This slow cooker chicken is by far one of my best chicken recipes, which I perfected over years. I could climb mountains for this chicken. People always ask for seconds and rarely there are any leftovers. What I personally like the most about this chicken is the clean, subtle flavors of caramelized garlic, onion and ginger, complemented by a touch of sweetness coming from the onions. These simple flavors go a long way to reveal the natural flavor of the chicken. The golden brown color of the perfectly browned chicken skin is an eye candy too. You can’t beat these captivating flavors and colors unspoiled by some overly powerful ingredients.
There is something so rustic, so homey about this chicken that it always makes you feel good and happy. And the juices… let me tell you, I could drink them right out the Crock-Pot. Better yet, I like grabbing a slice of freshly baked sourdough bread and dip it in those amber juices and eat with the chicken.
The secret to an amazingly tasty slow cooker chicken
There are many ways to make slow cooker chicken but this one is my favorite as far as simplicity and taste go. The key here is to crisp up chicken skin, rendering most of the fat out, and to caramelize vegetables to deep golden brown color on a skillet. No slow cooker with a browning function can attain a similar level of caramelization that can be achieved using a skillet. And you won’t be able to render as much fat from chicken skin and make as deep golden brown as you would on a skillet.
You want to do it very quickly too, without cooking the chicken meat. It only takes minutes to do but that’s where most of the flavor will come from. And only then the slow cooker will begin to do that it does best – slowly cook and tenderize the chicken to perfection, without it losing much moisture, and until it’s melt-in-your-mouth tender and succulent.
Which chicken parts are best for this recipe?
You may be wondering which chicken parts to use in this recipe. My favorite choice is chicken thighs, though I’ve used chicken wings and drumsticks and liked them a lot too. All three are slow cooker-friendly and come out tender and juicy. Chicken breasts are not the best choice though as they are lean and dry out easily.
Rustic Slow Cooker Chicken
- 6 chicken thighs (skin-on, bone-in or boneless)
- 2 small yellow onions (halved and sliced about 1/4-inch thick)
- 2 garlic cloves (thinly sliced or minced)
- ginger root (about 1 1/2 inches, peeled and thinly sliced or minced)
- 1 tsp sea or kosher salt (plus more to taste)
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 cups water
- 1 Tbsp Olive or vegetable oil
- 1 Tbsp butter (unsalted)
- Fresh herbs for garnish (optional but highly recommended)
- Pat dry chicken thighs with paper towels to remove surface moisture. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt on each side and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil and one tablespoon of butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook for about 3-5 minutes, until deep golden brown. Remove from the pan and transfer to the slow cooker, placing the chicken pieces skin side up.
- Add the onions, garlic and ginger to the same the skillet. There should be plenty of oil and fat left in the pan, but if not, add another tablespoon of oil or butter. Saute the vegetables until deep golden brown, constantly stirring, about 3-5 minutes (see note).
- Add the water, salt and the pepper to the skillet. Stir well and taste for salt. Adjust if necessary. The liquid should be salted just right. Very little liquid will evaporate during slow cooking under a lid so no need to under-salt. Transfer the contents of the skillet to the slow cooker.
- Set the slow cooker to low and cook for 6 hours, or until the chicken is very tender.
- Serve immediately, or set the slow cooker to 'warm' until ready to serve. This slow cooker chicken is best served with juices over rice (white or brown), mashed potatoes (yum!!!), pasta, noodles, a large slice of freshly baked sourdough bread, or whatever else you desire. This chicken will taste great with just about anything. Garnish with fresh herbs if desired.
I could eat this on a daily basis
You and me both. So good! Enjoy!
Just want to chime in with how good this was. Pretty much did the recipe as written. I used boneless skinless chicken thighs and then some chicken legs too. Served it with mashed potatoes – perfect!
Glad to hear it. Enjoy!
Made this tonight and it’s fabulous!!! As with all online recipes, I seasoned to my taste.
Also am not able to tolerate onions well, so more than halved the onion and added carrots at the end. Used chicken broth instead of water.
Thickened the juice w cornstarch when done for a fantastic gravy! So good!
Glad to hear it. Enjoy!
