Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken Thighs

Our slow cooker chicken thighs recipe is easy and perfect for busy days. The chicken thighs are cooked to perfection, and the lemon gravy packs a lot of flavor. With a crockpot, you’ll have plenty of hands-off time, so you can relax while dinner cooks itself.

Watch the video

Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs Recipe Video

The slow cooker does magical things to chicken thighs. Chicken thighs become tender and practically mouth-watering when cooked in a slow cooker. It’s one of my favorite ways to use a slow cooker.

For this recipe, we take inspiration from our popular lemon chicken thighs recipe, made in a skillet. I love the lemony sauce, so this slow cooker recipe uses the original recipe ingredients like fresh lemon, garlic, and herbs and adapts it for the slow cooker. It’s fantastic.

Chicken thighs in a slow cooker -- the chicken was browned in a skillet first, and then added to the slow cooker.

How to make slow cooker lemon chicken thighs

We’ll start by cooking our chicken thighs. I use skin-on chicken thighs and love them in this easy recipe.

To make the best slow cooker lemon chicken thighs, rub the chicken with mustard, lemon zest, oregano, thyme, and salt. Then, brown the skin side of the thighs in a skillet for 3 to 5 minutes. This adds that golden brown color you see in our photos.

Place the thighs in your slow cooker without extra liquid, and cook until tender- around 5 to 6 hours on LOW. As the slow cooker heats up, the fat renders and falls over the chicken—meaning that our chicken cooks in its juices and fat. Other crockpot chicken recipes suggest adding extra liquid, but you don’t need to.

Here’s what the chicken looks like after 5 hours of cooking. See all that liquid in the bottom? That’s pure gold. We will skim the excess fat and mix it with our lemon gravy. It’s so tasty!

Here's what the chicken thighs look like after 5 hours of cooking in the slow cooker.

While the chicken cooks, I make the lemon gravy. It’s easy and uses the skillet we used to brown the chicken. We’ll also use some of that rendered fat and cook it with flour, lemon juice, and chicken stock. As the sauce simmers, it thickens.

Once the chicken is tender, we skim excess fat from the slow cooker and then pour in our gravy. The gravy mixes with the juices (which are delicious). This one is so good. We can’t wait for you to try it!

Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken Thighs

Serving suggestions

When serving these slow cooker chicken thighs, choose a side that will help soak up all that delicious lemon gravy. I especially love this chicken and the gravy served over a bowl of grits, creamy mashed potatoes or creamy mashed cauliflower. Some bread to soak up the sauce is nice, too. Try our homemade focaccia or these easy, no-yeast flatbreads.

Ultra tender lemon chicken in our slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken Thighs

  • PREP
  • COOK

We both love these slow cooker chicken thighs! They are tender and delicious, and thanks to a crock pot, this recipe is hands-off most of the time!

We make a simple lemony gravy for the chicken. This happens in the same skillet the chicken is browned in before being added to the slow cooker and saved for when the chicken is done cooking. At the end of cooking, there will be just over 2 cups of chicken broth in the bottom of the slow cooker — some of this is rendered fat, which we prefer to remove. After skimming most of the fat from the broth, you are left with a flavorful chicken broth. For serving, combine this broth with the lemon gravy. It’s delicious.

Add as many chicken pieces (thighs or breasts) as will fit in one layer at the bottom of your slow cooker. They can be pretty snug, and as they cook, they reduce in size.

Makes 6 to 8 chicken thighs

Watch Us Make the Recipe

You Will Need

6 to 8 chicken thighs, skin-on, bone-in, trimmed of excess fat, about 2 pounds

1 tablespoon Dijon grain mustard

1 tablespoon lemon zest, 1 teaspoon for rub and 2 teaspoons for sauce

1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice, from 1 large lemon

1 ¼ cups low-sodium chicken stock, see our chicken stock recipe

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour


  • Prepare Chicken Thighs
  • 1Make a rub for chicken. Combine mustard, 1 ½ teaspoons of lemon zest, oregano, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a small bowl. Use fingers or a brush to coat chicken on both sides with the mustard rub.

    2In another bowl or measuring jug, combine the remaining lemon zest (1 ½ teaspoons), lemon juice, and the chicken stock. Set aside.

