The absolute best way to make a whole chicken (and stock) in a slow cooker

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The freezing temps and snowy weather have left me wanting to cook warm, hearty meals every night, and this slow cooker chicken hits the spot. It’s super easy, delicious and juicy. When we cook a whole chicken, we are usually able to make at least four dinners out of the one bird. If I don’t think we can finish the meat within three to four days, I vacuum seal the remaining meat (LOVE our FoodSaver!) and freeze it for later use.

To begin, I try to only buy local, humanely raised meat. I hope to do a blog post at some time in the future about the reasons why, but until then, just take my word that factory farmed meat in the grocery store is gross.

Back in the spring, I ordered $150 worth of whole chickens from our friends Rachel and Matt Klessig over at the Jersey Knoll Farm (check them out on Facebook!). They are located about 15 miles from our house, and they just so happen to have great, fresh chicken. Although the chickens aren’t free-ranged completely, they are raised in moveable chicken tractors that are transfered to fresh ground a couple times a day. I think we ended up with about ten chickens for our $150 investment. After bringing them home, we cut all but three into pieces and froze the pieces separately. I even whipped up some marinades and froze some pieces in marinades, so all I have to do is leave them out in the sink in the morning and by the evening, they are ready to go in the pan. I love having meat frozen in the freezer. It coupled with my frozen garden leftovers and weekly fruit and veggie box (more on that later!), leave me rarely going to the grocery store.

So, back to making the chicken. For those of you who are curious about pricing of local meat like this, this chicken was just over 5 pounds and cost about $16. It may sound steep if you’re used to buying meat at the grocery store (I haven’t bought meat in a store in almost two years, so I don’t know what a whole chicken costs there), but it’s not bad when you consider that you will be able to feed your family multiple meals from the bird.

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Ingredients

One 4-5 pound chicken

Three onions

Seasoning of your choice, to taste

One lemon

Directions

1. To begin line a slow cooker with diced onions. I had two small sweet white onions and one red onion on hand, so that’s what went into the cooker.

2. Wash your chicken and remove the giblets if they are left in the body cavity. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with your favorite spices. I used a generous dousing of salt, pepper, paprika and parsley.

3. Sit your chicken on top of the onions. Cut a lemon in half, and squeeze the juice over the meat. Leave the remnants of the fruit in the cooker. (No, you don’t need any extra liquid – don’t worry, the chicken juices will keep the meat tender and juicy).

4. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 8-10 hours. Enjoy!

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Now that you’ve made your easy-peasy, yummy-in-my-tummy chicken, you can’t just throw the bones out. They are one of the biggest perks about making a whole chicken, because you can make beautiful silky smooth chicken stock with little effort.

1. So first, cut the meat from the bones. Some people probably pick their chickens a little cleaner than I do, but I don’t mind to leave little bits of the more chewy meat on the bones. I think it just adds additional flavor to the stock.

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2. Don’t forget your furry friends, who actually become your best friends when you have chicken meat in your hands (and can’t even sit still for the camera.)

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3. Put all the remnants besides the meat (bones, skin, juices) back into the crockpot with the chicken juice and onions.

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4. Roughly chop some celery and carrots and add to the pot.

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5. Add water to fill the pot.

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6. Throw in whatever herbs and spices you’d like. I try to use whatever fresh herbs I am growing, which currently only consists of Rosemary (in its cracked, identity-confused window planter). I also added a little extra salt and pepper.

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7. Cook again for 8-10 hours on low, and enjoy your stock! I used mine to make homemade chicken noodle soup by chopping up the cooked carrots and celery from the crock pot and adding roughly chopped chicken and cooked whole wheat noodles.

If I don’t have an immediate use, I like to freeze the extras in ice cube containers and them combine them in one big zipper freezer bag. That way I can just pull out as many chicken stock cubes as I need for a wide variety of different dishes.

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 Check out this post and many other great ones on the Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways blog hop. Just click the link above.
It’s also a part of the Clever Chicks blog hop located here. Check it out.

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4 thoughts on “The absolute best way to make a whole chicken (and stock) in a slow cooker

  1. Sounds wonderful! I love making soup with Rachel’s chickens. We even moved ours halfway across the country, in our deep freeze, when we moved last month!

    • Haha, Lauren. I would have brought all of mine with me too. 🙂 We were sad to see you leave Ozark County, but I understand wanting to be closer to family. I hope you’ve settled in nicely and all is well.

  2. I love how you don’t waste anything and even make stock after the chicken is cooked! I also like that you try to eat only local, humanely raised meat. What started us on our homesteading journey was watching Food, Inc. and seeing how atrocious factory farming conditions are. Such an eye opener. After years of struggling with it, I eventually became a vegetarian, but I always appreciate when others support farmers doing things the right way.

    Your furry friends are so cute 🙂

    • Thanks, Tammy! 🙂 It’s important to me to use everything I can from an animal, so that it’s life was not taken in vain. Food Inc. and Fresh were right there with us at the beginning of our journey to look at life differently too. I recommend them to anyone and everyone who is even vaguely curious about food. I’ve heard the documentary “Earthlings” is life-changing too, but I only watched the preview on youtube and decided I don’t have the heart to watch it. Have you seen it? Instead of watching it, I just decided I would never contribute my money to anything so horrendous, and instead I only buy meat from animals that lived a happy, healthy life and met a quick and humane death. It’s a plus to be able to support local farmers continuing their business. I usually eat about 60-70% of my meals vegetarian, so I don’t think it would be that big of a jump to go completely vegetarian.

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