Oh, sorry. Please add this to my review.
The extra 2 cups of water that I added was enough to make the perfect gravy. So delicious, I froze the left over gravy into an ice cube tray for later.
I don’t usually leave comments but always read the reviews for recipes. This recipe was absolutely delicious. I love potatoes, so I added par boiled baby potatoes and carrots to the slow cooker. Potatoes usually soak up alot of water so I added another 2 cups of water with better than bouillon chicken base. Lots of potatoes. Yum.
The flavor of the chicken, potatoes and carrots were just perfect. So delicious, by the end of the night, there was no leftovers for tomorrow. The family was slowly eating everything out of the fridge cold.
Thank you for this amazing recipe. I’ll definitely make this again.
Glad to hear it, Joe. Thank you for the feedback. Enjoy!
Mm, such a cozy and satisfying dinner! I used an instant pot on the slow cook – normal setting and it was ready in 6 hours. I cut up 3 potatoes, 1 large carrot, handful of frozen brussel sprouts and 1/4 of a cauliflower and laid those under the chicken thighs. I added 2.5 cups liquid to compensate but that was not necessary. I added some paprika to the chicken as per another review, but other than that followed the recipe. Peeled off skin after cooking as it was soggy. Did need to thicken up the gravy on the stove at the end. Oh and served it all over egg noodles. Really great, will make again.
Enjoy! Happy cooking!
Add fresh rosemary, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt and cracked pepper to chicken while cooking in cast iron pan. This will give you the best crisp.
You mentioned vegetables. Do you mean the garlic and onions? Can I add carrots t this perhaps?
Absolutely. I also sometimes add mushrooms, fennel, turnips or whatever I may have laying around.
I made this recipe with boneless skinless thighs and it turned out great! This is what I did. I put them in the crock pot lightly seasoned without browning. Sautéed the onions and garlic in the butter/oil with some mushrooms. I used a can of canned chicken broth and added white wine to make two cups. I stirred 1tablespoon of flour into the liquid to tighten it up – next time I’ll do two. Since I used chicken broth I did not add additional salt but did add pepper. I poured all into the crock pot and cooked for 5 hours on low. It was delicious!!
Awesome! Thanks for the feedback and happy cooking!
I can’t stop cooking this recipe the chicken is soft, tasty and palatable. My favorite Sunday dish .adding herbs is a must . Thanks
You are very welcome, enjoy!
This recipe is so delicious and so easy. We found it last fall (2019) and have since added it to our regular seasonal meal rotation, along with the Scrumptious Roasted Vegetables.
Happy to hear that, Kim. Enjoy!
I’ve made this several times following the recipe to a T and it is SO GOOD!! Today, I’m going to try chicken broth instead of water as was suggested in the comments and I’m going to throw in some baby carrots and small mushrooms with the chicken and juices. Those two seem like they would complement those yummy juices very well!!! Thank you for the awesome recipe!
You are very welcome, Lydia.
I did not have ginger so i substituted 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg. I hope it turns out!
Going to try this soon. Looks fabulous. Was wondering if you would still marinate the chicken before cooking in the crockpot or does it get eliminated because of cooking in crockpot. Thanks
For slow cooking marinating is not of great benefit I find.
I was wondering if adding chicken broth, instead of plain water, would be too much? I have not made this dish, but it looks yummy.
This liquid comes out quite rich and flavorful with plain water but some broth will only make it better. I actually use chicken broth or stock too sometimes. J
PHENOMENAL flavor!!! The name should be Garlic-Butter Braised Chicken though, to make it sound more official 😉 Love, love, love this chicken! It WILL be on my bi-monthly rotation. Thank you and your wife for sharing!
What a great recipe! So tasty with little ingredients and fuss. This one will stay on my famliy favourite menu.
Served over brown rice, which soaked up all those yummy juices! This is a keeper – easy and delicious!
Not a fan of ginger any other suggestions
You know, this chicken is so good with just salt, garlic, pepper and onions that you can just skip it.
Hi! Thank you for the recipe, do you have any suggestions for cooking it on high instead or do you recommend just using the low setting?
I prefer cooking on low but 3-4 hours on high should work too.
