Need an easy but filling weeknight meal? This Ultimate Crock Pot Chicken Spaghetti is the perfect, simple, delicious slow cooker meal for those busy evenings!
Chicken Spaghetti is one of my ultimate comfort foods. It’s gooey, cheesy, and just plain delicious, so it makes perfect sense that my original Ultimate Chicken Spaghetti is the most popular recipe on the blog. But I got to wondering, “How do we improve upon it?”
Well, I happen to think it’s pretty dang close to perfection, but I knew there had to be something I could do. So I adapted it into a slow cooker recipe. Oh yes I did. Slow. Cooker. Perfection.
This Crock Pot Chicken Spaghetti recipe makes putting this delicious dish on the table even easier – especially on those busy weeknights! I’m super impressed with how well this works in the slow cooker.
Can you cook dry pasta in a slow cooker?
While you absolutely can cook dry pasta in a slow cooker, I really don’t recommend it. When you cook pasta in a slow cooker, you run the risk of it getting mushy. That is why I suggest that for the best results, cook the spaghetti noodles in this recipe separately by simply boiling it per the package direction. It will only add a few minutes to the overall cook time, and that way you are guaranteed yummy and not mushy pasta!
Can I put frozen chicken in the slow cooker?
I’m sure we have all come across recipes online that recommend throwing frozen chicken in a slow cooker to save time and work. However, the USDA is pretty clear about their warning against cooking chicken from frozen in the slow cooker. They advise you first thaw the meat and then place it in the slow cooker, like I suggest in this recipe.
Overall, I believe the USDA’s concerns derive from not being able to guarantee the chicken is cooked through because most recipes don’t account for the added cook time needed to get the chick from frozen to done.
The other issue is that the chicken ends up in that danger zone of 40° to 140°F for too long as it goes from frozen to cooked.
The best rule of thumb is always to use a meat thermometer to guarantee that the chicken exceeds 165°F. You want your chicken to reach this temperature in order to avoid bacteria that may grow rapidly in undercooked chicken.
Therefore, USDA guidelines truly minimize the risk of food-borne illness, but if you really want to start cooking your chicken from frozen be sure to add extra cook time and use a meat thermometer to guarantee safely edible chicken!
Or, simply do as I like to do and take your boneless skinless chicken breasts out of the freezer the night before and allow them to thaw in the fridge before cooking them the next day.
Can I use rotisserie chicken or canned chicken?
My quick answer is “yes.” But since the chicken is already cooked, we don’t want to run the risk of it getting overcooked by adding in the beginning with the rotel, Velveeta, and soups. I’d suggest adding it in about 30 minutes before you cook your pasta. This will give the chicken time to heat through while not overcooking it. Keep in mind though, rotisserie chicken is often seasoned. Therefore, this can greatly affect the overall flavor of this cheesy chicken spaghetti.
I also want to add that in my humble opinion, the canned chicken, while allowed, does not receive my biggest stamp of approval. Canned chicken can be mushy and soaked in lots of salt. If you are in a bind, then by all means use canned chicken. But if you can avoid it, I recommend just making the chicken as I detail out in this recipe.
Tips for Crockpot Chicken Spaghetti
Stick with my 4 hour sweet spot! I’ve found that many recipes call for you to cook chicken in the slow cooker for 8 to 10 hours, but this often results in tough, mealy, dry chicken. Four hours is the sweet spot and the total time you need to get the chicken cooked through and still juicy. Also, cooking for much longer might result in scorched cheese… and nobody wants that. While 4 hours isn’t terribly convenient, neither is dry chicken and scorched cheese.
Use any slow cooker! Yes, a slow cooker and a crock pot are the same thing. Sorry for the confusion. Crock-Pot is just a brand name of slow cooker. So any brand slow cooker will do the trick for this crockpot chicken spaghetti recipe.
Use a mixer for shredding chicken! If you’re super impatient like me, you can use a mixer to shred the chicken, and you don’t have to wait until it cools enough to handle. My buddy Christy Jordan shows you how. You can also get shredded chicken in a jiffy with a hand mixer.
Great for leftovers! Simply store your leftover cooked spaghetti in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The next day reheat your leftovers in the microwave for a delicious second meal!
Substitutions are welcome! If you can’t find cream of mushroom soup or just don’t like it, you can easily swap in cream of chicken soup in its place. You could also use other pastas in place of the spaghetti, like penne pasta or macaroni.
Ultimate Crock Pot Chicken Spaghetti
- 2 (10.5-ounce) cans cream of mushroom soup
- 1 (10-ounce) can Ro*Tel Tomatoes
- 4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
- 1 (16-ounce) package Velveeta cheese, cubed
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 (16-ounce) package spaghetti
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Spray the crock of a 6-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Add the undiluted soup, undrained tomates, cream cheese, Velveeta, garlic powder, and onion powder and mix well. Add the chicken breasts and cover with the lid. Cook on low for about 4 hours or until the chicken is just cooked through. Cooking much longer than 4 hours may result in tough chicken and scorched sauce, so be cautious.
- Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the slow cooker using tongs and allow it to cool slightly. Stir the sauce remaining in the slow cooker well. Once the chicken is cooled enough to handle, shred it and and return it to the slow cooker and mix with the sauce. Cover.
- Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain well and add the pasta to the slow cooker. Mix well. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the top and replace the lid. Allow the cheese to melt then serve.
* If nutritional values are provided, they are an estimate and will vary depending on the brands used. The values do not include optional ingredients or when ingredients are added to taste. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, I recommend grabbing your favorite brands and plugging those ingredients into an online nutritional calculator.
This recipe was linked up to Weekend Potluck!