100 Days of Real Food Slow-Cooker Recipe

When our family decided to cut out all highly processed food back in 2010 there's one thing I learned fairly quickly: planning ahead is key. You don't want to be caught at dinnertime with hungry, cranky kids and no idea what you're going to feed them. So with weeknights now ruled by sports and other activities, it's more important than ever to map out an easy and realistic dinner plan.

That's exactly why I included a special section in my new cookbook dedicated to quick "Weeknight Meals." We are a busy family too – I totally get it. And some of the recipes in that section utilize one of the best tools I've found when it comes to quickly getting a wholesome dinner on the table: a slow cooker.

I use my slow cooker to make everything from whole chickens (see recipe below) to homemade broth (that cooks overnight while we're sleeping) to steak fajitas to hearty soups and even homemade refried beans. There's nothing better than getting all the prep work out of the way early in the morning (or even the night before) and coming home to the smell of a delicious dinner!

So today, I'd love to share a fan favorite ...The Best Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker! If you've never cooked a whole chicken before this is the perfect place to start. It's not only cost-effective, but super easy and so delicious.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 1 large whole chicken (about 4 pounds), giblets removed

Directions

  1. Combine all the spices in a small bowl and set aside. Place the onion in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. Rub the spice mixture all over the outside of the chicken. You can even put some of the spices inside the cavity and under the skin covering the breasts. Place the chicken breast-side down on top of the onions and cover the slow cooker. (There's no need to add any liquid.)
  3. Cook on high for about 4 hours or on low for 7 hours, or until the chicken is falling off the bone. Remove the chicken pieces from the slow cooker and serve.
  4. When dinner is over, don't forget to save the leftover bones and juices to make homemade stock overnight!

Makes 5-6 servings, depending on the size of the chicken.

Private chef Jenna Helwig demonstrates how to cut up a chicken.

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