This recipe was great and I followed it to a tee,,if I could post a picture or if there was a way to post it I would becouse it turn out looking just like the one in the recipe…great taste,I’m gonna try it with my girl..thanks for posting this…
Mike, glad to hear that you liked my recipe and you are very welcome. I emailed you; respond with your picture and I will attach to your comment.
I tried this recipe and it was the bomb..if I could post a picture with this text you would see that it turn out just like the picture in your recipe…it was very good and thank you for posting this recipe,,,oh ya ! And I followed the recipe to the bone….
Looks delicious! What fresh herbs do you recommend? Will be making this recipe for out of town family this weekend.
I like parsley and cilantro.
Very good my son loved it and 4 other people now I’m making it again a week later and sour dough bread is great with it.
Glad you like it, Scott. Thank you for taking time and providing your feedback.
This was delicious. I didn’t have time to slow cook it, so I browned the chicken on both sides, removed from pan and sauteed veggies in same oil. I then added a tbspn of flour stirred & browned to my liking. I then added in 2 cups chicken broth stirred & brought to a boil, returned the chicken to the pan, covered & simmered for 20 minutes. I served over brown rice with a side of steamed broccoli. Thanks for sharing Victor.
You are very welcome, Marion. Your approach sounds great. I do something similar to cook chicken too, it produces very tender chicken.
I’ve got this cooking in my slow cooker right now. I can’t wait till dinner time! The only adjustment I made was to add about 1 Tblsp of balsamic vinegar to the water.
I love this recipe so much. It’s one of a handful of recipes I can eat on consecutive days, and I always make a big batch. The longer it’s cooked the sweeter the ginger.
I’ve fiddled around with it when I can’t get hold of fresh ginger.
Garlic and Tumeric is a good example that is equally as delicious.
I’ve used coconut oil instead of olive or butter, equally as good.
And chicken stock instead of water.
I usually also twice brown the chicken, once to start, and at the end, to get a really lovely crisper coating, it only takes a minute at the end as is worth the effort .
I would also say, go easy on the salt, if you reduce the sauce down, which is when the flavours are most intense, and the gravy the best, if you put too much in at the start or use chicken stock as I sometimes do, it can end up a little too salty.
I like to finish this with spring onions and cilantro or coriander at the end.
It also works just as well with a mash as it does with rice. Sometimes I actually prefer mash.
Thank you so much for this recipe, it is such a delicious dish and one that I crave. 🙏❤️
You are very welcome! Thank you for your detailed review and tips.
Hi Victor, this looks so delicious. Do you think I could do this in a Clay Pot for about one hour?
I think this recipe will work fine in a clay pot though I haven’t made it in my Romertopf. You may have to reduce the amount of liquid.
This recipe is a bit confusing. At what point do you add the vegetables to the crock pot? And do you add the water to the crock pot or the skillet? It’s somewhat unclear. Please advise.
vegetables are added in step 3 – “Add the onions, garlic and ginger to the same the skillet.”
Water is added in step 4 “Add the water, salt and the pepper…” to the skillet. You are right, this step was not very explicit so I updated it.
Hi can you use chicken broth instead of water to the recipe?
Yes, just adjust the salt amount.
Looks delicious! Was wondering if can throw some small potatoes I. The crockpot too?!?
I don’t see why not.
I made this for tonight’s dinner and it’s delicious! I’m serving it with rice (cooked in some of the broth), white beans and a delicious, crusty bread 😋
Is there a way to cook this in a dutch oven instead of a slow cooker?
I would recommend this recipe for cooking chicken in a dutch oven or a braise: https://ifoodblogger.com/braised-chicken/.
It’s the first time Making this I did not have fresh ginger so I used about a teaspoon and a half of ground ginger hope it comes out OK smells delicious can’t wait to taste it
Can I use breasts instead of thighs?
Ashley, you can do the breasts too but reduced cooking time to 3 hours on low. I have a different recipe for slow cooker chicken breasts where I tested cooking times and I think cooking for 3 hours is ideal.
Since I will be cooking for one person, do you think I could freeze individual serving sizes then thaw and reheat?
