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Can I put raw chicken in a slow cooker?

Yes, you can absolutely put raw chicken in a slow cooker. In fact, this is one of the most popular ways to cook chicken in a slow cooker. Slow cookers are designed to slowly cook foods over a long period of time at low temperatures, which makes them ideal for tenderizing tougher meats like chicken.

How to Put Raw Chicken in a Slow Cooker

Putting raw chicken in the slow cooker is easy. Here are some tips:

  • Choose bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs or drumsticks. The bone helps keep the meat moist and the skin prevents drying out.
  • Trim off any excess fat or skin if desired. Too much fat can make the dish greasy.
  • Place the raw chicken pieces into the slow cooker insert. If layering, place larger pieces on the bottom.
  • Season as desired with spices, herbs, salt, and pepper.
  • Pour sauce, stock, or other liquid ingredients over the top until the chicken is about 2/3 of the way covered.
  • Cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or HIGH for 4-5 hours, until the chicken is very tender and reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.

That’s it! The low, steady heat of the slow cooker will gently cook the chicken until tender and infuse it with flavor.

Tips for Cooking Chicken in the Slow Cooker

Follow these tips for the best results when cooking chicken in the slow cooker:

  • Always use boneless or bone-in chicken thighs or drumsticks, which hold up better than chicken breasts.
  • Cut chicken breasts into chunks if using them.
  • For more flavor, brown the chicken first. Quickly sear the pieces in a skillet before slow cooking.
  • Use a lower temperature if cooking for longer. Cook for 8-9 hours on LOW or 4-5 hours on HIGH.
  • Add vegetables during the last 30-60 minutes so they don’t overcook.
  • Let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes after cooking before serving.

Chicken and Liquid Amounts

For best results, follow these guidelines for the amount of chicken and liquid to use in your slow cooker recipes:

Amount of Chicken Amount of Liquid
1 – 2 pounds 1 – 2 cups
3 – 4 pounds 3 – 4 cups
5 – 6 pounds 4 – 6 cups

Adding the right amount of liquid, whether broth, sauce, or water, ensures the chicken cooks properly and doesn’t dry out. You want the chicken to be about two-thirds submerged in liquid initially.

Best Liquids for Chicken

You can cook chicken in a variety of flavorful liquids. Some good options include:

  • Broth or Stock: Chicken, vegetable, or beef broth all impart extra flavor.
  • Wine or Beer: For coq au vin or beer can chicken, use wine or beer as the cooking liquid.
  • Tomato Sauce: Works great for chicken cacciatore or chicken parmesan dishes.
  • Barbecue Sauce: Use on its own or dilute with chicken broth.
  • Coconut Milk: For Thai or Indian-inspired dishes.

Adding herbs, aromatics, spices, and seasonings to the liquid adds even more flavor to the chicken as it cooks.

Best Cuts of Chicken for Slow Cookers

These are the best cuts of chicken to use in a slow cooker:

  • Chicken Thighs: With bone and skin are ideal, very moist and tender.
  • Drumsticks: Also excellent cooked bone-in and skin-on.
  • Breasts: Cook more evenly if cut into 1-inch chunks first.
  • Wings: Great for making buffalo chicken or sticky Asian style wings.
  • Quarters: Legs and thighs attached together hold their shape well.

Dark meat cuts like thighs and drumsticks are preferable since they stay juicy and tender, but chicken breasts work too if sliced or chopped first.

Seasonings and Flavorings

Chicken takes on flavors very well, so get creative with herbs, spices, sauces, and other seasonings. Some ideas:

  • Onion, garlic, ginger
  • Pepper, salt, paprika, cumin
  • Rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil
  • Chili powder, curry powder, taco seasoning
  • Parmesan, lemon zest, olives
  • Soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil
  • Barbecue sauce, teriyaki, hoisin

Apply rubs and seasoning directly to the chicken before cooking or add them into sauces and cooking liquids.

Common Food Safety Questions

When cooking raw chicken in a slow cooker, follow these food safety guidelines:

Can I Put Frozen Chicken in a Slow Cooker?

Yes, you can cook frozen chicken in the slow cooker. It will take longer to come up to temperature – generally about 50% longer cooking time. Make sure to add additional liquid.

Is Raw Chicken Safe in a Slow Cooker?

Raw chicken is safe to cook in a slow cooker as long as it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Cook on low or high until the chicken is fully cooked through.

Should I Brown Chicken First?

Browning isn’t necessary but does add more flavor. Quickly searing the chicken first caramelizes the exterior. Deglaze the pan to make a flavorful sauce.

Can Chicken Be Left in a Slow Cooker Overnight?

Cooked chicken should not be left in the slow cooker on the warm setting or left out overnight. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.

Tips for Moist, Tender Chicken

For deliciously moist chicken that practically falls off the bone, remember these pro tips:

  • Use bone-in, skin-on chicken cuts.
  • Cook on low for 7-8 hours.
  • Use a liquid like broth or sauce.
  • Avoid lifting the lid which releases heat.
  • Use a thermometer to confirm doneness.
  • Let the chicken rest before serving.

Slow Cooker Chicken Recipes to Try

Raw chicken cooks up perfectly in the slow cooker. Try these delicious recipes:

Classic Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken soup with carrots, onion, celery, noodles and broth. Simple and comforting.

Honey Garlic Chicken

Chicken thighs in a sweet garlic sauce infused with soy sauce and honey.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Spicy, flavorful Caribbean inspired chicken seasoned with Jamaican jerk spice blend.

Buffalo Chicken

Shredded chicken in buffalo wing sauce makes amazing sandwiches, wraps, and dip.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken in a rich, creamy Indian-spiced tomato sauce. Serve over rice.

Slow Cooker Tips and Tricks

Get the most out of your slow cooker with these handy tips:

  • Spray the insert with non-stick spray first.
  • Cut vegetables and meat into uniform pieces.
  • Layer meat on the bottom, vegetables on top.
  • Add tender vegetables in the last 30-60 minutes.
  • Use the right amount of liquid – too much or too little can ruin the dish.
  • Keep the lid on! Lifting lets heat escape.
  • Let pressure release 10 minutes before opening.
  • Always thicken sauces afterwards on the stovetop.

Conclusion

Cooking raw chicken in the slow cooker is simple, safe, and results in tender, juicy meat when done properly. Be sure to use the right cuts like bone-in thighs and drumsticks, flavor with spices, herbs and sauces, and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours until the chicken reaches 165°F. Follow proper food safety guidelines and use the tips above for best results. With minimal prep, the slow cooker does all the work for you!