Looking for easy ways to cook a whole chicken in a slow cooker? Whether money is tight or you’re just wanting to make the most out of every meal.
There are lots of things to cook that you can then turn into a few different delicious meals for the coming days. A whole chicken is one of those things that will spread over several meals.
Chicken is such a versatile meat and once it’s cooked it’s easy to add it to sauces, casseroles, salads… you name it.
And it all starts with nothing more than a whole chicken that you raised it in your backyard on your small farm or bought from the grocery store.
Slow cooking a whole chicken into many different meals is a great way to not go broke by saving money and not get burnt out by simply setting and forgetting dinner on busy days.
This post is all about the easy ways to cook a chicken in the slow cooker and how to get the most out of a whole chicken.
Slow Cooking The Chicken
Get out your slow cooker and look around for some veggie scraps, onions, carrots or the like. It doesn’t take much. All you want is to line the bottom of your slow cooker with a few sliced vegetables so your chicken doesn’t stick. Of course, the vegetables will also add flavor.
A sliced onion will do the job, but this is also a great opportunity to use up that celery that’s starting to go limp or that open bag of baby carrots that don’t’ look fresh anymore.
Slice your onion, break your celery into chunks and toss in your baby carrots. If you’re in the mood for it, add a garlic clove or two to the mix for extra flavor.
- Take your chicken out of the bag. Check for the little baggie stuffed inside the chicken cavity with the neck, liver, gizzards etc.
- Toss those into your crockpot for added flavor or throw them out if that is a little gross to you.
- Then rinse your chicken.
- Grab a few paper towels and pat dry the chicken with paper towels and lay it breast side up on top of the veggies.
- Season with salt and black pepper.
- Pour about 1/4th cup of water over the veggies only to keep the veggies from burning.
Close the lid and cook your chicken on high for about 6 hours or on low for 8 to 10 hours. You know it is done when the legs start to pull away from the body.
Pro Tip: If your chicken’s legs are giving you trouble and not fitting into the pot you can use kitchen twine to tie the legs close to the whole body to help keep them down
The chicken will be tender and falling from the bone.
Slow Cooking Times For A Whole Chicken
A whole chicken that is not frozen is going to take at least 4 hours on high if it is a 5-6 pound bird.
Adding an hour for every pound is a good ballpark for how long it will take. But things like outside temps are going to affect how quickly the bird cooks.
If you want to cook the bird on low heat here is what I would cook them for by pound.
3-pound chicken = 4 hours
4-pound chicken = 5-6 hours
6-pound chicken = 6-8 hours
If you are a little more concerned about knowing if the chicken is cooked. The ideal internal temperature to cook a chicken is 165 degrees. You can check the chicken with a meat thermometer. This is a good alternative if you are cooking a holiday meal and want your roasted chicken to look nice before the meal
Making Chicken Broth
What makes this a frugal chicken is that we’re going to make use of every little bit, including the bones, skin and bits of meat that are left in the slow cooker along with the veggies.
Pull the meat off as best you can, focusing on the large chunks of chicken breast and leg meat. Set the meat aside, but leave everything else in the slow cooker.
It’s time to turn this into delicious, wholesome chicken broth.
You can sip the broth as a hot drink when it’s done or use it as the base for soups, stews, beans and such. This is good stuff and has a lot more flavor and nutritional value than the stock you buy at the grocery store.
When you’re done pulling the meat off the chicken, add plenty of water to the slow cooker along with a splash of apple cider vinegar if you have it. The vinegar is optional and is there to help leach as many minerals as possible from the bones. Skipping it won’t affect the flavor of your broth.
Add what is left of the chicken back into the crockpot after you have taken the large chunks of meat off the bones.
Turn the slow cooker on high until your mixture comes to a boil, then simmer the broth on low for a few hours. The longer you cook it, the more intense the flavor will get. I usually cook it overnight.
Get out a large bowl, pot, or heat-safe pitcher and a strainer. Ladle the finished broth through the strainer.
Discard the bones and veggie scraps.
The veggies are often mush by this time so it will be a much fresher meal if you add fresh veggies.