Sophie, I would separate the chicken from the liquids and freeze them separately. It will be fine then.
Thank you. I’m going to try that.
I could not resist trying this recipe. It was delicious!!! I will definitely be making it again! Thanks. 😉
If I am doubling the receipe, how much time will it take to cook in the crockpot at low setting.
I don’t think doubling the recipe will affect cooking time that much.
Would you recommend slow cooking skinless boneless chicken thighs for five hours instead of six hours. Can I use chicken broth instead of water?
I’ve never tested this recipe with skinless chicken thighs but it should work just fine. Pan-seared skin adds flavor and protects meat from drying out so I would recommend a shorter cooking time, try after 3-4 hours and see how it tastes. I’ve done chicken breasts in a slow cooker and they are ready in 2.5 hours. Thighs are more forgiving so they can cook for a little longer. Broth is much better than water. If you have a good, flavorful broth then use it. Otherwise this recipe adds a lot of flavor through onions, garlic, ginger and spices.
Thanks for responding so quickly. Can’t wait to try this receipe for our Christmas dinner.
Hi victor just to confirm, if i use skinless boneless thighs should i also skip the searing?
Personally, I would still give them a very quick sear as that adds color and flavor. But you can skip if you want. I’ve never tested skinless with this recipe so I am 100% sure how they will behave. I would also reduce cooking time for skinless, and even more for seared skinless. I’d check at 3-4 hours and see how they taste, and give more time if needed.
Just made this I like to cook and find new things so I hope my girlfriend enjoys this
Glad to hear it, Scott. Do tell me how you girlfriend likes this chicken. Hope you both enjoy it.
thanks for sharing, it looks amazing! I will try the recipe soon. I was wondering what did you eat with it, rice? Potatos?
Greetings from Berlin,
Hi Nani, greetings from Toronto! By the way, Berlin is one of my favorite cities, I visited it several times.
This slow cooker chicken and mashed potatoes are a match made in heaven. That said, rice will work too, and so will pasta, but I would thicken the sauce at the end with a little bit of corn starch dissolved in milk or roux.
I subbed some white wine for the water and reduced the liquid down by half before adding to ckn in crockpot. For those that want skin crispy carefully remove chicken to foil lined cookie sheet and crisp up under the broiler.
Next time I will leave off liquid for a different spin on this recipe.
This site has some really great recipes that aren’t over done and affordable.
Thanks so much!
Thank you for sharing your tips, Laurel, and for the kind words. I’d be thrilled to see you keep coming my blog for more of my recipes.
This sounds a-mazing and I want to make it this weekend. Is the onion/garlic/ginger/water mixture added to the slow cooker along with the chicken? The only reason I ask is because two cups of water seem like a lot for six thighs, just asking. Thanks much
Yes, it is. Two cups are perfect.
Like the sounds of this recipe. Does the chicken skin end up soft or crisp? Thankyou !
There is a lot of moisture in a slow cooker so the skin is not crispy. But searing it before slow cooking makes it very tasty.
busy day ahead, so I put everything into the slow cooker to reward myself w a good lunch. keeping fingers crossed! thank u for the recipe, it was really 20 mins to prepare. best wishes from Hungary 🙂
Fantastic! Hope you enjoy it!
What kind of herbs do you use? Basil, oregano, thyme?
I like parsley and cilantro.
Have you tried this in a conventional oven. I need to make in one dish and have it ready to deliver and I feel the ease of an oven would mean I do not have to transfer it . Would there be modifications do you think in the cooking time or temp. Thanks for you help it sound yummmy
Well, heat is heat. Stove top or oven will work too. Oven is better. I haven’t tried this specific recipe in an oven but I estimate that at 325F it shouldn’t take no more than 40-60 minutes to fully cook. That’s assuming your Dutch oven or braiser will be used for searing and will be hot going into oven. Lower the oven oven temperature if you want to extend cooking time.
Just put this in my slow cooker and I am seriously excited for dinner tonight. I used chicken stock instead of water, omitted the ginger and added fresh lemon juice. My kitchen smells amazing. Thanks for this great recipe.
