slow cooker whole chicken and stock recipe

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slow cooker whole chicken | pamela salzman

Daughter #2 asked me the other day if I was “ever going to put that thing away?”  She was referring to my slow cooker, of course.  Not that Daughter #2 is complaining since she’s the first one to the dinner table every night and has always been the easiest one to cook for.  But she had a point.  That slow cooker has has become part of the family!

salting the chicken early is key!

But I wasn’t about to shelve my new baby so soon.  Just when I thought cooking a whole chicken couldn’t get any easier, I decided to put my Easy No-Fail Roast Chicken method to the test in…the slow cooker.  Believe me, I don’t normally mess with the easiest, most popular dinners in my repertoire.  But roasting a whole chicken is something that needs to be started well before I get home some days and I need a back-up.  That and I was on a roll and feeling lucky, so I figured this was going to work like everything else I’ve been trying.  I decided to prep the chicken in basically the same way I do an oven-roasted chicken — rubbed on the inside and out with some kosher salt early on, stuffed with a bit of fresh thyme and some crushed garlic and cooked on a bed of onions.  I usually add cut lemons to the cavity, but I was nervous that cooking the lemons for a long time would result in a bitter taste, so I left those out.  The only other change I made was to rub the outside of the chicken with a little olive oil mixed with paprika so that the skin would get a little color and not be pale and unattractive.

sprinkle with paprika and olive oil

The conclusion is that I think I should call this recipe “Easier than Easy No-Fail Roast Chicken and Still So Darn Good.”  The chicken was predictably fall-off-the-bones.  In fact, I had a hard time getting the chicken out of the slow cooker in one piece!  My kids love super soft meat and my husband likes chicken that is beyond well done.  I’ve made chicken once or twice a week for the last 17 1/2 years and he has asked me every single time if the chicken is cooked through.  No comment on whether or not that is annoying since my husband occasionally reads my blog AND Valentine’s Day is coming up.  Get my drift?  My point is that this chicken satisfies everyone, including me since it takes all of 5 minutes to prep and you can do it 8 hours before you want to eat dinner.  “Is this cooked through?”  “Darling, it’s been cooking for 8 hours.”

slow cooker whole chicken

So you all know I am completely obsessed with making homemade chicken stock.  I swear, if teaching cooking classes and blogging doesn’t work out, I will go into the homemade stock-making business.  The world must know the goodness of homemade stock somehow!  So before I served this chicken to the family, I removed and reserved all the bones.  I put the bones back in there with a chicken back I had in the freezer plus some stock veggies (onions, carrots, celery) and water and I made chicken stock overnight.  It was delicious.  And because there was no skin and foam and such, it turned out to be such a clear stock with minimal fat.  It’s crazy not to try this!  (Sorry I don’t have photos.  It was too dark in my kitchen and the images didn’t turn out well.)

lovely juices on the bottom can be used for gravy

Cooking a whole chicken in a slow cooker opens up so many possibilities for what you can do with the meat.  You don’t have to cut the chicken into traditional breast, thigh, drumstick pieces.  You can use the meat just as you would rotisserie chicken meat and heaven knows there have been more articles on what to do with rotisserie chicken meat than how to get your baby to sleep through the night.   Just to remind — chicken soup, enchiladas, tacos, pot pie, sandwiches, salads and so on.  For those of you who do not have a slow cooker and feel excluded, please revisit the Easy No Fail Roast Chicken Recipe.  I still love you and I will put away the slow cooker and come back to you.  Eventually.  Wink, wink.

