Slow Cooker Chicken Breast

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This easy slow cooker chicken breast recipe yields tender, juicy pieces with minimal effort! Season the meat, then gently steam it in the covered pot. The savory juices make for a delicious gravy to drizzle on top.

Love the Slow Cooker? Then try my recipes for whole chicken and chicken thighs.

slow cooker chicken breast on a white plate
Table of Contents
  1. Chicken selection
  2. Flavorful spices
  3. Add fresh and dried herbs
  4. Prepare the chicken
  5. Add liquid to the pot
  6. Cooking time
  7. Checking for doneness
  8. To make a gravy 
  9. Ways to use leftovers
  10. Serve this with
  11. FAQ
  12. Slow Cooker Chicken Breast Recipe

I’m a big fan of using my Crock-Pot for cooking a healthy family dinner. When I’m not sauteing chicken on the stovetop, I love that I can just add the lean white meat to the pot, cover, and let the equipment do the work. The moist-heat cooking environment is similar to the French en cocotte method. The results are delectable- aromatic herb-infused bites in a flavorful juice.

This recipe is simple and easy, especially for those busy weeknights. To start, open up your spice drawer and grab some bold flavors. After steaming for a few hours, you’ll have flavorful drippings to pour on top or even make a sauce if you’d like. Pair this meal with creamy mashed potatoes and your favorite greens for the ultimate comfort food. It’s also a great meal prep or make-ahead option.

ingredients to make a chicken dinner

Chicken selection

I prefer to use boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Look for pieces about 7 to 9 ounces in size. Any larger and they will require a longer cook time. Cut them in half lengthwise for those over a pound to yield four total pieces.

You can use bone-in split chicken breasts with the ribs still attached for more flavor. However, you’ll need to factor in about an additional hour since the bones act as an insulator, requiring more time to cook the meat thoroughly.

Recipe Resources

Flavorful spices

We all know that chicken can taste a bit bland on its own because it has very little fat. The seasoning mix can be kept simple with just salt and pepper. However, I like to add the earthy flavor of alliums like garlic and onions. When dried, their concentrated flavors are enhanced while the raw taste has been mellowed out. Just a little bit adds a lot of depth to the dish.

For a pop of color, I add some deep red-hued spices. There are different types of paprika, from a hint of sweetness to smoky and even spicy. Chef’s choice! If you like a citrusy flavor, this method also works well with my chicken marinade recipe. 

Add fresh and dried herbs

Add Italian seasonings with herbs like oregano, thyme, basil, and marjoram for herbaceous notes. You can also switch it up using herbs de provence with a bit of lavender that changes the taste profile, depending on what you plan to serve on the side. I have fresh herbs in my garden, so I add a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme to infuse its hearty aroma into the steam. It smells incredible!

Prepare the chicken

Dry the chicken with paper towels to soak up any excess liquid. This process makes it easier for the seasoning paste to stick to the surface. I mix the dried spices with extra-virgin olive oil. The fat helps dissolve the fat-soluble compounds in the seasonings, blooming them and providing more robust flavors. 

The oil also provides a protective barrier around the meat, so it doesn’t dry out inside the slow cooker during the long cooking time. Just brush it on both sides of the breast and then add it into the vessel.

chicken, rosemary, and thyme inside a crock-pot

Add liquid to the pot

I add a small amount of chicken stock or broth to the bottom of the slow cooker—just 1/4-cup. The flavorful cooking liquid helps generate more steam and keep the meat moist. You don’t want the pieces wholly submerged, or they will poach and lose their surface seasonings. 

I use unsalted stock because we already salted the meat, and I like to control the sodium level. Now you can add the chicken breasts on top, arranging them so they don’t overlap or they won’t evenly cook.

Cooking time

I recommend using the low setting for even cooking and moist, juicy pieces. You’ll be surprised how quickly it cooks. It will take between 1 to 2 ½ hours, depending on the weight and thickness of each breast.

The high setting can cause the meat to dry out unless submerged in a liquid. I prefer to use this setting for chicken noodle soup since you need consistent heat to simmer the liquid and dark meat gets more tender over time.

chicken breasts inside a slow cooker

Checking for doneness

How can you tell when the chicken is ready? The meat will be opaque throughout with pink-to-clear juices. Use an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the breast. It should register between 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC). Start with checking at the low end of the recommended cooking range when the surface no longer looks raw. 

Avoid opening the pot until that time. It takes a while to get back up to temperature since you lose most of the trapped steam. Check every 30 minutes until it’s fully cooked.

