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Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos are such an easy meal, either on a busy weeknight or for a party. Leftovers freeze well for later.

Photography Credit:Elise Bauer

So, what’s your favorite taco filling? While I’m sometimes tempted towards chile verde or pulled pork, I usually pick the spicy shredded chicken.

No need to go out for this though, it’s easy to make at home, especially with a slow cooker! Ten minutes prep, slow cook for hours, then shred with a couple of forks.

VIDEO! Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

3 Elements for the Best Shredded Chicken

There are three elements to perfect shredded chicken—the chicken, the rub, and the sweetness.

  • For the chicken, we use boneless skinless chicken thighs because they have more internal fat, more flavor, and they hold up better to long slow cooking than breasts.
  • For the rub, we are using chili powder, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, allspice, cayenne, onion and garlic powder, and salt. Spices vary by brand and age so you may need to experiment to get the right mix for you.
  • The “secret sauce” of this shredded chicken recipe is the addition of pineapple juice. Not only does pineapple juice add sweetness (needed for balance of flavors), it helps tenderize the chicken, making it even easier to shred. Pineapple is the essential ingredient in “tacos al pastor,” it works great with this shredded chicken.

Finally, it always helps to have an endorsement from an unsuspecting guest. My father dropped by for a taste and declared that it was excellent pulled pork. When I pointed out that it was indeed chicken, he couldn’t have been more surprised!

What to Serve with Chicken Tacos

Make your tacos with corn tortillas, warmed briefly in a dry skillet or in the microwave, and then top with any of the following:

  • Finely shredded cabbage
  • Thinly sliced radishes
  • Chopped avocado
  • Cilantro
  • Lime wedges

If you’d like, serve Cilantro Lime Rice or Spanish Rice on the side.

Also, this shredded chicken is perfect not only for tacos, but also for burritos, tostadas, tamales, or even a taco salad.

Storing and Freezing Shredded Chicken Taco Meat

The shredded chicken keeps well in the fridge for up to five days and can either be reheated slowly in the slow cooker, over low heat on the stovetop, or in the microwave.

This chicken also freezes well. Package in freezer bags or other storage containers with as much air pressed out as possible to prevent freezer burn, and freeze for up to three months.

More Taco Recipes to Try

  • Slow Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork Tacos
  • Veggie Tacos
  • Crispy Fish Tacos with Red Cabbage Slaw
  • Bang Bang Shrimp Tacos
  • Chorizo and Egg Breakfast Tacos

Updated April 13, 2020 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle! No changes to the original recipe.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos Recipe

We're using boneless chicken thighs because they're easier to shred, and you don't end up with stray bits of hard cartilage in your shredded chicken. If you use bone-in chicken thighs, increase the amount by 1/4 pound and once the meat is done, cut away the bones before shredding the meat.

I recommend not removing the excess fat that comes with skinless chicken thighs. You'll need it to help keep the chicken from drying out and to help make it more flavorful. Please do use skinless thighs, otherwise you'll have way too much fat.

If the shredded chicken is a bit liquidy, don't worry. The chicken will absorb back more of the liquid as it sits, especially if you make ahead and chill.

Ingredients

For the spice rub:

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled fine between your hands
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice (can sub a scant pinch of ground cloves)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional, add more or less depending on how much heat you want)

The chicken:

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (do not remove excess fat)
  • 6 ounces (3/4 cup) pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

To assemble the tacos:

  • Corn tortillas
  • Finely shredded cabbage
  • Thinly sliced radishes
  • Chopped avocado
  • Cilantro
  • Lime wedges

Method

1 Coat chicken with rub, place in slow cooker: Whisk the rub ingredients together in a bowl. Dredge the boneless skinless chicken thighs in the rub. Place the chicken thighs in a slow cooker.

2 Add pineapple juice, tomato paste: Pour the pineapple juice over the chicken. Add the tomato paste to the juice.

3 Cover and slow cook: Cover and cook in the slow cooker for 3 hours on high setting or 6 hours on low.

4 Shred chicken meat with forks: When the chicken is done, it should be fork tender. Use two forks to shred the meat completely in the slow cooker bowl.

5 Serve: Use the taco meat with heated and softened corn tortillas, sprinkle with lime juice, adding garnishes of finely shredded cabbage, thinly sliced radishes, avocado, and cilantro.

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Slow Cooked Chicken Tacos

Place chicken breasts and just 3 ingredients in your slow cooker - then set it and forget it!  Slow cooking not only infuses the chicken with fabulous flavor, it makes the chicken so moist and tender it practically falls apart.  The end result - taco filling that's so succulent you don't even need toppings!

  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 jar (16 ounces) Pace® Chunky Salsa or Medium Picante Sauce
  • 12 flour tortilla (6-inch), warmed
  • Top with your favorite taco toppings like shredded lettuce, sour cream and additional salsa.  Try a squeeze of fresh lime juice, too!

Season the chicken with the cumin and chili powder.  Place the chicken into a 6-quart slow cooker.  Pour the salsa over the chicken.

Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours or until the chicken is fork-tender.  Remove the chicken to a work surface.  Using 2 forks, shred the chicken.  Serve the chicken in the tortillas.

