Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs Recipes that are healthy, delicious, and all made in the crockpot for easy meals that are affordable and taste great.
Crockpot Chicken Thighs are one of my favorite things to make since chicken thighs are not only affordable but make for the most tender and juicy chicken, especially when made in the slow cooker.
In my opinion, chicken thighs are one of the most under appreciated ingredients out there. Not only are they extremely affordable, but they guarantee a tender and moist chicken every time since they have slightly more fat than the leaner chicken breast. Plus they take on flavor really well, making them an ideal candidate for the slow cooker. As everything cooks low and slow together, the chicken absorbs all the delicious flavors in the recipe meaning you never have to worry about bland or boring chicken.
Now when it comes to cooking chicken thighs in the slow cooker, here are some tips and tricks:
- Consider buying chicken thighs in bulk to get the very best price possible. They freeze well and you can use them as needed. I find that when I buy them in bulk, I can get them for about half the price of buying them in smaller amounts.
- Normally I use boneless and skinless chicken thighs since they are the lowest calorie option and contain less fat than the skin-on version. If you decide to use bone-in chicken thighs, I recommend removing the skin. Not only does it get chewy in the slow cooker, but it also adds a significant amount of fat and calories to your dishes. If you leave the skin on, you will likely want to crisp it up under the broiler before serving.
- If you only have chicken breasts at home or prefer them, all of these recipes will work with chicken breasts as well. Bone-in, skinless chicken breasts will stay more tender and be more flavorful but any type will work.
- Generally, chicken thighs cook pretty quickly in the slow cooker. I find that cooking them for 4 hours on low is usually sufficient. However since chicken thighs are forgiving and stay moist, you can also cook them for a full 8 hours on low and not worry about them drying up.
Slow Cooker Chicken Thigh Recipes
1. Slow Cooker Mediterranean Chicken (264 calories, 5 Green, 5 Blue, 5 Purple) packed with tender chicken thighs, red peppers, onions, olives, and plenty of Mediterranean flavors, this is a dish you will make again and again.
2. Slow Cooker Chicken Carnitas (187 calories, 3 Green, 3 Blue, 3 Purple) couldn't be easier to make with just a simple spice blend that adds tons of flavor to the chicken and makes for the best tacos and burrito bowls.
3. Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken (251 calories, 4 Blue, 4 Green, 4 Purple) is the perfect combination of sweet and spicy, especially when it is served alongside a simple mango slaw.
4. Slow Cooker Spicy Hoisin Chicken Thighs (257 calories, 5 Green, 5 Blue, 5 Purple) is made with a quick sauce of hoisin sauce and Sriracha for a sweet and spicy combination that is perfect for tender chicken thighs.
5. Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Chicken (230 calories, 3 Green, 2 Blue, 2 Purple) is cooked low and slow in the crockpot and then crisped under the broiler to get some nice, crispy pieces.
6. Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy Chicken (249 calories, 5 Green, 5 Blue, 5 Purple) is one of our favorite chicken thighs dishes and uses just a few ingredients you probably already have at home. Seriously everyone loves this chicken.
7. Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore (183 calories, 4 Green, 4 Blue, 4 Purple) is Italian comfort food at its best with tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, and juicy chicken. Serve it with pasta, polenta, cauliflower rice, or spaghetti squash.
8. Slow Cooker Chicken in Chili Verde (204 calories, 3 Green, 2 Blue, 2 Purple) is a tender chicken dish made with a fresh homemade green salsa that's perfect for tacos, burritos, or grain bowls.
9. Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala with Cauliflower (289 calories, 6 Green, 5 Blue, 5 Purple) that's easy to make and tastes better than take out.
10. Slow Cooker Chicken Fajita Soup (305 calories, 5 Green, 5 Blue, 5 Purple) takes all the flavor of chicken fajitas in a tasty soup that's best topped with cheese and all your favorite fajita toppings.
11. Slow Cooker Chicken Quinoa Soup with Kale (284 calories, 5 Green, 5 Blue, 3 Purple) is a hearty stew that seriously delivers when it comes to flavor. And if kale isn't your thing, you can always use spinach.
12. Slow Cooker Korean Chicken (259 calories, 5 Green, 4 Blue, 4 Purple) that I love wrapping up in fresh lettuce and topping with thinly sliced veggies.
A few more commonly asked questions about cooking chicken thighs in the slow cooker.
Do I need to brown chicken thighs before adding them to the slow cooker?
Generally speaking, there is no need to brown chicken thighs before using them in a recipe for the slow cooker. The exception to this is when you use bone-in, skin on chicken thighs. Browning the skin side before adding them to the slow cooker helps to cook out some of the fat in the skin and results in a much better dish. However, browning can add some extra flavor and depth to the recipe so if you have time, it will create some more flavor.
Can I swap in chicken breasts in these recipes?
Sure! Chicken breasts can be used all of these crockpot recipes. However, it is important to remember that chicken breasts can get dry when they are over-cooked. Therefore, I generally recommend cooking chicken breasts for 3-4 hours on low. This time could vary depending on your individual slow cooker. The key is to make sure the chicken breast doesn't cook too long so that it stays moist and tender.
How long does it take to cook chicken thighs in the slow cooker?
Chicken thighs will take between 3-4 hours in the slow cooker on low if they are boneless and skinless. Bone-in chicken thighs will take about 6 hours on low or 4 hours on high in the crockpot.
How do defrost frozen chicken thighs?
Ideally, you always want to defrost chicken thighs in the fridge overnight. They can take 24-48 hours depending on how they are packed and how many pounds you have. This is the safest way to defrost chicken.
If you need to thaw out the chicken thighs more quickly, you can place it in a bowl of cold water in the sink. Change out the water every 30 minutes. A pound of chicken thighs will take about 1 hour.
Want to learn more about cooking with frozen chicken? Here's our full guide for using frozen chicken in recipes.