    3Make-ahead: The chicken and lemon-chicken stock mixture can be prepared up to one day in advance. Cover and keep them in the refrigerator.

  • Cook Chicken Thighs
  • 1Heat the remaining teaspoon of oil in a large oven-safe skillet or frying pan over medium heat. Add the chicken, skin-side down, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the skin turns golden brown and some fat has rendered.

    2Transfer the browned chicken thighs to a slow cooker and arrange them in one layer, with the skin facing up. Cover with a lid, then cook on LOW for 5 to 6 hours or until the chicken is tender. Save the skillet with drippings for making the sauce.

  • Make Lemon Gravy
  • 1Remove all but two tablespoons of fat from the skillet used to brown the chicken. If there is not enough fat, add butter, so two tablespoons are in the pan.

    2Place over medium heat until hot, then whisk in the flour. Whisk until the flour and fat turn into a smooth paste and look medium blonde in color; about 1 minute. Pour in the lemon juice-stock mixture and whisk until smooth.

    3Bring the sauce to a low simmer. As it simmers, it thickens and becomes glossy. Transfer to a jar or measuring jug and refrigerate until the chicken is ready.

  • To Finish
  • 1When the chicken finishes cooking, it will be sitting in an inch or so of cooking liquid and rendered fat. Transfer the chicken to a plate, then skim as much fat from the liquid as possible. There should be almost 2 cups of liquid left in the slow cooker.

    2Warm the lemon gravy made earlier, add it to the slow cooker, and whisk until blended. Place the chicken thighs back into the slow cooker for serving or serve with the gravy drizzled on top.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Can I use chicken breasts? Absolutely. If you can find them, use skin-on chicken breasts since the skin keeps the chicken very tender and adds flavor while it cooks.
  • Skip the lemon gravy: If you are short on time, you can skip the lemon sauce. The cooking liquid that is left in the slow cooker after cooking the chicken over 5 hours is delicious and works very nicely spooned over the chicken or any sides you plan to serve it with.
  • Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values.
Nutrition Per Serving Serving Size 1 thigh / Calories 252 / Protein 23 g / Carbohydrate 2 g / Dietary Fiber 0 g / Total Sugars 0 g / Total Fat 16 g / Saturated Fat 4 g / Cholesterol 133 mg / Sodium 313 mg
AUTHOR:  Adam and Joanne Gallagher
Inspired Taste Newsletter Signup
71 comments… Leave a Review
  • Jackie Young March 18, 2024, 6:13 pm

    This was so easy and so delicious – will definitely be on my weekly rotation. I added a bit of garlic to the rub also, which added to the flavour.

  • Joy February 15, 2024, 1:42 pm

    Absolutely delicious! Can I double it? Or, since its only supposed to be a single layer, will that mess it up? Thanks!

    • Joanne February 15, 2024, 3:04 pm

      Hi Joy, I think you should be okay with doubling.

      • Joy February 16, 2024, 10:11 am

        Wonderful — thanks!

  • Mo November 18, 2023, 9:53 am

    Great recipe thank you. Curious if anyone has tried batch cooking this and freezing it?

  • K September 17, 2023, 11:30 pm

    Do you think I can put both thighs and wings in this?

    • Joanne January 31, 2024, 2:52 pm

      Yes, absolutely.

  • Sera J August 30, 2023, 6:46 pm

    Im about to try this recipe with skin-off chicken thighs as thats all I could get at the store today. Will they turn out dry without the fat from the skin? Or any modifications for skin off thighs with this recipe? Thanks so much!

    • Joanne August 30, 2023, 6:59 pm

      You should be okay, but consider a little drizzle of olive oil over the chicken thighs before turning on the slow cooker.

    • Makayla January 14, 2024, 10:35 am

      How did it come out? Considering doing this tonight. Did u brown the chicken thighs still ?


Leave a Reply

Leave a Review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe!


All comments are moderated before appearing on the site. Thank you so much for waiting. First time commenting? Please review our comment guidelines. You must be at least 16 years old to post a comment. All comments are governed by our Privacy Policy & Terms.

Previous Post: Next Post: