Crock Pots took off like crazy in the 70s to save money on electricity bills during the energy crisis. ( * )
Still, today, it’s a practical, everyday addition to fast, homemade cooking.
Unsupervised, safe all-day cooking, throwing in a bunch of stuff, and coming home to a cooked meal is heaven-sent.
Chicken thighs are a magical substance to use in a slow cooker; you can make amazing broths, coq au vin, or a light lunch for the next day.
We will guide you through making the best crock pot boneless chicken thigh recipes ever. Just follow our lead!
Out-of-this-world slow cooker boneless chicken thighs
Tender, boneless chicken thighs with a thick coat of sauce are a hit among us. And the biggest benefit of a crockpot is that it can achieve a more even cooking temperature.
When it comes to chicken, high temperatures can dry out the lean cuts. So keep it on low until the meat falls apart.
We’re so bored of the typical honey-garlic-barbeque Crockpot triangle, so let’s find something different for our juicy chicken thighs!
1. Slow Cooker Orange-Ginger Chicken
Get the recipe: theflavoursofkitchen.com
The orange-ginger season usually starts around Christmas. That needs to change; who said you have to use the same 5 seasonings all year?
Easy and tasty, slightly different but homey, this recipe is heaven-sent. Plain rice and veggies will be great as a side dish.
The orange juice will work its magic and tenderize the chicken thighs. The ginger adds a succulent spiciness, slowly caramelizing onto the meat.
Resembling an Asian or Indian stew, but more delicate and easier on your tastebuds.
Avoid adding any veggies with a high water content to let the meat caramelize. Stick to red bell peppers, broccoli, or some green onions, according to the recipe.
The flavors will develop, and the chicken thighs will cook in a mere 3 hours.
The next crock pot chicken dish is a classic with a twist.
2. Lemon & Garlic Butter Chicken Thighs- on a slow cooker
Get the recipe: eatwell101.com
This classic, Italian-inspired chicken dinner is a healthy option; keto, low carb, high-protein. However, we put a twist on it.
There’s one thing missing from this one-of-a-kind dish: some feta cheese! Let’s put our twist on it and see how garlic, lemon, and feta blend so amazingly.
While this recipe is simple and well-known, some cauliflower rice can turn it into a modern course for a friendly dinner.
While it’s ready on a whim, take note of a few things:
- Add the parsley for the last 10 minutes of cooking: Green herbs become milder the more you cook them.
- Don’t go overboard with garlic. Let the lemons and feta shine!
The third recipe is a real delicacy for the gourmet hearts.
3. Slow Cooker Coq au Vin- From Chicken Thighs
This smashing classic has never gone out of fashion. You’ll always win over everyone with a heavy Coq au Vin.
Though it’s more demanding about the ingredients, they are all basic stuff, nothing fancy or hard-to-get.
All you need are fresh chicken thighs, onions, carrots, mushrooms, dry red wine (preferably Burgundy), and spices. And of course, your slow cooker!
Braised slowly into a supremely rich sauce, you can add some brandy, as the original recipes call for it.
After a French classic, let’s see how Canadians prefer their chicken thighs in a slow cooker.
4. Maple-Dijon Chicken Thighs straight from the Crockpot
Get the recipe: lifeasastrawberry.com
What is the single ingredient you’d miss the most if civilization collapsed today? Well, for us, it’s maple syrup.
Originally, the recipe calls for chicken breast. But we highly suggest you make it with boneless chicken thighs, as they have more connective tissue and don’t dry out so easily.
You need a handful of ingredients: dijon mustard, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, parsley, and 5 hours to cook it.
- We added some extra ground ginger and cumin to the recipe.
- You can also swap apple cider vinegar for a cup of brown beer and some white pepper.
With an endless imagination, you can create hundreds of recipes with boneless chicken thighs.
However, you’ll need some tricks to elevate them from the slow cooker blandness.
Tips and tricks
- Let’s start with the basics; the age of your crock pot. Any slow cooker after 15-20 years is too dangerous to be left alone for more than 4-6 hours.
Furthermore, the older ones have a hard time reaching high temperatures and keeping them consistently.
