Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken & Sausage

Who doesn’t love a good Crock Pot recipe?  I admit that I was totally apart of that Crockin’ Craze that spread through Facebook like wildfire a year or so ago (pre-Paleo, of course).  I was all over those cans of Cream of Mushroom soup like white on rice… I’m a little embarrassed about it now.  Anyways, I still love my Crock Pot, I’m just a bit more selective about what I toss in it.

One of my favorite pre-Paleo recipes is still a go-to slow cooker pick these days.  It’s based on this great recipe from Dishing With Leslie called Balsamic Chicken. It’s very popular on the internet and many people have tried to take credit for it… which sucks. I made it according to her directions and honestly found it a touch bland.  So here’s my version, full of flavor and 100% Paleo friendly.  If you need to feed a crowd or are looking for great leftovers, look no further.

Prepare for Paleo Crock Pot deliciousness at its best… and its slowest.

Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken & Sausage on www.PopularPaleo.comIngredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (don’t hate me for that)
6 fresh Italian sausage links (sweet or spicy or a combo is fine)
1 white onion, thinly sliced (not diced!)
4-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp kosher salt
2 – 14.5 oz cans organic diced tomatoes
1 – 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 cup water or chicken stock
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
+ 1 tsp Italian seasoning
+ 1/2 tsp kosher salt
+ 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Lay the breasts raw in the bottom of the slow cooker and drizzle with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Add the first round of seasonings directly onto the chicken (Italian seasoning, garlic powder and salt).  Don’t mix, just leave it on top.  During the slow cooking process, it seasons the chicken directly for perfect flavor. Lay the fresh sausage over the seasoned chicken.

Layer the thinly sliced onion and chopped garlic next.  Then pour the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, water/stock and balsamic vinegar into the pot.  Top with the second round of seasonings.  Again, don’t mix this up. I like the way the flavors develop with this style.

Cover and set the slow cooker to high for five hours.  Not all slow cookers are created equal, so it’s important you have a personal relationship with yours…  Mine tends to be really hot and cooks faster than most recipes call for.  With that in mind, it’s safe to assume that you could make this recipe on low for 7 hours. Worst case is that the chicken will dry out, so if that happens I’m super sorry!

This recipe was destined to partner with spaghetti squash, so don’t fight fate.  Slice the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the guts and roast for 30-40 minutes at 400 degrees cut-side down.  When the timer dings, remove from oven and flip them over to cool slightly cut side up.  Use a fork to harvest the strands. Spoon Balsamic Chicken & Sausage over the spaghetti squash and top with a little fresh basil or flat-leaf parsley!

Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken & Sausage on

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Want to make this? *nod yes*
Then you’ll need a slow cooker:

5.0 from 4 reviews
Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken & Sausage
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 6 to 8
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (don’t hate me for that)
  • 6 fresh Italian sausage links (sweet or spicy or a combo is fine)
  • 1 white onion, thinly sliced (not diced!)
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 – 14.5 oz cans organic diced tomatoes
  • 1 – 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water or chicken stock
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • + 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • + ½ tsp kosher salt
  • + ½ tsp garlic powder
  1. Lay the breasts raw in the bottom of the slow cooker and drizzle with a couple tablespoons of olive oil.
  2. Add the first round of seasonings directly onto the chicken (Italian seasoning, garlic powder and salt). Don’t mix, just leave it on top. During the slow cooking process, it seasons the chicken directly for perfect flavor.
  3. Lay the fresh sausage over the seasoned chicken.
  4. Layer the thinly sliced onion and chopped garlic next.
  5. Pour the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, water/stock and balsamic vinegar into the pot.
  6. Top with the second round of seasonings. Again, don’t mix this up. I like the way the flavors develop with this style.
  7. Cover and set the slow cooker to high for five hours.


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  1. brian says

    does anyone know the nutrition facts on this? just curious since i use myfitnesspal, it would help so much lol. thanks

  2. Jennifer says

    I’m a sucky cook – will this work with boneless, skinless chicken thighs? It’s what I have in my fridge. :)

  3. Polly Breitenkamp says

    I am always looking for a good slow cooker recipe. This one is incredible! The flavors are out of this world! My picky eaters even loved it. Thank you!

  4. Leigh says

    Hi! Im brand new to this whole paleo thing and plan on making this tomorrow 😉 my question is- what’s with the tomato sauce? Where can I find one that fits within the laws of paleo? Or does it not matter? I’ve been seeing a lot of recipes that require tomato sauce and feel like an idiot asking but I’m confused! Hahah thanks!

