The Best Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot

212 Reviews / 4.7 Average
I’ve tried a ridiculous amount of crock pot chicken recipes, and this is by far the best (and easiest) slow cooker whole chicken recipe that keeps the meat super moist and falling-off-the-bone delicious—plus it's a great way to switch things up if you usually only make chicken breasts!
↓ Jump to Recipe
Cooked whole chicken in a crock pot
Finished whole chicken in a crock pot

Have you tried cooking a whole chicken in a crock pot before? The outcome is so much better (and better-for-you!) than the standard grocery store rotisserie chicken. And if you have a well-stocked spice rack, you’ll hardly have to buy anything to make this recipe.

Why Cook a Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot?

If you’ve only been using your slow cooker for soups and stews you’re seriously missing out! You can make just about anything in a Crock Pot; that includes a whole chicken.

Easy Meal Idea

We’re a busy family and there isn’t always time to make big meals, especially on weeknights. The slow cooker lets us “set it and forget it” and not have to worry about what’s for dinner. Just whip up a few sides, or even a salad, and serve!

Healthier Alternative to Store Bought Rotisserie Chicken

Have you read the ingredients on your favorite rotisserie chicken? Between sugar and other additives, it’s definitely not real food approved. By making my own chicken from scratch I get to decide exactly what goes into the food we eat.

Cook Once, Eat Multiple Times

This is probably my favorite part of this recipe! A whole chicken can be divided up and used for several different recipes and meals. Don’t forget to use the bones to make your own homemade chicken stock so nothing goes to waste.

Ideas for Your Leftover Chicken

Homemade chicken that's been cooked in a slow cooker
This recipe is a staple in our house…here’s a “vintage” photo from 2010!

How to Cook a Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot

Whole chicken rubbed with rotisserie style spices. It is ready to be added to a crock pot.
Chicken rubbed with spices and ready for the crock pot

Step 1: Chop and Add Onion

Cut a whole onion in half or quarters and add it to the bottom of your slow cooker.

Step 2: Mix Chicken Seasoning in a Small Bowl

Simply combine a few basic herbs and spices. I used paprika, salt, onion powder, thyme, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and black pepper to make a rotisserie style chicken. You could also season your chicken with butter and herbs, Italian spices, or your favorite blend of seasonings.

Step 3: Season the Whole Chicken

Rub seasoning all over the chicken (I even season inside the cavity and under the skin on the breasts). After seasoning, place the whole chicken in the Crock Pot on top of the onion bed, breast side down.

Step 4: Cook on High for 4-5 Hours or Low 7-8 Hours

Cooking time will depend on the size of your chicken. Chicken is done when the internal temperature reaches 165 F and juices run clear, but also when it’s so tender you can shred it with a fork.

Whole chicken inside a slow cooker on a bed of chopped onions
Chicken and chopped onion, ready for slow cooking

Once the chicken is done, it is flavorful enough to eat by itself as the main dish, or you can incorporate it into something else like pasta, chicken salad, chicken pot pie, or a casserole (I’ve listed some of my favorite ideas below). You don’t need anything fancy, we use a very basic crock pot that can be purchased on Amazon for about $40.

Cooked chicken pieces
Delicious, tender cooked chicken

Troubleshooting Crock Pot Chicken

My Chicken is Too Soft and Mushy

Most of the time mushy Crock Pot chicken is a result of cooking it too long. As you cook meat, the collagen breaks down into a gelatin. The longer chicken is cooked, the more this process happens. Do it right and you have perfectly tender meat; too long and your chicken becomes mushy.

  • Don’t add any additional liquid
  • Cook on high instead of low
  • Adjust cooking times based on weight
  • Remove chicken as soon as it’s done
  • Let chicken cool to help it firm up before cutting and serving

Slow Cooker Chicken Comes Out Dry

Dry chicken usually happens when there’s not enough moisture in the slow cooker. This is more likely to occur when you’re only roasting lean cuts like chicken breasts or have too many moisture-absorbing veggies in with your chicken. A simple solution is to add some water or chicken stock to the slow cooker when you start cooking.

Another common reason for dry chicken is cooking in a Crock Pot that’s too big for the recipe; too much empty space around the meat will dry it out.

Make Overnight Chicken Stock (Optional)

Another great trick (that I learned from a friend!) is that after you pick off the good chicken meat you can leave the bones in the crock pot to make some stock overnight while you are sleeping—see more on that in the FAQ below.

Draining the chicken juice over a sieve to make homemade stock
Overnight chicken stock is great for soups and sauces! We make it almost every time we cook a whole chicken at our house.
Featured Comment

Wow!! Mind blown! Thank you so much for this recipe. I had to call my mom and my mother-in-law about this recipe. The chicken is perfectly cooked. We are cooking the stock right now and I’ll make homemade noodles to go with it. Way to go!
– Bridget

More Crock Pot Chicken Recipes

FAQ

Can I cook a frozen whole chicken?

