Slow cooker chicken casserole has soft, juicy chunks of chicken, sweet maple glazed bacon and tender vegetables all cooked in a delicious herby gravy. It’s a superb and simple to prepare one pot meal.
Easy Chicken Casserole in the Slow Cooker
Chicken casserole is the perfect low maintenance recipe for simply putting in the slow cooker and walking away. It needs very little thought or preparation but results in a delicious, comforting meal!
The key elements to a really delectable chicken casserole are the seasoning and the consistency of the sauce. This recipe has been through much trial and error to perfect both, so you can be assured that the chicken will be succulent, the vegetables sweet, and the gravy thick and glossy with a gorgeous herby flavour.
What’s great about this recipe is that it’s a one pot meal which you can leave cooking all day whilst doing other things. No need to think about side dishes, just serve and enjoy!
What You’ll Need
Exact ingredient quantities can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
Here is what you will need to make slow cooker chicken casserole.
Chicken thighs – I use skinless and boneless as they need no preparation. Skin on and bone-in can also be used but I advise searing them in the pan before slow cooking to crisp the skin.
Smoked bacon pieces – Smoked bacon pieces or lardons are amazing for creating that umami flavour in stews and casseroles.
Potatoes – I use small, waxy potatoes as they are dense with a lower starch content and so retain their shape during cooking. Their flavour is sweet and buttery once cooked.
Vegetables – Carrots, celery, mushrooms, onion and garlic.
Herbs – Rosemary and thyme compliment the maple and bacon flavours beautifully.
Maple syrup – My top secret casserole ingredient really gives this chicken casserole it’s edge. It sweetens and caramelises the bacon pieces and gives the gravy real depth.
Balsamic vinegar – A dark and syrupy vinegar, it balances the maple syrup in the sauce.
Stock – I use beef stock as it has a rich quality producing a dark sumptuous gravy. I also add a little salt and pepper.
Flour – Flour thickens the casserole whilst cooking. I use plain flour but it can be substituted for cornflour as a gluten free option.
Note: this recipe makes a family sized quantity of casserole. Use the tool in the recipe card to adjust the portion size as required.
I used the Crockpot TimeSelect 5.6L digital slow cooker to make this dish.
I also needed a frying pan or skillet to crisp the bacon and sear the chicken before slow cooking.
How to make Slow Cooker Chicken Casserole
Here’s a step by step guide of how to make it. Full detailed instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
- Prepare the potatoes and carrots and place in the slow cooker.
- Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and mix to cover.
- Prepare the celery, onion and mushrooms and add these to the slow cooker with half of the herbs.
- Dissolve the stock in boiling water with balsamic vinegar and some of the maple syrup, set aside.
- Heat a frying pan or skillet on the stove to a medium high heat then add the bacon, cook until crisp. Pour the remaining maple syrup over the bacon and cook for 30 seconds.
- Transfer the crispy, maple bacon to the slow cooker.
- Return the pan to the heat before adding the chicken thighs. Coat the chicken in the juices from the bacon and maple syrup and seal until golden.
- Transfer the chicken to the slow cooker and pour over the stock mixture. Sprinkle over salt and pepper and remaining herbs. Cook for 8 hours on low or 6 hours on high.
Slow Cooker Chicken Casserole is a one pot meal which has a balance of meat, vegetables and carbohydrates all cooked conveniently together. So you don’t actually need to cook any extra sides. Perfect!
If you’re looking to serve something else with the casserole, then freshly steamed green beans or broccoli provide crisp contrast. A slice of crusty bread and butter is also perfect to mop up the gravy!
- Place firm root vegetables at the bottom of the slow cooker so they are immersed in the liquid and closer to the heat source as they take longer to cook.
- Cut the potatoes into chunks of no greater than 2-3 cm to ensure that they are fully cooked through.
- Don’t cut the chicken thighs up before cooking as it makes it easier for browning in the pan.
- Brown the chicken. The reason we brown meat before cooking in casseroles and stews is to start the Maillard reaction. This is a chemical reaction which imparts flavour and creates an appealing colour once food is heated above a certain temperature. That being said, it isn’t strictly necessary to create a flavoursome meal in all cases. So don’t be concerned if you don’t do this! The chicken will be tender and the gravy delicious all the same.
- Slow cooker variances. There are variances in the cooking speed between the different sizes and brands of slow cooker. Stated cooking times are a guide only.
One of the things I like most about cooking chicken casserole is how easy it is to vary the recipe! Here are some ideas.
- Vegetables – You can use a range of vegetables in this casserole recipe, just remember to keep firmer root vegetables near the bottom so they cook through. I wouldn’t recommend broccoli as the florets tend to dissipate during cooking!
- Pre-packaged casserole vegetables – Are great as a quick way to prepare a casserole. If you’re using frozen vegetables be aware that they release more water during cooking.
