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If you love slow cooker recipes and chicken recipes as much as I do, you’re going to want to know how to cook a whole chicken in a Crock Pot! There are many reasons to do it: It’s easy, it doesn’t take up room in your oven, and you can do it ahead of time. Best of all, this slow cooker Crock Pot whole chicken recipe turns out perfectly juicy every time and there’s a simple trick to make the skin crispy.
Whether it’s a slow Sunday evening, a busy weeknight, or even a holiday table spread, make this slow cooker whole chicken anytime you need a comforting meal with very little effort. If you need a faster way to cook a whole chicken, try making spatchcock chicken or air fryer whole chicken instead.
Why You’ll Love This Crock Pot Whole Chicken Recipe
- Tender, juicy chicken with crispy skin
- Bursting with garlic butter flavors
- Taste like rotisserie chicken or roasted chicken, with less planning needed
- Simple, common ingredients
- Just 15 minutes of prep time
- Simple enough for a weeknight easy dinner, but fancy enough for a holiday meal on Thanksgiving or Christmas
Ingredients & Substitutions
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for slow cooker whole chicken, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Whole Chicken – Look for a fresh, plump bird that fits comfortably in your slow cooker. Mine was 5 pounds, which is about average, but this Crock Pot whole chicken recipe will work with other sizes, too. There is some disagreement on whether you can cook frozen whole chicken in a slow cooker. Poultry manufacturers say it’s okay, but the USDA recommends thawing poultry first. Either way, for this recipe you’ll need to thaw the chicken first, because you won’t be able to get the compound butter underneath the skin when it’s frozen.
- Onion – Placing the whole chicken in the Crock Pot on top of coarsely chopped onions helps elevate the bird for more even cooking. Any kind of onion will work (I used yellow onion). Simply chop it into large pieces.
- Unsalted Butter – This adds so much flavor and makes it juicy! We’re using it to make a compound butter that goes both over the skin and underneath it. For this reason, you’ll need to use softened butter at room temperature. If you need a dairy-sensitive option, ghee makes a good substitute. You can use olive oil or avocado oil if you really want to, but it will be difficult to spread under the skin and you won’t get that buttery flavor.
- Garlic – You will need a whole head of garlic. Some of them are used for the compound butter that season the chicken over and under the skin, and some go inside the cavity. If you don’t have enough garlic cloves, you can use 2 teaspoons of jarred minced garlic or even 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder for the butter herb rub. Whole cloves work best inside the cavity.
- Fresh Herbs – For the herb butter! You will need fresh thyme, rosemary, and parsley. You could also use other fresh herbs, such as sage, oregano, or basil. You can substitute a few teaspoons of dried herbs if you really need to.
- Paprika – Adds flavor to the compound butter. You can also add other spices if you like. Try onion powder if you like that flavor, or cayenne pepper or chili powder if you like a kick.
- Sea Salt & Black Pepper
VARIATION: Add lemon for a brighter flavor!
This is a common addition to whole chicken Crock Pot recipes. Mixing a teaspoon of lemon zest into the compound butter works best, but you can also try lemon juice.
How To Cook A Whole Chicken In A Crock Pot
This section shows how to make Crock Pot whole chicken, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Dry the chicken. Use paper towels to pat the chicken dry inside and out.
- Prep the slow cooker. Grease the bottom of your Crock Pot with butter. Place onion pieces inside.
- Make the compound butter. In a small bowl, mash together the softened butter, minced garlic, chopped thyme, chopped rosemary, chopped parsley, salt, paprika, and pepper.
- Separate the skin from the meat. Place the whole chicken in the slow cooker, breast side up, on top of the onions. (You can do this on a cutting board if you prefer.) Starting from the cavity side of the chicken, gently insert your hands underneath the skin to separate the skin from the meat, including the breast, thighs and legs.
- Rub the butter over and under the skin. Use your hands to rub half the garlic herb butter all over underneath the skin. Rub the remaining butter all over the top and sides of the chicken.
- Stuff the cavity. Put the remaining whole garlic cloves, rosemary sprigs, and thyme sprigs inside the chicken cavity. Tie legs together with kitchen twine. Make sure the chicken is still well positioned on top of the onions.
- Cover and cook whole chicken in the Crock Pot. You can stop cooking when the internal temperature reaches at least 160 degrees F, because we’ll broil it at the end and the temp will rise a bit more during that process. When chicken is done, discard onions but save the juices below. You can use them as chicken broth in recipes, or mix with cornstarch (or a cornstarch substitute) to make gravy.
- Broil to get the skin crispy. Toward the end, preheat the broiler. Place the oven rack close to the heating element, with just enough room for the chicken to fit underneath. Transfer chicken to a baking dish or roasting pan, breast side up, and broil until browned. This step is optional, but makes the skin crispy, for a rotisserie style chicken.
- Let it rest. Transfer the slow cooked whole chicken to a platter or cutting board. Tent the top with foil and let it rest before carving. (This will ensure that it stays juicy!)
How Long To Cook Whole Chicken In A Crock Pot?
The cook time for a whole chicken in a Crock Pot is 5-8 hours on Low or 3-4 hours on High. Make sure the internal temperature at the thickest part of the breast reaches at least 165 degrees F if you’ll be serving right away, or 160 degrees F if you’ll be broiling it before serving to crisp up the skin.
