Chef's Hat: Slow cookers and chicken are a winning combination

These two recipes are easy to prepare and can be used in salads or sandwiches.

Barbecue chicken cooked in a slow cooker makes a great sandwich that pairs well with sweet potato fries. Donna Evans / Echo Journal Correspondent

While slow cookers are definitely not the fastest way to cook a meal, they do give you the opportunity to “set it and forget it," especially when it comes to cooking chicken. Both the barbecue chicken recipe and the ranch chicken recipe that follow took less than 10 minutes to prepare, and then the slow cooker did the rest.

Both boneless chicken breasts and thighs work well in these recipes. Thighs are more flavorful than breasts, but they also tend to be more expensive than breasts. While some people insist on using thigh meat, either thighs or breasts will end up producing a flavorful dish.

Forgot to thaw your chicken? That is not a problem when cooking the chicken in these recipes. You can place the frozen chicken directly into the slow cooker and extend the cooking time by an additional 30 to 40 minutes to compensate.

Barbecue slow cooker chicken can be as simple as putting the chicken into a slow cooker, dousing it with barbecue sauce and then letting the chicken simmer a few hours. However, the addition of a few simple ingredients will greatly enhance the chicken's flavor.

The ranch slow cooker chicken is ideal for sandwiches, or if chopped instead of shredded will liven up a dull lettuce salad.


These recipes only take a few hours to cook. So they are not something you want to throw into the slow cooker and then head off to work. They are perfect for the weekend when you are home, but don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

These are also kid friendly recipes. If you have a youngster just learning to cook, either recipe is simple to follow, includes just a few ingredients and doesn’t require working over hot burners or with a hot oven.

No matter how much you enjoy cooking and spending time in the kitchen, sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to prepare that gourmet meal. With just a few minutes prep time you can still have a great tasting meal that the whole family will enjoy. Happy Eating!

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

  • 1 cup barbecue sauce (for a spicier dish, choose a hotter sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon jarred garlic
  • 2 pounds boneless ,skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • Pretzel or other buns or wraps
  • Dill or bread and butter pickles

Combine the barbecue sauce, honey, apple cider vinegar and garlic in a large measuring cup. Mix well. Pour into the slow cooker. Place the chicken pieces into the sauce.
Cover and cook on low for three to five hours. The chicken will be tender and will have an internal temperature of 165 degrees when fully cooked.

Remove the chicken from the sauce. Using two forks, shred the chicken. Place onto buns or in wraps. Drizzle some of the remaining sauce on the chicken. Top with pickles and serve.

Slow Cooker Ranch Chicken

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 1 packet ranch salad dressing mix
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup chicken broth or white wine
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Pretzel buns (if you can’t find pretzel buns use your favorite buns)
  • Bottled ranch dressing, optional
  • Lettuce, provolone cheese, tomatoes and avocados for sandwich toppings

Place the chicken in a slow cooker. Pour the chicken broth or wine around the chicken. Sprinkle the dressing mix over the chicken. Place pats of butter on top of the chicken.
Cook on low for three to five hours until chicken is tender and has an internal temperature of 165 degrees.


Remove the chicken from slow cooker and if using it for salads, cut into chunks. If using for sandwiches, shred the chicken. Place the chicken in a bowl and add some of the liquid from the slow cooker. Lightly toss, taste, and if desired, add a small amount of salt and pepper.

If making sandwiches, place an ample amount of chicken onto a bun and top with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes and avocado slices. If desired, drizzle ranch dressing on top of the chicken before layering on the toppings.

This chicken is also a flavorful ingredient that will jazz up an ordinary green salad. (Don’t shred the chicken if using for salads; instead, chop into bite-sized pieces.) Along with the chicken, add some craisins (dried cranberries) or diced apples to turn a plain salad into an appetizing main dish.

Related Topics: FOODRECIPES
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