Chicken is one of our family’s favorite food- we like it all different ways. And for pure convenience and frugality, you can’t beat a whole chicken cooked in a slow cooker. It takes about five minutes to prepare, 4 hours on high (7 to 8 on low) to cook and you can serve it for dinner one night, use any extra meat for another meal, and then make a soup or broth with the bones and remaining meat.
Three meals from one chicken- gotta love that.
If your goal is to just cook a chicken for the meat, you won’t have to bother with the spices in this recipe, just a bit of salt for flavor will do. The spices here serve two functions: adding flavor to the meat for serving and coloring the chicken, since browning is the one thing that doesn’t happen as well in slow cookers.
The five minutes of preparation include mixing a paste of paprika and other spices along with some olive oil, placing your thawed chicken in a large slow cooker (if your cooker is smaller, make sure to get a smaller bird), and smearing with the paste.
As you can see, I like to skin the chicken because I’m not a fan of how the skin comes out when using a slow cooker. Plus all the good spices are right where I want them- the meat. For easy skinning, I slice the skin off the back first and then use my fingers to pull each side up and off around the thigh, breast, and finally pull the whole side of skin off the end of the drumstick. Repeat with the other side and you’re done. If it grosses you out, leave it on and remove the skin as you serve – it works both ways.
Oh, and cooking a chicken in a slow cooker is a great way to get chicken meat in the summer without heating your house up with the oven. Think chicken for your salads and sandwiches…
Slow Cooker Spiced Whole Chicken
- 4-5 lb. whole chicken
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp. dried basil
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder (or 1 tsp. minced fresh garlic)
- 1/2 tsp. onion powder
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
- 1 TB. olive oil
- Remove all the giblets from the chicken and skin if desired (if leaving the skin, pat it dry), but do remove as much fat as possible. Place in a large (5-6 quart) slow cooker, breast side up.
- Mix all the seasonings with the olive oil in a small bowl and use a pastry brush to spread it all over the bird, making sure to get it on the sides and crevices as well as the top.
- Cover and cook on HIGH for 3-1/2 to 4 hours (or on LOW for 7 to 8 hours). Cut into pieces (it will be falling off the bone…) for immediate serving. Use any extra meat for another meal.
- To make broth or soup: Reserve the juices in the bottom of the cooker, add any remaining bones (and any more you’ve been keeping in the freezer) along with some onion, celery, and carrot (again- peelings you’ve been keeping in the freezer!) and cook on low all night. In the morning, strain the broth and freeze or use for soup. Pretty effortless, right?
Variations: Sometimes I slice a couple of onions and spread them on the bottom of the cooker before adding the chicken- the onions cook in all that great flavor. The same with sliced (or baby) carrots or mushrooms.
Serves 4-6 the first night (plus one more meal and broth or soup)
This is linked to Best Crockpot Recipes of 2011.