A twist (literally) on the classic flavors of a roasted chicken, try using lemons, fresh thyme (although dry will work in a pinch), and garlic to change up your game.
One of the classic greats for the dinner table is a tried-and-true roasted chicken. It smells amazing and is not only versatile but comforting, healthy and satisfying. The sticking points for some: it takes time to roast it perfectly, and not everyone knows how to get it from the fridge to the table with a great roasted flavor (and without drying the meat). Enter: the slow cooker method.
This recipe starts with the chicken in the slow cooker and then finishes it in the oven to give it that golden brown gorgeous skin that adds visual appeal as well as the caramelized goodness you want on your plate. The slow cooker gives you the freedom to go run errands or meet a friend for happy hour (do it!), and ensures you’ll have the melt-in-your-mouth texture and flavor you want from a roasted chicken.
The seasoning of lemon, thyme, and garlic take you off the beaten path for a flavor that works even in the warmer months. Now…on to the recipe!
Slow Cooker Lemon & Thyme Roasted Chicken
- 3-4 pound whole chicken
- 2-3 lemons, 1 cut into wedges or slices, and 1-2 cut in half
- 5 cloves of garlic, 2 sliced thin, three chopped fine
- 12 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- Black pepper to taste
- Rinse chicken, remove giblets from inner cavity and discard (unless you intend to use them for something). Pat dry with paper towels.
- Rub olive oil over the outside of the chicken.
- Sprinkle salt and pepper over the outside of the chicken, and into the inner cavity as well.
- Stuff the inner cavity with the lemon halves, the sliced garlic, and half of the sprigs of thyme. Tie the legs (see photo below) to keep the contents in place.
- Place a rack (see photo/link) or several loosely wadded balls of tin foil into the bottom of your slow cooker. This keeps the chicken from sitting on the bottom.
- Set the chicken in the slow cooker.
- Squeeze half of your lemon wedges over the chicken, and place the rest on top. You can get carried away like me and make this artistically appealing, but you don’t need to do so.
- Add the minced garlic and remaining thyme sprigs on top.
- Cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 4 hours.
- Preheat oven to 425F.
- Move chicken to a roasting pan, cover with foil, and allow your chicken to rest for 15-20 minutes. This allows the chicken to re-absorb juices. If you wish to make gravy with your drippings, be sure to save them at this stage, and use them as you would any gravy.
- Remove the foil. Optional: drizzle additional olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper before placing in the oven. Place in oven, watching at about 10-15 minutes (most importantly, watch for the lovely color to emerge) for the browning of the skin. Once your skin looks perfect (see photos), remove, cover again with foil, and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes before carving and serving.
Note that in the photos you can see that I added my chicken to a pan of potatoes and/or asparagus that were already started in my oven. This is a great way to get a second and/or third course done while you make your chicken. Check out my simple method here for roasting potatoes.
Serving suggestion: the lemon flavor in this recipe goes nicely with simple steamed asparagus.
Be sure to save your drippings, bones and skin and remaining carcass to make stock. This lemony flavor will yield a stock that would be great for gravy, chicken soup, and would be great for cooking flavorful grains such as quinoa, farro, or wild rice.