The Ultimate Guide to Perfectly Cooked Crock Pot Chicken Tenderloins Every Time

Chicken tenderloins are a lean, tender cut of meat that can often dry out quickly when overcooked. This makes the slow, moist heat of a crock pot the ideal cooking method to ensure juicy, flavorful tenderloins every time. But how long exactly should you cook chicken tenderloins in the crock pot? Let’s dive into all the details.

Why Cook Chicken Tenderloins in the Crock Pot?

There are several advantages to using a crock pot or slow cooker for chicken tenderloins:

  • Even Cooking: The gentle, consistent heat cooks tenderloins evenly from edge to center without drying out the exterior before the interior is done.

  • Hands-Off: Once the tenderloins go into the crock pot, you can walk away for hours without having to babysit the cooking process.

  • Moisture Retention: The sealed crock pot environment traps moisture, preventing the lean tenderloins from drying out.

  • Developed Flavors: The long, low cooking allows flavors from seasonings and aromatics to fully permeate the meat.

  • Make-Ahead Meals: Crock pot cooking is a great method for preparing larger batches of shredded chicken for meal prep.

How Long to Cook Chicken Tenderloins in the Crock Pot

The cooking time for crock pot chicken tenderloins can vary based on a few factors:

  • Size of Tenderloins: Smaller tenderloins will cook faster than larger, thicker ones.
  • Crock Pot Temperature: Food cooks faster on the HIGH setting compared to the LOW setting.
  • Amount of Liquid: Tenderloins immersed in liquid will cook a bit faster than those just cooked in their own juices.

As a general guideline, plan for the following cooking times:

  • High Setting: 1.5 – 2 hours
  • Low Setting: 3 – 4 hours

However, using a meat thermometer is the best way to ensure perfectly cooked tenderloins every time. The FDA recommends cooking chicken to an internal temperature of 165°F.

Step-by-Step Crock Pot Chicken Tenderloin Instructions

Here is a basic method for cooking chicken tenderloins in the crock pot:

Ingredients Needed:

  • 1-2 lbs chicken tenderloins
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • 1 tsp seasoning (salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth or water (optional)


  1. Prep the Tenderloins

    • Trim any excess fat or membranes from the tenderloins
    • Pat dry with paper towels
    • Rub or brush with olive oil or melted butter
    • Season as desired with salt, pepper, dried herbs, etc.
  2. Add to Crock Pot

    • Arrange tenderloins in an even layer in the crock pot
    • Pour in chicken broth or water if desired (this adds moisture)
  3. Cook on LOW or HIGH

    • Cover and cook on LOW for 3-4 hours
    • Or cook on HIGH for 1.5-2 hours
  4. Check Internal Temperature

    • Use a meat thermometer to check that tenderloins reach 165°F
    • Add more cook time as needed in 30 minute increments
  5. Rest and Serve

    • Let tenderloins rest for 5 minutes before slicing or shredding
    • Serve with your choice of sides like roasted veggies or rice

Crock Pot Chicken Tenderloin Recipe Variations

The basic crock pot chicken tenderloin technique lends itself well to countless flavor variations. Here are some tasty ideas:

  • Italian Herb Tenderloins: Use olive oil and Italian seasoning, add garlic and lemon zest/juice

  • Honey Mustard Tenderloins: Make a sauce with honey, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar

  • Barbecue Tenderloins: Toss with your favorite BBQ sauce halfway through cooking

  • Teriyaki Tenderloins: Brush with a teriyaki glaze during the last 30 minutes

  • Mexican Tenderloins: Season with taco seasoning and salsa, shred for tacos or burritos

  • Ranch Tenderloins: Use ranch seasoning and top with cheese during the last 30 minutes

You can also add vegetables like potatoes, carrots or onions to the crock pot to make it an entire one-pot meal.

Tips for Perfecting Crock Pot Chicken Tenderloins

Follow these tips to get moist, tender chicken tenderloins in the crock pot every time:

  • Don’t Overcrowd: Leave a little space between tenderloins so they cook evenly

  • Layer Flavors: Put aromatics like onions or peppers on the bottom to infuse flavors

  • Use Meat Thermometer: Don’t rely just on time – use a thermometer to verify 165°F

  • Natural Release: Let pressure release naturally if cooking from frozen to finish cooking

  • Sauce Separately: Cook sauces on the stovetop and add at the end to avoid curdling

  • Add Garnishes Last: Wait to add fresh herbs, cheese or other delicate garnishes

  • Meal Prep Option: Shred cooked tenderloins for easy meal prep chicken to use all week

With just a little planning, you can transform affordable chicken tenderloins into an incredibly moist, flavorful protein using your trusty crock pot. The next time you need an easy dinner option, give these slow cooker chicken tenderloins a try!

Slow Cooker Chicken Tenders Recipe


Is 3 hours long enough to cook chicken in a crock pot?

For a whole chicken – Place it in your slow cooker breast side down. Cover with the lid and cook on High for around 4-5 hours or Low for 6-8 hours. For bone-in pieces – Arrange chicken pieces in a single layer in the slow cooker. Cover with the lid and cook on High for around 3-4 hours or Low for 4-6 hours.

Is it better to cook chicken on high or low in crockpot?

Always cook your boneless skinless chicken breasts on LOW for the best results. I do not recommend cooking boneless chicken breast on HIGH, as it will become very dry and tough, even if you check it early. On high, the chicken turns out drier; I consistently have the best results with low.

How long does it take to cook raw chicken in a crock pot?

Cover your crock pot and cook chicken breasts on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Chicken is done when the internal temp reaches 165 degrees F. Use chicken in your favorite recipes. Perfect for shredding!

Does chicken breast get more tender the longer you cook it crock pot?

Yes, chicken breast will get softer the longer you cook it. However, if you cook it for too long, it will become dry and tough. The best way to ensure that the chicken breast stays juicy and tender is to cook it until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.

Leave a Comment