The reason for all this confusion is because the answer varies depending on a great many things. Some cooks just grab the first recipe they find and try to adapt it to a whole chicken. That’s when they usually start scratching their heads and looking even more perplexed. Let’s take a look at some of the variables to be considered when cooking a whole chicken in a crockpot:
The Term Itself – How do you interpret the term “whole chicken?” Believe it or not, that simple term can be confusing. A chicken may be considered whole if it remains in one piece. Or, you may use the term “whole chicken” to refer to an “entire chicken.” See the difference? An entire chicken can be cut into halves, quarters, or pieces. That definitely affects cooking time.
The Chicken Recipe – If you choose a crispy rotisserie chicken style of recipe, you will time your crockpot differently than if you have a chicken recipe loaded with lots of vegetables. A big pile of carrots and potatoes sitting around your chicken will cause a chicken to cook differently than if it is cooking in dry heat, rotisserie style.
The Chicken Preparation – In order to provide a little color and extra flavor, many people like to brown the chicken in oil before putting it in the crockpot. If you do, your chicken has begun to cook, so it won’t need as long to cook in the crockpot. And, what about those times you put stuffing in your bird? That will always add more time in order to get the inside cooked all the way through.
The Bird Itself – Don’t forget the size of the chicken. If your chicken is around three pounds, it won’t have to cook as long as a big six pound chicken. And the room around the bird, inside of the crockpot, also will make a difference. If you’re trying to cook a chicken that doesn’t have enough air space around it, you’ll need to readjust your thinking.
The Crockpot – The simple design and features of the crockpot play a role, too. Is your chicken able to lay down in a nice big six quart oval crock? Will you be starting your dish on high heat and finishing on low heat? Do you have a brand new super-insulated model or an old model that sits on top of a burner with little or no insulation? How tight does the lid fit?
You want to know how long to cook a whole chicken in a crockpot? It’s still confusing, isn’t it. Don’t fret. Just go ahead and experiment and soon you’ll have a nice collection of your own favorite crockpot recipes to make with chicken – whole or otherwise.
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