Not sure if you can put raw chicken in a slow cooker? The short answer is, yes! Let me help break down the rules for cooking with raw chicken in the slow cooker.

Since the crockpot is such a great, hands-off way of cooking, slow cooker recipes will help simplify your nights and when done properly, it is an easy way to get juicy, tender chicken every single time. 

collage of crockpot chicken photos reading "can you put raw chicken in the slow cooker".

Some recipes call for pre-cooked chicken, like my buffalo chicken dip or king ranch chicken, but largely, recipes call for adding raw chicken to the slow cooker with other ingredients.

Over the years, I’ve had several people ask me if it is safe to add raw chicken to the slow cooker so I put together some tips and tricks to get the best results.

From juicy slow cooker chicken breast to the perfect chicken thighs every single time. You will find that using the low-setting helps to cook the chicken slowly for that tender chicken we’re all after.

Can You Put Raw Chicken In The Slow Cooker 

Yes, raw chicken can safely be cooked in the slow cooker.

A slow cooker is designed to cook raw meats. The long (slow) cooking time combined with the heat from the pot creates steam that safely cooks the meat.

Just place the chicken at the bottom of the slow cooker and then add the other ingredients on top of the chicken.

I like to aim for a single layer of chicken if possible, but if you need to, you can layer it.

Reasons I Love Slow Cooker Chicken Recipes 🐓

  • Most slow cooker recipes take just minutes of prep time. Get your dinner cooking with minimal effort! 
  • Come home to dinner being ready to dish up and devour! I have so many favorite recipes we keep on regular meal rotation. 
  • Perfect for those busy weeknights when you know your time is limited. Slow-cooking dinners have helped us stay away from ordering takeout on nights I am short on time. Just prep in the morning and go on your way. 
  • Most recipes call for simple ingredients you might already have on hand! From skinless chicken breast to root vegetables, fresh herbs, taco seasoning, etc. Delicious meal ideas that don’t use hard-to-find ingredients. 

What Types of Chicken Can Be Used In A Slow Cooker 

Chicken is so versatile and you can use all cuts in the crockpot including:  

overhead shot of raw chicken in a crockpot with green beans and potatoes.

Safety Tips For Working With Raw Chicken 

There are some safety tips I wanted to recommend when working with raw chicken. It is important to handle the chicken properly, to reduce the risk of getting sick from the raw meat. 

  • Make sure your fridge is set to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, to ensure the chicken stays cold enough. If it goes above 40 degrees it is considered in the danger zone where bacteria can grow. 
  • Make sure when you prep the chicken pieces that you are working on a clean surface. Whether this be your counter or a cutting board. 
  • Once you remove the chicken from the fridge make sure to prep and get it in the slow cooker right away, as you do not want chicken to sit at room temperature on the counter for much time. 
  • As much as you might want to, it is not recommended to wash chicken before you cook it. You run the risk of contaminating your kitchen when in actuality, cooking the chicken is the best way to remove pathogens.

⭐️ Pro Tip

If you are working with skin-on chicken thighs, breasts, etc. I do recommend searing the meat in a skillet first to create a nice golden crust on the skin. It really helps lock in flavor and moisture.

That said, slow cookers are known for convenience so if you don’t have time to sear the meat, it’ll be fine, but it is worth the extra step if you have a couple minutes.

overhead shot of raw chicken onions, carrots in a slow cooker.

How To Know Chicken Is Fully Cooked

I highly recommend using a meat thermometer that you can purchase at most mass retailers. This is the best way to ensure you have cooked chicken (and prevent overcooked chicken!)

The internal temperature needs to read 165°F for the chicken to be fully cooked.

⭐️ Pro Tip

Make sure when you are working with bone-in chicken you do not touch the bone with the meat thermometer.

The bone will read a higher internal temperature which can give you a false reading. Stick the thermometer in the thickest part of the meat, and ensure you do not touch a bone. 

As a good rule, you will cook chicken on LOW for 6-8 hours or HIGH for 4-6 hours.

Those slow cooker cook times tend to work for the proper cook time, but every slow cooker runs a bit differently so you’ll need to adjust for yours.

But, I will say chicken (and most other meats) do best when cooked on LOW.

I find that if you cook at high temperatures the chicken can become a bit tough or rubbery. The longer cooking time really helps to create that juicy chicken you want. 

Can You Overcook Chicken In A Slow Cooker

Like all cuts of meat, you can overcook the chicken. Make sure to follow the recipe recommendations and check the internal temperature of the meat after 3-4 hours as a guide.

If you overcook the chicken it will leave it dry, tough, and the flavor will not be as appealing. 

If you use less chicken than the recipe calls for you will find you don’t always need the longer periods of time when cooking. You might be able to have fully cooked chicken an hour earlier than it originally says in the recipe. 

Raw Chicken in the Slow Cooker Tips

Recipes Shown

overhead shot of raw chicken in a crockpot with green beans and potatoes.
Slow Cooker Chicken Potatoes & Green Beans
Chicken breasts, red skin potatoes, and green beans – an entire healthy dinner made right in the crock pot!
Get the recipe
Three ingredient Crock Pot Salsa Chicken is in my regular dinner rotation because it's so easy & so good! Flavorful and versatile, this slow cooker chicken can be made into burritos, taco bowls, nachos, whatever you feel like!
Crock Pot Salsa Chicken
Three ingredient Crock Pot Salsa Chicken is in my regular dinner rotation because it’s so easy & so good! Flavorful and versatile, this slow cooker chicken can be made into burritos, taco bowls, nachos, whatever you feel like!
Get the recipe
a ladle scooping butter chicken out of a crockpot.
Slow Cooker Butter Chicken
Slow Cooker Butter Chicken is a delicious meal that is rich and creamy without adding lots of butter! This healthy Indian-inspired dish is easy to make and perfect for a weeknight dinner in the crockpot. It’s a meal that everyone in your family will love. 
Get the recipe
overhead shot of a bowl of chicken gnocchi soup.
Slow Cooker Chicken Gnocchi Soup (Olive Garden Copycat)
This creamy Slow Cooker Chicken Gnocchi Soup is an Olive Garden copycat recipe. Filled with shredded chicken, potato gnocchi, and spinach, this soup is super simple to throw together in the crockpot!
Get the recipe
shredded bbq chicken on a spoon
Crock Pot BBQ Chicken
Crock Pot BBQ Chicken is an easy pulled chicken recipe made right in your slow cooker. There are only six ingredients in this quick and flavorful recipe which makes it perfect for a simple dinner or your next potluck.
Get the recipe

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