The Best Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker

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Easy slow cooker dinners like this are perfect for busy days:  The Best Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker

How to Cook a Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker

Whole chickens are easy enough to roast and everything, but I don’t know why I’ve never thought to just put a whole chicken in the slow cooker.  That’s even better!  The chicken cooks completely in about 6 hours on low (which is how I prefer to make it), and the meat pulls off super tender and moist and perfect.  The skin is even slightly crispy after all is said and done!

100 Days of Real Food
100 Days of Real Food

This recipe comes from the fabulous cookbook by blogger Lisa Leake from 100 Days of Real Food.  The book is aptly titled, 100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love.  I am loving this cookbook!  Actually, I’m loving the whole concept of asking your family to join you on a venture of eating 100 days of real, clean food (no processed stuff).  That might be a challenge in my house, but if my family was up to it, I’d be willing to go for it for sure!  Author Leake shares her family’s story with you in her book.  

And the recipes shared are great, family-friendly ideas… things like Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes, Cinnamon- Raisin Quick Bread, Cinnamon- Apple Chips, Cheesy Broccoli- Rice Casserole, Homemade Chicken Nuggets and Carrot Cake with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting.  Is there anything super outrageous in the book?  No.  These are meant to be recipes that your family will enjoy.  I think it’s a great experiment to try on your own family.  Go for it!

Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker

How to make the Best Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker:

This recipe absolutely could not be any easier.  A whole chicken is placed in your slow cooker with some chopped onions, and a mixture of spices rubbed on your chicken and that’s it!  Turn it on for 6 hours and dinner is ready later.  So easy.  

Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker

My son is starting lacrosse soon… and the practices are ALLLLL the way on the other side of town…. like a half-hour away.  So on those two days a week I will definitely be utilizing my slow cooker.  There is nothing worse than practice ending and my son saying, “Hey we should go for In-N-Out Burger!”  And then we go to the burger place and chow down on burgers and animal fries and… oops, milkshakes!  And then I’ve gained two pounds for the week and I’m miserable.  I’d rather have a good home-cooked meal at home waiting for us, for sure!  Here is my collection of >> Slow Cooker Recipes, which I’m going to be adding to this fall!

Slow Cooker Chicken
Here’s our little slow cooked chicken as it came out of the slow cooker.  The meat is VERY tender, so it’s actually difficult to transfer to a platter but I got it done.  I bought an organic chicken- a 4-pounder as the recipe calls for- and I truly believe that there was a LOT more meat on that chicken than the ones that you buy already roasted at the store.  I was really happy with this dinner, and so was my family.  And it was SO EASY!!!

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How to Make a Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker

Easy slow-cooker method for cooking a whole chicken!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Servings 5 servings
Calories 548kcal
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword slow cooker chicken, whole chicken in slow cooker


  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 large onion, peeled & cut into wedges
  • One 4-pound whole chicken


  • Combine all of the spices in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Place the onion in the bottom of your slow cooker.
  • Remove any giblets from the chicken (or leave them if you wish, but be sure to remove any plastic or paper bags, then rub the spice mixture all over the outside of the chicken. You can even put some of the spices in side the cavity and under the skin covering the breasts.
  • Put the chicken breast-side-down on top of the onions and cover the slow-cooker (note that my photos show breast side up- it turned out perfectly delicious that way too). There's no need to add any liquid.
  • Cook on high for about 4 hours or on low for 7 hours, or until the chicken is falling off the bone. Remove the edible chicken pieces from the slow cooker and serve.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 548kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 185mg | Sodium: 640mg | Potassium: 528mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 781IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 3mg
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Lori Lange of Recipe Girl

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  • Melissa wrote:

    Hello, can this be done with a frozen chicken

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Thaw before using in the recipe.

  • Shannon wrote:

    Is it spicy because of the spices listed like paprika and cayenne? My husband wouldn’t mind but picky kids who are not used to spicy food won’t like it.
    Can I substitute them for a mild spice?

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      No, not spicy HOT at all— just spicy in terms of spices used. You can use whatever you want if you’re wary.

  • Carlotta wrote:

    I had to improvise with my spices I used lemon pepper garlic salt and a little dry rub BBQ seasoning and some poultry seasoning cut my onions and put potatoes on top of the onion and then put my chicken on top of everything. I hope it turns out fantastic

  • Lori Katz wrote:

     Could you add carrots and potatoes in with this chicken and have them be done ?

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      I haven’t tried potatoes and carrots with this particular recipe, but I’m sure it would work. I’d put them in the bottom- underneath the chicken.

  • Jimmy G wrote:

    I am about to purchase a slow cooker and want to cook a whole chicken. For a small to medium size chicken, what size cooker do I need?

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      I’m not familiar with the sizes of slow cookers. I have the standard-sized slow cooker (the larger one), which I find that I can utilize for all of my slow cooker recipes.

  • Brian Green wrote:

    Just made this chicken it turned out delicious. 🙂

  • Brian Green wrote:

    You can use a frozen chicken. However the neck, giblets etc are going to be hard to get out of a frozen chicken. For a frozen whole chicken add about 4 additional hours on low.
    Also add about a 1/2 cup warm liquid (water, or broth) this acts as a cushion for sudden temperature changes.

  • stephanie wrote:

    hi there! I am recently married and new to cooking so I have a Question, should I defrost the chicken before putting it in the slow cooker?

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      yes, it should definitely be defrosted!

  • Ruth A Stiles wrote:

    I just cooked a whole roaster chicken in the crockpot last month. I placed the chicken in the slowcooker and filled it about half full with water. It was really juicy and tender and I used the broth for chicken noodle soup the next day. This recipe – minus the water – sounds great! Thanks for sharing

  • Vinaya wrote:

    What size slow cooker did you use to cook this 4lb whole chicken?

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Any slow cooker will do, as long as the chicken fits inside 🙂

  • Emily @ Life on Food wrote:

    I love my slow cooker. A whole chicken is one thing I haven’t whipped up. I am pinning this recipe for later.

  • Kristen wrote:

    This looks so good and easy – I had no idea! Thanks for sharing this great how to!

  • Ami@naivecookcooks wrote:

    I love the convenience of slow cookers!! Brilliant!!

  • Martha wrote:

    In one place it says to cook for 6 hours, in another 7 hours. And, it gets cooked breast side down? All the photos indicate otherwise. Thanks.

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Martha- sorry for the confusion. I’ve adjusted my wording. Turns out I cooked it upside down, but it still turns out perfect either way 🙂

  • Debbie Caraballo wrote:

    This does sound delicious. I can’t wait to make it! Pinned for VERY near future!
    Thanks so much, Lori.

  • Liz @ The Lemon Bowl wrote:

    These are exactly the types of meals I need right now!!

  • Karen E wrote:

    Wow, that looks awesome. We live at least a half hour from most things so I rely on slow cookers, pressure cookers, freezer meals a ton.

  • Kristi F wrote:

    This looks amazingly good! Question though: the recipe calls for it being cooked breast side down but your pictures show breast side up. Does it matter?

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Hi Kristi, I was actually just going by what the photo looked like in her cookbook… but yes, it turns out perfectly fine the way that I did it 🙂