Slow Cooker Hunters Chicken has juicy chicken breasts wrapped in bacon and bathed in a smokey barbecue sauce, then covered in melted cheese. What’s not to love? Make this delicious pub classic easily at home in your slow cooker.
Hunters Chicken in the Slow Cooker
Hunters Chicken is a famous British pub meal which is both simple and incredibly tasty, some restaurants also refer to it as ‘Chicken New Yorker’. Interestingly, the recipe name is also given to an old and well known Italian casserole, ‘Chicken Cacciatore’. As cacciatore translates to hunter in English it’s easy to confuse the dishes but they are indeed distinctly different!
Slow Cooker Hunters Chicken is a fantastic crowd-pleasing dish that you can make quickly in the slow cooker with minimal preparation. What’s more, the recipe includes a delicious homemade barbecue sauce that is just the right amount of sweet, smokey and tangy.
Why make this recipe?
- It’s a simple five step process to create the dish with preparation kept to a minimum.
- I include a recipe to make your own homemade BBQ sauce in the slow cooker. This sauce can also be made separately and used for other delicious meals!
- It’s a great way of cooking chicken breasts in the slow cooker. Chicken breasts can dry out during slow cooking, but wrapping them in bacon protects them and helps to lock in the juices!
What You’ll Need
Here’s what you will need to make Hunter’s Chicken.
Exact ingredient quantities can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
For the wrapped chicken
Chicken breasts – Skinless and boneless chicken breasts.
Smoked bacon – Smoked bacon has a deep distinctive taste and wrapping the chicken in it imparts the flavour.
Cheese – A blend of grated mature cheddar and mozzerella is my favourite combination for topping this chicken. The cheddar brings a sharp, full flavour and the mozzarella adds creaminess and creates fabulous thick, stringy melted cheese.
Salt and pepper – Seasoning for the chicken.
For the slow cooker BBQ sauce
Passata – Sieved plum tomatoes. I like the Mutti variety for their sweetness.
Liquid Smoke – The key ingredient to an authentic and smokey flavoured BBQ sauce. Try and get this if you can, it really enhances the flavour of the sauce. I use Stubbs brand which is available in most supermarkets.
Seasoning – A blend of garlic, mustard, paprika and chilli powders with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Apple cider vinegar – gives the sauce a fruity and tart edge.
Maple syrup – adds a rich and malty sweetness. Use honey as an alternative.
Soft brown sugar – Soft brown sugar adds plenty of flavour and deepens the sauce colour, as well as adding sweetness.
You can use shop bought BBQ sauce for this recipe, if you prefer. One of my favourite brands is Bullseye Original BBQ sauce.
- Slow cooker. I have cooked this in both a 5.7L and 5L Crockpot slow cooker.
- Kitchen roll. To absorb moisture whilst cooking.
- Grill and oven safe dish (optional)
- Cheese grater
How to make Slow Cooker Hunters Chicken
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.
- Add the ingredients for the BBQ sauce to the slow cooker, and mix.
- Wrap each chicken breast in a rasher of bacon. If you’re using streaky bacon rashers (which are narrower) use two per chicken breast. Place the chicken in the slow cooker and spoon over some sauce.
- Cook on high for 2 hours.
- Remove the lid and check that the chicken is cooked, then sprinkle the cheese over the top of the chicken. Take a few sheets of kitchen roll and place tautly over the top of the pot, secure this in place with the lid and cook for a further 20 minutes.
- As an optional extra step, you can brown the cheese by removing the chicken pieces, placing in an over-proof dish and grilling for 2-5 minutes.
Serve Slow Cooker Hunters Chicken with jacket potato or chips, and fresh green salad or steamed vegetables. It’s a pretty flexible dish and goes well with many sides!
Grated cheese – Freshly grated cheddar and mozzarella are best. Bags of pre-grated cheese often contain anti-caking agents which inhibit the melting process!
Thickness of BBQ Sauce – as the chicken cooks in the BBQ sauce it releases juices that thin the sauce. The dish will still taste fantastic but if you do prefer a thick BBQ sauce and have the time, transfer the sauce to a pan and simmer for 10 minutes to reduce.
Check the chicken is cooked – You can pierce the fattest point of the chicken breast with a sharp knife, the juices should run clear, and the meat be white. I also use a meat thermometer; insert the probe into the thickest part and ensure the temperature is 75°C (165°F).
