Why you’ll love this recipe:
Here’s one of my favorite slow cooker chicken recipes!!
These crock pot chicken thighs are fall-off-the-bone tender and BIG on flavor! It’s amazing what a slow cooker can do with chicken. And while chicken breasts work fine, dark meat chicken thighs are juicier and more affordable.
- Simple – This slow cooker chicken thigh recipe is quick and easy. Just season and pan-sear the chicken, then add everything to your slow cooker. That’s it!
- Tender – The chicken practically falls apart when it’s done. It’s juicy and moist, NOT dry or chewy!
- Flavorful – Perfectly seasoned chicken in a flavorful lemon garlic broth! The sauce is perfect for spooning over rice or mashed potatoes.
Chicken thighs in the crockpot are my go-to protein for busy weeknights. Whenever chicken thighs go on sale, I buy a double pack and make extra for lunch the next day. Transform them into a complete meal with a microwaveable pouch of white or brown rice!
Key Ingredient Notes:
- Chicken thighs – I recommend skin-on bone-in chicken thighs for this recipe! Seasoning the skin with a dry rub amps up the flavor and bone-in keeps the meat from drying out so it stays extra juicy. If you prefer boneless, that’s fine too! Just sear the chicken until it’s golden brown and caramelized.
- Spices – I use a mixture of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, rosemary, black pepper, and salt. Feel free to use whatever you have on hand or a spice mix. You can use fresh rosemary if you prefer. Add 2-3 sprigs to the slow cooker when you add the chicken broth.
- Olive oil – I used olive oil for added flavor, but any neutral oil works great! I don’t recommend butter since it has a lower smoke point and is liable to burn before the skin is caramelized.
- Chicken broth – Vegetable broth works in a pinch too.
- Butter – Don’t use oil here! You want that buttery flavor to infuse into the broth and meat.
- Lemon – For a bright lemony punch. Always use fresh lemon juice whenever possible.
- Garlic – For added depth of flavor. You can mince your own or buy a jar of minced garlic. The jar lasts for three months in the refrigerator.
How to make this slow cooker chicken recipe:
- Season the chicken: Pat dry the chicken thighs with a paper towel. Evenly coat the chicken thighs with the spice mixture.
- Pan-sear the chicken thighs: Heat the olive oil over medium in a nonstick skillet. Place the skin-on chicken thighs skin side down into the skillet. Cook until the skin is crispy, about 5 to 8 minutes.
- Transfer chicken to the slow cooker skin side up. Pour in the chicken broth. Add the butter, lemon juice, and minced garlic.
- Slow cook on high for 3 hours or low for 5 hours or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Serve with fresh parsley and the buttery juices from the slow cooker!
- Dry the chicken before you sear it. Moisture creates steam, and steam prevents good caramelization! We want a deep golden brown and crispy caramelized skin.
- Don’t skip the pan-sear! Technically the chicken thighs still cook without this step, but it adds ample flavor to the dish and is totally worth the extra 5 minutes.
- Let the skillet get hot before you add the chicken. A warm pan won’t sear the chicken effectively. Medium heat is the right temperature, but the skillet should be hot and up to temp!
- For extra crispy skin, place them under the broiler once they’re finished. Lay the chicken thighs on a small sheet pan and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, until the skin crisps up. Don’t walk away from the oven! Watch the chicken to make sure it doesn’t burn.
Ways to serve crockpot chicken thighs:
- Rice – Always a solid choice! Rice is the perfect vehicle to sop up the flavorful broth. Try garlic butter rice, cilantro lime rice, or brown rice. For a quick option, heat a steam-in-bag rice pouch in the microwave.
- Mashed potatoes – Creamy, cozy, and delicious! Any style potato makes a great side. Try Greek lemon roasted potatoes, baked potatoes, or French fries.
- Veggies – Serve atop roasted or steamed veggies! Check out my guide on how to roast any vegetable in the oven.
- Store leftover crockpot chicken thighs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Reheat in the microwave until hot throughout. Or transfer the chicken thighs to a baking dish, add a splash of chicken broth, and heat in a 350 degree oven.
Yes, a slow cooker is designed to cook raw chicken. The direct heat and lengthy cooking time kill dangerous bacteria from raw chicken. Just make sure you cook it to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it is not recommended to place frozen chicken in the slow cooker. The chicken hangs out too long in the danger zone or temperature that allows bacteria to grow.
Chicken thighs are very forgiving, so either way the chicken ends up tender and juicy! If possible, I find it better to cook chicken in the slow cooker on low heat. It’s less likely to dry out.
While technically, the chicken will still cook if you don’t pan-sear it, it won’t be as flavorful! Pan searing the chicken skin crisps it up and adds tons of flavor to the finished dish. It takes less than 10 minutes to do it and is worth it in the end.
Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs
- slow cooker
- non-stick skillet
- 2 pounds bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder Note 1
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup chicken broth Note 2
- ¼ cup butter
- juice from 1 lemon
- 3 cloves garlic minced
Pan-sear the chicken:
- In a small bowl, mix together the granulated garlic, onion powder, paprika, dried rosemary, pepper and salt. Pat dry the chicken thighs using a paper towel and season the chicken thighs using the spice mixture. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a non-stick skillet. Add the chicken thighs, skin side down, and cook until the skin is crispy, 5-8 minutes.
Slow cook the chicken:
- Transfer the chicken thighs to the slow cooker skin side up, then pour in the chicken broth. Add the butter, lemon juice and minced garlic.
- Cook on HIGH for 3 hours or LOW for 5 hours or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165℉.
- Serve with lemon slices and garnish with fresh parsley. Serve with the juices from the slow cooker. Enjoy!
– Store leftover crockpot chicken thighs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
– Reheat in the microwave until hot throughout. Or transfer the chicken thighs to a baking dish, add a splash of chicken broth, and heat in a 350 degree oven.
* Disclaimer: All nutrition information are estimates only. Read full nutrition disclosure.
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