Weeknight Cooking

Slow-Cooker Rotisserie Chicken Is Peak Comfort Cooking

Cook a faux-tisserie bird completely hands-off in your Crock-Pot. The result is deeply tender, super juicy meat that practically falls off the bone.

January 28, 2020
Photo by Rocky Luten. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop Stylist: Sophie Strangio.

Welcome to Set It & Forget It, a series about all the ways we rely on our slow cookers, Instant Pots, and ovens during the colder months. Whether it’s a long braise on the stove or a quick burst in the pressure cooker, one thing’s for sure: Comfort food means comfort cooking.


Is there anything more satisfying to pick up at the grocery store than a rotisserie chicken? With the plunk of the container in your cart, you can go from "What’s for dinner?" to "Dinner, done" in the blink of an eye. But what if I told you there's a way to make your own at home? No rotisserie needed. (No oven, either.)

I'm here to tell you that you can cook a whole chicken from start to finish in the slow cooker. The result is deeply tender, super juicy meat that practically falls off the bone, just like your favorite rotisserie chicken.

Of course, this faux-tisserie chicken isn't 100 percent like the original, as you're not cooking it on a rotisserie. But the draw here is twofold: 1) a completely hands-off method and 2) slow-cooked, savory flavor, which the spice blend helps to mimic. After seasoning the bird all over with plenty of kosher salt (do not fear the kosher salt, folks, kosher salt is your friend) and freshly ground black pepper, rub the chicken all over with a mixture of sweet paprika, brown sugar, and garlic powder. This simple blend will turn brick-red as the chicken cooks, the spices lightly, slowly perfuming the meat—and your kitchen.

If you only have a few hours before dinnertime, set the slow cooker on high for 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours; if you want to get the chicken going and forget all about it while you finish the afternoon and start the evening, go low for 4 to 5 hours.

To gauge whether you’ll need that last hour of cooking time, take the chicken’s internal temperature. It should hit 165ºF with an instant-read thermometer. Some folks pull their birds at anything higher than 155ºF, relying on residual heat to finish the cooking and avoid dry, overcooked meat. This is less important when using a slow cooker, as the meat is essentially steaming and will be plenty juicy. You’d probably have to cook it for another 2 or 3 hours to actually dry it out.

Crispy-skin stans, don’t close your browser tab yet. Indeed, as the heat from a slow cooker is steamier than that of a dry oven or a searing pan, it’s not possible to get that crackly chicken skin from the slow cooker alone. Not that rotisserie chicken skin is especially crispy anyway (more than it is intensely bronzed in color and caramelized in flavor). But of course, if you simply won’t eat a piece of chicken without delightfully burnished skin, you can transfer your slow-cooked bird to a sheet pan, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and broil it in the oven for the last 3 to 5 minutes.

From there, serve this faux-tisserie chicken however you would the grocery-store one: carved alongside a crunchy, lemony salad; sliced over rice and beans and avocado “salsa”; shredded into your favorite soup.

Most importantly, save the carcass—you’ll definitely want to make stock.

Have you ever attempted rotisserie chicken at home? Let us know in the comments below.
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Rebecca Firkser is a freelance food writer and recipe developer. Her work has appeared in a number of publications, among them Food52, TASTE, Edible Manhattan, Extra Crispy, The Strategist, and Bon Appetit's Healthyish. She contributed recipes and words to the book "Breakfast: The Most Important Book About the Best Meal of the Day." Once upon a time, she studied theatre design and art history at Smith College, so if you need a last-minute avocado costume or want to talk about Wayne Thiebaud's cakes, she's your girl.

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