falling off the bones

Slow Cooker Whole Chicken and Stock
Serves: 6
  • 1 whole roasting chicken, about 4-5 pounds (save the neck for stock)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ bunch fresh thyme or a couple sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 brown onion, peeled and sliced into thick slices
  • For the stock:
  • Some additional bony chicken pieces if you have them, such as backs, necks, wings and/or feet, up to 2 pounds
  • 2 brown onions, cut into large pieces
  • 3 carrots, cut into large chunks
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into large chunks
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • water (amount depends on size of your slow cooker)
  1. When you get home from the market, unwrap the chicken and remove any giblets from the cavity. Save the neck for stock.
  2. Take a heaping tablespoon of kosher salt and rub it around the inside of the cavity. Any remaining salt on your hands can be rubbed on the outside of the chicken. Rewrap the chicken and refrigerate until ready to cook. This can be done up to two days in advance.
  3. The day you are making the chicken, remove it from the wrapping and sprinkle a few pinches of black pepper, as well as the garlic and thyme in the cavity of the chicken.
  4. Truss the chicken by tying the legs together. Rub the outside of the chicken with olive oil and paprika.
  5. Place the onion slices on the bottom of the slow cooker insert and place the chicken on top of the onions. You do not need any liquid, I promise. Cover and cook on LOW for 7- 8 hours or HIGH 4-5 hours.
  6. Serve with the cooked onions and pan juices, if desired.
Leave whatever you didn’t use in the slow cooker (juices and onions).
Remove all the bones from the entire chicken and place in the slow cooker with any additional chicken parts you have, including the neck from the chicken you just cooked. Add vegetables and enough water to to come up to about an inch from the top.
Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours or overnight. My slow cooker automatically goes to WARM mode after 8 hours.
Strain and use immediately if you don’t see too much fat at the top or cool slightly and refrigerate. When cold, skim and discard any fat from the top. Stock can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.


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  1. Christine says

    Every time I try to cook a whole chicken in my slow cooker, it comes out dry. I’ve tried cooking for less time on the low setting to no avail. Any suggestions? Does this happen to you?

    • Pamela says

      Christine, have you tried this recipe? I make it all the time and it never turns out dry. Maybe you can turn your chicken over halfway if you’re home at that time. BUT, I have heard from many people that slow cookers are kind of like ovens — temperatures and cooking times can vary. I have heard that some older models may tend to overheat in spots. Which brand and model do you have?

      • Karen says

        I have a Smart Pot Commercial series – I think it is made by Crock Pot. My chicken turns out dry too. I have one going today – when it hits 4 hours on high, I’m going to check the internal temperature. I’m thinking that 160 – 165 would be the goal. Next week, if I start earlier, I’m going to repeat the experiment on the low setting. Maybe the chicken is cooking faster in this pot than other pots out there.

  2. says

    A whole chicken without any added liquid? I can’t believe it but I’m trusting you because your photos look so great! :) I’ll make this later this week. Thank you for posting,

  3. Allison Thompson says

    Oops! I’m sorry! I meant I have frozen chicken BACKS to add to the stock and am wondering how many. They are pretty large and meaty. Thanks!

  4. Allison Thompson says

    Hi Pamela,

    I’m making this for dinner tonight and want to make the stock afterwards. I have a few frozen chicken necks that I bought at the local market. How many should I add? Thanks for all the nutritious and delicious recipes!

    • Pamela says

      Backs are much larger than necks, so you can probably add 3 or 4 to your slow cooker with all the bones from the whole chicken. Delish!

  5. says

    I have just started making my own chicken stock and was told that adding 2-3 chicken feet is very healthy. I’m wondering if I can buy a dozen or so feet and keep them in the freezer and then just throw the 2-3 in the slow cooker right out of the freezer to add into the stock or do I need to defrost them first?

  6. nadia says

    hi Pamela~
    this sounds soo easy and delicious..i am glad to hear that I can put veggies in with, it is a whole meal taken care of.
    what I am wondering is how many people would a five pound chicken serve? since I need to feed 8,,~~oohhh noo~~ do I need to go buy another crockpot??