Incredibly Easy and Oh SO YUMMY

We were Tacos, but we were in the mood for something a little different than our usual Ground Beef (Ground Turkey) Tacos. This recipe was Super Easy, and a Big Hit for my Picky Family. They are a little over juicy. but nothing we couldn't handle. I will definitely be sharing this recipe.


Slow-Cooker Chicken Tacos

  • wheat-free
  • shellfish-free
  • dairy-free
  • fish-free
  • alcohol-free
  • peanut-free
  • pork-free
  • gluten-free
  • egg-free
  • high-fiber
  • soy-free
  • tree-nut-free
  • red-meat-free
  • Calories 342
  • Fat 6.9 g (10.6%)
  • Saturated 1.3 g (6.7%)
  • Carbs 31.7 g (10.6%)
  • Fiber 5.6 g (22.5%)
  • Sugars 1.8 g
  • Protein 39.3 g (78.5%)
  • Sodium 638.2 mg (26.6%)

Ingredients

For the chicken:

large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)

For serving:

Instructions

Place the stock or water, garlic, cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt, and bay leaves in the bowl of a 4-quart or larger slow cooker and stir to combine. Add the chicken breasts.

Cover the slow cooker with the lid. Cook until the chicken is tender and registers an internal temperature of 165°F, on low for 4 to 5 hours or on high for 2 to 3 hours.

While the chicken is still warm, transfer it to a cutting board or large plate and use 2 forks to shred the meat.

Divide the meat between the tortillas. Top with guacamole, pico de gallo, and fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The chicken can be prepared 4 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Storage: Store leftover chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for 3 months.

Kelli is the Food Editor for Plan & Prep content for Kitchn. She's a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and author of the cookbooks, The Probiotic Kitchen, Buddha Bowls, and Everyday Freekeh Meals. She lives in New York.


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Recipe Summary

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 6)
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup prepared tomato salsa, plus more for serving (optional)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 8 hard corn taco shells
  • Cilantro, shredded cheese, lime wedges, and sour cream, for serving (optional)

In slow cooker, combine chicken, garlic, salsa, chiles, chili powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and teaspoon pepper. Cover cook on high, 4 hours (or on low, 8 hours).

Transfer chicken to a serving bowl, and shred, using two forks moisten with cooking juices. Serve in taco shells, with toppings, if desired.


Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

Taco night will look different at our house from now on. Once I made these Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos, I don&rsquot know if I can go back to the normal way of using ground beef&hellip and that&rsquos hard for me to say because I would usually prefer beef over chicken every time.

Oh &ndash and in case you&rsquore interested, I&rsquod LOVE to send you a FREE Meal Plan! 10 super easy meals prepared in about 45 minutes for under $80! Sign up right below:

Ok back to the recipe at hand&hellip

These are WAY easier for me &ndash and according to my kids, they taste WAY better. No need to use a seasoning mix pack with this &ndash just 4 spices plus salt.

Simply toss in 2-3 chicken breasts (about 1-1.5 pounds). I cut mine into chunks so they would cook faster. Then put all the other ingredients on top. Cook on high in your slow cooker for 4 hours, and then you&rsquore ready to shred the chicken!

At this point, the chicken will just fall apart and shred pretty easily. You can use forks, or a potato masher.

Serve in either soft or hardshell, and then top as you normally would!

This also would work AMAZING for freezer cooking. Just toss all the ingredients in a freezer bag to cook at a later date.

And if you like this one, you might be interested in 40 other slow cooker dump recipes that are AMAZING!


Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

Okay, we&rsquore so excited that you landed on this recipe for slow cooker chicken tacos. You can also make them in any crock pot. We&rsquore so obsessed with these chicken tacos because the flavor is fantastic and it&rsquos so easy to make. Just add all the ingredients to a slow cooker or crock pot and wall away for a few hours. You&rsquoll come back to an amazing pot of juicy and tender chicken with aromas filling the house. The combination of seasonings in our recipe is amazing and super flavorful. That&rsquos why they make such great tacos. These won&rsquot be bland nor boring tacos. We wanted to make sure the chicken was super delicious that everyone will love.

Video: Recipe for Crock Pot Chicken Tacos

Think Beyond the Taco: Chicken Quesadillas, Enchiladas, Salads and More!

The versatility of our Mexican chicken recipe in the slow cooker is endless, beyond the chicken taco. If you have leftovers, you can use the chicken in a cheesy quesadilla, tostadas or enchiladas. If you to eat low carb, you can make a healthy chicken taco salad. The possibilities are endless for you to enjoy this Mexican chicken with your family. That&rsquos why we warned you ahead is time: you just might be eating this a lot!

We have quite a collection of chicken taco recipes for both the Instant Pot, slow cooker or crock pot. Check them out and hope you enjoy these quick and easy chicken dinners as much as we do. We know your family will love it and you&rsquoll have great leftovers for lunch! Thank you!


Slow-Cooker Chicken Tacos Recipe

These tacos are bursting with bold flavors. Remove the seeds and membrane of the jalapeño if your family prefers a milder flavor, or just omit the jalapeño. Queso fresco is a mild, crumbly Mexican cheese that can be found in many major supermarkets. If you can't find it, feta is a good substitute.

