Five minutes and basic spices are all you need to make slow cooker spiced whole chicken - an amazingly easy, moist rotisserie-chicken - for dinner tonight. In addition to being a great dinner with the wonderful spice mix, making chicken this way was seriously was a game-changer in my kitchen to help me make so many meals easily. Update: now available with Instant Pot Directions, too!
Chicken is one of our family's favorite foods–which makes this recipe for a slow cooker spiced whole chicken a mainstay at our house, since we can get 3-4 different meals from this one chicken.
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 ( or 7 to 8 on low) to cook, and you can serve it for dinner one night, use the extra meat for another meal or two, and then make a soup or broth with the bones. Three-plus meals from one chicken- gotta love that.
Make Slow Cooker Spiced Whole Chicken
If your goal is to just cook a chicken for the cooked meat (to use in salads, casseroles, etc.), you don't have to add the spices in this recipe, just salt and pepper and cook as directed.
But I usually use the spices when slow cooking because they serve two functions: they add flavor AND color to the chicken, since browning is the one thing that doesn't happen as well in slow cookers.
The five minutes of preparation include mixing the spices, placing your thawed and skinned chicken in a large slow cooker (if your cooker is smaller, make sure to get a smaller bird), and sprinkling with seasonings. I like to add fresh herbs if I have the for extra flavor, but that's optional.
Do you have to remove the skin?
I always skin the chicken because I'm not a fan of how the skin comes out when using a slow cooker, plus all the yummy spices are right where I want them- on the meat. The bird also comes out looking nicer as a whole.
How to skin a whole chicken easily:
- Slice the skin off the back first.
- Use your fingers to pull each side up and off around the thigh and breast (cutting down the middle, so you're just working with one side).
- Finally pull the whole side of skin off the end of the drumstick.
- Repeat with the other side and you're done.
And if that totally grosses you out, you can leave it on and remove the skin as you serve it - 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. I make them regularly, cutting off the chicken and freezing in small portions to use in salads, tacos, and sandwiches. That's real food convenience, right?
Wondering how the meat turns out when cooked this way? You will love the evenly moist breast meat that results with this recipe for slow cooker spiced whole chicken. Seriously, this is SO good - I promise!
Oh, and if you're looking for family-friendly recipes to use up all that delicious chicken, check out the more than 18 recipes for rotisserie chicken here, which will be added to regularly.
Update: How to Make Spiced Whole Chicken in an Instant Pot
Did you forget to put the chicken in the slow cooker and have an Instant Pot or other electric pressure cooker? No worries - here are the directions to use your pressure cooker to cook a whole chicken:
- Follow the directions to prep the chicken (I still don't like the non-crisp skin in an IP, so I remove it as well).
- Place a trivet and a cup of chicken stock or water in the bottom of the removable liner. I've never noticed a difference with stock vs. water, so I always use water to save my stock - it's up to you.
- Lay your prepared 4-5 pound chicken on the trivet, breast up, and sprinkle with the spice mix, rubbing it all over the sides. As with the slow cooker, if you want to use oil either before or as a spice rub, it's your choice.
- Secure the lid of the pressure cooker, set the vent to "seal" and cook on Manual setting for 25 minutes for a 4 pound chicken or 35 minutes for a 5 pound chicken.
- When done, allow to release naturally for 15 minutes and then do a quick release as necessary.
- Check with an instant-read thermometer in the thigh to see if it's reached 165 degrees. If not, reseal and cook another 5 minutes, doing a quick release at the end this time.
Slow Cooker Spiced Whole Chicken (OR Instant Pot)
- 4 to 5 pound whole chicken
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil optional
- 1 cup chicken broth or water If using an electric pressure cooker (Instant Pot)
- Remove all the giblets from the chicken and skin it, if desired (if leaving the skin on, pat it dry). Either way do remove as much fat as possible.
- If Using a Slow Cooker: Place in a large 5-6 quart slow cooker, breast side up.
- If Using an Instant Pot: Place a trivet and a cup of chicken stock or water in the bottom of the removable liner and lay your prepared 4-5 pound chicken on the trivet, breast up.
- Mix all the seasonings and sprinkle all over the chicken, rubbing down the sides. Optionally, you can mix the spices with a tablespoon of olive oil and use a pastry brush to spread it all over the bird.
- Slow Cooker: Cover and cook on HIGH for 3-1/2 to 4 hours (or on LOW for 7 to 8 hours), until juices run clear and an instant read thermometer inserted in the thigh reaches 165 degrees.
- Instant Pot: Secure the lid of the pressure cooker, set the vent to "seal" and cook on Manual setting for 25 minutes for a 4 pound chicken or 35 minutes for a 5 pound chicken. When done, allow to release naturally for 15 minutes and then do a quick release as necessary. Check with an instant-read thermometer in the thigh to see if it's reached 165 degrees. If not, reseal and cook another 5 minutes, doing a quick release at the end this time.
- Cut into pieces for immediate serving. Use any extra meat for another meal.
- 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.
- Add sliced (or baby) carrots, mushrooms, and/or potatoes under and around the chicken.
Note: this recipe was originally published in 2011 and has been updated with all new photos, clearer formatting and printable recipe. Enjoy!
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