Cooking chicken legs in the slow cooker is one of the easiest ways to have dinner ready when you come home from a busy day. Some of the best tips for doing so include removing the skin prior to placing it in the slow cooker and setting the appliance to high for the first hour of cooking if possible. It is also important not to remove the lid during the cooking process, as this can extend the amount of time that the chicken legs have to cook.
Unlike high heat or other cooking methods that either allow the fat from a piece of meat to drain off or to caramelize, fat often dissolves in a slow cooker, making the dish heavy and greasy. One of the best tips for cooking chicken legs in the slow cooker is to remove the skin and any visible fat prior to cooking it. If you do not do this, the chicken will cook slowly in excess grease and the skin will typically develop a slimy texture, something that most people do not enjoy. For those who prefer the skin on their chicken legs, browning them in a pan prior to placing them in the slow cooker can help to prevent this problem.
In order for meat to cook safely, it needs to be brought up to a temperature of at least 140°F (60°C) as quickly as possible. Food safety is of the utmost importance when cooking any type of meat, especially when cooking chicken legs in the slow cooker. To do this, turn the slow cooker on high for the first hour of cooking and then reduce the heat to low for the remainder of the cooking process. If you do not have time to do this, make sure that the chicken is completely thawed prior to placing it in the slow cooker on low. Frozen chicken takes significantly longer to reach the safe temperature of 140°F (60°C), and is more likely to develop harmful bacteria before it is fully cooked.
For those who are not used to cooking chicken legs in the slow cooker, it can be a natural tendency to remove the lid every so often to stir the food. Despite this, unlike cooking on a stovetop or in an oven, it is important not to remove the lid or disturb the contents when cooking chicken legs in the slow cooker. It is estimated that every time you remove the lid, you are extending the cooking process by up to a half-an-hour due to the heat loss that happens when the lid is removed. This can be especially dangerous in the first two hours of cooking when the chicken legs have not yet reached a safe temperature.