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How to Make a Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker

You can cook a whole chicken in the slow cooker with ease and make it tender and juicy every time! In this blog post, we'll show you how to do that step by step, plus how to use the leftovers. This slow cooker whole chicken recipe is so easy, and you won't have to watch over the oven or stovetop all day long. Slow cooker recipes are essential for busy families.

Once you've enjoyed the chicken the first night, you can use the carcass to make chicken stock in a slow cooker.

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Raw chicken in crock with vegetables - cook a whole chicken in the slow cooker

When money is tight or you are planning ahead to cook something that can turn into a few different meals for the coming days, look no further than a whole chicken and your slow cooker.

Chicken is such a versatile meat and once it's cooked, it's easy to add it to sauces, casseroles, salads–you name it! There are so many easy recipes using cooked chicken. It all starts with nothingto use more than a whole chicken from the grocery store.

After we've eaten the chicken meat, I like to make chicken stock in recipes like Tuscan Chicken Soup and Chicken Taco Soup.

Cooked whole chicken on white plate

Slow cooking the chicken

Get out your slow cooker and look around for some veggie scraps, onions, carrots or the likes. 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, but this is also a great time to use up that celery that's starting to go limp, or that open bag of baby carrots that doesn'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 with the neck, liver, gizzards etc. Toss those in your crockpot and rinse your chicken. Pat it dry and lay it breast side up on top of the veggies. Season with salt and pepper.

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.

The chicken will be tender and falling from the bone. You'll also notice some cooking liquid in the pot. Pull the meat off as best you can, focusing on the large chunks of breast and leg meat. Set the meat aside, but leave everything else in the slow cooker.

whole chicken in crock with carrots celery and onions

Making chicken stock in a slow cooker

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. It's time to turn this into delicious, wholesome chicken stock. You can sip the broth as a hot drink when it's done or use it as the base for soups, stews, beans and the likes. 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.

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.

Chicken broth and carrots in white bowl on wooden table

Allow the stock 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 stock 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.

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 grab the whole solid chunk and remove it from the broth. Otherwise, stir it back in as you are heating the broth for cooking.

chicken legs and olives in yellow dish on wooden table - slow cooker whole chicken recipe

Where to buy whole chicken?

Perdue Farms has great deals on whole chicken. You can get their bulk pack of 6 and store them in your freezer. You can also just buy one at a time. This easy slow cooker whole chicken recipe works with whatever chicken you prefer: organic, free-range, standard grocery store chicken, etc.

Printable slow cooker whole chicken recipe

Yield: 6+ servings

Slow Cooker Whole Chicken

raw chicken and vegetables in crockpot

See how simple it is to cook a whole chicken in the slow cooker. After eating it, make homemade chicken stock from the remains.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4-7 lb. whole chicken
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • carrots and celery, optional
  • garlic, optional
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Lay the onion (and other vegetables and garlic if using) in the bottom of the crock.
  2. Remove baggie from chicken neck and add organs to bottom of slow cooker if desired (will add more flavor to stock).
  3. Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Lay chicken breast side up on top of the vegetables. Cook on High 6 hours or Low 8-10 hours.
  5. Remove cooked meat from chicken to serve.

Notes

To then make chicken stock, now add at least 8 cups water to the crock and a splash of apple cider or regular vinegar. Cook on Low 4 hours or overnight (the longer you cook, the more intense the flavor). Cool and strain.

Whole cooked chicken on plate with parsley
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