Tips For The Best Crock Pot Whole Chicken
Cooking whole chicken in the Crock Pot is actually very easy and hard to mess up! The slow cooker is very good at keeping it juicy. But after making this recipe multiple times, I have some tips that can help:
- Make sure your butter is soft for easy spreading. The best way to achieve this is to simply leave it on the counter for 30 minutes to an hour. If you forgot to do this, you can soften it by placing it into a small bowl over a second bowl of warm water, or run a stainless steel or glass bowl under very hot water and then place it upside down over your stick of butter.
- If your garlic butter didn’t spread well in the beginning, you can spread it an hour into cooking. Just lift the lid after an hour and use a pastry brush to spread the herb butter more evenly over the top and sides of the chicken. Don’t use melted butter from the beginning, because it will all drip off the chicken too fast.
- A meat thermometer is helpful if you have one. The nice thing about Crock Pot whole chicken is that it’s not so prone to drying out like the oven method. But, a meat thermometer (this one is my favorite) is still handy to know exactly when it’s done.
- Watch carefully when broiling. The broiler can burn the garlic butter on the chicken pretty quickly, so check on it every minute or so.
- Store: Gently remove the chicken from the bones. Place the meat in an airtight container with a few spoonfuls of broth from the slow cooker. Refrigerate for up to 4 days. You can also store on the bone.
- Meal prep: This slow cooker recipe is perfect for making ahead, whether you enjoy it later on its own or use it in other dishes. Use leftovers to make a chicken bacon ranch casserole, my favorite chicken salad, or toss it into a healthy soup!
- Reheat: Place your desired amount of chicken in a microwave-safe dish with a little extra broth, and heat in the microwave until warm. Alternatively, you can reheat it in the oven at 350 degrees F (also with some broth at the bottom of the baking dish), gently simmer with broth on the stovetop, or even reheat the whole chicken in the Crock Pot if you need to.
- Freeze: Pull off the meat and place in a freezer-safe container. Top with some of the broth to keep it moist, and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
What To Serve With Crock Pot Whole Chicken
This slow cooker whole chicken recipe needs just one (or two!) more things… some delicious healthy sides to go along with it. Here are some reader favorites to try:
- Sauteed Veggies – Sauteed broccoli or sauteed green beans make simple, tasty sides. If you want more variety, make mixed sauteed vegetables instead.
- Roasted Veggies – There’s nothing simpler than oven roasted vegetables. My personal favorite with this dish (and let’s be real, with so many others!) is roasted cauliflower. In the fall, I love serving it with roasted root vegetables.
- Salad – For a light and simple dinner, pair your Crock Pot whole chicken with a kale salad, Greek salad, or try one of my other healthy salad recipes. You can also use the leftovers to swap the chicken in a grilled chicken salad or cobb salad.
- Potatoes – Make roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, or baked potatoes in the air fryer or Instant Pot. For a lighter option, try my cauliflower mashed potatoes.
More Easy Crock Pot Chicken Recipes
If you liked this Crock Pot whole chicken recipe, you’ll love these other quick and easy ways to make chicken in the slow cooker:
Crock Pot Whole Chicken (Easy & Juicy!)
Make the best whole chicken in a Crock Pot with this easy slow cooker recipe! It’s fast to prep, with a juicy inside and crispy skin.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 5 hours
Total: 5 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 6 (adjust to scale recipe)
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Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Use paper towels to pat the chicken dry inside and out. This will help the herb butter stick better. (For food safety reasons, it’s better NOT to rinse it.)
In a small bowl, mash together the butter, 4 cloves minced garlic, 6 sprigs chopped thyme, 2 sprigs chopped rosemary, chopped parsley, salt, paprika, and pepper. (If your butter is not super soft, first soften it by placing it into a small bowl over a second bowl of warm water.) Set aside.
Grease the bottom of a Crock Pot with more butter. Place the onion pieces into the slow cooker. (The onion will help keep the chicken raised.) Place the whole chicken, breast side up, on top of the onions.
Starting from the cavity side of the chicken, gently insert your hands underneath the skin to separate the skin from the meat, including the breast, thighs and legs. (Be careful not to tear the skin.) Use your hands to rub half the garlic herb butter all over underneath the skin. Rub the remaining butter all over the top and sides of the chicken.
Stuff the remaining whole garlic cloves (6-10 cloves), remaining 2 whole rosemary sprigs, and remaining 6 whole thyme sprigs inside the chicken cavity. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. If necessary, reposition the chicken and onions so that the chicken is sitting on top and the onions are elevating the chicken.
Cover and cook whole chicken in the Crock Pot for 5-8 hours on Low or 3-4.5 hours on High, until the internal temperature reaches at least 160 degrees (72 degrees C) inside (it will rise another 5 degrees during broiling and resting). If your garlic butter didn’t spread well in the beginning, you can lift the lid about an hour into cooking and use a pastry brush to spread the herb butter more evenly over the top and sides of the chicken. (Don’t use melted butter from the beginning because it will all drip off the chicken too fast.)
When the chicken is done, discard the onions but save the liquid below, which you can use as chicken broth in recipes!
Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes on a platter or cutting board, tented with foil, before carving.
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Serving size: 1/6 of the chicken, or approximately 8 ounces without bones
Amount per serving. Serving size in recipe notes above.
Total Carbs 4.6g
Net Carbs 3.7g
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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