- Chicken breast meat – Chicken breast has a lower fat quantity than thighs so requires a shorter cooking time. Adjust the cook time by a few hours depending on the size of the chicken pieces and also the type of slow cooker. It will be necessarily to par-boil the potatoes and carrots before adding to the slow cooker to compensate for the shorter cook time.
- Grains – I am a big fan of adding barley to stews and casseroles. It has a delicate, nutty flavour and the grain opens and fluffs up beautifully during cooking. Note that grains absorb liquid so you will need to add extra to the casserole.
On the low setting it will take 8 hours and on the high setting 6 hours however these timings are dependent on the size and brand of slow cooker used.
Use chicken thighs to ensure the meat is juicy and tender, even after over longer cooking times. Chicken breasts have less fat so will dry out faster when cooking.
You have to add a thickening agent to casserole sauces in the slow cooker as the liquid doesn’t naturally reduce during cooking. This recipe uses flour and the starch released from the potatoes to thicken the sauce. To further reduce, 30 minutes before the end of cooking turn the heat up to high, and lift and tilt the lid of the lid of the slow cooker to create a gap for moisture to escape.
The ideal varieties are waxy varieties which are firmer and lower in starch, and so hold their shape well. Charlotte, Jersey Royals, Yukon Gold, Anya types are all good examples.
Any herbs will create flavour so it’s really down to what else is in the casserole and what you intend to serve it with. I use rosemary and thyme to compliment the flavours in the sauce.
The casserole can be stored in the fridge or freezer. Once cooked, allow to cool and then store in an airtight container. It will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days or can be frozen immediately. When you want to eat it, reheat in the microwave thoroughly (if it has been frozen allow to defrost in the fridge before reheating for best results).
Slow Cooker Chicken Casserole
- Frying Pan
- 1 kg (2.25 lb) chicken thighs skinless and boneless
- 150 g (5.5 oz) smoked bacon pieces lardons or smoked bacon rashers diced
- 500 g (1 lb) potatoes charlotte variety or other waxy types i.e. jersey, yukun gold
- 2 carrots large, chopped
- 1 onion large, white onion peeled and chopped
- 2 celery sticks chopped
- 150 g mushrooms roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 beef stock cube
- 500 ml (17 floz) water hot, for the stock
- 5 rosemary sprigs (fresh)
- 1 tsp thyme dried
- 3 ½ tbsp maple syrup
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper ground
- 5 tbsp flour plain flour (all purpose)
- Wash the potatoes and cut into 2-3cm cubes and then peel and slice the carrots. Place the vegetables in the bottom of the slow cooker (see note 1).
- Sprinkle over the flour and half of the herbs and mix well so that the flour coats the vegetables (see note 2).
- Add the diced mushrooms, onion, celery and minced garlic to the pot, placing them on top of the potatoes and carrots. Place a few of the sprigs of rosemary on the vegetables.
- Dissolve the beef stock cube in a jug of boiling water water, add 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and the balsamic vinegar and stir. Set aside.
- Heat a pan on the hob to a medium high heat and add the bacon pieces. Cook until crisp (around 5 minutes) then add the remaining maple syrup and cook for 30 seconds, stirring to coat the bacon. Transfer the bacon to the slow cooker (see note 5).
- Return the pan to the heat and immediately add the chicken thighs, move them around the pan so that they are covered in the bacon and maple syrup juices. Cook for 1 minute each side or until golden brown.
- Transfer the glazed chicken to the slow cooker (with all pan juices) on the top of the vegetables and bacon. Sprinkle over the salt and pepper and remaining herbs, then pour over the stock mixture.
- Cook for 8 hours on low or 6 hours on high. Once cooked ensure the chicken is white and piping hot throughout and the potatoes and carrots have softened. Serve immediately or see storage instructions below (see note 7).
- Dice the potatoes into 2-3 cm chunks and thickly cut the carrots. This will ensure that they retain their shape in the slow cooker and be cooked throughout.
- When adding the flour to the vegetables, ensure to mix well so no large clumps of flour remain in the bottom of the pot.
- Layer the vegetables in the slow cooker with firm root vegetables (potatoes and carrots) at the bottom and softer vegetables (which contain more water) on the top. The root vegetables will take longer to cook so should be fully immersed in the stock and be closest to the heating elements of the slow cooker.
- Do not cook the bacon in the maple syrup for any longer than 30 seconds as the syrup will burn and become bitter. The syrup should simply coat the bacon and chicken to provides a dark, sticky glaze.
- For ease cook the chicken thighs whole, they will be soft enough to easily break down once cooked if required.
- Sealing the chicken in the pan in the bacon and maple syrup juices adds appetising colour and sweet flavour to the chicken. The act of sealing the meat first also triggers the Maillard reaction which enhances meat flavours.
- The casserole can be stored in the fridge or freezer. Allow to cool, transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to the days or place in the freezer. Reheat thoroughly.
- If you don’t have fresh rosemary, it can be substituted for 3 dried sprigs or 1 tsp dried rosemary.