To make a gravy 

Transfer the drippings and juices to a measuring cup. I find that there is about ⅔ cups leftover in the pot. Add more chicken stock or broth to reach 1 cup (or desired amount). Use my gravy guide to make the sauce on the stovetop, creating a roux with equal parts of butter and flour for thickening. I like to strain it for a smooth consistency. Get ready to drizzle.

whisking gravy in a pan

Ways to use leftovers

Serve this with

chicken and vegetables on a white plate

FAQ

Do you need to add liquid to the pot when cooking chicken breasts?

No, it’s not required. The poultry muscle contains around 75% moisture. As the proteins contract and release the juices as they cook, that liquid will help steam and cook the chicken. A small amount can help the meat stay moist, and you can use the residual juices to make gravy. Add 1/4 cup of liquid per pound of chicken, but it will take slightly longer to cook since the liquid needs to heat up before cooking the meat.

Can I use frozen chicken breasts?

It’s best to defrost the chicken before cooking it in the slow cooker. It takes a long time for a slow cooker to heat up then melt the ice in the meat. This can pose food safety risks if the meat is held for several hours between the temperature danger zone of 40 to 140ºF (40 to 60ºC), before thoroughly cooking to 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC). Bacteria like salmonella can multiply rapidly and can cause food-borne illnesses.

close up of sliced chicken breasts with gravy on top

What’s the difference between low and high settings?

The slow cooker is a versatile cooking vessel. Whether you are using the low or high setting, the cooking temperature range is between 175°F to 215°F (79 to 102ºC). The main difference is that the low setting cycles on and off more frequently, so it takes longer. Typically you will need about double the time when using the low setting. However, for chicken breasts, I recommend cooking on low so that the lean protein doesn’t cook too quickly and dry out on the edges.

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Slow Cooker Chicken Breast

Make a slow cooker chicken breast with minimal effort! Plus, this family-friendly recipe has a delicious gravy to drizzle on top.
Pin Print Review
4.6 from 10 votes
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine American

Ingredients

Chicken

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, about 2 pounds
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or avocado oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoons paprika, sweet or smoked
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoons onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup unsalted chicken stock, or broth
  • 4 sprigs thyme, optional
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, optional

Gravy

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • chicken stock, or broth, as needed

Instructions 

Chicken

  • Thoroughly dry each chicken breast with a paper towel.
  • In a small bowl combine olive oil, salt, Italian seasoning, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper.
  • Brush the seasoning paste on both sides of each chicken breast.
  • Add chicken stock to a 6-quart slow cooker. Add chicken in a single layer in the pot. Place rosemary and thyme on top, if using.
  • Cover and cook on the “Low” setting for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC). An 8-0unce breast takes about 2 hours.
  • Transfer chicken to a plate or carving board. Loosely cover to keep warm while making the gravy.

Gravy

  • Transfer chicken drippings in the slow cooker to a measuring cup. Add additional chicken stock until the volume reaches 1 cup.
  • Heat a medium-sized pan over medium heat. Melt the butter and then whisk in flour. Whisk and cook until a pale yellow roux forms, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Gradually whisk in the drippings. Turn the heat up to medium-high, continuously stir until thickened, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add more chicken stock if desired to thin the sauce. It will thicken more as it cools—season gravy with salt and pepper. If desired, strain the gravy for a smoother sauce.

Notes

  • Storing: Cool completely and store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 7 days. Freeze for up to 9 months.
  • Make it Gluten-Free: Substitute cassava flour or cornstarch for all-purpose flour. If using cornstarch, dissolve 1 tablespoon in 2 tablespoons of water. Add to chicken stock and then stir and cook on the saute function until the liquid thickens.

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Nutrition Facts
Slow Cooker Chicken Breast
Amount Per Serving
Calories 294 Calories from Fat 171
% Daily Value*
Fat 19g29%
Saturated Fat 6g30%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 10g
Cholesterol 87mg29%
Sodium 1300mg54%
Potassium 466mg13%
Carbohydrates 4g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 25g50%
Vitamin A 391IU8%
Vitamin C 3mg4%
Calcium 25mg3%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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8 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Mona Hanel says

    Do I need to use boneless chicken breast, I have bone-in chicken breast, which I like better than the boneless ones

  2. George Spatz says

    How does the timing change if I want to use thighs? Any different herbs? Thanks for your help to me over time

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I would keep the time the same if using boneless chicken thighs, checking after 1 1/2 hours. If using bone-in chicken thighs, I like to brown the skin first in a saute pan, then I would cook it for 5 to 6 hours on low setting, 3 to 4 hours on high. Keep the herbs the same. Let me know how it goes!

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