    • says

      I think there may be a mix up between tomato sauce and premade spaghetti/marinara sauce! Just to cover the bases (sorry if this is obvious), the tomato sauce you’re seeing in recipes is just pureed tomatoes (example). That’s different from marinara or spaghetti sauce, which is likely to get a thumbs-down because of the added sugars and preservatives.

      • Leigh says

        Thank you soooo much for clarifying! I’m only 4 days into this and was surprised “jarred” sauce was permitted! Now that I understand. … can I puree my own tomatoes? I feel like that would be less saucy and more watery

        • says

          For some recipes the exact amount of moisture might be an issue, but this recipe is forgiving. If you’d rather do it yourself, go for it! Otherwise you can find decent options in jars or BPA free containers at health food stores and even Costco sometimes!

  5. Sarah says

    I have made this several times – love it! My husband says it’s his favorite meal I’ve ever made (and I swear I’m not a terrible cook), and this was the only meal he requested before he deployed. So, thank you!

  6. Tiffany says

    So, I know this defeats the purpose of slow cooking, but as I was just getting ready to put this together today at lunch so I’d have it for dinner, I found my crockpot had a crack in it!!! BAH! So, any suggestions on how long to cook it in the oven at a high temp? Say, 350 for an hour-ish??

    • says

      Oh no!! Honestly, I’d go stove top in a Dutch oven if you have one? Sear the chicken and sausage first (work in batches), then layer on the onions, tomatoes, vinegar, etc. per instructions. Cover and let it go for about an hour on low. Check it to see if the chicken shreds at that point. If it does, shred it. Then remove the sausages, slice and return to the pot. Mix everything together one last time and let it simmer for five minutes or so, just to finish the dish.

      I may have to give this a try now that I’m thinking about it!

  7. Kmm says

    Hi there! I only have pre cooked chicken sausage. Should I not add that till a couple hours before it’s due to be done so it doesn’t get dried out?

  8. Shannon says

    I wasnt sure about the process or the outcome until it was done and then OMG Flavor Explosion. It was amazingly delicious and here I was a skeptic. I’ve made it a few times using chicken breast or chicken thighs. If I’m feeling froggy I add mozzarella at the end shhh I know Primal not Paleo but hey sometimes you just have to go to flavortown.

    • says

      Haha! LOVE IT! :-) I’ve added goat cheese a time or two, since I tend to do better with goat/sheep’s milk over cow-based. No biggie! Happy to hear the recipe has been a success for you!

  9. Lauren says

    Is there a way to make this cooking it on low? I will not be home from work within 5 hours. I would need around 8 – 9 hours! Thanks!!! :)

  10. Keeley says

    Hi! I’m excited to cook this tomorrow. Just a quick question: if I use bone-in breasts, will it cook the same amount of time? Thanks!

  11. Shelsea Turner says

    Hi! I’m about to make this and I have a question. I hope you can get back to me before I have to start it! Do I need to drain the diced tomatoes or not? Thank you!

      • Shelsea+Turner says

        Yay! Thanks for the quick response! I’ll rate it and let you know how it turns out Friday. I’m prepping tonight and putting it in the fridge, than my family won’t eat until after work and our Judo on Thursday, so it’ll be late and I’ll let you know how it went Friday morning. Paleo Slow-Cooking is a life saver on busy weeknights. I can’t wait to report what they think, but I think they’ll love it. I bought all Muir Glen, which in my humble opinion is the best canned tomatoes around. I got the Italian version because I couldn’t decide between that or Fire Roasted. I’m excited.

  12. Laura says

    Made this a while back and loved it. I have to say that I think the sausage makes it. We had lots of leftovers and made good use of them – turned it into sandwiches, hubby and the kids had it over rice one day, I even found myself nibbling at it cold and it was just as tasty. I was just going through my stockpile of recipes and remembered how delicious this was and plan to make this week, with a few changes. My Italian hubby really enjoyed the sausage and tomato based dish and would prefer I not even add the chicken, but I think I’ll switch the breasts for thighs and I’ll saute some baby bella mushrooms and add those in. I think I’ll try the suggestion of reducing the stock and replacing it with extra balsamic because I’m a balsamic addict too. Thanks for a delicious paleo recipe that’s easy to add to for the non paleo family members.

    • says

      It’s my pleasure! My family isn’t 100% on the Paleo wagon (and neither are a lot of our dinner guests), so making meals that anyone can enjoy is real life for me. I LOVE the idea of adding mushrooms, by the way. I bet it will be delicious!

  13. Beth says

    so just made this and the flavors were fantastic and will deff make again! Even served with spaghetti squash as recommended. Having said that, since i usually cook for 8-10hrs when using crockpot, next time i will make with boneless skinless chicken thighs. I also didnt read close enough and bought the al fresco chicken sausage which is precooked. Wasn’t great and will be SURE to get fresh sausage next time! So easy and tasty!

