Here we take a look making a rotisserie style chicken in a crockpot. We always like to bring your our hacks to yield quality dinners at home without the need for fancy cooking equipment usually reserved for restaurants or commercial kitchens.
Spoiler alert, no rotisserie involved!
That’s right, we like that tender and juicy store cooked chicken just as much as the next person. We had to find a way to get those same tasty results at home. And since most of us do not have a rotisserie set up, we needed to learn to do without.
Here are the results.
Rotisserie Style Chicken in a Crock Pot or Slow Cooker
You can get all those great aspects of a rotisserie roasted chicken with a crock pot and a skillet. Very simple, easy to build a full meal around, this is a great recipe as we move toward cooler weather. It is also a great way to cook up chicken that is tasty, but can also be additionally flavored to use in all kinds of dishes from dumplings to tacos.
The healthy choice
We are not trying to suggest that your grocery, or mega discount membership stores, use questionably healthy additives in their chicken. Okay, yes, we are. They have to accomplish two goals; evenly browned exterior, a juicy and moist interior that stays for hours after cooking. Both of those require manipulating various aspects of the bird with chemicals (and we’re not going to approach the topic of last-ditch cooking of food that has reached the ‘use by’ date in the store)
The oddest aspect of this is how they use the label ‘natural flavorings’, and its usage in modern food processing. From oleoresins to sodium tripolyphosphate, there is a laundry list of additives that are used. Sodium tripolyphosphate does not exist in nature. But, blend a couple items that do exist, and voila, STP is born. It is known for helping food retain moisture, and making it appear more glossy and firm. So, there’s that. Oleoresin keeps the meat plump. Yeast extracts help the skin coloration…you almost wonder why they even have to hang them on the rotisserie rack to get cooked. But we digress.
Brief background of rotisserie
Poke a stick through your food, suspend over your fire, keep turning to avoid scorching, cook until finished. Done, rotisserie defined.
Okay, yes, the process has become more sophisticated in recent years. The modern push is said to have originated in Peru in 1950, an enterprising chicken farmer with too much inventory started marinating, then cooking young chickens over algarrobo (mesquite)coals. He literally saved the farm and offered all you can eat chicken for a cheap price. Interestingly, this single handedly changed Peruvians’ idea of eating out, no longer a table cloth and fancy fork, you could eat with your hands and literally pig out. If you have any doubt, consider that rotisserie style chicken is now considered the national dish of Peru and is a huge segment of their fast-food sales.
From stone age epochs to depictions in tapestries 900 years ago, the rotisserie technology has kept evolving. Our favorite era was when they had a large hamster type wheel that a ‘turnspit’ dog would walk in to keep the rotisserie turning for even cooking. Now we have automatic mechanical hanging racks that rotate around the heat source showing first one side, then the other, to the cooking hotness.
To brine or not to brine
One big consideration is when you want to eat your chicken. If you are planning an immediate meal, then brining is not as necessary. The reason is a simple salt brine, 1 cup salt (1o ounces by weight) to one gallon water, will help the meat retain more moisture, both during the cooking and post cooking. It will be nicely juicy if you serve it immediately but will lose some of that over time.
If you are doing meal prep and this chicken is to be used in future dishes, it may give you better results if you brine it fully submerged for 24 hours. We like the results of this recipe without the brining step, but we certainly understand if you want to brine and have found it helpful in other cooking projects. Obviously in that case, you will want to consider using less salt than we did when making this dish.
We are using an old school step for recipes that are braising foods, basically cooking at lower temps in a moist environment. We sear the skin before cooking, which is easier in our opinion. Many recipes call for wrangling a hot fully cooked almost falling apart chicken under a broiler. However, we are not being traditional in that we use butter for this step. Hear us out.
Butter can be problematic for searing foods because it has such a low scorch temperature. We use that to our advantage in this recipe. Not by scorching it, just to be clear. Instead, we brown at a lower temperature, not quite medium on our range for example, and take a couple minutes to get a nice browned color. Patience is key, and you will be rewarded in this case with a nice golden caramel exterior that will add rich flavors and look more appealing.
Tips and tricks for Crockpot Chicken
The vegetables make great old school braised veggies to go with the meal. However, they also serve a purpose helping to keep the chicken above the juices that will collect. If you do not want to include the veggies, you can use a rack if you have on that fits your cooker. Or you can make a few balls of foil, 5 or 6, and set the chicken on those.
For the browning step use a high sided skillet. This will allow you to prop the chicken up on its side and get good coloring results on more surfaces. It also helps minimize the splatters on your stove. Finish with the back of the chicken facing upward, already browned. We call for a blend of garlic, salt, and pepper to be mixed up. You may not use it all depending on how you like to season food. Season it well, then place that side down in the cooker. Pour everything left in the pan over the chicken then season the top surface.
Pro tip; mix equal amounts of ground black pepper, fine salt, and granulated garlic together. Keep that on hand as a quick, all-purpose seasoning blend for your recipes and freestyle cooking
The chicken will be very delicate after cooking and will break apart if handle too roughly. So be gentle. You can also tie it with butchers’ twine, once around the area with the wings and once at the legs to the tail, you can then use these to help get the chicken out of the cooker relatively intact.
For the optional gravy we call for chicken bouillon. This will enhance the chicken flavors and add salt, so we do not show adding more salt to that part of the dish. This technique uses a slurry made of cold milk and flour whisked until smooth, more flour will make thicker gravy. Then you pour that into your jus, whisking thoroughly as you add it in bringing it to boil.
Slow Cooker ‘Rotisserie’ Chicken Recipe
- 1 Whole chicken thawed, giblets and neck removed
- 2 Carrots
- ½ Onion
- 1 Large Russet potato
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 2 Teaspoons Table salt
- 2 Teaspoons Ground black pepper
- 2 Teaspoons Granulated garlic
- 2-4 Tablespoons All-purpose flour
- 1 Cup Cold milk
- 1 Teaspoon Chicken bouillon
- 1 Teaspoon Dried thyme
- Remove chicken from packaging and pat dry with paper towels, trim wing tips if desired
- Clean and coarsely chop onion, carrots, and potato
- Preheat high sided skillet at medium low to medium
- Put chopped veggies into bottom of slow cooker and set to low cooking
- When skillet is at temperature add the butter to melt
- Place the chicken breast side down in the skillet
- Leave until bottom surface is browned, 2-4 minutes
- Rotate the chicken until all four sides have been browned
- Season the back of the chicken, then place that side down in cooker atop the veggies
- Pour any remaining butter or juice from the skillet over the chicken
- Season the top of the chicken well
- Cover the cooker
- Cook chicken approximately one hour per pound of weight
- Check internal temperature of the chicken when most of the time has elapsed
- If temp is 165 or greater turn off the heat and remove the food
- Otherwise continue cooking until internal temperature has been reached
- When cooked you can serve with the veggies and enjoy
- Or, move on with the optional gravy
- After removing the food pour the juices from the cooker into a separator or clear heatproof vessel
- Pour the fat off the top, or separate, and pour remaining juice into a sauce pan
- Add thyme and bullion, place pan over medium heat
- Make your slurry by whisking flour into milk until smooth
- Pour slurry into juice, whisking constantly
- Continue whisking until mixture reaches a boil and thickens up
- Serve over chicken and veggies and enjoy