Storing The Chicken Stock
Allow the broth to cool until it is safe to handle, then pour it into containers. Glass jars work well, as do plastic freezer containers. If you plan on freezing your broth, leave some room in the containers when you fill them.
You can even pour some of the broth into ice cube trays, freeze them and then use the little cubes of frozen broth when you’re cooking veggies for added flavor and nutrition.
As the broth cools, you’ll notice that it will thicken up and that there is a layer of fat on the top. That’s what good homemade broth is supposed to look like. It has plenty of healthy fat and the main part of the broth has thickened up with the collagen you’ve cooked out of the cartilage of the chicken bones.
Watching The Calories?
If you want low-fat chicken broth, set the container in the fridge for a few hours. The fat rises to the top and solidifies. You can use a spoon to get the whole solid chunk and remove it from the broth. Otherwise, stir it back in as you are heating the broth for cooking.
3-Day Meal Plan With One Whole Chicken
Day 1 – Fresh Chicken Dinner With Rice- Serve the roasted chicken pieces with rice and a salad or some steamed veggies the first night.
Day 2 – Chicken Soup Or Stue: After that, it’s time to get creative. By day two you also have some delicious chicken stock to work with. Make a batch of chicken and rice soup with some of the shredded chicken, a cup of rice, the broth and whatever vegetables you want to add.
Day 3- Shred chicken sandwiches: Add the shredded chicken to sandwiches (chicken salad anyone), serve it in tacos or burritos, add it to your favorite chicken casserole recipe, or make some creamed chicken.
The broth makes a great base for any type of soup or stew and you can even cook your dried beans in it for another frugal and nutritious dish.
Fresh Herbs That Go Well With Chicken
Since we are using a whole chicken to make multiple dishes make sure you are careful when adding herbs and spices to the dish.
You might have plans to turn the meal for Day 1 of your chicken into a more Italian-style dish but you already put lots of Mexican flavors on the meat… Yep kind of a problem.
Best Herbs For Roasted Chicken
These are a few herbs to add to dishes where they use a whole chicken or even grilled chicken.
- Fresh Thyme – These are great to add to the top of the chicken breast if you are going for that awesome roasted chicken look. But if you don’t like the leaves on your roasted chicken then use sprigs of thyme instead of losing leaves.
- Rosemary – is great for grilling chicken to add to the smoky flavor. Rosemary is strong so make sure you like the flavor and smell before adding it to your dish.
- Oregano – Is an Italian flavor that does great with black pepper and lemon juice for a unique flavor
Herbs For Mexican Dishes Or Cold meals
These have a bit of a cooler flavor to them and do not do as well if they are baked.
Cilantro – is a great herb to add to a cold dish or tacos
Parsley – is one of the more common herbs to use in chicken salad or potato salad.
FAQs About Slow Cooking A Chicken
Can You Put A Raw Chicken In The Slow Cooker?
Putting a whole chicken into a slow cooker, you may be wondering if it’s safe to do so. The answer is yes! You can put a whole raw chicken in a slow cooker. In fact, cooking a whole chicken in a slow cooker is one of the easiest and most delicious ways to prepare this classic dish. Simply place your whole chicken in the slow cooker, add your desired seasonings, and set it to cook on low for 6-8 hours. When the chicken is cooked through, it will be fall-off-the-bone tender and full of flavor. So go ahead and give it a try – you’ll be glad you did!
Can You Cook A Frozen Chicken In A Slow Cooker
The Sort answer is no. A frozen chicken won’t cook as well and you will have some overcooked meat alongside undercooked meat.
Do I Need To Brown Chicken Before Slow Cooking?
You may be wondering if you need to brown a whole chicken before adding it to the crock pot. The answer is that it depends on your personal preferences. If you brown the chicken first, it will give the skin a crispy texture and golden color. However, this extra step is not necessary in order to cook the chicken all the way through. Slow-cooking chicken without browning it first will result in tender, moist meat that falls off the bone. So, whether or not you choose to brown your chicken before slow cooking it is ultimately up to you!
So there you have it, everything you need to know about slow cooking a whole chicken. We hope that this post has inspired you to give this method a try. And if you’re looking for the best crockpot to buy, make sure to check out our post on the best slow cookers for any size household. Happy slow cooking!