This recipe has A LOT of flavor. From the rich spice aroma of the ginger to the juicy, decadent flavor of the apple butter glaze, this apple butter chicken recipe is sure to have your taste buds working overtime! And to add savory to the already wonderful mix of sweet and spicy, we are going to top it off with bacon. It will be the cherry to our sundae. No, we're not making ice cream. Maybe one day I will.
I did oddly have a really hard time deciding what to serve this with. Ultimately I went with white rice. And it went very well with the chicken. But I was mulling over the ideas of biscuit and veggies or a cold salad as well. I guess it isn't a bad thing when something is so delicious that it sounds good with everything, right? 😉
Get the chicken off the heat.
I tried something new in an attempt to keep the chicken from getting too dry. I usually just put the chicken in the bottom of the crockpot. Here, I wanted to try to elevate the chicken so that it is not coming in direct contact with the heat source for the crockpot. The idea is that the chicken won't become as dry and the bottom of the chicken maybe won't be too soggy from having slow cooked in its own juices for hours.
Peel an onion and slice about five 1/2 inch thick slices, leaving all the layers of each slices together. These slices, or pucks, will be what separates the chicken from the direct bottom of the crockpot.
If you are going to end up shredding the chicken, letting it cook in its own juices is going to be more than fine. However, if your plan was to serve the chicken as whole pieces, I recommend lifting the chicken a bit. I was becoming frustrated that no matter how I adjusted the cook temp or time, the meat kept seeming to dry out. So I did a little research and incorporated my newfound wisdom for you 🙂
Let's talk about apple butter.
The apple butter that I had on deck for this recipe was given to us as a gift and was the first time I had ever tasted apple butter. My initial reaction was that it tasted like apple sauce. But like...POW! APPLE SAUCE! You know? A little bit of that stuff went a very long way. At first, I was using it in small doses on toast. Typically, I am a berry or apricot jam kind of gal. But I got a little crazy with the apple butter a couple of times 😉
Unbeknownst to me, because I had not yet stumbled across apple butter, it is commonly used for baking. So now I know that. Ignorance is bliss at times, however. This time, my ignorance to apple butter allowed for a more unique, unbiased take on how it should be used. I went more of a savory cooking route with this apple butter chicken recipe. Maybe if I had initially been aware of apple butter's standard use, mine would have turned into some sort of apple crumble coffee cake of sorts. But I did not know about the apple butter. So I winged it. And things still went very, very well.
I went heavy on the seasonings.
For a reason. That apple butter was potent and I didn't want the dish to end up tasting like I cooked it in apple sauce. I needed to combat the sweet. My weapon of choice? Spicy, of course. After all, "spiced" and "apple" compliment each other very well. Cinnamon seemed too obvious for the apple. I didn't want to adhere to obvious. So I decided to make ginger my focus for the "spiced" apple inspiration. Cayenne and chili powder had their time to shine too when I found myself wanting a little more flavor and heat.
Your kitchen is going to smell wonderful 🙂
We're adding butter to the butter.
That ought to get your attention. Technically apple butter is not butter. For the sake of simple argument, it's just apples and spices cooked and blended until it has the consistency of butter. But "adding butter to the butter" sounded too good to not say.
I had a couple of reasons for adding regular butter to the apple butter. Surely the apple butter was viscous enough to spread over the chicken as it was. Not only did I want another means to prevent the final dish from tasting like it was cooked in apple sauce. But I also just think that slow cooking meat, especially dry meat like chicken, with butter is ultimately going to add extra flavor and moistness.
And then we're adding bacon to all o' that.
Okay so it's just turkey bacon. But still. I encourage you to use the real deal if you fancy yourself some pork. I have not yet delved back into the land of eating pork (I have particular dietary preferences), however, so I am rolling with the turkey bacon. Still savory and super delicious. Want extra savory? Use real bacon, I won't mind 😉
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 3 hours
Makes 2 servings
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, frozen
1/3 cup apple butter
3 tbsp butter
4 pieces turkey bacon, halved
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
Pepper to taste
Optional to elevate the chicken:
Onion, sliced into 1/2 inch pucks
1) Put small frying pan over medium heat to allow it to begin heating up.
2) Spray the crockpot.
3) Line the bottom of the crockpot with onion pucks.
4) Put the chicken in the crockpot.
5) Add seasonings to the chicken.
6) NOTE: Do this step carefully. Add butter and apple butter to the hot pan on the stove top. As the pan will now be hot, the butter and apple butter may splatter when they hit the pan. I recommend wearing an old long sleeve t-shirt if you want to avoid getting irritatingly burned by splattering butter pellets.
7) Using a rubber spatula, continuously stir the contents of the pan until the butter and apple butter are well blended and the mixture is sizzling.
8) Pour the apple butter butter (mmmm, that sounds so delicious) even over the chicken breasts in the crockpot.
9) Place the bacon strips across the chicken breasts as the very top layer.
10) Cook on high for 3 hours.
Did you make this apple butter chicken?!
What would you serve yours with? Rice? Steamed veggies? Cold salad? Tell me in the comments below! I would love to hear your ideas and why you think they would go well with this meal.
Find out more about me, the author and founder of The Slow Cooker Life, here 🙂