This fresh and zesty chicken recipe is perfect for anyone who loves the lemony brightness of chicken Francese or chicken piccata, but it’s lighter and healthier since there’s no breading or frying — and totally effortless since you make it in the crockpot.
We’d call this a set-and-forget recipe, but if you’re in the house while this is cooking, the amazing smells from the lemon, garlic, and fresh herbs aren’t going to let you forget that something delicious is on its way.
Slow cooking means the whole chicken will come out incredibly tender and juicy. Then finish it for a few minutes under the broiler to get that crackly skin you crave.
If seeing a whole head of garlic on the ingredients list is already making you want to brush your teeth, don’t worry — tossing the entire bulb of garlic into the crockpot infuses the chicken with a mellow but mouthwatering aroma. And after 5 hours those cloves have caramelized to a deep, sweet, irresistible flavor.
Don’t throw out all of those tangy, savory juices from the chicken and lemon that are leftover in the bottom of the crockpot. They get transformed into an amazing sauce for drizzling over the meat.
This slow cooker chicken recipe might become your Sunday meal-planning savior: you can carve any leftover meat from the bone and store it in a container with the juices spooned over the top. Keep it in the fridge and use it throughout the week just like you would rotisserie chicken — on salads, in tacos, or with pasta.
Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken
Makes 4 – 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours
- 3 – 4 lemons, (2 of them zested)
- 1 whole head of garlic
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary, thyme, or other sturdy fresh herbs
- 1 (4 – 5 pound) whole chicken
Garlic Lemon Rub
- 4 – 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, savory, sage, etc.)
- zest of 2 lemons
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil (or melted butter)
- Mix all of the ingredients for the garlic lemon rub together in a small bowl, and set it aside.
- Cut the head of garlic in half horizontally and place it in the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Cut the ends off of 2 to 3 lemons and cut each lemon in half. Place 4 to 6 lemon halves in the bottom of the slow cooker with the halved garlic (so that they lay flat).
- Add half of the herb sprigs to the slow cooker.
- Remove any giblets from the cavity of the chicken, if they were included. Rinse the chicken and pat it dry. (You want to remove as much moisture as possible.) Season it lightly with salt and black pepper all over, covering both the inside and outside of the bird. Rub the garlic lemon rub all over, making sure to rub it under and over the skin, directly onto the meat, and into cavity of the chicken.
- Lay the chicken on top of the garlic and lemon halves in the slow cooker. If desired, tie the legs together with some butcher’s twine.
- Slice the remaining lemon. Cover the top of the chicken with lemon slices and the remaining sprigs of fresh herbs.
- Cook for 3½ to 4½ hours on high heat, or for 5½ to 6½ hours on low heat (or until the chicken is completely cooked). The thickest part of the thigh should register 165°F/74°C on an instant read thermometer.
- When the chicken is finished cooking, turn off the slow cooker and allow the chicken to rest for about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker.
- You can carve and serve the chicken at this point, or for crispy skin, preheat the oven to broil while resting the chicken. Carefully remove the chicken from the slow cooker and place it on a lined baking sheet. Place the chicken under the broiler for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the skin has reached the desired crispiness. Allow it to rest for 10 minutes, then serve.
- Use the strained liquid from the slow cooker as a sauce for the chicken. Add a little butter to the sauce to round out the acidity if desired.
Want more fork-tender crockpot chicken recipes? Try one of these:
- juicy slow cooker pineapple chicken
- slow cooker chicken & dumplings
- zesty BBQ slow cooker chicken
- slow cooker chicken marsala
- slow cooker cilantro lime chicken