Make Ahead

Whole Slow Cooker-Poached Chicken

December 17, 2014
5 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 4 hours
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Very lightly adapted from Martha Stewart Living's One Pot. The technique here is the thing; the flavors can go in any direction. Swap out the Asian flavors for more traditional aromatics, if that's what you have. Serve it this way or use the meat in tacos, or salads, or sandwiches, or whatever; and then save the broth for something else. Or serve it this way and add egg noodles. On cooking times: Slow cookers vary wildly in how slow (or fast) they cook. One Pot recommends cooking on high for 2 hours, or low for 4 hours; my 4-pound-plus chicken took almost three hours on high to reach 165 degrees. So don't go by the cooking times; rely on an instant-read thermometer. —Nicholas Day

What You'll Need
  • 3 bunches scallions
  • 1 bunch cilantro, stems and leaves
  • 1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds)
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped into 2-inch pieces
  • 12 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed
  • 6 thin slices of ginger
  • 6 star anise
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns (white, if possible)
  • 1 tablespoon plus two teaspoons coarse salt
  • 8 cups water
  1. In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker—a smaller slow cooker will be too small—place two bunches of scallions and half the cilantro on the bottom. Then place the chicken on top, breast up. Add the celery, mushrooms, ginger, star anise, peppercorns, and salt. Then add the water, adding more if the chicken isn't covered (or almost covered). Cook on high for 2 to 3 hours (or on low for 4 or more hours), or until the chicken reaches 165 degrees.
  2. When the chicken is cooked, carve it into portions and divide it among the bowls. Divide the mushrooms among the bowls, too. Strain the broth and ladle it over the chicken and the mushrooms. Coarsely chop the remaining cilantro and scallions and sprinkle them over each bowl. Serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Karalee Peltomaa
    Karalee Peltomaa
  • Starmade
  • FrugalCat
  • lora789
  • Suzanne R Prael
    Suzanne R Prael
I'm the author of a book on the science and history of infancy, Baby Meets World. My website is; I tweet over at @nicksday. And if you need any good playdoh recipes, just ask.

32 Reviews

Linda D. October 13, 2022
Thank you so much for this simple and delicious way to cook chicken, Nicholas. The broth was delicious!
Karalee P. October 27, 2020
Sometimes with a whole chicken to poach I prefer to remove the breast meat, pound it thin and use it separately as a roulade, quick fried. I never concern with the breast meat drying out, etc.
Karalee P. October 27, 2020
I'm going to do this in the slow cooker; however I did discover a way to poach a whole chicken in the Instant Pot using the "0" time setting as taught by Instant Pot testers, Amy+Jacky. Haven't been disappointed with the results.
As one reviewer said, cornish hens taste good too.
Sometimes I like to poach in apple juice or apple cider - I call it my "Happy Chicken" recipe.
Laura February 4, 2020
I was looking for a quick and easy recipe for whole chicken on busy days. This is the ticket! I just prepared it and made a few adjustments. I wanted to share in case anyone else has a person in their life with the "I hate cilantro gene" . . . I made a cheese cloth bundle with grated ginger, peppercorns, fresh miso paste, some lemon herby seasoning, one star anise, and toasted coriander seeds, (the part of the cilantro plant that has a lemony flavor and complements asian dishes nicely, without the cilantro taste). I also added a couple garlic cloves to the water with the celery and scallions. So looking forward to having this for dinner tonight.
Starmade January 21, 2018
I did this in my thermal pot using about a pound of chicken thigh meat roughly chunked (thermal pot is not good for big chunks of meat or whole birds); simmered on stovetop fifteen or twenty minutes, put in thermal pot for two hours or so. I didn't have any cilantro but the broth developed excellent flavor even so and meat came out very tender. Used half fresh and half dried mushrooms, cut in half. Next time I will cut the salt down a bit. Whole bird probably yields even more flavor but this can be done in a thermal pot and is good.
FrugalCat December 15, 2017
It's just the two of us and I have a small slow cooker so I do this with a cornish hen!
SusieQ November 12, 2017
My kids love "Crockpot Chicken" - I just throw in some chopped up onions and sliced peeled potatoes and a whole chicken, Season with salt, pepper and Hungarian sweet paprika and then cook using the 'auto' feature, which starts off on high then switches to low. It comes out so yummy. I'm looking forward to trying out this version, too.
judy November 8, 2017
good points. Chickens to day ( at least the ones that I get) have a lot of moisture/ wetness in them from processing. Even the organic ones. Fo me 8 cups would be far too much water. The chicken seems to release at least 1-1 1/2 cups of water as they cook. I am trying to pin his down. Anyway, I would put a bare Cup or so of water in the pot and then set to slow cook. If I am not b main soup, I save this for the next time I need chicken stock. I have been doing this for several years, and I now have my own house-made stock available whenever I need it. It freezes beautifully, and the schmaltz on the top I keep for use to sautéed whatever. I learned that last trick from Amanda Freitag on Food Network!
karla_cole April 27, 2015
oldkitcheninflatbush January 9, 2018
The shitake mushroom.
Meghan Z. February 2, 2015
Seriously amazing. Thank you!
lora789 January 29, 2015
I like baked chicken more than boiled one :-) Chicken with potatoes, baked in yogurt with garlic and herbs
ojailyn January 24, 2015
Delicious but a little bland for me. I did add cilantro afterwards (my husband is allergic to cilantro so I had to use parsley) and this definitely kicks up flavor. Maybe next time I'll add Lemongrass... Definitely there will be a next time!
Suzanne R. January 24, 2015
Wrapping in cheese cloth's a great idea; alternatively, if you're concerned about bones, strain juices through a fine mesh sieve.
terri C. January 21, 2015
Delicious. We used Sichuan peppercorns to give it a truly Chinese taste. Chicken came out so good. Plan to substitute soy sauce for the salt next time!
Temple January 18, 2015
Made this today for dinner and was very pleased. Lovely clean tasting soup. I think I should have taken out the chicken and carved earlier and my breast meet ended up quite dry because I left it in on low much longer than the instructions. I didn't find anything to skim off the top. I used low temperature on the crock pot. I will certainly be making this again.
ojailyn January 14, 2015
A lot of my friends and husband are allergic to cilantro...I usually substitute basil or Italian parsley...any other suggestions?
CanadaDan January 14, 2015
can anyone comment about the fat? when i make chicken soup/stock i skim the fat several times so it doesn't come off greasy, but this recipe doesn't say anything about that...
Natalie B. January 5, 2015
So easy and so tasty! I added lemongrass.
Jasmine R. December 30, 2014
Would it be better to use white pepper (instead of white peppercorns) or to use black peppercorns? If so, how much ground pepper would equal one teaspoon of peppercorns?
melissa January 5, 2015
I have the same question!
Benjie December 28, 2014
I do like this recipe but for my taste, would use less salt and maybe add a stalk of lemongrass. The broth is heavenly, but salty for me.