    • Pamela says

      A 5-pound chicken might serve 8, if everyone eats the amount of chicken I do, which is just a couple of ounces. Here’s what you’re looking at with a whole chicken: 2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, and 2 wings, which don’t really have much meat. If you cut the breasts in half you’ll have 4 small pieces. So if you’re lucky and everyone likes different things and they’re not big meat-eaters, you could get away with 1 5-pounder. Otherwise, make 2 in the oven and save the leftovers for lunches the next day, soup, salads, quesadillas, etc. Here’s the link to my easy no-fail roast chicken:

  7. Lisa Coppedge says

    I am going to try this. Can you put potatoes and carrots in this too (other veggies?)? If so, when is a good time…new crock potter on the loose!

    • Pamela says

      Sure! put your veggies in the bottom and lay the chicken on top. the veggies won’t caramelize like they do in an oven, but they’ll be tender and tasty!

  8. Jane Stavropoulos says

    The chicken was amazing! I am a huge fan of roast chicken which I make once a week, but I love this so much and it made my whole house smell great and I was finished cooking dinner by 9 am when I had put this in the crock pot! Then I made the stock and it was the richest chicken stock I have ever made! Thanks for the great 2 for 1 recipe Pamela.

  9. Courtney says

    I added som orange slices to the cavity and below. It added a great citrus scent. I’m just wondering if I can make stock now… I will try, but it may be a little orange flavored.

    • Pamela says

      I’m sure the chicken was delicious! Yes, I would take out any traces of orange, even strong herbs like rosemary, before making the stock. If you are using the drippings at the bottom of the slow cooker, they may impart a slight orange flavor to the stock since the orange was mixed with the onions. You could always use the drippings for gravy for another chicken dish and clean out the insert before proceeding with the stock. Hard for me to say unless I tasted how strong the orange flavor was in the pan. Let me know what you decide to do and how it turns out!

  10. Jenny S. says

    I am going to do this tomorrow. I have a 4.5 Q slow cooker. I know you said below that the cooking time is the same but I just wanted to make sure that there was not a minimum sized cooker you needed for this or any of your slow cooker recipes. Also, does the paprika change the flavor much or is it just to color the skin? My girls can be picky about any additional flavor I add. Thank you Pam!

    • Pamela says

      Nope! Your 4.5 Q slow cooker will work fine for all the slow cooker recipes here. Good question about the paprika. It’s really just for color. You won’t taste it at all!

      • Jenny says

        Wow! This was soooo very easy! Delicious and juicy! The only hard part was taking it out. I will include this in my rotation for sure. More slow cookers, please! Thank you so very much, Pamela!

  11. Joy says

    I’m making this now and the whole house smells great! Thanks for the inspiration. I’m already looking forward to making stock, too!

  12. Lisa says

    I’m trying this chicken tonight. This is my third morning with the crockpot on the counter filling it in hopes of a yummy dinner when I get home in the evening. I haven’t been disappointed yet. I don’t think I will be tonight either. Like you, I make this chicken almost weekly in the oven but often run out of time in the evening. And i almost always make soup following. Genius to put it in the crock pot! I have been cooking from your website for a while and cannot say enough nice things about it. I’ve been thinking that the chicken vegetable curry, one of my favorites, may work in the crok pot too. Maybe I’ll make it four. Thank you and I can’t be happier that you discovered the wonders of the crockpot.

  13. Lynette says

    This chicken is awesome! My whole family loved it and it couldn’t have been easier. Thanks for another great recipe.

  14. Lauren says

    This is a revelation!!! Thank you for posting this wonderful idea! One quick question about stock: I have been saving random chicken parts and bones in my freezer to eventually make stock again, do I put the frozen parts directly in the stock pot/slow cooker, or do they need to thaw first?

    • Pamela says

      Yes, I put frozen chicken parts in my stock pot all the time. And I did take a frozen chicken back and put it right into the slow cooker. If you are going to make stock in the slow cooker with all frozen chicken parts, I would put the slow cooker on high until the stock comes to a boil and then put it in low so that it’s simmering for a good amount of time.


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