Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Baking a Chicken…in a slow cooker (Lemony Greek Chicken in a Slow Cooker)

I’m still fairly new to crockpot cooking.  I bought my current crockpot on a clearance sale at Meijer 2 years ago for $7 and didn’t actually begin using it until a year ago (when our oven died & it was a couple days for the part to come in).  I still do not rely on it heavily for cooking, but I do enjoy using a slow cooker on nights when I know that I’m going to have limited prep time for dinner.

When I first bought my slow cooker, I was a little surprised when the instructions told me not to cook a whole chicken in it.  To me, that didn’t make sense.  I also saw other information online that suggested not to bake a whole chicken in a slow cooker.  Again…I couldn’t comprehend why.

So, one time when whole chickens were on a super price, I decided to experiment.  It was a success.
With cooking a whole chicken in the crockpot, you have to put aside the expectation that the chicken is going to stay whole.  The chicken will naturally split into pieces due to the softening of the cartilage that holds it together.  But you can lift the chicken out of the crockpot by pieces, line them up on a cookie sheet, throw them under the broiler for a bit…and you are left with super juicy, super tender, & crispy skinned chicken.  It will taste like slow-baked, rotisserie chicken…without the effort.

You are also left with richly flavored chicken broth, & great chicken pieces from along the back to recycle for other meals like chicken & dumplings. Just check the “scraps” in the slow cooker for bones.  I will be posting a recipe soon that uses the leftover broth & chicken from this meal. 

You might be asking—“Um, there is no liquid added in this recipe?”  No—I don’t add any liquid when I cook whole chickens in the crockpot.  Most chickens are injected with water/broth, and when you combine that with a skin layer on the bottom that begins rendering early…you end up with PLENTY of liquid in the crock pot. 

Ok…enough rambling.  Here’s a recipe for a Greek-inspired baked chicken that you can prep in the crockpot. You can use whatever seasoning for baked-type chicken that you want to use (feel free to check out my prior poultry listings for ideas).

Lemony Greek Chicken in a Slow Cooker
Prep time: 15 min. Cooktime: 6-9 hours. Servings: Vary

Ingredient Lineup
  • 1 whole roaster or fryer chicken
  • 2 t. dried thyme
  • 2 t. dried oregano
  • 2 t. garlic powder
  • 0.5 t. dried minced garlic (or fresh equivalent)
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1 T. olive oil (+ extra for greasing slow cooker)
  • 0.5 t. salt
  • 0.5 t. ground pepper


1.  Add thyme, oregano, garlic, minced garlic, salt, & pepper to a small bowl.  Stir ingredients. Add the 1 T. of olive oil and 2 T. lemon juice. Stir until ingredients are paste-like & well mixed.  Set aside.

Spice Palette

Spice Paste--not pretty looking, but smells AMAZING

2.  Remove chicken from wrapper.  Remove neck, giblets, gravy packet, or any other goop that is in the cavity of the bird (NOTE—always do a cavity search on poultry—gross stuff hides in there…stuff that tastes especially gross if you cook it inside the bird…like plastic gravy packets.) Rinse bird under cool water, & pat dry with paper towels.  Prop up & let it drain for a bit.
Birdy draining on a plate, ready to catch a tan...this one had
leprosy or some other skin disorder on its breast...

3.  Cover the top of your bird with the seasoning paste.  Feel free to slip some of the herb paste under the skin so that it more intensely flavors the meat (especially if you are going to remove the skin prior to consuming).

Slipping seasonings under poultry skin = intense flavor

4.  Lightly grease the sides & bottom of a large slow cooker with olive oil.  Place your seasoned bird, breast side up into the slow cooker.  Cover & cook on low for 6-9 hours until tender & juices run clear.
What it looked like when I left for work...

What it looked like when I got home from work...

5. Using kitchen tongs gently remove the pieces of the bird & place skin-side-up on a large cookie sheet.  Place cookie sheet under a low broiler until skin crisps.  Serve & Enjoy!
Chicken pieces on the cookie sheet pre-crisping.  I should
have arranged these more was a long day. :-P

Crispy, lemony, herby & delicious

What is left in the crockpot.  Remove the bones. Save the meat.
Save the broth...

Strained broth.  Put a lid on it & put it in the fridge
overnight.  Skim the hardened fat off of the top &
use it as chicken broth in a recipe like chicken &