Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot

Wondering what to make for dinner? Check out my family’s favorite crock pot recipes for great dinner ideas!

Update: If you have a minute, read through the comments, my readers have added some awesome tips and ideas for cooking whole chickens. I have also posted a whole chicken in a crock pot video tutorial for those who are interested.

I am convinced that buying a whole chicken is one of the best values for your grocery budget. I regularly see whole chickens on sale at various grocery stores for under a dollar a pound.

Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot at The Happy Housewife

The problem with whole chickens is that no one wants to touch them, or mess with them once they are cooked. I was once like that too, but then I realized how much money I could save by buying whole chickens and I quickly got over my “whole uncooked chickens give me the heebie jeebies” thing and got cooking.

Cooking a whole chicken in the crock pot is super easy. First unwrap the chicken, remove the bag of innards from the cavity and give the chicken a quick rinse. (Read the comments for ideas on what to do with the innards from the chicken)

After rinsing the chicken place in a crock pot that has been sprayed with non-stick.

Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot at The Happy Housewife

You do not need to put any liquid in the pot, just the chicken.

Then sprinkle your favorite spices on the chicken. I usually sprinkle garlic and paprika.

Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot at The Happy Housewife

Place the lid on the crock pot, set on low, and walk away for about 7 hours.

7 hours later you will have a beautiful cooked chicken ready to serve for dinner.

Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot at The Happy Housewife

Remove the chicken from the crock pot, cut and serve. Do not throw away the liquid in the crock pot.

If you do not want to serve the chicken for dinner, allow the chicken to cool and then remove the meat from the bones. You can use the meat like you would any other cooked chicken, in casseroles, chicken salad, chicken pot pie, pastas, etc.

Once you have removed all the meat from the bones, put the bones back in the crock pot and add about five cups of water. I also put the skin back in the crock pot since my kids won’t eat it.

Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot at The Happy Housewife

Set the crock pot on the low setting and cover. Let it cook overnight. In the morning you will have a crock pot full of bones and chicken broth, and your house will smell like Boston Market for the next day or two.

Strain out the bones and you have homemade chicken broth for free!

Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot at The Happy Housewife

Not only is it free, it is free from all the preservatives, salt, and other junk you find in some of the store bought chicken broth. I store my broth in large yogurt containers.

Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot at The Happy Housewife

I got about 50 ounces of broth from one chicken. After you put the broth in a container, place in the fridge to cool. When the broth has totally cooled a layer of fat will be on the top.

Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot at The Happy HousewifeWhole_Chicken_in_Slow_Cooker_Fat

Scrape the fat off with a spoon and the broth is ready to be used or can be stored for up to six months in the freezer. Don’t throw away the fat, it can be used in other recipes.  Also, see How to Reheat Chicken Broth.

Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot Meal Ideas

Meal #1 (served 7): Chicken and Mashed Potatoes

  • Chicken $4.00
  • Mashed Potatoes $1.50
  • Veggies $0.79
  • Biscuits $1.00

Total cost $7.29 or about a $1 per person

Meal #2 (served 7): Chicken and Rice Casserole

  • Chicken Free from leftovers
  • Rice $0.50
  • Cream of Chicken Soup $0.75
  • Veggies (I used chopped broccoli and carrots)  Free from leftovers
  • Spices $0.25
  • Cheddar Cheese $.50

Cook rice according to the directions. Chop leftover chicken, and veggies. Mix with cream soup and add spices. (I used garlic, minced onion, and red pepper flakes). Combine the cooked rice with the chicken mixture. Spread in a 9×13 casserole dish, sprayed with nonstick. Bake covered for 15 minutes at 350 degrees, then uncover, top with cheese and bake until the cheese melts.

Tip: If you want to use brown rice for this recipe, replace half the water with your chicken broth. Even your pickiest eaters will love it.

Total cost $2.00 or $.30 per person.

By purchasing one chicken I was able to make two meals and get about $3 worth of chicken broth from a $4 chicken.

More Chicken Recipes to Try:

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.


  1. ive got a 4.25 lb bird in the crockpot with this recipe right now, i have it on low but i feel as if its going to take less than 7 hours, ive had it in for almost 4 and it seems to be almost done. can anyone help?

  2. My chicken turned out fabulous, but when I went in the fridge to get the broth it was like gelatin!! Aaah! What’d I do wrong?!

    • Nothing! Probably you got a bit more fat in that part or have just dipped as far as the fat and not hit the true broth yet.

