This is an easy, no-fuss slow cooker chicken recipe made with your choice of chicken parts and only 3 additional ingredients (plus salt and pepper). Use a cut-up whole chicken, chicken leg quarters, or a combination of thighs and drumsticks. The chicken may be served as an entree, or it can be removed from the bones and shredded for sandwiches. Serve the shredded chicken on buns with some of the sauce.
The pictured dish was made with chicken halves. If you do use very large pieces, cook them on high for 1 hour and then turn the setting to low and continue cooking for about 2 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours longer. The 1-hour higher temperature start will ensure the chicken gets up to a safe temperature quickly. The finished chicken should be thoroughly cooked but not yet falling apart. If you plan to shred the chicken for sandwiches, cook it for an hour or two longer, or until it's falling off the bone.
There are a few notable flavor variations you might want to try. Instead of ketchup, use your favorite purchased or homemade barbecue sauce. Or add a teaspoon or two of liquid smoke and 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce to get that barbecue flavor. Or kick it up with 1/2 teaspoon (or more) of crushed red pepper flakes for heat. Strips of red and/or green bell pepper may be added for flavor and color. Layer the pepper strips along with the sliced onions.
Serve the chicken with potato salad or baked potatoes and steamed vegetables for a satisfying family meal. If you're making sandwiches with the shredded chicken and sauce, serve them with baked beans and coleslaw.
Slow cooked bone-in chicken can look pale and unappetizing, but it doesn't have to. See the tips below the recipe for some finishing and serving ideas that will make your chicken look as good as it tastes.
- 1 large onion
- 3-4 pounds of chicken parts
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1 cup cola (or Dr. Pepper)
- Cut the ends off the onion, peel it, and then cut it in half lengthwise. Slice the halves thinly.
- Place half of the sliced onions in the bottom of the slow cooker crockery insert.
- Place the chicken pieces on the onion layer. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Top the chicken with the remaining sliced onions.
- In a small bowl or two-cup measure, combine the ketchup and cola or Dr. Pepper. Mix to blend thoroughly.
- Pour the cola and ketchup mixture over the chicken pieces in the slow cooker.
- Cover the pot and cook on low for 4 1/2 to 7 hours, or until the chicken is fully cooked. If you want it falling apart (shreddable), go for the longer time. The minimum safe temperature for chicken is 165 F (73.9 C). If in doubt, check for doneness with an instant-read food thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken (not touching bone).
- Serve whole pieces and the onions on a platter with the sauce (pictured) or shred the chicken and serve with the sauce on buns. See the tips below for reducing and thickening the sauce.
- To give the chicken some color and crisp the skin a bit, place the pieces on a foil-lined baking pan and put it under the broiler -- about 4 inches from the heat source -- for about 2 to 5 minutes, or until browned.
- To thicken the sauce and concentrate flavors, remove the chicken to a plate and keep it warm. Skim the fat off the liquids and strain them into a saucepan. Bring the defatted liquids to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to boil them for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until the sauce is reduced to about 1 1/4 cups.
- For an attractive presentation, sprinkle chopped fresh parsley or cilantro over the chicken.