The slow cooker is a revelation. There may be nay sayers (you know who you are) but there are some days that just scream for plug-it-in-and-forget-about-it in my house. It’s a no-brainer dinner when you’re running in a million different directions and know you’ll be energy depleted at the end of the day, or when you’re trying to feed several different people with several different schedules. It’s a nice, slow, mellow heat that makes meat melt off the bone. In this case, that means whole chicken in the crock pot that is beyond juicy and tender.
Cooking a whole chicken in the crock pot is something I hadn’t tried until recently, but the end result is similar to rotisserie chicken without the extra sodium. You can slice the chicken off the bone or shred it for enchiladas, salads, soup or chicken pot pie. The first time I made this, I used Lisa Leake’s recipe from her book 100 Days of Real Food. She rubs her chicken skin and cavity with a bright paprika-cayenne-garlic spice rub. My recipe is a somewhat simplified version that also calls for resting the whole chicken on a bed of onion, but I’ve left out the spice rub and added a whole lemon, a little extra salt and fresh garlic. The skin doesn’t brown up like it does when you roast a chicken in the oven, so right before we eat, I transfer the whole chicken, onions and lemon slices to a sheet pan and broil it for about a minute. But if you’re planning to pull the skin off anyway, don’t bother. Either way, you’re left with a juicy whole chicken, that — paired with a salad and maybe some roasted potatoes — is about the easiest dinner game around.
Whole Chicken in the Crock Pot
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt or sea salt
- 2 white or yellow onions peeled and cut in quarters
- 1 lemon sliced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1-2 large crushed garlic cloves
- Fresh ground pepper
- 1 whole chicken 3-4 pounds
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and sprinkle kosher salt on the skin.
- Place the onions, lemon, bay leaf and garlic on the bottom of the crockpot and rest the chicken, breast side up, on top. Top with fresh ground pepper.
- Cover and cook on high for 3 hours or on low for 5 hours.
- * If you prefer crispy skin, after the chicken has finished cooking transfer it to a roasting pan and broil for 2-3 minutes. Use a big spatula and a pair of tongs to transfer, it will fall apart easily.
This is the easiest and most delicious chicken! I broiled it at the end to brown the skin – it was perfect! My kids loved it! Now it is a regular in my weekday dinner rotation. And I used the bones to make my own crock pot chicken stock.