Ever wonder how to cook a whole chicken in your slow cooker? All you need is TWO ingredients, FIVE MINUTES of prep, and your trusty crockpot for this easy super juicy, fall-off-the-bone tender chicken. Use the meat throughout the week for recipes, meal prep, and get homemade chicken stock out of it, too!
When I’m feeling fancy, I love roasting a whole chicken in my Dutch oven. But when my need for chicken is more utilitarian, I turn to my crockpot.
Cooking a whole chicken in your slow cooker is one of the easiest, cheapest, and most beneficial things you can do for successful meal planning. It’s such a great homemade alternative to buying a store-bought rotisserie chicken!
You can use the meat in salads or in any number of soup, casserole, or other recipes throughout the week!
All you need for this recipe is a whole chicken and an onion, plus some salt, pepper, and water. And a couple (optional) fresh rosemary sprigs. The chicken comes out sooo juicy and moist every time!
And I love that this recipe ALSO makes chicken stock, which you can keep in your freezer for another day.
Are you ready to find out how easy it is to make a whole chicken in your slow cooker? Let’s go!
How to make a slow cooker whole chicken
- Add a layer of sliced onions to the bottom of your crockpot.
- Place a whole chicken, patted dry and seasoned liberally with salt and pepper, on top of the onions.
- Pour some water in the slow cooker around the chicken (to make stock as well).
- Add a couple rosemary sprigs on top and cook on high for 4 hours. DONE!
When the chicken is finished cooking, remove the rosemary sprigs and discard.
Then, place the chicken on a rimmed baking sheet or carving board and allow to rest for 10 minutes before cutting it up. This will allow the juices to redistribute and keep the meat really moist and tender.
Tips and Tricks
- When adding the water, don’t pour it on top of the chicken. This will remove the salt and pepper. Instead, pour it along the sides, and make sure you leave about 1-2 inches of the chicken above the water.
- Prep the chicken in your sink. You’ll need to move any giblets from the inside, pat it as dry as you can, and liberally season inside the cavity and on all sides with salt and pepper. This can get messy, so from a food safety perspective, I like to keep everything contained in my sink for easy clean-up.
What kind of slow cooker to use
I used my crockpot programmable cook and carry 6 quart slow cooker to make this chicken. I love that it has a timer that you can set and see how long there is remaining on the digital display. And it’s only about $35 on Amazon!
I don’t recommend using a smaller slow cooker unless the chicken you are using is very small. A larger one, such as an 8 quart, will be fine.
What size chicken to use
I recommend using a 4-6 lb. chicken.
If you want to use a smaller chicken, such as a 3 lb. bird, cook for less time (and likewise for a larger one, for more time). Just make sure the internal temperature is 165 degrees F and you’re good to go!
How can I get crispy skin on the chicken?
The unfortunate thing about cooking a skin-on chicken in a slow cooker is that the skin doesn’t get crispy.
Since I usually just cut this chicken up and store it for other recipes, it doesn’t bother me. But if you want crispy skin, just place it on a baking sheet and broil it for 5-10 minutes, until the skin is crisped to your liking. I use this method when making slow cooker turkey breast and slow cooker buffalo wings and it works well!
This is such a basic recipe, so it’s easy to play around with it and make it your own! Here are some suggestions.
- Try rubbing the chicken with a mixture of butter, chopped rosemary, minced garlic, lemon zest, salt, and pepper.
- Use another kind of spice mixture, like a homemade poultry rub.
- Instead of rosemary, use sprigs of thyme or fresh oregano (or both!).
- Add some more aromatics, like a head of garlic cut in half or some celery stalks or carrots, to the sliced onions. You can place these inside the cavity of the chicken, too.
Recipes that use cooked chicken
- I almost always make a chicken salad when I cook a slow cooker chicken, such as chicken salad with grapes or curried chicken salad with apples and raisins.
- Looking for comfort food? Chicken and dumplings is a great way to use both the chicken and the stock, and chicken pot pie, buffalo chicken stuffed shells, and healthy chicken stroganoff are so delicious too.
- Soups and stews are a great way to use both the chicken meat and the stock. I love this chicken, sweet potato, and black bean stew, this chicken and gnocchi soup, this chicken and wild rice soup, and this easy classic chicken noodle soup.
Browse all my slow cooker recipes here.
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Slow Cooker Whole Chicken
- Prepare the chicken by removing any giblets in the cavities and patting as dry as you can with a paper towel (I do this in my sink for easy clean-up).
- Lay the sliced onion on the bottom of your slow cooker.
- Season the chicken with the salt and pepper on all sides and inside the cavity as well.
- Lay the chicken on top of the sliced onions. Pour 4 cups water in the side of the crockpot, avoiding pouring on top of the chicken so you don't remove the salt and pepper (skip this if you don't want stock). Lay the sprigs of rosemary on top of the chicken, if using.
- Cook on high for four hours.
- Remove the rosemary sprigs and discard. Remove the chicken carefully, as it will be fall-off-the-bone tender, to a rimmed baking sheet or carving board. Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving/cutting up.
- Strain the stock through a mesh sieve into storage containers (I use a ladle to scoop it out and pour through the sieve, and discard the onions at the end).
- For a larger or smaller bird, you may need to adjust the cooking time. A chicken under 4 lbs. will probably only need 3 hours on high, whereas a larger one may take 4 1/2 or 5 hours to cook. Make sure you check the internal temperature to see if it's 165 if you are in any doubt.
- To get crispy skin: place the chicken under the broiler in your oven for 5-10 minutes after cooking to crisp the skin a bit. Otherwise, I recommend removing and discarding the skin.
- Storage: store the meat from the chicken for up to 5 days in an airtight container in your fridge. Store the chicken stock for up to 5 days in your fridge or up to 6 months in your freezer in an airtight container.
- I used my 6 qt. slow cooker for this. A smaller one may not work, unless you have a very small chicken. A larger one will be fine.