Whether you’re looking to cook chicken breasts, thighs, or drumsticks; whole chickens or boneless skinless breasts; pulled chicken or shredded chicken breasts; the answer is the same: it depends. The truth is that there are many factors that go into determining how long you need to cook anything in a crock pot. We’ll try to break it down for you so that you can get a better idea of what works best for your needs.
How Long Do You Cook Chicken in a Crock Pot?
How long you should cook chicken in a slow cooker depends on the size of the chicken, how large your crock pot is and whether or not your chicken is frozen.
If you’re looking for general guidelines, here are some rough estimates:
- 4-6 pounds of meat (including bone) will take five to six hours on low heat or three to four hours on high heat.
- A whole chicken should be cooked for two hours per pound on low heat or one hour per pound on high heat. If you want to cook it faster than that (like if you need it for dinner), use boneless skinless breasts instead; those will only take about 45 minutes per pound if they’re fresh from thawing out!
Cooking Frozen Chicken in the Crock Pot
One of the biggest benefits of cooking frozen chicken in the crock pot is that it helps save time. If you’re planning on making a meal that requires cooked chicken, but don’t have time to cook fresh chicken breasts or thighs, simply place them in your slow cooker and turn it on! Your food will be ready when you are–no need for any extra prep work just to get dinner on the table.
You can also use this method if you want to make an extra large batch of shredded meat at once. Simply cook all of your frozen meat together (in separate bags), then store individual portions in freezer-safe containers until ready for use. The taste and texture won’t change much since there isn’t much water content from thawing out before cooking anyway!
Thawing Frozen Chicken in the Refrigerator
To thaw frozen chicken in the refrigerator, place it in a dish or container and cover with water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the breast is completely thawed. The refrigerator should be at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below for best results. You should allow about 24 hours for a 1-inch thick chicken breast to fully defrost; however, this time may vary depending on your refrigerator’s temperature settings and whether you’re using fresh or frozen meat (frozen meat takes longer to thaw).
Cooking Chicken Thighs in the Crock Pot
The cooking time for chicken thighs in the crock pot depends on the size of your chicken thighs. For example, if you have large or extra-large chicken thighs and want to cook them for four hours on high or eight hours on low, then you can do so.
However, if you use small or medium-sized chicken thighs and want to cook them for four hours on high or eight hours on low (or even longer), then this may result in overcooked meat that’s dry and tough to eat.
Cooking Boneless Skinless Breasts in the Crock Pot
- Cooking time depends on weight of chicken. If you are cooking frozen, cook for 6-8 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high. If you are cooking fresh, cook for 3-4 hours on low or 1-2 hours on high.
- If you like your meat more well done than others and want to increase the cooking time in order to achieve this, add an extra hour or two (or more) at the end of your desired cooking period.
Cooking Whole Chickens in the Crock Pot
If you’re looking to cook a whole chicken in the crock pot, it’s best to do so with one of two methods:
- Place the chicken on top of its own bones (or those of another chicken) and add water until it reaches just below where your bird’s neck would be. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours.
- Place all ingredients into the slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-6 hours.
Cooking Pulled Chicken or Shredded Chicken Breasts in the Crock Pot
How long you cook chicken in a crock pot depends on how much you’re cooking, and how long. For example, if you’re making pulled chicken or shredded chicken breasts, the general rule of thumb is to cook them for 4 hours on low in a large (6-quart) slow cooker.
However, this can vary depending on the size of your crock pot and/or chicken breasts: if they’re small enough to fit into one layer without overlapping too much then they may not need as much time; if they’re bigger than average then they’ll probably need more time than usual.
It’s also important to note that if using frozen meat (which many people prefer because it saves money), increase your total cooking time by 1 hour per pound (so if using 1 pound of frozen meat add another hour onto its total).
How long you cook chicken depends on what kind you’re cooking and what you’re doing with it.
How long you cook chicken depends on what kind you’re cooking and what you’re doing with it. A whole chicken takes longer to cook than boneless, skinless breasts, while a whole turkey may take up to 18 hours in the slow cooker.
If you’re making shredded chicken for tacos or salads (like this one), then 4-5 hours will do the trick; if you want more tender meat that can be sliced into chunks for sandwiches or omelets, then 6-8 hours should be enough time for even a large bird like a 12-pounder.
Now that you know how long to cook chicken in a crock pot, it’s time to get cooking!