You are very welcome. Definitely, if you have it on hand, using chicken stock sounds like a great idea.
Hi, can I use boneless and skinless chicken thighs? We only use the boneless and skinless due to low fat diets. Thank you.
Linda, skin-on and skinless chicken thighs cook differently. I’ve never tested this recipe with skinless thighs. You can definitely try. I think it should work in general but will probably require less time to cook.
Made this last night, excluded the onions, at it was awesome! I served it over brown rice with veggies on the side.
Glad to hear it. Brown rice is a great pairing for this chicken.
3 hours on high and the chicken was fabulous! I will be adding this recipe to my rotation. Great for a crisp fall day.
Good to hear it, Sherri. I have a few other really good chicken recipes on my blog, check them out.
Victor, thank you so much for your speedy response. It’s in the slow cooker now. I’ll let you know how it turns out. It already smells dee-lish!
Good luck! Can’t wait to hear how it turns out.
Can you cook this recipie on high for 3 hours?
Yes, that should do it.
This looks wonderful! Any idea how long I would cook it in a Instant Pot on manual temp? I work weird hours and the IP seems to work best w my crazy life!
Thank you, so glad I stumbled onto your sight.
Good question to which I don’t have an answer as I don’t use an IP. Perhaps someone else here can answer.
Thank you for putting it out to your community. And thank you for your almost INSTANT response!!
Hi Dana, I instant pot bone in thighs anywhere from 10-15 min letting it release naturally. Hope that helps!
Britini A. Sombke
Hey Dana and Katie, were you successful in using the IP for the 10-15 minutes with the natural release? I assume high pressure? Would love to try this in a slow cooker, but we both work full time so the IP has become my best friend lol.
I plan on making this recipe tomorrow night. I have to work with what I have and wanted to see if my adjustments will effect recipe. I have four bone in thighs vs six. Using a instant pot’s slow cooker feature vs a traditional ceramic slow cooker. Not a huge fan of ginger, is the flavor prominate? Thank you for sharing your recipe and answering questions!!
I can’t really tell you whether using an IP in slow cooking mode would be any different from a slow cooker, I imagine it would not. Four vs 6 should be fine, no need to adjust the rest of the ingredients, except salt, but you can of course. Ginger flavor is not prominent, but you can omit it if you don’t like it.
So I figured the low on IP is not equivalent to the low on a slow cooker. After 5 hours the chickens internal temp was only 80!! So I just pressure cooked it for 5 min and it was good to go. Next time I will slow cook it on the regular temp! It was tasty and everyone enjoyed. Though the crisp in the skin became soft, not sure if that was due to my cooking failure.
Would ground ginger work ok? I’m out of ginger root.
Absolutely. 1 Tbsp fresh is usually substituted with 1/4 tsp ground ginger.
This chicken is a masterpiece! The seasonings are basic but the flavor is rich and deep. I can’t wait to make it again.
My brother suggested I might like this recipe. He was totally right. The chicken turned out amazing!!! Thank you!!!
Hi, this recipe sounds great, would it work with bone-in breasts, do you think? My husband doesn’t like thighs.
I prefer chicken breasts myself but haven’t tried with this recipe. It’s on my to do list though. My main concern would be to not overcook the breasts. I am thinking I will start on low and cook for 1-2 hours, then evaluate. Bone-in, skin-on I think would be ideal as the bone and the skin protect the breast meat from drying out really well. If you want to try, let me know how it goes, otherwise I will report here once I get around to experimenting with it.
Delicious! Thank you for this recipe, it’s a winner and I didn’t even have to adjust the amounts (which I always do). So far this is my third recipe attempt from you, and all three have been scrumptious!
Definitely going to make this one again.
You’ve made my day, ShakingBird. It gives me a great satisfaction when my readers love my recipes and share their experience. Please, come back for more.
This is so tender and juicy! I will definitely be making it again. Thank you for this wonderful recipe!
This chicken melts in your mouth. I am definitely making this again soon.
Very tasty and very tender. My family loved it. I shredded leftovers and used them to make delicious chicken wraps.
Love this recipe. It is looking so so delicious. My mouth is watering now.
Will be making this real soon. Looks yummy…..