Chicken is, in my opinion, the most versatile of meats. It can be roasted, fried, grilled, or boiled. Although breasts are the leaner part of the chicken, thighs are by far the most flavorful. Bone-in chicken thighs are, to me, the best cut. The bone provides another layer of flavor you don’t get when removed. Thigh fillets are delicious too, but not as good in my opinion.
This crockpot chicken thighs recipe is easy, full of bold flavors, and is always been a favorite in my house. Soy sauce and ketchup, when combined with spices, make the most wonderful sauce for chicken.
We are trying to eat clean and not buy tons of processed foods. The original recipe called for ketchup, but as we all know, high fructose corn syrup is not good for you.
We will make our own ketchup using all-natural ingredients like maple syrup and tomato paste in this recipe. Also, instead of using regular soy sauce, I recommend using the low sodium one, making it even more healthy.
Crockpot Chicken Thighs Ingredients:
- Chicken thighs: I like to use bone-in chicken thighs for added flavor. When the slow-cooking chicken, the bone gives so much flavor to the sauce and the meat itself. I also leave the skin on for the same reason. If you want to reduce the calories in this dish, remove the skin.
- Olive oil: normally, if I am eating a salad, I use extra virgin olive oil, but since we are using it to fry the chicken, I recommend using light olive oil, which is better suited for frying at high temperatures.
- Tomato paste: this will be the base for our homemade ketchup. It is definitely healthier to make your own ketchup than to buy most commercial brands. If you buy ketchup for your family, please buy the one that has pure cane sugar and no high fructose corn syrup.
- White vinegar is responsible for the tangy taste in ketchup. It is the most neutral-tasting vinegar so that it won’t interfere with the taste of the finished product. Apple cider vinegar can also be used, although the taste will be a bit different.
- Maple syrup: game-changer in the ketchup scene. You can also use honey, but I prefer the milder taste of maple syrup. Clean eating is going to make you feel so much better. All-natural ingredients that are good for you. Maple syrup provides the sweetness in ketchup for this recipe.
- Onion and garlic powders: spices naturally found in ketchup, they give it the extra layer of flavor that makes it taste almost exactly like the commercial brands. Without spices, food has no depth of flavor.
- Mustard powder: like onion and garlic powder, it gives ketchup a slight bitterness and earthiness, which may not be easily detected as such by your tastebuds, but it definitely adds another layer of flavor.
- Worcestershire sauce: a little bit of sauce goes a long way to season your ketchup. A teaspoonful is all you need to make a difference.
- Fresh garlic: nothing can substitute the flavor of freshly minced garlic. Please do not overdo it, but adding a moderate amount, gives food a distinct aroma that can’t be accomplished by any other condiment.
- Reduced sodium soy sauce: regular soy sauce has way too much sodium. When trying to eat healthily, always replace soy sauce with the reduced-sodium one in your recipes. I promise you will not sacrifice flavor. You are only reducing your sodium intake. If you want to make this dish gluten-free, I recommend replacing the soy sauce with liquid aminos. Soy sauce contains gluten.
- Parsley: added for flavor as well as for presentation. I use fresh and dry interchangeably and only add it to the very end. Parsley has a very delicate flavor that I think goes to waste if you cook it for too long, especially when used with such strong-flavored ingredients like ketchup and soy sauce.
How To Make Crockpot Chicken Thighs?
- Season thighs with salt and pepper on both sides.
- On medium-high heat, heat the skillet and add olive oil. Pan-fry the chicken thighs skin side down until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.
- Remove from skillet and place thighs inside crockpot in a single layer.
- Prepare the sauce: in a medium-sized bowl, whisk together tomato paste, water, vinegar, maple syrup, Worcestershire sauce, and minced garlic.
- Add the garlic powder, onion powder, and mustard powder.
- Mix in the soy sauce.
- Pour sauce over chicken thighs and cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3.
Substitutions For This Recipe:
- If you want to make a reduced-fat version of this meal, use skinless chicken thighs. The skin really contains a lot of fat and, although it adds a lot of flavors, it also adds a lot of calories and saturated fat.
- It’s ok to use chicken thigh fillets instead of bone-in chicken thighs. It makes them easier to eat if you have little ones in the house.
