This Slow Cooker Chicken Stew is a chicken dinner winner! It’s so flavorful and perfect for a cozy winter evening.
This chicken stew starts on the stovetop to build great flavors from the caramelization of the chicken, aromatics and veggies. It is then finished in the slow cooker until all the flavors are perfected and the chicken falls apart.
You’ll love this delicious and comforting slow cooker chicken stew! It will warm your soul and make you feel right at home.
The weather is getting chillier already, which means it’s time to pull out my slow cooker and make comfort food all season long.
My all-time favorite stew is this Dutch oven beef stew, but lately I’ve been craving chicken stew. After a lot of recipe testing, I think I’ve got the best slow cooker chicken stew recipe I’ve ever made!
A Super Flavorful Chicken Stew
I’ve tested this slow cooker chicken stew recipe multiple times. My last batch was a winner, and I’m really excited to share the recipe with you all today!
Recipe testing: I tried throwing all the ingredients into my crockpot and slow cooking it. I also tried browning the chicken first and adding the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker. Both of these methods were actually meh – it was kind of bland. However, when I browned the chicken, aromatics and veggies first (along with tomato paste and fresh herbs), the results were AMAZING!
Here are the secrets to a super flavorful slow cooker chicken stew:
- Start browning the chicken, aromatics, and veggies on the stovetop. This process produces brown bits that pack tons of flavor.
- If you have a slow cooker or multi-cooker that allows you to brown and sauté all in one out, definitely go ahead and do that.
- Don’t rush the browning process. Let the flavors and caramelization develop.
- Use bone-in chicken thighs (skin removed). Chicken thighs are more flavorful and moist than breasts. Also, the bones will add GREAT flavor to the stew while it’s slow cooking.
- Use tomato paste. Adds depth of flavor and color.
- Use fresh herbs, like thyme and rosemary.
- Finish cooking in the slow cooker on HIGH for 4 hours to allow the flavors to further develop. The chicken will fall apart from the bone and be super tender!
I know, I know. Browning everything first is an added step for a slow cooker recipe, but it’s worth it. Trust me on this. I’ve tried skipping this step and let’s just say…I wish I hadn’t.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this slow cooker chicken stew, plus a few helpful notes.
- Bone-in chicken thighs: Skin removed. The bones add lots of flavor to the stew. Thighs are also moist and tender.
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- Yellow onion and garlic: The aromatics to build the base flavors.
- Carrots: What’s a chicken stew without carrots?!
- Tomato paste: Adds depth of flavor.
- Potatoes: I use red potatoes. You can also use yukon gold. Stay away from russet potatoes for this recipe, they disintegrate easily in the slow cooker.
- Thyme and rosemary: Use fresh herbs for best results.
- Chicken broth
- Bay leaves: For extra flavor.
- All-purpose flour: To thicken the stew at the end.
- Frozen peas: Omit if you don’t want peas.
- Italian parsley: for flavor and garnish.
1. Brown the chicken
Heat olive oil in a cast iron pan over medium heat. Sear chicken on both sides until golden brown. The chicken won’t be fully cooked through. Transfer chicken to the slow cooker.
Tip: Let the chicken sear undisturbed on each side so it has time to develop those golden brown colors. It should take about 5 minutes per side.
2. Sauté the aromatics and carrots
Don’t wipe the skillet clean – you want all those brown bits from the chicken. Heat more oil, and cook the onions, garlic, and carrots until fragrant and softened. As the onions sweat, scrape down the brown bits from the pan using a wooden spoon.
Tip: The moisture released as the onions cook should be enough to deglaze the brown bits left behind from the kitchen. But if it’s burning too quickly, you can add a splash of broth and deglaze.
3. Add the tomato paste and herbs
Add tomato paste and stir to coat. Add herbs and cook for another minute or so.
Add about ½ to ¾ cup of chicken broth (or ad needed) and use a wooden spoon to deglaze the brown bits stuck to the pan. This step unlocks a lot of flavor that we built with the browning process.
5. Transfer to slow cooker and cook
Transfer the onion and carrot mixture to the slow cooker. Add potatoes, bay leaves, salt, and chicken broth. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours (3.5 hours into the cooking time, you’ll need to add the flour – see next step).
6. Add the flour and finish cooking
After 3.5 hours into the cooking time, dissolve flour with broth (at room temperature, not hot broth) to make a slurry. Stir it into the stew and combine. Cover the slow cooker and continue cooking for the remaining time.
7. Shred the chicken, add peas and parsley
Remove chicken from the slow cooker and roughly shred it. Discard bones. Return chicken to the slow cooker. Add peas and parsley, if desired.
And there you have it…a delicious and comforting chicken stew!
How Long to Cook in the Slow Cooker
Cook on HIGH for 4 hours. I tried cooking the chicken stew for 6 to 8 hours on LOW, and the chicken pretty much fell apart too much.
Chicken is best when cooked for 4 hours on HIGH in the slow cooker. If cooked for too long, it will fall apart a bit too much and become stringy.
Pairing and Serving Ideas
There are so many side dishes to pair with this delicious slow cooker chicken stew! I almost always pair it with my favorite buttermilk biscuits and egg noodles. You can also bake some store-bought puff pastry – I tried that last weekend and it was so good!
Another idea is to serve with a simple greens salad or some warm bread with butter from your favorite bakery!
My favorite recipes to complete the meal:
Yes! That would be ideal. That way, you can make the entire stew in one pot without having to transfer to a slow cooker.
To make the stew super flavorful! You’re looking for the browning process to release brown bits and add depth of flavor. I’ve tried making this stew without browning first and the results were pretty bland.
You can, but the chicken may fall apart a bit too much for my taste, but totally up to you! You’re looking for tender pieces of chicken, which can be achieved with 4 hours on HIGH in the slow cooker.
Yes, you can! However, I’d recommend using bone-in chicken thighs (skin removed) for best results. The bones add lots of flavor to the stew, and chicken thighs are moist and tender naturally.
Thanks for stopping by! I hope you like this slow cooker chicken stew recipe as much as we do. It’s a keeper and will be in my regular dinner rotation this winter.
Other comforting meals you should try:
Tips for Success
- Brown and sauté everything first (either separately on the stovetop, or in your slow cooker/multi-cooker if it has a sauté function). Then transfer everything to the slow cooker and cook for 4 hours. It’s an extra step, but so worth it! Otherwise, the stew will be bland.
- Don’t rush the browning process. Let the the ingredients develop those golden brown bits that pack so much flavor.
- Use bone-in chicken thighs (skin removed). The bones will infuse the stew with even more flavor, and chicken thighs in general are moist and tender.
Slow Cooker Chicken Stew
- 5-6 quart slow cooker
- Cast iron pan
- 3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs skin removed and extra fat trimmed
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Ground black pepper
- Olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- ½ teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
- 3 medium red potatoes, quartered
- 3 dried bay leaves
- 5 cups chicken broth, divided plus more as needed
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup frozen peas
- ¼ cup finely chopped Italian parsley plus more for garnish
- Season chicken with 1 teaspoon Kosher salt and ½ teaspoon ground black pepper. In a large skillet, preferably cast iron, heat about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Sear chicken on both sides until golden brown. If needed, do it in batches. It will not be completely cooked through. Then, transfer the chicken to a large slow cooker. Tip: don’t overcrowd the pan, do it in batches if needed. Also, let chicken sear on each side undisturbed to get that golden brown color.
- To the same skillet (don’t wipe it clean), add another 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, and carrots, and saute until fragrant and golden brown, about 5-6 minutes. As the onions release moisture, scrape the brown bits from the pan using a wooden spoon – this will release a lot of flavor. Tip: Don’t rush the browning process – it’s essential to build great flavors. If there are any spots in the pan burning too quickly, add a splash of broth and scrape to deglaze.
- Stir in the tomato paste to coat the veggies, and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add in the thyme and rosemary.
- Add about ½ to ¾ cup of chicken broth and deglaze by scraping the sides and bottom of the pan to release the brown bits. Then, transfer the onions and carrots mixture to the slow cooker.
- To the slow cooker, add the potatoes, bay leaves, ½ teaspoon Kosher salt, and 4 cups of chicken broth, along with the seared chicken. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours.
- 3.5 hours into the cooking time, dilute flour with about ⅓ cup chicken broth (at room temperature, don’t use hot broth) to make a slurry. Add the slurry to the slow cooker, along with the peas. Stir to combine. Cook for the remaining 30 minutes in the slow cooker. It will thicken up as it cooks.
- Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and roughly shred it with a fork, discarding the bones. Return the shredded chicken to the slow cooker and stir to combine. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with Italian parsley. Enjoy!
- This recipe starts on the stovetop to brown all the ingredients. This process builds up great flavor. It’s an extra step, but so worth it! I’ve tried making it without browning, and the results weren’t that great.
- If your slow cooker or multi-cooker has a sauté or browning function, you can just use that instead and make everything in one pot.
- Storing: Refrigerate leftovers in an air-tight container for up to 3 days.
- Why use bone-in chicken thighs (skin removed): The bones will infuse the stew with tons of flavor. Thighs are also moist and tender.
- I’d recommend slow-cooking on HIGH for 4 hours. I’ve found that longer cooking times made the chicken fall apart too much. However, if you don’t mind that, feel free to cook on LOW for 6 hours.
- Chicken: You can use chicken breasts too, but I’d really recommend bone-in thighs (see note above)
- Herbs: Instead of 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, use 1 teaspoon dried thyme. Instead of ½ teaspoon fresh rosemary, use ¼ teaspoons dried rosemary. Adjust to taste if needed.
- Potatoes: Yukon gold is a great option. Use any kind of potatoes, except Russet potatoes because they disintegrate easily.