      As for me. When I roast a chicken I use all drippings for gravy. The gravys wonderful with meal and makes an awesome pot pie. I use more herbs and spices as well frown but my family likes flavor, not spicy.. But salt and pepper at least in addition to garlic. For the stock you may want to add some more spices and a bag lead as well.

      I DO keep the skin and bones and make my own bone broth. Which is better frozen in ice cube trays so can measure out more accirately without waste of broth for recipes straight from freezer. Due to diff size trays simply measure the approx liquid held in one cube and then figure for recipes from there. After freezing just crack all into a large freezer bag for ease of storage and use.

    • Jen Hammer says:

      It is not fat and you have done nothing wrong. The tissues in the scraps break down and make a sort of jello when cooled. It turns back to liquid when you heat it up again. Your broth might not always do this, if the concentration of the gelationous stuff is too dilute with water or if the broth was not simmered long enough to break down enough of the tissues. It is very rich in collagen and other proteins so good job. You made an especially good broth and I bet it tasted really good.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe and your awesome advice. I made this today and it was just awesome when I got home from school. It was so good, in fact, that my husband had already eaten half of it! We raised our own free-range birds this summer and they are delicious – we are enjoying them in so many ways. I’ve got the bones cooking for stock right now – a great smell on a cold and blowy Halloween night 🙂

  4. Thanks for the great recipe! My 5 lb chicken turned out beautifully after 7 hrs on low, just like you suggested! 🙂

    I hate wasting anything; so, I was wondering what I could do with the chicken “sludge” I had left over after cooking the chicken and making broth. Dog treats! I love making homemade dog treats but there are very few recipes out there that aren’t mostly fillers and offer any real protein. I had great luck and wanted to share if anyone was interested in making the chicken go just a little farther. 🙂


    1 cup Chicken Sludge*
    2 cups Brown Rice Flour if you want it to be gluten-free (I actually ran out and used 1 cup Brown Rice Flour and 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour)
    1 cup Rolled Oats
    2 eggs
    2 Tbsp Flaxseed Meal
    2 Tbsp Pumpkin puree

    Mix everything together. I recommend doing it in a stand mixer because the consistency is thick, like peanut butter cookies. But the mixture is so easy to work with while shaping. It’s not sticky at all and no extra flour required.

    Bake 375º for 15-20 minutes depending on how crunchy you want it and also the size. I baked mine, approximately 3/4″ square) for 15 minutes -crunchy edges and a slight chewy texture on the inside. But it doesn’t matter for my dogs because they usually don’t chew. 🙂

    Here’s a picture. http://flic.kr/p/dqF8xq

    * The remains after cooking a whole chicken in the slow cooker and making broth with the bones. I removed all the bones and most of the skin. There were lots of meat bits that had fallen off the chicken when I deboned it. Also, I cooked and added the organs and neck that were stuffed in the chicken. I just broke everything up a bit with a spoon. I had about 2 cups worth.

  5. @Kelsey You didn’t do anything wrong. In fact, if you got a gelatin stock then you will have the finest most nutritious stock you can get! I always try to cook the bones long enough to produce a gelatin stock. It doesn’t always happen – I don’t know why. Gelatin stocks are perfect for making chicken soup. The soup will have a rich flavor and aroma, and will cure whatever ails you!

  6. when I am cooking cicken I fill up a pot of very cold water and add salt to it about 1/4 to 1/2 cup rinse off the chicken real good then rinse in cold water you will be surprised how much cleaning the chicken needs check for your self

  7. Just wondering how long you would cook a 2 1/2 or 3lb chicken?? I’m worried 7 hours may be too long since it is smaller..

  8. Second this. This is one of the best-kept secrets to a cheap/easy/tasty meal ever. Sometimes I just put a few dashes of salt and pepper on top, but you can add various other things of course. It’s just me so I can get several meals off of this….the bones aren’t a big deal, I just put them in a freezer bag before throwing away (to minimize chance of insects, mice etc – hey I live in the country). I wasn’t sure how long to cook though, which is why I looked this up – thanks!

  9. I always add the potatoes and carrots in the crockpot at about half the cooking time, adds flavor to the veggies and makes it one simple meal, and no dishes! 😀

  10. Can I stuff a chicken and do it the same way, just increase the cooking time some?
    Can’t wait to try this recipe!