    • says

      Hey Beth – Do you have a programmable crock pot? Those are real life savers in the dry-meat department. Something like this allows you to set when the cooking starts so leaner cuts of meat don’t get overdone while you’re away from your kitchen all day:

  14. Mouse says

    I just made this and I think it’s one of the best meals I’ve ever cooked, Paleo or not. I followed the directions exactly and served it over spaghetti squash. It was perfect. Thank you!

  15. Cindy says

    Made this for the first time. Yummy, but I LOVE balsamic vinegar, so I would cut the stock by half to make it 1/2 cup but add an extra 1/2 cup balsamic to make it a full cup. You could also add whole mushrooms to add more veggies.

  16. Allison says

    This is in the crockpot right now with about an hour to go, and it is making my house smell delicious! I added mushrooms, plus green beans from my garden. I used Italian chicken sausage since we had it on hand. Cannot wait to taste this! I have Celiac, but do not eat strictly Paleo, so am going to serve this over creamy polenta tonight, and the leftovers over spaghetti squash. Thank you for such wonderful recipes!

  17. Anthony Della Rosa says

    Can you use a clove of fresh garlic over garlic powder? I hear garlic and onions can become bitter in the crockpot

  18. Lorri says

    I made this on Thursday (paired with spaghetti squash). I used some high quality pre-cooked, gluten-free link sausage (because that’s what I had on hand) and it worked like a charm! Terrific recipe!

  19. Belinda says

    Looking forward to making this this morning for tonight. I only have Costco precooked turkey sausage. Do you think that’d work? Please LMK ASAP if you happen to get this. Thanks!

    • says

      Is it like a kielbasa? Honestly the recipe doesn’t even need sausage! Just the chicken with the tomatoes, onion and seasonings are great on their own. So if the sausage situation isn’t looking right, pass on it :-)

  20. Lisa says

    Has anyone tried to put all of this in the crock pot the night before, take the pot itself out of the fridge and then put it into the crock pot and turn it on first thing in the morning? I have to leave early in the morning and I’d love to do this for dinner, but I don’t want to put it together in the morning. Thanks!

    • says

      I’ve made this several times (before and after I was Paleo) and I’m pretty sure the ingredients could be assembled and held overnight. I may actually try that tonight now that you mention it. It’s a great idea! Be sure to keep a lid on it (not that you wouldn’t). Be sure to let us know how it turns out for you!

    • Lynn says

      I put it together the night before and turned it on the next day. Actually, I almost always do this when using my crockpot. I loved this recipe but next time I will brown the sausage first and slice it prior to placing in crockpot. Also, mine had too much liquid so I will reduce that next time as well.

    • says

      Hey Holly ~ We don’t track macros in Paleo so I can’t help you there. I believe there are some online tools out there that can break down the info you’re after fairly easy. I’m sure Google can help you find a good one.

  21. Kelly says

    This was great! Making it again today, switched out for some chicken parmesan sausage and have added zucchini and mushrooms.

  22. elizabeth says

    wow! i made this today since it’s a cold -10 in cleveland, ohio and it is warming me right up! it’s kinda like a balsamic chicken and sausage soup because of all the broth but i like that about this recipe! i’m currently eating it over some spaghetti squash and i’m in heaven. i did add a little extra balsamic at the last hour for more of a zing and my dish was done in about 4 hours. i also used chicken thighs and kielbasa instead of breasts and italian sausage. thanks for the recipe! keep ’em coming!

  23. Darcey says

    Thanks for the great recipe! Followed these instructions to the “t” (including the spaghetti squash), cooked on “8 hour” setting for about 7 hours, served with fresh strips of basil on top. Was a hit with the BF, who is not officially paleo but is humoring me….

    • popularpaleo says

      This was actually inspired by a very popular non-paleo recipe! One trick that I do when feeding non-Paleo people is serve a side dish alongside my Paleo main dish. This way I get to eat the way I want and they feel accommodated. Hopefully as time goes by they see how awesome you feel and look and get curious about how they would feel if they followed the perimeters you do :-) Keep at it, Darcey!

    • says

      You should probably use thawed chicken. However, if you had to use frozen, then I’d use frozen sausages as well. You don’t want the cook times to be too varied between those two items.

  24. Lorie says

    Love the recipes. I so hate to use canned soup for recipes. I do not like all the salts, chemicals and fat they contain! I try to improvise.

  25. char says

    What happened to the sausage? I’m sure you must put them in with the chicken to cook over the hours getting yummy and spreading flavor!


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