Due to food safety reasons, you should not cook a frozen whole chicken in the slow cooker. Make sure to thaw it out completely before cooking (see how to safely defrost meat for more info). The ideal way to defrost meat is in the fridge overnight. If you think your chicken is still a little frozen in the middle you will need to increase the cooking time.

  • A small chicken (5 pounds or less) usually can defrost in 24 hours or less

  • A large whole chicken can take 2-3 days to safely defrost in a refrigerator
  • Is it safe to cook a whole chicken in a slow cooker?

    Absolutely! If you want to be extra cautious you could always be sure to cook the whole chicken on high heat for at least the first hour (if you also plan to cook on low). Since we give an option to cook it on high the entire time for this recipe, this requirement is met.

    How long to cook chicken in a crockpot?

    For a typical 3-4 pound chicken, you’ll want to cook in your slow cooker for about 4 to 5 hours on high or 7 hours on low. Timing may vary based on the size of the bird as well as your individual slow cooker and how tender you want the end result. 

    Do I need to add water to the crockpot?

    There is no need to add water because the chicken and onion will create their own juices while cooking. Adding water will just produce a soggy chicken in the end. 

    How to get brown, crispy skin

    If you’re a fan of crispy chicken skin, you can still achieve this by placing the chicken on a rimmed baking sheeting after it’s done and placing it under the broiler for about 4-5 minutes. Be sure to let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before serving.

    How to remove meat from a whole chicken

    1) Use tongs and a fork to remove the large parts of the chicken (thighs, legs, wings) from the slow cooker and place them on a platter/cutting board separately so they can cool briefly.
    Pieces of chicken
    2) Run your fingers (or a spoon) under each breast to separate from the rib bones and then remove the meat in one piece.
    Cooked chicken
    3) Trim the large parts if wish to serve them whole, or carve off pieces of meat and set aside. Throw any skin/fat/bones back in the crock pot as you go to make your overnight chicken stock.

    4) Next, remove the carcass from the slow cooker and place it on the platter/cutting board. When cool enough, use a fork and your fingers to pick off every little piece of meat and place in a bowl or storage container. The little bits are great for making chicken salad, soups, enchiladas, etc! Put anything other than meat back in the crock pot.

    How to make overnight chicken stock

    See my Overnight Chicken Stock Recipe for details, but here is how it’s done:

  • Once you are done picking off all the meat, throw the carcass and bones back into the crock pot (leaving the onion and cooking juices in there as well) so that you can make chicken stock. It’s a great way to not waste any part of the chicken.

  • I usually start the chicken stock after dinner by filling the slow cooker to the top with water and then adding a bay leaf, carrot, celery, onion, parsley, and thyme. Even if I’m missing parsley or celery I still make it anyway, and it always turns out just fine.

  • I keep it on low all night and then in the morning, I strain it into wide-mouth jars (without shoulders) to store in the freezer. It works great and couldn’t be easier.
  • Posts may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but 100 Days of Real Food will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps us spread our message!

    1,398 thoughts on “The Best Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot”

    Leave a Comment

    Your email address will not be published.

    Recipe Rating




    1. Absolutely wonderful! Cooked today and hubby said umhum while eating! Now that makes my heart happy ❤️ Didn’t have any thyme to put on it. And it was still amazing. Thank you for sharing your recipe with us.

    2. Sandy McIlhenney

      I’m making this soon for the first time. I have found so many recipes calling for placing the chicken on wadded up balls of foil so it does not get soggy. If I do not want to use onions would you suggest the foil? Thank you, Sandy

      1. 100 Days Admin

        We have not tried it without the onion before. It shouldn’t be an issue without it. – Nicole

    3. 5 stars
      The chicken was perfect and so easy to remove the meat from the bones! There was one quart of drippings/juices left over from cooking the chicken. I know it would make delicious gravy. It was so rich and flavorful! But can that be used with broth or by itself for cooking and/or soups? What do YOU do with it, Lisa??
      Also, I immediately made the overnight broth after cooking the whole chicken. I now have 3 1/2 quarts of broth from that. Thank you! I will continue to do this. ($6.00 for a whole chicken at Aldi and one quart of broth is usually almost $2.00. I was able to get 7 cups of chicken, 1 quart of drippings, and 3 1/2 cups of broth from one whole chicken.) Everyone should do this. It’s too easy! Thank you again and I am enjoying one of your books!

      1. Go ahead and make the overnight chicken stock with it! Or it would work great with gravy, too. – Nicole

        1. I have 3 whole chickens already cut into pieces would this recipe still work? And could I cook all 3 bags at once? How would I need to adjust the recipe? Thanks for any advice.

        2. If you aren’t putting the whole chicken, with bones in, you would need to adapt by putting in liquids, also, if you aren’t putting it in with the skin, please note that it makes it much more flavorful. Hope this helps. – Nicole

    4. 5 stars
      Love this chicken! The only thing I do different is I lift the skin and put the spices under it. Since I don’t eat the skin, I want all the flavor to be in the meat.

