So which is better? A whole chicken roasted in the oven or a whole chicken slow cooked in the crockpot? After conducting an experiment over Thanksgiving, with my family and me as the taste testers, I’m here to report that the crockpot chicken was unanimously voted the better-tasting chicken. A big plus: the crockpot chicken is far easier and less fussy to cook.
Even in these photos, you can see how much plumper and moister the crockpot chicken appears when compared to the oven roasted chicken next to it. That’s because it was plumper, moister and more flavorful!
What’s really impressive is that the uncooked chicken on the left side is the one that I oven-roasted…you can see that it was slightly bigger than the uncooked chicken on the right that later went into the crockpot. The photos of the cooked chickens show that the crockpot chicken actually turned out bigger after cooking than the oven-roasted chicken, even though the crockpot chicken started out smaller than the oven-roasted chicken! Obviously, the crockpot chicken retained much more of its moisture and so stayed plumper and bigger.
To keep the experiment as “scientific” as reasonably possible, I seasoned both chickens the same, stuffing each with a mixture of garlic, onions and lemons. You certainly could change up the stuffing with a variety of other vegetables, and also add some fresh herbs and spices, such as thyme or paprika. I kept it rather simple here, and rubbed the outside and inside of both chickens with just butter, salt and pepper. The one exception was that while roasting the chicken in the oven, I basted it several times with melted butter. Despite roasting with that extra butter, the oven roasted chicken still didn’t have the moisture or juicy flavor of its crockpot chicken counterpart.
To get a nicely browned skin on my crockpot chicken, I carefully removed it from the crockpot when done, placed it on a roasting pan and put it under the oven broiler for about 5 minutes, until the skin began to pop and brown nicely. If you stuff your chicken with veggies like I did, then you’ll also get some nice drippings from your crockpot chicken…try cooking those juices and drippings down some to serve alongside the chicken, or turn those drippings into a gravy, if you’re so inclined.
From now on, I’ll be cooking my whole chickens in the crockpot. The white meat is gorgeous and moist, and the skin turns crispy after a quick run under the broiler. This is a perfect no-fuss poultry recipe for the holidays, when you want to spend time with your guests or focus on cooking other dishes. Simply put the chicken in the crockpot and leave it for the day. You won’t need to worry about basting or timing, and your house will smell absolutely wonderful all day!
One more note about the crockpot chicken: I used this tip of placing four medium sized foil balls in the bottom of the crockpot, and then I placed the chicken on top of those aluminum balls. Your crockpot might already have a rack that you can use instead. Or you could use some veggies, like potatoes, onions, celery and/or carrots as a “stand” in the bottom of your crockpot. The general idea is to keep the chicken from drying out too much, which is possible if it were right up against the bare bottom of your crockpot. Here’s the recipe for a whole chicken in the crockpot:
- 4 to 6 pound whole chicken, giblets from inside removed, rinsed and patted dry
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 Tablespoon softened unsalted butter
- Optional: vegetables to stuff the chicken, such as onions, garlic, lemons, celery and/or carrots
- Optional: herbs and/or spices of your choice to stuff and/or rub the outside of the chicken with, such as thyme, rosemary or paprika.
- Place a rack or four medium crumpled-up balls of foil in the bottom of the crockpot, to hold the chicken away from the bottom of the pot (You can also place vegetables on the bottom, to provide a protective bed for the chicken).
- Rub the chicken inside and out all over with the butter, salt and pepper.
- Stuff the chicken with the vegetables and/or herbs of your choice.
- Place the prepared chicken in the crockpot on top of the rack, aluminum balls or veggies, cover, and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 6 hours.
- Once done, carefully remove chicken (it might fall apart some because it will be so tender) and place on roasting pan under the broiler in oven for about 5 minutes, until skin begins to pop and brown nicely.
- Remove browned chicken from oven and let rest at least 10 minutes before serving.
- Optional: Cook down and serve drippings from bottom of slow cooker alongside chicken. Drippings can also be used to make a gravy to serve along with the chicken.
This week I am linking up with Link Love @Running with Spoons Weekend Potlucks @The Country Cook Friday Favorites @ Life in Leggings What’s Cookin’ Wednesday @Buns in my Oven Tipsy Tuesday @Grey is the New Black MMM @Healthy Diva Life Totally Terrific Tuesday @ Live Randomly Simple