As far as protein options go, chicken breast is considerably lower in fat and calories than other types of meat. If you opt for boneless, skinless chicken breasts, you're getting even less. When you need a tasty dinner for busy weeknights, you can cook chicken breasts in the Crock Pot, or any type of slow cooker — just set it in the morning and forget it.
Cooking Chicken Breasts
There are several ways to buy chicken breast. Depending on your preferences and dietary needs, you can choose from bone-in or boneless chicken breast and skin-on or skinless chicken breast.
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Compared to chicken breast with the skin on, one disadvantage of skinless chicken breast is the meat is prone to dry out during cooking. Typically, the fat from the chicken skin helps to keep the meat moist, and the bone helps evenly distribute the heat so the meat cooks evenly.
Without these two parts, you'll need to take extra measures in order to avoid issues, and you can do it by cooking chicken breast in a slow cooker. The long, slow cooking process will concentrate the flavors of the chicken and added seasonings without drying out the meat, and you won't have to add any fat.
How to Cook Chicken Breast in the Slow Cooker
Below is the basic method for cooking chicken breast in a crock pot, or slow cooker, but it can be easily adapted to include other ingredients.
- Prep Time: 5 to 10 minutes
- Cooking Time: 3 to 4 hours on high or 7 to 8 hours on low
- Total Time: 3 to 8 hours
Things You'll Need
2 to 3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast
Seasonings (salt, pepper, thyme, sage, poultry seasoning or a marinade)
Liquid (vegetable or chicken broth, white wine, lemon juice or water)
1. Prep the Chicken
First, wash your hands with hot, soapy water and make sure all cooking and prepping surfaces are clean, too. Arrange the chicken breast in the bottom of your slow cooker. Try to keep the meat in one layer without overlapping.
Sprinkle seasonings, such as garlic or onion powder, fresh or dried herbs and a little salt and pepper, over the chicken breast. Sodium-free seasoning blends are a good choice if you are on a low-salt or salt-free diet.
2. Add Your Liquid
Add just a dash of liquid — about a tablespoon or two — to the slow cooker. The small amount of liquid will help the chicken remain moist as it steams in the cooker.
For a neutral taste, use low-fat chicken or vegetable broth. For a more distinct flavor, try white wine or lemon juice. If you're looking for no taste added whatsoever, perhaps if you're cooking for picky children, just add cold water.
Turn the chicken breast over with tongs so they get a thin coating of liquid. This will also prevent the chicken from sticking to the bottom of the cooker.
3. Cook Chicken Breast in Slow Cooker
Place the lid on the slow cooker. How long to cook chicken breast in the slow cooker depends on the temperature. Turn it on and adjust it to cook on high for three to four hours or low for seven to eight hours — or the closest standard setting on your particular model.
In general, the longer the cooking time in your slow cooker, the more flavor in the dish. "It's called a slow cooker for a reason!," as noted by the makers of the Crock Pot.
Remove the lid about halfway through the cooking time and turn the chicken breast over with tongs. Replace the lid and continue to cook the chicken. You'll know the chicken is done when you insert a meat thermometer into the middle of the breast and it reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit, per the National Chicken Council.
4. Serve and Enjoy
When your timer dings, switch the slow cooker to the "warm" setting if it has one, and leave the lid in place until you are ready to serve the chicken.
Otherwise, transfer the chicken to a cutting board with tongs. Slice into one of the chicken breast with a knife and examine the middle. It should be steaming and white all the way through.
Tips for Cooking Chicken in a Slow Cooker
When you're making your slow cooker chicken breast, follow these tricks and tips for best results:
- Don't rinse your chicken breast off before cooking them. Rinsing them in your sink does not remove bacteria and can actually help spread it, according to the National Chicken Council.
- Cut down the cooking time by cutting the chicken breast into pieces before adding it to the slow cooker.
- Other seasoning options include honey, teriyaki or soy sauce; or any number of spices you might already have in your pantry. Experiment to find a blend or a marinate you like best.
- After your chicken breast are in the slow cooker, make sure you wash any surface that the raw chicken came in contact with. This includes (but isn't limited to) cutting boards, knives and your kitchen countertop. Use hot, soapy water.
- Slice, dice or shred your slow cooker chicken breast, or serve them whole. Place leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator within 2 hours of cooking. Make sure your fridge is set to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below and only keep chicken for two to three days.
- Keep plain, cooked chicken breast in your refrigerator for an easy, high-protein sandwich filling or a topping for salads. Add it to vegetable soups or tomato-based pasta sauce.
Healthy Chicken Recipes to Make in a Slow Cooker
You can get creative with how you use your poultry. Get inspired with these slow-cooker recipes you can make with chicken breast:
- Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Chicken
- Tzatziki Rotisserie Chicken Pita
- Rotisserie Chicken Lasagna (Family-Style)
- Almost Cobb Salad Bowl
- Slow Cooker Jambalaya
- Pesto Chicken Farro Risotto
- Arroz Con Pollo
- Asian Chicken Stir-Fry Salad
- Oaxacan BBQ Chicken & Poblano Soft Tacos
- Instant Thai Peanut Chicken and Soba Noodle Soup