    5. Would this also work for bone-in split chicken breast pieces vs the whole chicken? Any modifications recommended? I usually bake them with similar spices but would like to try this.

      1. If you aren’t putting the whole chicken, with bones in, you would need to adapt by putting in liquids, also, if you aren’t putting it in with the skin, please note that it makes it much more flavorful. Hope this helps. – Nicole

    6. 5 stars
      Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I have made this several times. This is my favorite way to make chicken and the chicken stock afterwards is a bonus!

    7. 5 stars
      I’ve done this before and it turned out great! I was wondering if I could add potatoes and carrots or other veggies in the bottom to make it more of a full meal? If so, would I need to add water?

      Thanks!

      1. Yes, you can pretty much add whatever you have on hand. You may need to add a little bit more water. Looks like some of our readers have added about 1/4 cup of water when they added carrots. – Nicole

    8. 5 stars
      I’ve made this in the past but now I’m on a migraine diet that excludes onions for now. Is there anyway I can make this recipe without the onions???

      1. While the onion definitely helps give it a great taste, we haven’t tried, but it should be okay. I personally don’t use onions when I make meals because I just don’t like them, and I’ve still never had a bad meal come out because of omitting an onion. – Nicole

      2. Leslee Anne Hewson

        I use the green leaves of spring onions as a substitute as a family member has a food intolerance to onions. I put them in everything. You can put the bulbs in a jar of water on the windowsill and they’ll continue to grow new leaves then after a week you can either plant them in the garden or toss. Just remember to refresh the water as you do with flowers :)

    9. Wow!! Mind blown! Thank you so much for this recipe. I had to call my mom and my mother-in-law about this recipe. The chicken is perfectly cooked. We are cooking the stock right now and I’ll make homemade noodles to go with it. I’m a teacher and mom of four who loves to cook authentic dishes. Way to go!

    10. Can this be cooked on the low setting? I’m gone at work for more than 5 hours so high isn’t an option but I’d love to try it!

      1. Hi there. Other readers have adjusted the cooking time by starting on high and switching to low but we have not.

        1. 5 stars
          Seems easy and delicious! About the nutrition facts – how much is a serving? Thank you, I can’t wait to try this!

        2. For the whole chicken, it’s hard to give an exact portion, but a whole chicken would feed five people, so assume equal parts! – Nicole

    11. cortneygray8214@gmail.com

      Should I rub the chicken down with olive oil or butter before rubbing on the seasoning?

    12. 5 stars
      I followed the instructions to a “T”. The chicken fell off the bone. My sides were can green beans and fresh steamed zucchini and squash.

      1. 100 Days Admin

        If you aren’t putting the whole chicken, with bones in, you would need to adapt by putting in liquids, also, if you aren’t putting it in with the skin, please note that it makes it much more flavorful. Hope this helps. – Nicole

    13. 5 stars
      Just put in crock pot, rubbed oil over chicken. with carrots. Onion and rolled up aluminum foil.
      Seem like going to be good.
      Thanks

      1. Ok I’m new to this. I made the chicken and have left in crockpot the onions and liquid from the chicken – do I discard this before I start on the stock or is this liquid to be part of stock? Thanks

    14. Hi, can this recipe be used in a regular oven (convection or not)? If yes, for how long would you cook it in the oven? I read in one of the comments that on 250 (I guess Farenheit, also not written for how long) would make it the same as the slow cooker? Thank you!

      1. ?? This is a crock pot recipe. If you want to bake a chicken, google baked chicken and recipes will be at your fingertips.

    15. 5 stars
      Surprisingly delish. Added carrots into the crockpot. Juicy and flavorful. A keeper! Ordered two of your books today on amazon because I’m enjoying the blog so much. Thumbs up!

    16. 3 stars
      The first time I made this the texture of the chicken was great, but I did not like the flavor that the crock pot does to the onion (I love onion, but not what crock pot cooking does to it), and the paprika over-powered all other flavors. Way too much paprika! It makes the chicken less usable in other dishes because all you taste is paprika. The paprika also made it unusable for making stock. So the next time I made it, I put 3 large peeled carrots in the bottom instead of the onion, and omitted the paprika and it was great. I also added 1/4 up water since the carrots have less water than the onion. Thanks for the heads up on an easy way to make juicy chicken!

    17. 5 stars
      Absolutely delicious and so easy! Other than an oven roasted turkey, I had never cooked a whole chicken before. Even made the broth afterward. Picked at the hot chicken while taking it apart…mmm….mmm. Have used it on top of salads for lunch, on top of Fiesta Lime Rice, eaten cold. Also had it warm with the warmed Fiesta Lime Rice. Of course, ate it hot with potatoes and carrots. Will make the Chicken Noodle soup recipe from this site using the stock from the chicken. So many meals for so little effort and money!

    18. The cookbook recommends 7 hours on low (I work outside the home so 4 hours on high isn’t an option). I think 7 hours is too long – the chicken was falling off the bone but mushy. I did make the stock afterwards and it was delicious.