A lot of people put their slow cookers away once spring or summer comes. Why? Are you not just as busy during the summer? If anything during the summertime I find a) it’s too hot to be in the kitchen slaving over a stove and b) while I like to eat healthy year-round, I eat even healthier during the summer. Slow cookers are perfect for healthy meals! The point is, keep the slow cooker out and you can keep cooking healthy year-round.
From March through November my husband competes in one triathlon a month. He’s training pretty much non-stop. As his pit crew (that’s what he calls me), I like to keep him properly fueled without losing the taste. This lemon pepper chicken recipe is right up his alley. It’s simple, healthy and packed with flavor without being overbearingly spicy with the pepper.
You’ll need a large slow cooker for this meal. I used my 6 Quart Programmable Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker and 2 pounds of chicken along with the rice fit perfectly. If you use anything smaller (like a 4 quart) you will need to cut the recipe in half. While I chose skin-on chicken legs, you can also use skin-on thighs or a combo of the two. I browned the chicken beforehand in some ghee. If you don’t have time to brown your chicken, don’t worry the dish will still taste good. After I poured the lemon pepper broth into the slow cooker, I sliced 1 lemon and add that on top of the food. This is not necessary but recommended.
This cooked in about 2.5 hours on HIGH for me. Every slow cooker heats differently so yours could be done in 2 hours or it could take 3. The meat should be very tender when you take it out the slow cooker so be careful. I suggest using a slotted spoon to help it from falling apart.
To rice or not to rice? I like to add the rice to make this a more complete meal. If you add the rice, it is important you use instant brown rice not regular brown rice. Pre-cooked (instant) rice needs to be used because using regular will result in a sticky almost gummy-like rice. Trust me, you don’t want gummy rice ruining your chicken. You can of course leave the brown rice out all together and just let the chicken cook in the broth. Once all the rice is absorbed then your meal is finished and ready to eat. I like to let my rice overcook just a little bit so the bottoms get a little crisp. Crisp not burnt. Regardless of whether or not you do that last part, you should find that the rice too will have a light lemon pepper flavor it.
Slow Cooker Lemon Pepper Chicken
- 2 pounds skin-on chicken legs or thighs
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- Juice of 1 lemon (approximately 3 tablespoons lemon juice)
- 1 teaspoon lemon rind
- 1 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons ghee (clarified butter) or extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil
- 2 cups instant brown rice
- 1 lemon, sliced (optional)
- In a small bowl mix together low-sodium chicken broth, lemon juice and rind, black pepper, garlic and paprika. Pour mixture into the bottom of the slow cooker.
- In a large skillet, add ghee and melt over medium-high heat. Once melted, add chicken and brown evenly on each side, 3-5 minutes.
- Place chicken in the slow cooker. If you are using the lemon slices, add those on top of the chicken.
- Cook HIGH 2.5-3 hours or low 4-6. You will know the chicken is done when the internal temperature reaches 165° Fahrenheit (75° Celsius).
- Once the chicken is done cooking, remove it from slow cooker and stir in the instant brown rice.
- Add the chicken back into the slow cooker on top of the rice.
- Cook HIGH an additional 15-30 minutes or until the rice is tender. You will know it’s done when all the liquid is absorbed.
Shannon Epstein’s blog FitSlowCookerQueen provides healthy, versatile recipes using sustainable ingredients. Her recipes vary from gluten-free, paleo, low-carb, etc. and are most often made in the slow cooker. Follow Shannon on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.