The phrase "a chicken in every pot" has been repeated throughout history, beginning with King Henry IV in France. The words promise good times, with enough food to eat, as well as the time to relax and enjoy it. Today, that referred to "pot" is often a slow cooker—just throw in some chicken, a few other ingredients, go to work, and come home to an incredibly aromatic hot dinner.
Recipes range from Indian- and Chinese-inspired dishes to Southern favorites and comfort food and feature white and dark meat as well as boneless and bone-in chicken. Before you begin making any of these simple and hearty one-dish meals, though, you do need to keep a few things in mind.
Crockpot Chicken Tips
Many slow cooker recipes with long cook times (8 to 10 hours) call for chicken thighs or legs--using boneless chicken thighs provides a rich flavor at a lower cost-- but if your family prefers white meat, make sure to cut the cook time to 4 to 6 hours so the meat doesn't dry out. Additionally, bone-in and boneless chicken have different cooking requirements as chicken cooked on the bone takes longer (and is also less likely to overcook). No matter which type of chicken you use, test the chicken with a food thermometer to assure doneness (breasts are done at 160 F and thighs and drumsticks at 165 F).
Most crockpot recipes call for removing the skin from chicken due to its added fat and less-than-crisp slow cooker texture. If you choose to leave the skin on, brown the chicken in olive oil in a skillet first to help improve the appearance of the finished dish.
This two-ingredient recipe made with boneless, skinless chicken is as simple as layering the chicken and salsa in the crockpot, pushing start, and running out the door. This recipe uses a peach salsa, but a mango salsa will work just as well for those who prefer the sweet taste of fruit. If you would rather have something savory, use your favorite jarred salsa (or homemade)—just make sure any salsa you use is of high quality.
Inspired by Indian cuisine, this crockpot recipe combines chicken with sweet potatoes and curry for a well-rounded meal. The combination of spicy and sweet will please the whole family and fill your house with a delicious aroma.
Lemon and chicken pair perfectly in this dish, as the acid helps tenderize whatever cut of chicken you prefer to use. The oregano and lemon create a fresh flavor and the inclusion of vegetables make this a meal in itself. Serve this dish over rice or noodles, as the sauce it creates makes the perfect topping to any starchy side.
Learning how to cook a whole chicken can seem daunting. But this no-brainer slow cooker recipe will make you a master with just one recipe. Ginger and five-spice powder are what give the chicken its complex flavor and rich color. Simply coat the chicken with seasonings, place over the vegetables in the crockpot, and let cook for several hours.
Just like grandma used to make—homemade dumplings and all. Try this recipe when you have the time to whip up the dumplings (which are so much better than unhealthy boxed mix), but don't stress too much—the rest of the recipe requires very little prep. Chock full of vegetables such as carrots, mushrooms, and peas, this comforting dish is also quite healthy.
A comfort food recipe that is also a one-pot dinner is ideal at the end of a busy workday. Bacon, onion, and garlic bring rich flavor while the condensed cream of chicken soup adds a wonderfully creamy base. You can use chicken broth and milk in lieu of the condensed soups to make this dish much lighter while still creamy.
Although you can use boneless chicken in place of the whole cut-up bird, the bones lend a richness that you can't get from boneless, skinless chicken. This may not be the best recipe to set on and leave to cook—the stickiness of the honey and soy sauce can easily burn if it cooks too long. Serve over rice with bok choy or broccoli.
This spin on a classic chicken parmesan dish will make both the adults and kids go back for seconds. Boneless chicken is seasoned and topped with onion, garlic, and peppers and then everything is covered in pasta sauce, pepperoni, and cheese. Pair it with pasta or crusty bread to mop up the sauce; you can also substitute pork chops to give it a different spin.
Turn leftover chicken (or turkey) into a hearty and delicious Mexican-inspired dish. Cooked chicken is added to a mixture of cream soups, salsa, sour cream, onions, garlic, and chili powder and layered between tortillas in the slow cooker. It's topped with gooey cheese and fresh cilantro for a crowd-pleasing meal.
This spicy warmer-upper makes a great winter stew. Cook it up on a weekend and enjoy it while watching the game, then eat the leftovers all week long for lunch or a quick dinner. The addition of smoked sausage, shrimp, and Cajun spices transforms chicken breasts into an authentic Creole dish. Serve it over rice cooked separately.