Crock pot chicken thighs are SUPER juicy and practically melt-in-the-mouth tender in a simple, flavor-packed savory sauce – a versatile protein for busy/lazy mid-week meals!
When it comes to cooking chicken thighs, every method has its charm. Grilled chicken thighs are perfectly charred. Air fryer chicken thighs combine crispy skin and tender flesh in 30 minutes. Baked thighs take longer but produce similar results without an extra appliance. And this crock pot chicken thighs recipe makes the juiciest, most tender meat of all with a bonus sauce.
Crock pot chicken thighs are so easy to prep, too, with inexpensive pantry staples and a quick 5-minute pan-searing step to lock in the juices and help brown, crisp up, and enhance the dish’s overall flavor. Then, throw everything into the slow cooker and leave it to cook untouched for several hours.
Crockpot chicken thighs ingredients
- Chicken: I used skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs. However, feel free to use skinless and boneless chicken thighs.
- Olive oil: To brown the chicken thighs in a skillet.
- Seasonings: I use a collection of simple, inexpensive pantry spices for heaps of flavor.
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Paprika – sweet or smoked
- Dried oregano – or Italian seasoning
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
- Chicken broth: Use a rich chicken broth (low sodium if preferred). Water will also work, but is far less flavorful.
- Butter: I prefer to use unsalted. This isn’t necessary since the thighs and skin are fatty, but makes for a richer sauce.
- Garlic: I love using fresh garlic, but additional garlic powder will work in a pinch.
- Fresh parsley: To garnish the crockpot chicken thighs for little bursts of freshness.
Season: First, pat the chicken dry with a paper towel, mix all the spices, and massage/rub them into the thighs.
Sauté: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with the oil. Once hot, place the chicken skin side down and cook for 4-5 minutes, until browned and crispy. Then flip on the other side for about a minute and then remove it from the pan. If you’re cooking a large quantity, brown them in batches.
Deglaze: Use some chicken broth to deglaze the pan, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan to get the flavor into the liquid. Then, add the minced garlic and butter (if using) and simmer for about a minute.
Cook: Place the bone-in chicken thighs in the crockpot, skin side up, in a single layer, and pour over the sauce. Add the lid and cook the chicken on LOW for 4-6 hours or HIGH for 2-3 hours until tender.
Depending on their size and your crockpot, boneless skinless chicken thighs will take slightly less time to cook. They also only require 2-3 minutes of pan-searing.
I recommend testing the meat for doneness with a thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken, avoiding bones. It should read 165ºF/74ºC to be safe. Alternatively, insert a fork into the thickest part of the chicken. It should penetrate the meat easily, and any running juices should be clear (not pink).
Finally, remove the meat from the slow cooker and allow it to rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing/serving.
Tender and juicy, flavor-packed crockpot chicken thighs are a delicious, versatile protein for almost any meal, with or without the sauce. Try pairing them with:
Refrigerate: Allow the slow cooker chicken thighs to cool (for up to 2 hours). Then transfer them to an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Freeze: Transfer the leftovers to an airtight container/Ziplock bag (with or without the sauce) for up to 4 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight (for up to 24 hours).
Reheat: For large amounts, reheat the chicken (and optional sauce) in a foil-wrapped dish in the oven at 350ºF/175ºC until heated through – about 12-15 minutes. A smaller amount will reheat in a saucepan or microwave with the sauce OR splash of broth/water to help keep it juicy and moist.
More easy crockpot recipes
If you try this recipe, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!
Easy Crock Pot Chicken Thighs
- 20 oz chicken thighs 5 small, bone-in, skin on (or boneless)
- 1 cup chicken broth regular or low sodium; or water
- 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 1.5 tablespoon olive oil or another neutral oil
- 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano or Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon paprika sweet or smoked
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- To garnish fresh parsley
Brown the chicken
- Pat the chicken dry, mix all the spices, and massage/rub them into the thighs.
- Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with the oil.
- Once hot, place the chicken skin side down and cook for 4-5 minutes, until browned and crispy. Flip on the other side and cook for about a minute. Then, remove it from the pan.
- Use some chicken stock to deglaze the pan, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan to get the flavor into the liquid. Then, add the minced garlic and butter (if using) and simmer for about a minute.
Cook in the Crockpot
- Place the bone-in chicken thighs in the crockpot, skin side up, in a single layer, and pour over the sauce.
- Add the lid and cook the chicken on LOW for 4-6 hours or HIGH for 2-3 hours until tender.The time depends on their size and your crockpot. For that reason, I recommend testing the meat with a thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken, avoiding bones. It should read 165ºF/74ºC to be safe.
- Optionally, to thicken the sauce into a kind of gravy, add 1 tablespoon cornstarch slurry to the crockpot and leave it until it thickens OR transfer the sauce to a saucepan and cook, stirring, until it thickens (a few minutes).
- Remove the meat from the slow cooker and allow it to rest for at least 5 minutes allowing the juices to settle and redistribute for the juiciest chicken thighs. Then you can slice/serve the chicken garnished with fresh parsley.
- Depending on their size, boneless chicken thighs would take slightly less time (or the lower end of the above spectrum). They also only require 2-3 minutes of pan-searing.
- Don’t overcrowd the chicken: It’s best to place the chicken thighs in a single layer in your crockpot so it cooks evenly.
- The cooking time varies: Based on the thickness/size of the chicken, whether it contains bones, your batch size, and your crockpot. Therefore, I recommend checking on them for 30-60 minutes BEFORE the earliest recommended time when trying this recipe for the first time.
- Don’t skip the searing step: This helps to brown the skin and crisp it up (for improved flavor) while also locking in all the juices.
- Use a meat thermometer: It’s the easiest way to ensure the chicken is safely cooked while avoiding accidental overcooking.
- For crispier chicken: Broil the chicken for a few minutes before serving.
- Using the chicken sauce: Pour it over the chicken when serving, thicken it (with cornstarch) into more of a sauce/gravy, use it within a brown gravy recipe, or even use it to help cook rice and other grains.
- Optionally add veggies: Feel free to throw in chopped carrots or red potatoes.
- Using frozen chicken thighs: Make sure to defrost them in advance in the refrigerator overnight, then they should be safe to use.