Slow Cooker Citrus Chicken
Slow Cooker Citrus Chicken yields bright citrus flavors and tender, juicy, fall-off-the-bone chicken. A super easy recipe perfect for bone-in chicken legs and thighs!
You guys. It’s August. How did this happen?
Every year I think summer is going to be this amazing, relaxing time to slow down and enjoy the long days and warm weather.
Instead it turns into a whirlwind of entertaining and guests and projects and trips and work and driving an energetic four year-old around to a million different camps.
It’s fun. I love it. I do. But it’s a lot.
One thing that is saving us this summer is the slow cooker.
I know people often think of the slow cooker for hearty fall and winter soups and stews, but it’s also a game changer for the warmer months when routines get wonky and there’s less time to cook.
This recipe is really perfect any time of year, but the bright citrus flavors just feel like summer.
I’ll definitely be making this one in the cold months to lighten up the dark days.
My inspiration for this recipe came from The Pioneer Woman’s Pollo Asado, which she marinates and grills.
I wanted a crockpot shortcut, and I think it works really well with the low, slow cooking time.
Especially with a blast under the broiler to crisp up the skin. So yummy!
You can serve these bone-in chicken legs with warm tortillas, beans, and pico de gallo.
Or serve the chicken with rice or cauliflower rice, a big salad and maybe some roasted veggies.
The flavors are so versatile they work well with just about anything.
The ingredient list is short, too, making it the perfect standby for late in the week when you’re low on ingredients and on time.
I hope you all enjoy.
Now, let’s make some Slow Cooker Citrus Chicken!
recipe & kid-friendly adaptations
1 | If you don’t have lemons and limes, just use 4 lemons or 4 limes.
2 | Serve the chicken on the bone, or shred the meat and serve in rice bowls or in tacos with beans, pico de gallo, guacamole or sliced avocado, and plenty of hot sauce.
this recipe is…
Dairy FreeGluten FreeNut FreePaleoWhole30
Slow Cooker Citrus Chicken (Pollo Asado)
- 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 teaspoons honey, omit for whole30
- 4 whole garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 pound bone-in chicken thighs
- 1 pound bone-in chicken legs
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- In a small bowl, whisk together the orange, lemon, lime juice, and honey along with ¼ teaspoon salt. Set aside ¼ cup of the citrus mixture.
- Place the chicken thighs and legs into the base of a 6-quart slow cooker. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt, then pour over the remaining citrus mixture. Nestle in the onion pieces and garlic cloves. Note: You may also add the citrus rinds at this point (as pictured). Some readers have found the addition of the rinds bitter, so if in doubt, discard them out and just use the juice.
- Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5-6, or until the chicken is tender and falling off the bone.
- Remove the chicken from the slow cooker. Place the legs and thighs onto a metal baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons citrus mixture, then broil on high 5-10 minutes or until the skin is crispy.
- Serve the remaining citrus mixture for dipping and serve the chicken immediately. Alternatively, if you prefer to skip the broiler, simply remove the skin and serve the chicken shredded off the bone with the citrus mixture on the side for dipping.
Nutrition Information:Nutrition disclaimer
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This looks amazing! Citrus and chicken sound amazing together 😀
It’s a great combo! I hope you enjoy Anne. 🙂
Eek! I just made this and it turned out PERFECT! I can’t wait to eat the rest this week, and make it for years to come!
Yay, so happy you enjoyed Nastacia! 🙂
Can I use boneless/skinless chicken breasts?
Katie, I haven’t tried this recipe with boneless/skinless chicken breasts, but I imagine the flavors would still be good. I usually cook 1-2 pounds of chicken breasts for 4 hours on low or 6 on high. Skip the broiling step, since the chicken breasts won’t really brown without skin. Let us know how it turns out!
I have all the ingredients in the fridge, but it looks like I have more than enough leftovers for a meal. Do you think I could put all the ingredients into a Ziploc and freeze for use next week when we have family visiting?
