If you don’t know how long to cook a whole chicken in a crockpot, you are not alone. Ask the cooks in your family and I’ll bet you get a different answer from each one. Worse yet, when you start looking through recipes, you get even more confused.
There are many variations that make the answer to this question puzzling. Many cooks who attempt cooking a whole chicken in their crockpot start by trying to adapt a recipe they already like. This will definitely have you shaking your head in confusion if you don’t know what you have to take into consideration before you begin. This is why we need to take a look at all the areas involved in figuring this out:
The Term Itself – How do you interpret the term “whole chicken?” Believe it or not, that simple term can be confusing. A chicken may be considered whole if it remains in one piece. Or, you may use the term “whole chicken” to refer to an “entire chicken.” See the difference? An entire chicken can be cut into halves, quarters, or pieces. That definitely affects cooking time.
The Recipe Style – Cooking a whole chicken that’s surrounded by big juicy onions and tomatoes will cook differently than a chicken cooked in the style of a deli rotisserie chicken. The pot roast style chicken will have lots of moisture, whereas the rotisserie chicken will be cooking in almost dry heat.
The Prep Work – If you brown your chicken before you throw it in the crockpot you will have your chicken partially cooked. That will certainly shorten the time your chicken needs to be in the crockpot. And don’t forget the stuffing. If you have a stuffed bird you’ve got to add time to get the temperature up and that chicken and dressing to get cooked all the way through.
The Bird Size – If you have a big six pound chicken, you’re going to cook it longer than if you have a little three pound chicken. That’s just common sense. However, you also have to consider how much room you have in your crockpot. If your six pound bird is squeezed inside a five quart crockpot, your cooking time will have to be increased. There isn’t enough room around the chicken to let air and heat circulate.
The Crockpot Design – Do you have a brand new crockpot with extra insulation wrapped around to keep the heat in the pot where it belongs? Or are you still using the old metal pot that sits on top of the burner plate. Can you start your meal on high, then turn it to low to finish cooking? Is your cover one of the new ones that fits tight and even locks in place?
Don’t fret if you still aren’t sure how long to cook a whole chicken in a crockpot. It will take a little experimenting. Start by taking one of your favorite crockpot chicken recipes and turning it into a whole chicken recipe. Consider all the things we’ve discussed and give it a try. Soon you’ll have a brand new collection of great crockpot recipes!