- After cooking, you’ll be left with plenty of liquid in your crockpot. A good chef would turn these into smooth sauces:
- Make a roux from flour and butter and heat it up with the liquid to thicken the sauce.
- Strain the liquid and reduce it with wine and herbs. Thicken it with butter.
- Overcooking and drying the meat is a risk when slow cooking chicken. Warming up the crockpot with the liquid ingredients beforehand significantly reduces the cooking time and your chances of overcooking the chicken thighs.
- Every time you take the lid off to peek in, you’ll need to add around 20-30 minutes of cooking time. It sounds over-the-top, but unfortunately, it’s true.
- For the best consistency, you shouldn’t layer the meat on top of each other in the crockpot. Buy a bigger slow cooker if needed, or cook in more batches.
- For each slow-cooking session, add something acidic. This can help soften the meat and avoid dryness.
- For the last half an hour, remove the lid and let the liquid thicken up. By adding some cornstarch, you can make an excellent sauce.
- When slow cooking, don’t be afraid of using aromatic, bold elements such as vinegar, wine, rustic and heavy cheeses, and more than one kind of onion.
- By caramelizing and browning as many ingredients as you can, you can layer many different kinds of flavors.
- Counter each flavor profile you add to the dish. To an acidic base with wine or vinegar, add some sweetness like honey or maple syrup.
- Don’t heat dairy with acidic elements. They will separate and become gritty, ruining the texture of your food.
- Too much liquid ruins your boneless chicken thigh crock pot just as much as no liquid. As a golden rule, add 1 cup of liquid for every pound of meat.
These golden tips will get you impeccable boneless chicken thighs in a crockpot. Still, there are some frequently asked questions we can’t let go unanswered.
How long do I cook boneless chicken thighs in a crockpot?
A maximum of four hours is plenty for boneless chicken thighs in a crockpot. Naturally, this also depends on the quantity of meat and whether the meat is frozen or fresh.
Add an extra hour of cooking on high heat for frozen, be it chicken or anything else. It’s always worth checking the internal temperature with a thermometer to avoid food poisoning.
Is it safe to cook chicken thighs from frozen?
It’s perfectly safe to cook chicken thighs straight from the freezer. However, you need to add an extra hour of cooking time, ideally on high in the beginning to thaw them properly.
If you start out on low, the meat will thicken up, and the connective tissue won’t break down.
Besides the cooking time, you need to adjust the liquids when cooking frozen meat. Reduce the liquid by 50%, because the watery thawing will thin out your sauce. Make sure to add more spices and seasonings.
Also, keep in mind that vegetables release a significant amount of liquid as well.
Is slow cooker chicken healthy?
Most of these Crock Pot chicken recipes can be made with fresh ingredients. And there are options for every diet and lifestyle.
You can easily modify any slow cooker recipe and turn it into a paleo, gluten-free, vegan, or less calorie-dense.
A regular crockpot chicken thigh needs way fewer fats and oils compared to an oven-baked or pan-seared one. This instantly makes them healthier.
Should I sear the chicken before adding it to the crockpot?
We recommend always searing the meats before slow cooking them for hours. This ensures the moisture stays inside way longer and keeps the cuts from drying out.
Poultry is even more prone to becoming chewy and very easy to overcook. Plus, a caramelized taste will always add to the overall flavor.
After dumping a bunch of helpful insights on you regarding slow-cooking chicken thighs, it’s best to wrap it all up.
Wrapping it up
Seemingly easy, crockpot cooking is a culinary landmine. There are many mistakes you can avoid, and tips to consider.
Crockpots are advertised as a “dump it and forget it” kitchen tool. But that’s how you end up with a bland nothing burger.
Despite popular belief, if you truly want to leave the food cooking, a Dutch oven is a much better choice. You have to pay attention to avoid getting a boring mush in the slow cooker.
When cooking some boneless chicken thighs in a crock pot, make sure to add an acidic brine and preheat the liquids. Moreover, don’t take off the lid until the last 30 minutes.
Peeking in non-stop will get you a longer cooking time and a dry chicken.