Increasing quantities – If you’re cooking more pieces of chicken, it may be necessary to stack the chicken on top of each-other in the pot. If this is the case adjustments to the quantity of sauce and cooking times will be needed – click the number of servings in the recipe card to calculate quantities.
Kitchen Roll – Placing kitchen roll under the lid helps to absorb moisture from within the slow cooker and prevents the cheese from sweating. Do not leave the pot unattended whilst doing so. As an alternative to kitchen roll use a clean dry tea towel, washed in un-fragranced detergent.
Cheese – I like the combination of cheddar and mozarella as they melt well and taste great together. When considering alternatives, look for cheeses that also melt well (avoid halloumi, feta, edam etc for this reason). Dairy free cheese can also be used if preferred.
Bacon – I use whole rashers of smoked bacon but cured or unsmoked rashers also work well and produce a subtler flavour. Streaky bacon can also be used but these tend to be thinner, fattier strips.
Chicken – As an alternative to chicken breast you could also use skinless and boneless chicken thighs or turkey escallops.
Liquid Smoke – If you don’t have liquid smoke then use smoked paprika instead of sweet in the sauce. This will give it a sweet, smokey edge.
Smokey bacon rashers give the chicken an enhanced BBQ flavour whilst cooking. Streaky bacon has a similar flavour but the rashers are narrower and have a higher proportion of fat. You can also use cured or unsmoked bacon rashers, if you prefer. I’ve even been known to use thickly cut slices of ham – it works great when you’re out of bacon!
I use apple cider vinegar as it’s fruity as well as tart. Alternatively use red or white wine vinegar, or rice wine vinegar.
Some restaurants in the UK refer to the dish as Chicken New Yorker; it’s basically the same recipe consisting of chicken wrapped in bacon, with melted cheese and BBQ sauce.
Yes absolutely, simply replace the homemade BBQ sauce with shop bought like for like in the recipe.
Slow Cooker Hunters Chicken
For the chicken
- 750 g chicken breasts 4 large chicken breasts
- 200 g smoked bacon rashers
- 150 g mature cheddar
- 100 g mozzerella cheese
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 handful flat leaf parsley
- Add all of the ingredients for the BBQ sauce to the slow cooker and stir well to combine (see recipe note 1).400g tomato passata, 4 tbsp muscavado sugar, 3 tbsp maple syrup, 3½ tbsp apple cider vinegar, 2 tsp paprika, 2 tsp garlic granules, 1½ tsp mustard powder, 1 tsp liquid smoke, ½ tsp chilli powder, ¼ tsp celery salt, ¾ tsp salt, ¼ tsp black pepper
- Season the chicken breasts lightly with salt and pepper, wrap each piece in a rasher of bacon then place in the slow cooker sitting in the sauce. If using streaky bacon (which is narrower) use two rashers per piece of chicken to ensure the chicken is well covered.750 g chicken breasts, ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp black pepper, 200 g smoked bacon rashers
- Spoon the BBQ sauce over the chicken so it is lightly covered, then cook on high for 2 hours (see recipe note 2).
- Check the chicken is cooked (see recipe note 3), then sprinkle over the grated cheese to cover well.Note: If the chicken needs more time, check every 15 minutes.150 g mature cheddar, 100 g mozzerella cheese
- Take some clean sheets of kitchen towel and put this across the top of the slow cooker, pull taut, and secure in place with the lid (see recipe note 4). Leave for a further 20 minutes on high then check the cheese is melted.
- Optionally brown the cheese by transferring the chicken breasts to an oven proof dish and placing under a medium heat grill for 2-5 minutes until the cheese browns and bubbles in places.
- Serve immediately, with some freshly chopped parsley.1 handful flat leaf parsley
- You can use shop bought BBQ sauce as an alternative to making your own, one of my favourite types is this Bullseye Original BBQ sauce.
- Cooking times stated are a guide only. Different brands and sizes of slow cooker will have variances in the way that they cook which can affect cooking times.
- To check the chicken is cooked, pierce one of the breasts in the thickest part and check it is hot throughout, the meat is white and the juices run clear. Use a meat thermometer by sticking probe into the thickest part of the breast and checking that the temperature reaches 75°C/165°F.
- Slow cookers trap in the moisture in the pot whilst cooking, however when melting cheese I like to make the cooking environment a little dryer. This prevents the cheese sweating rather than melting. To absorb some moisture I use a few sheets of clean kitchen towel placed tautly over the pot and use the lid to keep it in place. A clean tea towel will also do the same job, however make sure it has not been washed in fragranced detergent as the smell can taint the food. Do not leave unattended.