Cooking a whole chicken at home provides the basis for a number of healthy, calorie-controlled meals for your family. When you're at work all day or don't want to heat the house to use the oven, your slow cooker can be your best friend. Slow-cooked roasted chicken is tender and flavorful, making it perfect to eat on its own or use in recipes.
The Slow Cooker
Slow cookers come in a variety of sizes and shapes. You may be able to fit a 3- to 4-pound chicken in a round 4- to 5-quart slow cooker. If you want leftovers or have a larger family, a 5- to 7-quart oval cooker accommodates a much larger chicken. You might also save time by putting multiple slow cookers to work to make dinner for tonight and leftovers for later in the week if, like many moms, you've accumulated different sizes.
Prepping the Chicken
Allow your chicken to thaw completely in the refrigerator. Once thawed, remove the neck, liver and other parts that may be inside the chicken. Cut calories by removing the skin from the chicken, especially if you're cooking it on the bottom of the slow cooker. Kitchen scissors make this task easier. Rinse the chicken well with cool water inside and out and sprinkle it with dried green onion dip mix. Fill the cavity with quartered onions, whole peeled garlic cloves, and slices of lemon.
Skip the deli and make a chicken dish with rotisserie flavors at home. Create the firmer texture you associate with roast chicken by cooking it off the bottom of the slow cooker. If you have a rack, use it. If not, ball up aluminum foil and place three to five balls in the bottom of the cooker. Season your chicken with dried buttermilk salad dressing seasonings or your favorite herbs. If you're leaving the skin on, tuck garlic cloves or fresh herbs under the skin for flavor. Put the chicken on top of the rack or foil balls. Cook all day on low, then enjoy tender and delicious chicken in the evening.
If you prefer the typical soft texture of chicken cooked in a slow cooker, skip the foil or rack. Remove the skin to reduce the fat and create a nicer finish. The chicken will cook in its own juices and if you leave the skin on, it may develop an unpleasant texture. Try rubbing the chicken with your favorite creamy salad dressing for flavor, then salt and pepper generously. Cook on low all day, then use the juices to make a light gravy for your chicken. The moist meat can be served as is, or used for enchiladas, casseroles or chicken salad.
- Our Best Bites: Fauxtisserie Chicken; Sara Wells, Kate Jones; May 9, 2008
- A Year of Slow Cooking; Whole Chicken in the CrockPot Recipe; Stephanie O'Dea; February 8, 2008
- "Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook"; Phyllis Pellman Good; May 2010
With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.