The Slow Cooker Whole Chicken was a staple in my house growing up. It emerges from the crockpot moist with delicious flavor. This is a particularly useful recipe during busy weeks with limited time for meal prep.
I have a 6 quart programmable slow cooker from CrockPot that I got as a wedding gift. This is ideal enough to fit a medium sized chicken like in my recipe. It does look like there are some newer models in the market like this cook and carry model which will serve the purpose and is almost half the price.
Click here to buy Crock-Pot 6-Quart Cook & Carry Programmable Slow Cooker with Digital Timer, Stainless Steel ($44.99)
Few recipes are as simple as this chicken. I use:
- One 5-6lb chicken, around 2.5kg
- One stick (8 Tbsp) butter
- One package of fresh herbs (from the produce section). My favorite combination for this recipe is rosemary, thyme, and sage. I purchase a single package with these three herbs which yields about 3 Tbsp fresh herbs once chopped.
- Optional: place vegetables on the bottom
- Optional: whipping cream to make a sauce
What makes this simple recipe so great?
I have tried cooking whole chicken before with little success. I believe I have found what I was missing – BUTTER. Lots of BUTTER mixed with fresh herbs. And low heat for a very long time. This results in a chicken with good seasoning and a juicy texture even in the breast.
The first time I cooked chicken this way, the meat fell off the bones as it came out of the crockpot. For the pictures here, I was supremely careful with the removal of the chicken. First, I cooked the chicken over a grate insert for my crockpot. Then I used tongs to remove the grate with the chicken on top from the crockpot. By not putting any pressure on the chicken, I prevented the meat from falling off before a picture could be taken.
Here are a couple ways to tweak this recipe.
- Add daikons (or other vegetables) to the bottom. The first time I made this recipe, I had daikons on the bottom and made my mashed daikons.
- Make a thin gravy. This chicken is moist enough that a sauce is optional. But if you’d like to add more savory flavor or increase the fat content, you can easily make gravy. Since whole chickens are usually sold with their giblets (heart and liver), the only extra required ingredient for the sauce below is heavy whipping cream.
- Make a thicker gravy. Follow the same instructions I’ve outlined below, but slowly add xantham gum in ¼ teaspoon increments until gravy has thickened.
Budgeting during coronavirus
When my husband and I started the keto way of eating, we had a crucial staple every week: skinless, boneless chicken thighs. One 4-5 pound package of chicken thighs would be our protein source for two people for one meal for most of a week. Cooked in a hot skillet, they easily retain all their juiciness. As a base meat, you can season them dozens of ways and make a variety of sauces.
At our neighborhood grocery store, these chicken thighs ran $2.99 per pound, compared to chicken breast at $1.99 per pound and whole chicken at $0.99 per pound. Our $12-14 chicken thighs were typically an expensive food item for us, but not too terrible. Then came the coronavirus.
Coronavirus screwed up our chicken supply, way before any outbreaks at meat processing/packaging plants, due to everyone else in our neighborhood overbuying food. We couldn’t get our staple thighs for weeks. And when you are used to thighs, chicken breasts or tenderloins are not nearly as satisfying.
I had another quandary. Later in the pandemic, I read about the state of meatpacking plants and the idea that you could still get as many chickens to grocery stores around the country with a portion of the staff at the plants. There is a lot of processing to make 4-6 chickens into 4-5 pounds of skinless, boneless chicken thighs. This work to process chickens into more convenient meat offerings can be bypassed by eating less processed chicken, i.e. whole chicken.
Lastly, we took a hit financially in the pandemic due to salary reduction. I’m back to pinching pennies wherever I can, and $0.99 per pound of chicken instead of $2.99 feels like a steal, literally more than halving our chicken costs on a weekly basis. So, I wanted a go-to whole chicken recipe that was simple and easy, that left me with really tasty chicken to take the place of our previously beloved chicken thighs. I started trying different ways to cook it, and eventually settled on this recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as me!
Slow Cooker Whole Chicken
- 6 Quart Slow Cooker/Crockpot
- 5 lb Whole Chicken (about 2.5 kg)
- 8 Tbsp Salted Butter ,softened
- 4 Sprigs Rosemary
- 4 Sprigs Thyme
- 2 Sprigs Sage
- Remove chicken from its packaging, and remove giblets from inside chicken if they were included (save for use in gravy if you wish). Pat the whole chicken dry with paper towels as best you can (this will help butter stick to chicken).
- Chop the herbs finely and collect in a small bowel. I find chopping herbs tedious, so I use these scissors instead.
- Mix the herbs with the butter.
- Spread the herbed butter all over the chicken. Start on the back of the chicken and thighs, then place the chicken breast side up in the crockpot and continue spreading butter on the chicken. Try to get butter under the skin as well, though this is really challenging. You can also smear butter in the cavity. Any butter that you feel is “leftover” should be put on the chicken breasts.
- Cook on low heat for about 8 hours with the breast side facing up.
- Carefully remove from the crockpot, remove whatever bones you wish, and serve or store for meals throughout the week.
- Chop the heart and liver into small pieces. Sauté in a skillet over medium heat with ½ cup of the fat/oil in the bottom of the crockpot when the chicken is done cooking. Stir in ½ cup heavy whipping cream and bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and serve with chicken.