Can You Put Raw Chicken In a Crock Pot?
Crockpots have become an essential cooking tool in the kitchen thanks to their convenience and their ability to extract nutrients from food effectively. But when it comes to raw chicken, can you use a crock pot to cook it?
Can you put raw chicken in a crockpot? Yes, you can absolutely cook raw chicken in a crock pot. In fact, crock pots are a great way to slow-cook chicken that is flavorful and tender. Be sure to check the temperature of the chicken before you remove it to ensure it is fully cooked and safe to eat.
Read below to learn more about how crockpots work, how they can be used for bulk cooking, and a few food-safety tips when using crockpots.
What is a Crockpot
Crockpots were invented as a means to slowly cook food in contrast to pressure cooking, a cooking method that uses high pressure to cook food faster.
Slow cooking became a popular way to cook food as it allowed users to add all the ingredients to the pot and then set a timer on the pot to automatically cook the food over low heat.
This convenience is one of the reasons why initially women, in particular, preferred it.
The demand for crockpots truly took off during the 1940s when women started to take up jobs outside of the home.
This meant that they could leave the house with a prepared pot and then come back home to a freshly cooked and steaming hot meal for the entire family!
Food like stews, broth recipes, and meat dishes could be cooked effectively – and the best part is that slow cooking is ideal for extracting nutrients from the ingredients.
Before we get into the benefits of using crockpots, let’s first quickly go through how they work.
A basic crockpot is nothing but a combination of electrical circuits and a traditional pot. The electrical circuit controls the temperature and time and the inner chamber of the pot is surrounded by a heating element.
Some basic models have a two-button design where you can set the timer using pre-sets. For example, a crockpot can be set to cook for either four or eight hours. In the same way, the temperature can also be set to either high or low. Usually, most crockpots cook food between 170F and 280F!
Modern crockpots also come with digital controls with precise time and temperature control.
This allows users to customize their crockpots as per their liking and this feature also opens up a range of possibilities to conveniently cook food.
Best Ingredients to Cook in a Crockpot
Now that you know how a crockpot works, it’s time to talk about the type of ingredients that you can use with it.
Keep in mind that crockpots are intended to be used for slow-cooked recipes. This makes them especially useful for a range of meat dishes.
Crockpots are ideal for cheaper meat cuts as well since they contain a lot of connective tissue that can be broken down using low heat and a longer cooking time.
Here is what you can use crockpots for:
Beef, lamb, and pork are generally tough to process because of how much muscle fiber they pack but cooking them slowly can render these fibers and make the meat tender.
Crockpots are excellent for bone-in cuts which when cooked in slow cookers can add quite a lot of flavor and nutrients.
This is one of the reasons why crockpots are generally used for recipes like beef stews. You can add all the ingredients in the pot in the morning and let the pot cook the ingredients on its own until you get a delicious stew by dinner time!
If you want more flavor then we highly recommend browning the meat and then adding it to the crockpot. The caramelization on the meat will add a delicious flavor to the stock and you can use this tip for any type of protein!
Chicken Recipes – Can you put raw chicken in a crock pot?
Since crockpots use low heat, people generally think that it is unsafe to use these types of pots for raw chicken. However, the fact is that crockpots heat food in a way that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria.
When you turn a crockpot on, it first heats the sides of the inner chamber. This heat then transfers to the water and ingredients which allows it to boil.
As per the FDA, bacteria multiply between 40F to 140F but begin to die around 145F to 165F. In the case of crockpots, these appliances heat food around between 170F and 280F which means that by the time the water starts boiling, the food will already be free of bacteria!
This makes crockpots an excellent vessel to cook raw chicken or generally any type of meat.
Just add the chicken pieces (bone-in or boneless) and then cook them at the desired settings to get tender chicken ready to be used for a range of delicious recipes.
It is important to point out that all types of meat can also be combined with a range of vegetables in the crockpot to create a variety of broths and since crockpots cook over several hours the vegetables will be fully rendered!
Important Safety Tips for Crockpots
Crockpots may be safe to use when dealing with raw meat, but there are still a few things to keep in mind when going the slow-cooking route.
Most crockpots also have a “keep warm” feature that sets the temperature to around 145F to 160F. This temperature range is just enough to keep the food warm and not cook it.
However, you should never leave uncooked/raw chicken in a crockpot with the keep-warm function turned on.
Not only will you encourage the growth of bacteria, but the meat will not cook properly either! The best way to avoid this common mistake is to double-check the settings before you leave the crockpot unattended.
Storing Food in the Crockpot
Another common mistake that people make is that they turn off the crockpot and leave the food inside.
This mistake can encourage the growth of bacteria as most harmful bacteria multiply between 50F to 140F – and the food can become contaminated within 2 hours!
If you do want to store the food in the pot until dinner time, then we recommend that you turn on the keep-warm function only after the food has been completely cooked.
If the meat hasn’t cooked through, then we highly recommend that you continue cooking until the internal temperature of the meat reads around 165F.
Avoid Cooking Lentils/Beans
Lentils and beans may seem like no-brainer foods to cook using a crockpot, but in reality, cooking these ingredients may lead to stomach problems.
Beans and lectin have a certain type of enzyme called lectin, a type of protein that acts as antibodies.
They are the defense mechanism of the plant and are vital in keeping the plant safe from bacterial contamination.
In most cooking methods involving high heat, lectin is not an issue since it can break down at higher temperatures (or when using pressure cooking) but in the case of slow cooking, this enzyme is usually not fully rendered which means that it can cause mild to severe symptoms.
Even if a few kidney beans containing lectin make it through to your plate, you may get sick! Symptoms of lectin poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, and gas.
This is why we do not recommend that you cook legumes or beans in crockpots.
Crockpots can be used to conveniently cook food, even when you are away from home. Just add all the ingredients, set the time, and arrive home to freshly cooked meals!
Now that you know if you can put raw chicken in a crock pot, here are some related questions:
Can you add frozen raw chicken to crockpots?
When using a crockpot, always first thaw the chicken because adding frozen meat to the crockpot will affect the cooking time and may even cause the meat to go bad. You can use the microwave to thaw the chicken or leave the frozen meat in the fridge at 40F and then cook it in the crockpot the next day.
Do crockpots kill all bacteria in food?
Slow cooking is considered to be a safe way to cook food. Most bacteria begin to die around 165F and slow cookers usually cook food above this temperature.
It is important to keep in mind, though, that you should never cook doubtful or pre-contaminated meat in crockpots. Even though the high temperatures will kill off the bacteria, the toxins left behind by the bacteria will still be able to cause adverse effects.
Can you overcook food in a slow cooker?
If a crockpot is used beyond the time required in a recipe, then the ingredients can get overcooked. When this happens, the ingredients, particularly some types of meat and nearly every type of vegetable will lose their flavor and texture.
The nutrients in the stock may even diminish due to the constant heat in the pot which will make your recipe less delicious and healthy than if you cooked it using the recommended time.