  11. Trying this tonight! Thanks everyone for the great ideas and tips!! Can’t wait!

  12. @Kelsey: you didn’t do anything wrong. The gelatin is from the chicken bones and is very good for you. You didn’t mess up – you made really good nutritious broth. It will go back to liquid when you heat it up.

  13. Kelsy, you are not doing anything wrong, just heat up your chicken gelatin and add some water and any spices you want and you are ready to go.

  14. I’m new to crock potting and haven’t had a lot of luck so far but I keep trying. Does it matter if my chicken is about 3 lbs and my crock pot is 7 qt? I feel like that’s way to much empty space!?

  15. Mark Robinson says:

    The breast meat was a little dry. I think next time I’m going to make sure to cook it breast side down. Maybe that will help. I also had to cook it for 8 hours, rather than 7 because 8 and 10 hours are the only settings on my crock pot.

  16. Just wondering if you defrost the chicken first??? Or can you cook in the crock pot frozen??? If so, how much longer would you need to cook the chicken???

  17. Kelsey, your chicken broth was normal. This kind of chicken broth is supposed to be that way. When you heat it up, it gets runny/liquid again. 🙂

  18. how long should I cook 2 4lb chickens in the same crockpot?

  19. Americ0621 says:

    I seasoned with 1 onion, 4 cloves garlic, 1 lemon + juice, thyme and salt and pepper. I put olive oil over it too, like someone suggested. Also took the other suggestion to put chicken under broiler for 5 min or so after it was done. Great flavor! I like yr website’

  20. Thanks! Putting one in tonight for tostadas for dinner tomorrow. Going to try the dog treat recipe too. Caution…..don’t make dog treats if you cooked your chicken with onions. Onions are toxic to dogs.

  21. I have a whole chicken that I am planing to cook in the crock pot and googled it. I was set with the recipe that I was cooking it with and I have now changed my mind. This sounds awesome. I can’t wait to try it for dinner tonight. Thank you. I am also psyched about all the other recipes for the planned overs.

  22. Thanks for this recipe! I love how this recipe was very straightforward and easy to follow. I’ve decided to start cooking a whole chicken more regularly not just for the cost but it also makes me feel better about the number of chickens we are “killing”. Normally I would buy about 5 chicken breasts a week which means 3 chickens. But by cooking a whole chicken we get about the same amount of meat but from only one chicken! Plus now I don’t have to touch icky raw chicken breasts every night, just once a week. Then we eat the meat in different recipes throughout the week.

    @Mark – I cooked my 4lb chicken breast-side down (for 7 hours) the second time and it worked out perfectly. So it’s worth a try to see if that fixes for your 8 hour problem. You could also try buying a slightly larger chicken (5+lbs) that would take a bit longer to cook.

  23. carla g says:

    I made this tonight, but just sprinkled with some lemon pepper seasoning. It literally fell off the bone and was so good. I have the bones and skin going right now for the stock! Thanks so much!

  24. This is the best!!! Chicken falls off the bones! I have about 4 cups of sludge. Can anyone help me out with what i can do with it? Recipes?

  25. I’ve seen the question posted a couple of times, but no replies to it. Does the bird have to be defrosted before cooking, or can i put the frozen bird in the crock pot and adjust time? I’d really like to make this, but i have a problem with a whole chicken defrosting in my fridge or on my counter :/

    • Toni Anderson says:

      You can put a frozen chicken in the crock pot as well. Just adjust the cooking time, it will probably take an hour or two longer depending on your crock pot and size of the bird.

  26. This sounds great, I roast whole chickens quite regularly (there is a great instructable on quick roasting that I use from instructables.com) but am new to crock pot cooking. I work outside the home all day, is 7-8 hours a maximum as I would have to either leave for 12 hours or at least 9 hours and then turn it off when I got home and let it sit until we were ready to eat assuming it would keep at a safe temp for another few hours. Any suggestions as to how I can fit this in to our schedule would be gratefully received thank you .

  27. Thanks for a simple recipe!! Since it’s now Fall my crockpot has been used more and more (obviously.) I’ve never done a whole chicken in the crockpot and came across your site. I’m going to do garlic, rosemary and thyme. I’ll add a little S&P too. Everyone in the comments has some mouth-watering suggestions too!! Can’t wait for the bone broth. If you cook your bone broth for 3 days straight (I know it’s a long time and some may not be able to do that) the bones will literally breakdown and “melt” into the broth. It’s an old family thing we’ve done and will kick a cold or flu in the bootay. ( :

  28. This is for Michael who posted Aug 28: Yes, the chicken needs to be defrosted before cooking in the crockpot. You can usually find chickens in stores other than Walmart (theirs are always frozen rock hard) that have chickens never frozen or chickens (i.e. Tyson’s) that are pretty much thawed already for you in the meat section. Other than that, on Friday place your frozen chicken placed in SEVERAL store plastic grocery bags and tie shut. By Monday it should be thawed and ready for your slow cooker. Good luck!

