This Slow Cooker Lemon Garlic Chicken recipe is incredibly easy to make and is packed full of flavor. This healthy meal is one the whole family will love.
This tender slow cooker chicken with fresh lemon and garlic is a staple at our house. It is so simple to prepare, just a few minutes of hands on work and then toss it in the slow cooker to simmer away for a few hours. The end result is perfectly tender chicken with all the lemon and garlic flavor. So good. Plus it can be used in so many different meals, it's a powerhouse for meal prep.
This time of year, I have healthy meals on the brain BUT if I don't have easy meals on hand and planned, it gets tough. You know the feeling. When dinnertime comes rolling around and you realize that you don’t have any meat defrosted, or that the recipe you were planning has too many steps and ingredients. Sometimes when that happens I am tempted to just hop in the car and drive to the nearest restaurant.
That's where simple, super flavorful meals like this come in. Planning ahead and preparing a big batch of a simple protein early in the week means I can enjoy using it all week long, but only have to do the dishes and clean up the mess once. Score! Having this as a big family dinner on Sunday and then having the pre-cooked shredded Lemon Garlic chicken on hand all week takes so much stress out of meal time!
The night I make the chicken I will usually just serve it over rice or with roasted potatoes and a big serving of roasted veggies. Then I like to use the leftovers to toss in salads, on flatbread pizzas, in sandwiches or wraps, or over pasta. The lemon garlic flavor is fantastic and works in so many different dishes. It's also great because it blends seamlessly in with other flavored foods. So whether you are making pasta, soup, or even tacos - this chicken will get the job done in the most delicious and simple way possible.
Some Ways to Serve this Slow Cooker Lemon Garlic Chicken
Since the flavors of lemon and garlic are so versatile, there are almost endless ways to serve this dish. And as I mentioned, it makes really amazing leftovers and works great for meal prep so I recommend making a double or triple batch and getting more than one meal out of the crockpot dish.
- Lemon Garlic Chicken Pasta: I almost always use this leftover chicken in a quick and easy pasta dish. Simply cook your favorite pasta (we use whole wheat or high fiber). While the pasta is cooking, saute some broccoli with sliced cherry tomatoes (or drained canned diced tomatoes) in a touch of olive oil. Add the leftover lemon garlic chicken and cooked pasta to the dish. Add in 1/2 cup reduced fat cream cheese, about 1/4 cup of pasta cooking liquid (or chicken broth), and stir until a sauce forms. Top with Parmesan cheese and extra lemon.
- Grain bowls: We eat a ton of grain bowls for lunches since they are easy to prep ahead of time. This one is especially delicious since the sauce from the chicken will flavor the grains. Start by choosing your favorite cooked grain (brown rice, quinoa, white rice, farro, couscous) or cauliflower rice. Then add the lemon garlic chicken and some steamed or roasted veggies. Top with a sprinkling of Parmesan or feta cheese and some extra fresh lemon juice.
- Wraps: For lunches, wraps are an easy quick option. Just grab a low carb wrap or whole wheat wrap, add the chicken, greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and some feta cheese. Then I like to drizzle everything with some balsamic vinegar.
Side Dish Ideas for Crockpot Lemon Garlic Chicken
Lemon garlic chicken pairs well with all kinds of side dishes from roasted potatoes to mashed cauliflower to creamy polenta and noodles. Here are some favorites in our house:
- The Best Mashed Cauliflower: Anything that soaks up the sauce is a great option for this easy chicken dish. This light and healthy mashed cauliflower is a low carb and healthy option.
- Creamy Spinach Polenta: Another option great for soaking up the lemon garlic sauce is polenta. This lightened up option with spinach works great with the lemon and garlic in the sauce.
- Parmesan Roasted Broccoli: My whole family gobbles this recipe up everytime we make it and Parmesan and lemon garlic chicken is a natural pair.
Some additional recipe notes
Can I add extra vegetables?
If you want to make things easier and cook some veggies right in the slow cooker for a more complete meal, there are a few options. If you choose hearty vegetables like carrots, butternut squash, kale, or potatoes - you can add them in right with the chicken. For quicker cooking vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, spinach, or green beans - add them in the last 20-30 minutes of cooking so that they don't get mushy and overcooked.
Would this work with chicken thighs?
Absolutely! Chicken thighs are a great option for the slow cooker since they stay super tender when they are cooked. You can use boneless skinless chicken thighs in place of the chicken breasts. You can also use bone-in chicken thighs, but I recommend removing the skin before cooking. If you decide to leave the skin on, place it under the broiler before serving to brown and crisp up the skin.
Can I cook this with rice?
Some people like to make a version of this recipe with rice right in the slow cooker. Personally, I am not a huge fan of the texture of rice cooked in the slow cooker and find it gets mushy. However, you can add rice to this. To make it with rice, add 1 cup of long grain brown or white rice (not instant) and an extra 1.25 cups of chicken broth.
How can I get the chicken breasts browned?
If you want to brown the chicken breasts, you can sear them on the outside before adding them to the slow cooker. Just add some olive oil to a hot skillet and brown the chicken for 1-2 minutes on each side before adding it to the slow cooker. This will add some additional flavor, but it does add an extra step. When I take the time to sear off the chicken before adding it to the slow cooker, I usually will serve the chicken breasts sliced or whole instead of shredded. This is a nice presentation for a fancier dinner or party.
How would I make this in the Instant Pot?
This slow cooker garlic lemon chicken can easily be made in the Instant Pot instead. If the chicken is fresh, simply set the Instant Pot to 6 minutes and then let it manually release. If the chicken breasts are frozen, set the Instant Pot to 10 minutes and let it manually release.
Can I make a creamy version? What about a Parmesan Lemon Garlic Chicken?
Many people like to make a creamy version of this crockpot garlic lemon chicken. There are two ways to add a creaminess factor. The first is to simply stir in 1/2 cup of reduced fat cream cheese and about 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Remove the chicken to chop or shred. Then add the cream cheese and Parmesan cheese to the slow cooker and whisk until a creamy sauce forms. If you prefer a cream based sauce, you can add about 1/4-1/3 cup of half and half to the chicken. If you are eating a low carb, keto, Paleo, or Whole30 diet, you can add some butter for richness. Stir it into the warm liquid.
Can I add herbs?
Defintiely! Fresh or dried herbs are a great addition to this recipe. You can use rosemary, thyme, oregano, or any other herbs you like.
This post was originally shared in 2013 and has been updated with new photos and recipe tips.
Slow Cooker Lemon Garlic Chicken
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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