanks Tiffany – love your blog.

  21. I put rosemary under the skin and in the cavity. I also use Mrs. Dash chicken on the outside. It is YUMMY! Just cooked it last night.

  22. I rinse my chicken off and make sure I clean the inside out. Then I put Lawreys seasoning, pepper and some sage inside the cavity. I put a thinly sliced onion, carrot and celery sticks inside the chicken before putting it into the crock pot. Gives the meat a great flavor and broth that is very nice. I use this and the meat to make chicken and dumplings.


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