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Slow-Cooker Whole Chicken with Pesto and Vegetables

By Stephanie Wise
Created January 10, 2017
Here’s a new recipe for your dinner rotation: A whole chicken roasted to perfection in the slow cooker.

This recipe for pesto-rubbed chicken is one of my favorite whole chicken slow-cooker meals. The oil from the pesto helps give the chicken its tenderness, and the basil in the pesto gives it a fresh flavor. I cook it with vegetables like potatoes, onions, tomatoes, zucchini and salty Kalamata olives, but feel free to play around with whatever ingredients you like or have on hand. 

To start, cut up the onion and peeled potatoes and place them in the bottom of a 6-quart oval slow cooker (this size and shape is most ideal for cooking a whole chicken). Then, prepare the chicken (it should be between 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 pounds) by rinsing the outside, then patting it dry. Rub the whole chicken, including the cavity, with prepared pesto.


Place the whole chicken, untied, on top of the vegetables in the slow cooker. Leave at least a 1-inch border around the chicken in the slow cooker so it cooks evenly. Cover and cook on low for at least six hours, being careful to not remove the lid before six hours has passed.


Once the chicken has cooked for at least six hours, add the diced tomatoes, chopped zucchini and olives to the slow cooker. Cover and cook for at least another 30 minutes to one hour or until the zucchini is tender and the chicken is fully cooked. To know whether the chicken is cooked through, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the inside thigh muscle, avoiding the bone—it should read at least 165° F.


To give the chicken a crispy, brown crust, carefully transfer the whole chicken to a broiler-safe roasting pan. Place the chicken in the pan under the broiler for about five minutes until the skin is golden brown and crisp.


Let the chicken rest for five to 10 minutes, then carve it up and serve with the vegetables on the side. Have you tried making a chicken in the slow cooker? If so, tell us how it turned out!