- You can use apple cider vinegar or malt vinegar instead of white. It will alter the taste of the ketchup a little bit, but not extremely. I believe in using what you have at home.
- If you are allergic to gluten, please use liquid aminos or gluten-free soy sauce for this recipe, as regular soy sauce has gluten in it.
- If you don’t have pure maple syrup at home, you can definitely use honey. Again, if you are trying to watch your calorie intake, you can use monk fruit sweetener or sugar-free syrup. If you want to eat clean, I recommend using monk fruit instead of sugar-free syrup, which contains artificial sweeteners and gums.
What To Serve With Crockpot Chicken?
Like any other well-balanced meal, this one needs a veggie and a carb side. If you check our Blog, we have a delicious Rice Pilaf recipe. You can also serve it with our Wild Rice or Mexican Rice. White rice is always a great idea too.
If you are not a fan of rice, please check out our potato dishes: Pan Fried Potatoes and Onions, Creamed Potatoes, or our delicious Potatoes Romanoff with Cheese. Adding steamed veggies or a side salad makes this a nutritious and complete meal.
Tips For Perfect Crockpot Chicken Thighs:
- I can’t say enough how good your chicken will taste by browning the skin, so please do not skip this part. It really makes all the difference.
- Do not forget to season the chicken thighs on both sides.
- Be sure not to overcrowd the crockpot. Try adding the thighs in one single layer so they all get cooked equally, and the sauce can make a delicious crust on top of each thigh.
MORE CHICKEN RECIPES YOU MIGHT ENJOY
- Baked Bbq Chicken Wings
- Baked Teriyaki Chicken Thighs
- Cilantro Lime Chicken
- Brown Sugar Garlic Chicken
Crock Pot Chicken Thighs
- Crock pot
- 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon light olive oil
- 6 oz tomato paste
- ¼ cup water
- ½ ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ⅛ tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ tsp dried mustard
- ⅓ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. This will ensure they are properly seasoned.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, add olive oil. Always start with a hot skillet before adding the oil. Do not add oil to a cold skillet, and then heat it.
- Once the oil is hot (it only takes a few seconds), put your chicken thighs skin side down. Do not crowd the skillet, or they won’t brown properly. Skillet and oil must be hot to achieve a perfect sear on the skin and brown evenly.
- Do not move the chicken thighs around. Let them sizzle in the hot oil for at least 3 minutes. Check on them just by picking them up with thongs. Once you are satisfied with the browning, remove them and put them into your crockpot in one single layer.
- Make the ketchup: using a whisk, mix the tomato paste, water, white vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, maple syrup, and garlic until it is smooth and uniform. Normally, when making only ketchup, I don’t add the minced garlic, but since we are using it in this recipe, I added it to the ketchup to ensure it got well incorporated into the sauce.
- Add the spices: garlic powder, onion powder, and mustard powder to the mix and whisk until smooth. This is your homemade ketchup.
- Add the reduced-sodium soy sauce to the ketchup and mix well. Pour this sauce over the chicken thighs, making sure you cover them well.
- Cook for 3 hours on HIGH or for 5 hours on LOW. It really makes no difference in the taste of the chicken if you cook it on high or low. It depends on what timing is more convenient for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How To Store Leftover Crockpot Chicken Thighs? You can either refrigerate them in an airtight container for up to 4 days, or you can freeze them for up to three months.
- Can you put frozen chicken thighs in a crockpot? I would not recommend doing this. The slow cooking method would take forever to defrost the frozen chicken, and it is not safe to do it this way.
- How long does it take to cook chicken thighs in the crockpot? If you brown them before putting them in the crockpot, the cooking process has begun, so just 3 hours on high or 5 on low is enough. If you don’t brown them, 4 hours on low and 6 on high should do it.
- What to put in the crockpot with chicken thighs? You can either cook them with a sauce, or you can add veggies like carrots, green beans, and onion. You can even make a soup if you add chicken stock to the crockpot. It really depends on the kind of recipe you are making.
If you like this Crockpot Chicken Thighs recipe, please leave a comment and give this recipe a rating. I would love to hear from you and I truly appreciate your feedback! I will always do my best to respond to every comment ASAP. Thank you for following along! and happy cooking!