Upon a bit further thinking, I could cook it and freeze it and finish it on the grill with some fresh citrus.
Sounds like a fantastic plan, Karen!
This looks great! Would a whole chicken work instead of thighs and legs? I get a whole chicken from our local organic farm each month and I’m picking it up today! I would love to try this recipe on Sunday! 🙂
Stephanie, I do think it would work. You’ll probably need to add additional time (you can modify using the instructions in this recipe: https://realfoodwholelife.com/blog/slow-cooker-garlic-balsamic-whole-chicken). Let us know how it turns out!
Great, thank you Robyn!
I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for a few weeks and just made it tonight. It looks amazing but it was incredibly bitter, I’m assuming from the lime. It was cloyingly bitter to the point where it got tossed out. Did anyone else experience this issue?
Aniss, so far there have been nothing but good reviews for this recipe, so I’m not sure what happened. You could definitely omit the lime and just use orange in the future.
Mine came out really bitter too!
Else, hmm, not sure what’s going on with that. Mine still comes out well. I can go back and retest to see if I can figure out what’s going on.
I did test this recipe again and it came out just fine. I did add a note regarding the lime juice (with some options to reduce any potential bitterness).
Mine also came out really bitter the first time I made this, but I tried it again and didn’t cook it with any of the citrus rinds and it turned out wonderful! There was none of the bitterness and I’ve made it a bunch of times since then. Thanks for the recipe it’s a family favorite!
Laura, thanks so much for sharing, this is a great tip for people. So glad you’re enjoying this one!
It’s definitely the rinds. Mine is horribly bitter. I remembered too late I had this same experience with rinds in another recipe. The chicken is inedible. Such a bummer.
Sorry this one didn’t work out for you, Tina. I’ve had people make it with the rinds and have no problem. I will go back and add a note regarding the rinds for folks.
I’m making this for the first time today. I’m confused. Picture shows citrus rinds in slow cooker but directions don’t mention rinds.
Hey Janice, photos are always an inspiration. Please refer to the recipe for specific instructions. Hope you enjoy!
I re-read all comments to digest the tips a few times. Sounds like no rinds is the suggestion. I hope you can update photo to reflect that, too.
Amy, many people still enjoy the rinds, so it’s definitely personal preference. As noted in the recipe, if you’re concerned at all or sensitive to bitter then best to leave them out.
I am anxious to make this when we go camping but I won’t have a broiler or grill. Do you think it will be good without the crisping step?
Hi Joni, if you don’t have anything to crisp up the skin you might want to just discard it–it gets pretty mushy during the long cooking process. The meat should still be flavorful and tender even without the skin. I hope you enjoy!
Gotcha! I will remove the skin then. I have a feeling this will be delicious even without the crisp skin. Thank you!
You’re welcome, Joni. Enjoy your trip!
The chicken was delicious, I don’t have a broiler so popped it under the grill (UK) on full, for 5 minutes and the skin crisped up perfectly.
I served with rice and poured some sauce on top.
I did add extra lemon juice in at the end as it wasn’t as flavour packed as I expected. I did wish it had thickened, but I might tweak that somehow for next time.
Charlotte, so glad you enjoyed this one! Thanks for your review. 🙂
What is the point of slow cooking if you have to broil it anyway?
Shaun, you don’t have to broil it if you don’t want to. However, you’re not going to have crispy skin when you slow cook chicken. Sounds like this recipe isn’t for you.
Delicious! I used all thighs and doubled the recipe. We ate the chicken over salad and my family of 4 enjoyed it. My daughter and I used the leftover citrus mix as a salad dressing and it was refreshingly delicious.
Ohhhh, love the idea of using chicken thighs in this one! Thanks for the tip and for leaving a review!
Step 2 is missing a lot. No mention of onions or garlic steps, etc.
Hi Jasmine, per the recipe, the onion and garlic added in step two. Hope you enjoy!