Roasting a frozen chicken in a slow cooker

16 Dec

We all love a roast chicken. The smell as it’s cooking, the tasty skin and the juicy stuffing all come together to provide something truly amazing. However, the cost vs effort of picking up a roast chicken from a shop means we rarely roast one up at home! Which is a shame because there’s so many different ways to roast a chicken with different stuffings. Also when you cook you own to can select your chicken and make sure it’s really a free-range grass fed   organic chicken.

So this experiment was inspired by a colleague at work who told me how he’ll put a frozen chicken in his slow cooker in the morning and come home to nicely roasted chook! It sounded both simple and novel so I had to give it a shot. Admittedly I was a little dubious mainly because I thought the slow cookers needed liquid up around the element to work effectively….

The recipie was quite simple.

  1. Get one whole frozen chicken
  2. Put some aluminium foil or upside down tray at the botom of the slow cooker to let the juices run away
  3. Turn it on low for 8-10hrs or high for 4hrs (I chose the low option).

Below are the results over the 9hrs it was cooking for.

9hrs from frozen solid to nicely roasted.

9hrs from frozen solid to nicely roasted.

One concern was will the slow cooker be able to heat up the internal temperature of the chicken to a safe level. According to the US Food Safety site the min safe temp for a chicken is 165 F (75C). To track this I kept an eye on the air temp inside the slow cooker then the internal temp of the chicken after about 8 hours. After the first 3 hrs the chicken must have thawed because the air temp moved up from about 75C to 100C and stayed there. After 8 hrs the internal temp of the chicken reached 86c and therefore fine.

Checking the internal temp of the slow cooked roast chicken.

Checking the internal temp of the slow cooked roast chicken.

You can see from the above that the color really didn’t kick in till the last 2 hours or so. Up until that point the chicken thawed, sweated, started to crisp up around less meaty sections and then finally browned up.

The main downside to using a frozen chicken is that you can’t stuff it. I love my stuffing so I’ve got 2 choices – go without, or stuff it before freezing. The later though obviously introduces some contamination risk so you’d need to be careful.

Roast Chicken plated up.

Roast Chicken plated up.

All up the chicken was super easy to to roast up and tasted pretty good. Another technique for the slow cooker.

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8 Responses to “Roasting a frozen chicken in a slow cooker”

  1. ilanafish December 16, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    I love how you can see the chicken change shape and colour. Did it start to smell good at the same time as it turned brown? It would be interesting to record internal temperature each hour too. More slow cooker time lapse photos please!

    • lincdk December 16, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

      Ilanafish – it started to smell good around 3 hours in, way before it was browning and more around when it was starting to sweat.

      Any thoughts on what else to slow cook and timelapse?

  2. Mike December 16, 2012 at 10:14 pm #

    I too shared the concern about cooking from frozen but I guess there is no limit to the versatility to the slow cooker. If/when did you drop in the veggies and did you par-boil them first? Or did you just bung them in the oven with some lovely duck fat?

  3. Aliah December 20, 2012 at 11:16 am #

    OK – a couple questions. One: What if I’m not watching this all day like you did? What if I want to put it on before I go to work and have it ready by dinner time? Did you cook it with the top off the entire time, wrap the entire thing in foil first? I would think that after cooking 10 hours, the meat would fall off the bone? I’d like to try this – but I don’t want to chance it not being cooked all the way … (although I doubt after 10 hours even on low it would still be raw from frozen. And do you recommend starting from frozen?? Sorry for all the questions! I’m just really curious!

    • lincdk December 20, 2012 at 11:29 am #

      Hey Aliah –

      “What if I’m not watching this all day like you did?” – No worries. Slow cookers are good for set and forget. Of course make sure there’s nothing near by that could heat up and catch on fire.

      “What if I want to put it on before I go to work and have it ready by dinner time?” – As above – usual process for a slow cooker.

      “Did you cook it with the top off the entire time” – nope, only took the lid off to take photos. I think i sacrificed some browning as a result though.

      “wrap the entire thing in foil first?” – nope naked. I had a foil tray underneath to let the juices run off so the chook wasn’t laying in liquid.

      “I would think that after cooking 10 hours, the meat would fall off the bone?” – it was certainly pretty tender! But it didn’t fall apart until I took it out and started cutting it.

      “I’d like to try this – but I don’t want to chance it not being cooked all the way” that was my concern as well but the digital thermometer showed it was way above the safe level of 75C.

      Definitely recommend giving it a go. Pretty simple process.

      • Aliah December 21, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

        Thanks! Meanwhile, my meatball soup came out great! My son and a friend and I have devoured it all!

  4. rabthebear December 30, 2014 at 11:01 pm #

    I take it you can do the same with a frozen duck.

    • lincdk December 31, 2014 at 9:10 am #

      I would assume so, the internal temp might be different so you’ll need to look that up to be sure. It’d also depend on the style of duck, doubt peaking duck would work that well.

      Let me know how you go.

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