Slow cooker chicken thighs is an effortless meal solution resulting in outrageously tender chicken generously dusted with a simple chicken seasoning rub.
Once upon a time, when I was a kid I drove our lawn mower into the side of my parent's garage, significantly damaging it. The only thing that spared me from the full extent of my dad's wrath was a tree falling on our roof before my dad got home. Fast forward twenty years and my son drives an ATV into the side of my pole shed, punching a good hole in it. What happens next? Well, a tree lands on the roof of the shed! I wish history didn't repeat itself quite so often.
So that's pretty much what is on the agenda today. As soon as I am done writing about these slow cooker chicken thighs I have to meet with the insurance adjuster to assess the damage.
But, you know what? It is hard to beat the slow cooker for crazy days like today, and it is hard to beat chicken thighs for an inexpensive hassle-free meal. Let's take a look at one of my favorite ways to make them!
Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs (Bone-In)
I actually prefer to cook chicken thighs in the slow cooker instead of the oven. Why? As the bone-in chicken thighs cook the moisture renders out of the skin, pooling in the bottom of the slow cooker where the chicken is sitting, essentially cooking the chicken in its own flavorful juices. Not only does this make the chicken taste better, the moisture makes the meat more tender.
How Long to Cook Chicken Thighs in Slow Cooker
I find 4 hours on low to be ideal when cooking chicken thighs in the slow cooker. This gives the skin plenty of time to render out the fat, resulting in firmer/dryer skin when served. You can cook the chicken longer if needed, nothing bad will happen. The meat will get more tender the longer it cooks until it finally falls off the bone.
How Do I Cook Bone-In Chicken Thighs
You have a lot of flavoring options for cooking your chicken thighs. When using a slow cooker, I personally recommend sticking to a dry rub, or basic chicken seasoning. By not adding moisture to the slow cooker (like a BBQ sauce for example), you will allow the skin to dry out as it cooks, resulting in a more crisp skin. Adding a sauce will certainly flavor the meat, but the skin will remain soggy.
How to Cook Chicken Thighs in the Slow Cooker
I find six chicken thighs fit perfectly in the bottom of my 6-Quart Crock Pot, however, you can still easily make this recipe if you have a different sized slow cooker. The chicken thighs need to be laid in a single layer at the bottom of the slow cooker, so you are welcome to use as many thighs as will fit in yours.
Will Skin Get Crispy in the Slow Cooker?
The slow cooker is NOT an ideal cooking vessel if you are looking for crispy chicken skin. Baking or broiling your chicken thighs will result in much crispier skin. That being said, you do not need to settle for soggy, rubbery skin just because you are using a slow cooker. As the chicken thighs cook they will release moisture, the skin sitting in the pooling liquid will never get remotely crisp. However, the portion of the skin resting above the liquid will render fat and will firm up. I still would not describe it as "crispy", however, it is crisp enough that you can bite through it.
To summarize: If you are looking for maximum crispy chicken skin, use your oven.
Chicken Thighs Recipes
If you are looking for other recipe ideas for chicken thighs, check out these crispy Soy-Brined Chicken Thighs, my Indian Butter Chicken, or my Filipino Chicken Adobo!
Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs (Bone In)
- 6 Chicken Thighs (bone in)
- Salt and needed
- ½ teaspoon Paprika
- ¼ teaspoon Garlic Powder
- ¼ teaspoon Onion Powder
- ¼ teaspoon Oregano
- 1 dash Cayenne Pepper
- Lightly sprinkle chicken with salt on each side.
- In a small dish combine chicken seasoning and blend together. Sprinkle liberally over chicken thighs.
- Arrange chicken thighs in a single layer at the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker, skin side up. Turn on low and let cook for 4 hours. Chicken will surpass 165 degrees when measured with a meat thermometer.
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Karen Sue Clarke
I have found that you can also season with salt, pepper, greek seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder on each side and brown with some butter before putting in the crock-pot and it will render fat that you can pour over entire crockpot and then add some lipton onion soup mix and comes out crispy and tenderly devine.....
Do you think it would work to use Shake and Bake as the seasoning?
Fox Valley Foodie
The shake and bake breadcrumbs would get really soggy in the slow cooker, so I don't recommend it.
Have already left two happy comments in the past lol but just saw the question about using skinless and boneless thighs…I have used boneless (only) but wouldn’t using skinless put me in danger of having everything stick? My slow cooker is NOT a nonstick but was assuming that it’s the skin which makes everything so moist at the end. ? Many thanks 🙂
NYCGIRL, Have you tried crock pot liners? I found them on AMAZON and they are inexpensive, I believe I paid approximately $3.50 for 6 liners. Very convenient and the cost is nothing compared to scrubbing your pot! Hope this helps.
