Don’t Skip This Step for Super-Tender Slow Cooker Chicken

published Jun 5, 2016
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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Cooking a whole chicken in the slow cooker almost feels too good to be true. It produces a chicken so moist and tender that the meat practically falls off the bone. It requires just one ingredient and only a couple minutes of prep work. It’s so simple that it feels like there should be a catch.

No, there’s no catch — it’s really that good — but there is one very important thing you need to do before putting the bird into the slow cooker.

The Chicken Needs Height

Before adding a whole chicken to the bowl, it’s important to create a base in the slow cooker that will elevate the chicken — just high enough so that it’s not resting on the bottom of the bowl (about an inch will do).

How to Create a Base

The simplest way to do this is to use three or four packed balls of aluminum foil. You can also use a small metal rack or trivet, like the kind that came with your electric pressure cooker or multi-cooker.

It’s an extra step that’s well worth the effort. As the chicken cooks, it releases a good amount of liquid, more so than what’s produced when roasting in the oven. Raising the chicken prevents it from sitting in a pool of liquid for an extended period of time, which might make it soggy.

Between the small, closed space of the slow cooker and all the liquid that’s released, the air inside the slow cooker is hot and humid; it’s the reason why the chicken turns out so tender and juicy. Keeping the bird raised allows this humid air to flow around the whole chicken — not just the top and sides.