  29. Thank you so much! We enjoyed the whole chicken, just placed my stock in the freezer and my casserole just came out of the oven. Not bad for a chicken that cost just a little over 5 bucks!

  30. I LOVE this recipe!!! I make it at least every 2 weeks and tell everyone I know about it!! Easy, cheap, and delicious!!

  31. I have a7.5 lb oven roaster chicken. How long would I cook that In my crockpot (I am new to crockpot cooking)? Thx!!

  32. maggie krostag says:

    I tried cooking an unthawed chicken in my crockpot, put in when I went to work, turned out mushy. Talked to my sister says she puts the meat in frozen. I tried this, worked GREAT! She even puts potatoes wrapped in foil on top of the meat to have “baked” potatoes done when chicken is done. I start chicken out on high while I’m getting ready for work. Put no water in unless you want a soup there will be an amazing amount of liquid when done. I like onions & garlic put in at this time, I turn heat down to low when I leave . This would be a good time to put carrots, celery etc around chicken so those veggies will also be done when you get home. If you want a mexi flavor put chili, cumin, peppers, onions, garlic.
    Great for taco fixins.

    I go to work so the chicken will be in the crockpot several hours. If you have unthawed chicken and fewer hours cooking time unthawed chicken would be fine.

    Gelatin from the chicken bones is what jells the liquid when cooled. Super healing food. Get sick – eat chicken soup! Right? USE IT! Drink it, cook rice in it, make soup.

  33. Professional Food Service Person says:

    To all of those asking about frozen meats and thawing:
    DO NOT THAW ANYTHING ON THE COUNTER. Always thaw frozen food overnight in the fridge. Temperature range between 41F and 120F is considered the food “danger zone”. Any food in that temp range has only FOUR hours of life before the bacteria reaches levels dangerous enough to cause food borne illness. Remember, that time is cumulative. Bad example: 1. Thanksgiving turkey was left out for 1.5 hours to “finish” thawing and start prep (remove giblets, season, stuff). 2. After cooking, it rested for 30 minutes to hold the juices in before carving. 3. It was on the table for 2 hours during dinner and cleanup. ***The turkey has now been in the “danger zone” temp for 4 hours. Even if you were to make other meals with the meat, this turkey has already spent too long outside of the fridge or the oven. The moral is — thaw in the fridge OR use the defrost setting on the microwave, which doesn’t always work with bone-in meats. Be safe, not sick.

  34. Thanks for the tips. My husband and I just cooked a chicken in the oven and the meat is not tender at all. I suggested that we cook it in the crock pot to get the meat tender. Thanks for the tips. I will try it tomorrow.

  35. One way that I like to store my broth/stock, is to freeze it in ice cube trays then put the broth cubes in freezer bags! Works great! You can also use cupcake pans or silicone cupcake liners!

  36. Hi there, just wanted to tell you that your stock will not be free of preservatives and salt. That chicken you put in the pot, full of salt and trypolyphospate ( yep preservative). The only way to ensure no salt and preservatives is to raise and kill that chicken yourself. Sorry to burst the bubble. 🙂

  37. Just wanted to say thanks for the recipe.I’m a relatively new cook and by reading through your recipe and the comments I’ve came up with so many ideas.Once again thank you.

  38. I’m new to cooking and bought the chicken before I saw your recipe. The chicken is almost 6 pounds. How long should I cook that in the crockpot on high?

  39. Ah, I LOVE crock pot whole chicken. I, too, never wanted to touch a whole chicken. It’s intimidating and gross! But, oh so tasty and simple to prepare! Here’s how I do my chicken and stock: http://mrscrislip.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/beat-the-clock-crock-pot-chicken-stock/

  40. You must defrost the chicken before placing in the crock pot. If you don’t, it is a matter of food safety. Bacteria would have a chance to grow at temperatures too low for cooking which is what you get when the chicken is frozen in the middle and cooking on the outside.