Thank you Janice 🙂
I use non cook spray. I spray the whole inside of my Crock-Pot and never had a hard cleanup.. Dawn Platinum, and hot water let my Crock-Pot sit for half hour and very little scrubbing Bam as Emeril would say it's clean
I did use the Crock-Pot bags but had a problem and won't but them anymore..
Alot of cooks use them in their crockpot
They are just not for me..
Happy Cooking Everyone
Can you use boneless, skinless chicken thighs in this recipe?
Fox Valley Foodie
Yes you can.
so when do you add the corn on cob
I’ve made this before and it was delicious! I’m hosting a dinner soon and would love to make this! Is it fine for me to double the ingredients and make 12 total? If so, would I need to increase cooking time?
Did you use Chicken broth for your a little flavor
Wow. This is the best slow cooker chicken thigh recipe I have found. Turned out perfect and as you said it was done in 4 hours.
Only thing I did differently was placed a piece of bacon on top of thighs.
YUMmmm... Crispy Bacon!
It turned out great with 6 thighs. I topped each piece, after seasoning, with apricot jam. It was a great sticky, juicy meal.
I tried this crockpot chicken thigh recipe today. Was a bit skeptical of not adding any liquid, but followed your recipe. The only thing I did changed was the amount of chicken seasoning. I doubled the ingredients (except the oregano) and replaced the cayenne pepper with black pepper. I also sprinkled both sides of the thighs with the mixture. Cooked on low for 4 hours and they came out perfectly moist and very tender. I used 4 very large chicken thighs which fit perfectly in one layer. Believe it or not, my husband and I like these better than when I baked them in the oven.
Never had in the past before. I use four (4) thighs for just the two of us and they come out just like he says. I also like the seasoning combo he uses. Outcome of cooking in this method is spot on.
Can i use frozen chicken?
My go-to chicken recipe every time, whether we enjoy them as is, crisped up in a super-hot oven with roasted potatoes, or taking off the meat to use later in casseroles. Even ultra-picky little one loves it. Thank you thank you!! And thank you for making it so easy for this tired mom 🙂
Hi can you do this with eggs? No chicken. Just eggs
But first you must gently and carefully sit on the eggs for about a week until they hatch. Then you have to feed them and sing to them for another 6 months until they fatten up. Then chop off their heads, chase them until they tire, lasso, and bag them. Pluck them, reserving the feathers for future craft projects, then proceed with the recipe as directed.
I will be using this recipe tonight. Should I put them under the broiler for a few minutes to get crispier chicken skins after the thighs have been slow-cooked?
I put the crockpot cooked chicken thighs topped with grated parmigiana cheese under the broiler until the skin is crispy
This is the first time I tried slow cooker/crock pot chicken thighs w/o any added liquids or sauces. I did pan sear the seasoned (Cajun blend dry rub) thighs then right into the crockpot. Cooked on low for ~ 3-4 hrs for three medium sized thighs. Poured off the natural juices and made some gravy. Super tender, flavorful. Great way to make slow cooker chicken thighs for sure. Thanks.
Family loved this very quick and easy dish! I used a chicken seasoning with good flavors we like and trimmed excess fat/skin. Super moist and served over egg noodles. Definitely will make again, thanks for this recipe!
A standby for us. THANK you so much!!! 🙂
I love chicken in a slow cooker like this. I have another recipe that is my go to, but I wanted something different and this was just what I was looking for 🙂
My first time ever using a slow cooker, so I purposely bought bone-in chx thighs, and googled: SLOW COOKER CHICKEN THIGHS (BONE-IN) and I gravitated to this recipe. Voila! Easy, no fuss and tasty, now I'll be trying the Indian Butter and then the Filipino styles as I already have all the ingredients.
I signed up for your mailing list; looking forward! You and my slow cooker will become a welcomed habit in my home. My mouth and belly thank you! 🙂
I made this almost exactly as the recipe appears. My only substitute was using black pepper instead of cayenne. We did not eat the skin, as it was overly soft. However the rest of the chicken was wonderfully flavorful and very juicy. I paired it with lime cilantro rice and summer corn.
Will definitely be making this again.
This sounds wonderful. Love dark meat, white is too dry for my palate. A year round recipe in The slow cooker. I avoid the oven in summertime. Thanks so very much!!! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️