Slow Cooker Lemon Thyme Chicken
I gotta give it to you, this Slow Cooker Lemon Thyme Chicken is far from being a contender for the Sexiest Looking Chicken Ever contest… and well, poor thing, I can’t say that I really helped it with my photography either. The thing is, it caught me on one of those days, you know: poor lighting, low appetite, no artistic inspiration… Add that to the fact that chicken really isn’t my favorite source of protein and this is what you get.
In fact, I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to post this…
BUT, if I hadn’t, I would’ve been doing you all a disservice. Because really, food isn’t always necessarily about looks, right? In fact, it has a lot more to do with taste, I find.
And well, I have to say that this bird REALLY delivers in that department!
While opting for cooking the chicken in the slow cooker means that you have to kiss that beautiful, crispy skin goodbye, the crazy moist, tender, juicy and tasty meat that you get in return is not a bad trade-off, if you ask me…
To make that one extra tasty, I took the time to rub it with a mixture of ghee, thyme, garlic and lemon zest, which I rubbed directly against the meat, right under the skin.
I then let the bird sit in the refrigerator overnight to let all the beautiful aromas sink right into the meat. OH YEAH!
Honestly, this was one of the best birds I’ve ever had! I think that from now now, whole chickens will always get cooked in a slow cooker in this household. Plus, as a bonus, you get this magnificent stock, with no extra effort…
Ready to give this a try? Let’s go!
First, you need to make the rub by mixing some ghee, fresh thyme, lemon zest, garlic, salt and pepper together in a small bowl.
Then, you’ll want to detach the skin from the chicken by delicately running your fingers under it.
Start at the butt end of the bird and gingerly slip your fingers between the skin and meat, starting with the breasts, then carefully and gently move all the way to the front of the bird, and then under it, and don’t forget to go over to the legs too. You should be able to separate pretty much all of that skin from the meat as you let your fingers slide underneath it. Go as gently as you can, though, so as not to tear the skin.
Now that the skin is all nice and loose, using your fingers still, go ahead and rub about ¾ of the ghee mixture directly on the meat and under the skin. Try to cover as much of the flesh as you possibly can.
And yes, you should be able to fit your entire hand in there…
Use what’s left of the ghee to rub all over the chicken skin, from the outside this time.
Stuff the lemon wedges, smashed garlic cloves and fresh thyme right inside that cavity and then tie up the legs with a piece of butcher’s twine.
Now make a beautiful bed at the bottom of your slow cooker for the chicken to lay in. Add the chopped leek, garlic cloves and fresh thyme to the tub, followed by two lemon halves. I strongly suggest you use the one you previously zested to make the rub.
Position the lemon halves at both ends, cut side up, so you can place your chicken right over them.
Sprinkle the whole thing with salt and pepper, and, if time allows, place your bird in the refrigerator overnight to allow flavors to meld.
In the morning, take your chicken out of the fridge and cook it on low for 8 hours or high for 5 hours.
Aaaaand this is what you get… See? I told you. This really isn’t the prettiest chicken you will have ever laid your eyes on… We’re miles away from your typical beautiful golden, picture perfect, lip smacking and mouth watering crispy skinned roasted chicken.
But the flavor and juiciness of this slow cooked chicken simply can’t be beat! I’ve never had chicken so moist before in my life. Even when it’s chilled, it still feels tender and juicy.
Now you *could*, if you wanted to, transfer your chicken to a nice serving platter and present it whole to your guests and family members, but I don’t know that they would be all that impressed…
Instead, I strongly suggest you take the meat off the bones and serve it in detached pieces…
It might look more appetizing that way.
Oh, and like I said earlier… whatever you do, do not discard the liquid that sits at the bottom of your slow cooker. You can either remove the lemons and thyme and puree everything else with a stick blender to make some kind of a sauce, or strain it and discard the solids. You’ll be left with the most fabulous stock!
Hmpft! Now I’ve done it. I made myself crave chicken again…
Looks like I might have a new-found affection for the thing!
Slow Cooker Lemon Thyme Chicken
- 1 large whole chicken
Rub the Chicken
- 2-3 tbsp ghee, or make your own
- 1 tsp Himalayan salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
- the zest of 1 lemon
- 1 clove garlic, minced
Stuff the Chicken
- 1 whole lemon, washed and cut into quarters
- 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
Make a Bed for the Chicken
- 1 leek, washed and chopped
- 1 lemon, washed cut in half (use the one you zested)
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 7-8 sprigs fresh thyme
- Generous sprinkle of salt and pepper
- Slow Cooker
- First, make the rub by mixing all the ingredients listed under “rub” together in a small bowl.
- Then, detach the skin from the chicken by delicately running your fingers under it. Start at the butt end of the bird and slip your fingers between the skin and meat, starting with the breasts first, then go ahead and gently, carefully, move all the way to the front of the bird, and under, and over to the legs too, separating the skin from the meat as you go. Go as gently as you can so as not to tear the skin.
- Now, using your fingers still, go ahead and rub about ¾ of the rub directly on the meat, under that now loosened skin. Try to cover as much of the meat as you possibly can. Use what’s left of the rub to rub over the skin, from the outside this time.
- Stuff your chicken with the lemon wedges, garlic and fresh thyme and then tie up the legs with a piece of butcher’s twine.
- Add the chopped leek, garlic and fresh thyme at bottom of your slow cooker to make a bed for the chicken, then add the lemon halves at both ends so you can place your chicken over them. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and, if time allows, place in the refrigerator overnight for flavors to develop.
- In the morning, take your chicken out of the fridge and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 5 hours.
If you’ve tried this recipe, please take a minute to rate the recipe and let me know how things went for you in the comments below. It’s always such a pleasure to hear from you!
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7 Comments on “Slow Cooker Lemon Thyme Chicken”
Mmm that does sounds good, and doesn’t look all that bad, especially off the bone 🙂
All ready to be put in the slow cooker in the morning
LUCKY! Enjoy dinner, Trish! 🙂
There is a lot of liquid in the crockpot in your picture, but it doesn’t say anywhere to add water or liquid of any kind. Is that correct? Will I really end up with that much liquid when it is done?
I haven’t added any kind of liquid to the crockpot, Heidi. So yes, you should end up with a similar amount when your chicken is done, too!
So I just tried this, pulling the finished chicken out just the last couple hours.
I was excited to try a whole chicken in my slow cooker, had only done pieces.
I followed this to a tee (yes, skin was almost completely loosened, and yes, refrigerated overnight after the rub), with a couple exceptions:
-Yellow onion in place of leeks
I was surprised that the lemon, thyme and garlic did not seem as present in the finished product as I’d hoped.
Makes me inclined to double each if I were to take this on again. I know the salt omission could be playing in, but even still, this was a surprise.
I’ll have to assess again after I try the pieces a few days away from chicken disassembly right next to the slow cooker.
And don’t get me wrong, it smelled good, just seems the aromatics may have been too little or cooked off? I thought with the stuffing, the chicken would be infused from the inside out.
Glad I tried it, will learn from this, though likely not repeat this exact recipe.
Leaving the salt out definitely impacted the flavor; It’s a well-known fact that salt is a total flavor enhancer! Try it again but with the salt this time, it’ll be a completely different ball game…