How Long to Cook Chicken in the Crockpot
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How long should you be cooking chicken in the Crockpot, specifically chicken breasts? You’ll be surprised at the answer!
Hi. My name is Polly. All my life I have had a problem with drying out my chicken in the slow cooker. I followed the recipes I found and was SO frustrated because the chicken was ALWAYS dry. ALWAYS!
What I’m learning now is that this is probably because 90% of the recipes online have us cooking chicken in the slow cooker WAY too long. With years and years of creating a recipe index full of easy meal ideas and freezer meals, we have narrowed down the perfect cooking time for chicken in the slow cooker.
How long to cook chicken breasts in the crock pot?
Prepare yourself. What I am about to tell you is either going to crush your slow cooker dreams OR bring much enlightenment to your soul.
With the exception of larger recipes (like 8+ servings), It only takes 2.5-3.5 hours on LOW for boneless, skinless chicken breast to be fully cooked in the slow cooker.
I kid you not. While writing our cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker, we have been methodically testing chicken breast recipes by taking the internal temperature with our trusted meat thermometer (pic below) at different points during the cooking time.
Over and over AND OVER again, we have found that chicken breast registers at 165° F (the FDA recommended safe temp) right around 3 hours on LOW. Sometimes less, sometimes more depending on the size of the breast or other ingredients in the slow cooker.
If you are cooking a larger recipe with chicken in it, we have found that it can take 4-6 hours. But that’s it!
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Should I cook chicken on high in the crockpot?
Here’s another surprising thing. Don’t shoot the messenger.
But, do not cook boneless, skinless chicken breasts on HIGH unless you like overcooked, dried out, tough meat. Always cook on LOW.
I know. It’s sad. It’s hard. But it’s true.
Like you, I love the idea of putting a meal in the slow cooker in the morning and coming home to a dinner ready to eat. While cooking on high DOES work for certain cuts of beef and pork in recipes like our Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork, Crispy Carnitas, or French Dip Sandwiches it simply does not work with chicken. If you cook chicken all day (or on HIGH), it will be dry-dry-dry.
I know, I’m broken-hearted, too. But I love you too much to not share the truth and the thermometer doesn’t lie.
Free Cooking Times Chart
In an effort to save you from overcooking or undercooking future slow cooker meals, we wanted to equip you with this free Slow Cooker Cooking Times Chart. Download it, print it, snuggle it, and thank us later.
Slow Cooker Cooking Times Chart (Free!)
We spent years testing slow cooker timing for various recipes for our second cookbook. We put all our knowledge into one handy printable cheat sheet for you. Never overcook (or undercook) a crock pot meal again!
Do chicken thighs or bone-in chicken breasts/thighs cook longer?
If you do want a longer cooking time for chicken, use chicken thighs or bone-in split chicken breasts. These work great in recipes like our Bourbon Chicken or with our Southwest Chicken Marinade.
These cuts can handle longer cooking times and retain their moisture a bit better. Our tests show they reach their internal safe temperature anywhere from 3-4 on LOW. However, America’s Test Kitchen (a source we really trust!), says they can withstand cooking times of up to 4-6 hours on LOW. It’s still not that all day recipe but might be a great meal to throw in the slow cooker around lunch time.
How long do I cook chicken in the Instant Pot?
We’ve tackled this question, too, through extensive testing. Check out this article:
Where do you get your chicken from?
We are HUGE fans of ButcherBox and have been getting our chicken (and beef, seafood, and pork) from them for years now. In fact, Rachel wrote a comprehensive honest review about this meat subscription service. We love that their chicken is 100% organic and all their meat is healthy and sourced responsibly. It’s so convenient to have it delivered to our doorsteps whenever we choose!
You should definitely check it out and see if ButcherBox would be a good fit for your family. Our readers and we just love it!
Need some GREAT slow cooker chicken recipes?
We’ve got you covered! Here are some of the most popular ones on our site:
You can also check out our roundup of 25 Slow Cooker Recipes for a Crowd for more delicious ideas!
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