Ingredients

2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 12 thighs)
1 ½ tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 medium jalapeño, sliced into thin rings (optional)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 ½ cups salsa verde (green tomatillo salsa), divided
½ cup fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
24 (6-inch) corn tortillas
½ cup crumbled queso fresco cheese
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 limes, cut into wedges (optional)

Directions

Before you begin: Wash your hands.

  1. In a small bowl, combine cumin, salt and pepper. Rub mixture evenly over chicken thighs. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of chicken cook 3 minutes per side or until browned. Transfer to a 5-or 6-quart slow cooker. Repeat procedure with remaining chicken.
  2. Heat remaining ½ tablespoon oil in pan over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, jalapeño and garlic cook, stirring frequently, 5 to 7 minutes or until vegetables are tender and begin to brown. Transfer to slow cooker. Add 2 cups salsa and broth. Cover and cook on low 4 to 6 hours or until chicken shreds easily with a fork.
  3. Remove chicken to a large bowl using a slotted spoon shred with 2 forks.
  4. Warm tortillas according to package instructions. Fill each tortilla with about ¼ cup chicken mixture, 1 teaspoon cheese, 1 teaspoon salsa and ½ teaspoon cilantro. Serve with lime wedges if desired.

Nutrition Information

Serving size: 2 tacos
Serves 6

Calories: 340 Total Fat: 14g Saturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 80mg Sodium: 620mg Total Carbohydrate: 30g Dietary Fiber: 4g Sugars: 7g Protein: 24g Vitamin A: 25% Vitamin C: 8% Calcium: 6% Iron: 8%.

Jessica Cox, RD, is a culinary nutritionist and chef based in Birmingham, Ala.


HOW TO EAT IN MODERATION

Be honest… do you have a new year’s resolution about eating healthier? Like, are you TRULY ready to lighten up those meals for at least the next month or so?

Whenever I feel like it’s time to step away from chocolate and garlic butter, I start making salsa chicken tacos. Honestly. It’s the easiest 2-night dinner – sometimes 3 nights because my husband doesn’t like leftovers… – and I don’t have to worry about what lighter meal to create night after night.

On the flip side, though, I almost always keep things light. AND, if I feel like something I’m eating is a bit much in as far as fats and calories, I’ll only eat ONE serving of it because temptation and all, but I’m good at limiting myself.

When I am asked how do you not gain weight, I credit that to the whole “in moderation” theory. I will have a bite or two of a chocolate cake, but I will never ever finish an entire slice. I also don’t eat pizza, have no idea what a big mac is, and broccoli and asparagus are my favorite foods…

IF you can follow the above mentioned advice, I guarantee you will lose weight and start to feel healthier without limiting yourself to tofu and rabbit food. You’ll see!

OKAY. NOW. Salsa Chicken Tacos in the Slow Cooker

Several years ago, when I first discovered that you can arrange some chicken breasts in the crock pot (slow cooker. ), pour salsa over them, and have a damn good meal 3 hours later? I suddenly felt untroubled, content, glad, fortunate… you name it, I was feelin’ it! Salsa Verde Chicken made it all happen for me.


Slow Cooker Chicken Lime Tacos

Published on December 19, 2019 - Updated on March 31, 2021 by Chef Rodney - Leave a Comment - This post may contain affiliate links.

This Slow Cooker Chicken Lime Tacos recipe is easily one of my favorite chicken taco recipes. The star of this show is the lime. Delicious!

My love for Tacos will never stop. Never. And these Chicken Lime Tacos that you make in your slow cooker do not disappoint. This has quickly become one of my favorite taco recipes.

I realize that trying to figure out how much chicken to use for this type of recipe can be challenging. The average chicken breast weighs between 6 and 8 ounces so you will need roughly 3 Chicken Breasts for this recipe. Or if you have a kitchen scale as I do, you can dial it in pretty quickly.

Try to resist as much as possible the temptation to open the lid while it's cooking as the slow cooker loses heat. By just opening the lid to stir the contents can make the internal temperature drop by 10°F to 15°F.

When it comes to tacos, some prefer flour tortillas while others prefer corn tortillas. This chicken taco recipe doesn't discriminate so use whatever floats your boat! Personally I prefer flour tortillas. But what do I know?

When it comes to the salsa, use whatever "strength" you prefer. If you don't like spicy food, use a mild salsa. Personally I use a hot salsa because I like my Mexican food to pack a punch!

If you love Mexican food as I do, you must check out my Mexican Food recipes. My Turkey Tomatillo and Bean Burrito recipe is to die for as is my Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Chicken Street Tacos recipe. But one of my personal favorite taco recipe to make is my Pork Tacos Al Pastor. If you prefer fish tacos, I suggest you try my Fish Tacos with Green Chili Sauce.

For added flavor, you might want to make a batch of my Pickled Veggie Taco Toppings to go along with these awesome tacos. Or how about some of my Spicy Salsa with tortilla chips to go with these tacos?

For more great recipes like this one, I suggest you check these recipes out:


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