  41. I’ve read cooking chickens or turkeys in a slow cooker is unsafe as the low heat allows bacteria to grow I the cavity. Do you worry about that? One such site that makes this claim is http://busycooks.about.com/od/thanksgiving/a/unsafeturkeymet.htm

    There are others too, so now I’m worried about using the low cooker for whole chicken.

  42. I have been doing chicken this way for years. A lot of people say it is greasy this way but if you put balls of foil underneath the chicken it helps keep it out of the drippings. Also try putting an herb mixture under the skin before cooking, for wonderful flavor.

  43. I bought a whole “parted” chicken and was wondering if I would cook this the same way in the crock pot as a whole chicken or is there something I should do differently?

    • Toni Anderson says:

      I think you can cook it the same way. It might be a shorter cooking time since it doesn’t need to cook through the entire chicken.

  44. We’ll I’m cooking it right now I must say it sure is smelling good right now.

  45. Donna Young says:

    Which setting do you use to cook chicken in crockpot?

  46. Just a note on cooking a whole chicken in a crockpot: use crcok pot liner bags for easier clean up! Cook the whole chicken in the crockpot with the liner. Then, remove the chicken, when done, to a pan to cool. As you remove the meat from the chicken, drop the bones and skin back in the lined crockpot. When finished deboning the chicken, add the 5 cups of water to the crockpot and cook overnight. Allow the crcokpot contents to cool. Place you crockpot next to your sink. Put a large bowl with a colander in it in the sink. Gather the crockpot liner together at the top and move over the colander in the bowl. While holding the liner with one hand, snip the bottom corner of the liner. The broth will flow out into the bowl and the colander will catch all the bones and skin. Drop the liner into the colander, remove from the large bowl and put liner and bones and residue into a plastic bag for disposal. You now have strained broth with easy clean up! My favorite way to cook a chicken!

    • Just an update: Made this crock pot chicken again. This time I put the colander over a gallon plastic pitcher, everything else the same. Made it easier to fill the containers for the freezer. Just pour out of the pitcher into the freezer containers.

    • I don’t use crock pot liners because it is like cooking the food in plastic, yuck! I also don’t store food in plastic, I use glass containers. I don’t like the idea of chemicals from the plastic getting into the food. There are enough toxins in our environment without adding those in plastic.

  47. Here’s a hot tip for lazy people like myself. Use slow cooker liners which are like oven bags that fit in the crock pot. When you’re done you just throw the liner away and your crock pot is already clean. They average about 50 cents apiece. SWEET! I use a 7 quart oval crock pot and can fit two 5 pound birds at a time in it. I don’t worry about over cooking in a crock pot because the longer the better in my book. I pull the chicken out and de-bone it on a large cutting board after 6 to 10 hours or so with a couple forks or pair of tongs. I don’t worry about the bony areas around the spine etc. I usually just throw that section out whole. An easy way to make a meal is to return some or all the meat to the crock pot, depending on what your doing, and throw in a bag of noodles and maybe a can of vegetables and let it cook another hour or so. I also make home made dog food and this is the meat that I use as the base. My dogs live long and hap hap happy lives.

  48. This is exactly what we do with our chicken. Sometimes I put it on top of 4 balled up pieces of foil..but it doesn’t matter either way. Sometimes i use herbs, montreal chicken spice or cajun seasoning. When it’s done, we throw the bones back in to make stock..along with one onion quartered, one stalk celery, one garlic clove, one carrot. Vega coarsely chopped..not peeled, just washed really good. Onion skins add so much color. And water. I have never frozen it after. I love the yogurt container tip. So now I might try. Might even fit on the door of the freezer. I pulled up your recipe because I was looking for times. I have a 3l’er. Will check the comments. 😉

  49. Linda Exton says:

    One thing you could use that’s tummy and moist is one can of whole cranberry sauce poured over the top of the chicken. Moist, and delicious

  50. As for me. When I roast a chicken I use all liquid/ drippings for gravy. The gravys wonderful with meal and makes an awesome pot pie. I use more herbs and spices as well frown but my family likes flavor, not spicy.. But salt and pepper at least in addition to garlic. No, it doesn’t mess up other recipes used with leftovers.

    For the stock you may want to add some more spices and a bay leaf as well.

    I DO keep the skin and bones and make my own bone broth. Which is better frozen in ice cube trays so can measure out more accirately without waste of broth for recipes straight from freezer. Due to diff size trays simply measure the approx liquid held in one cube and then figure for recipes from there. After freezing just crack all into a large freezer bag for ease of storage and use. mark bag with measurement per cube and date you made.

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