Easy Crock Pot Salsa Chicken is tender, juicy, and full of zesty, smokey flavor -- and just 4 ingredients. Easy recipe to make ahead and stash in the fridge for quick weeknight dinners of chicken tacos, quesadillas, taco salads, and shredded chicken sandwiches. It's also delicious spooned over rice or stuffed into baked sweet potatoes.
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- More Taco Night Recipes
- Why You're Going to Love This Recipe
- How to Season Shredded Chicken for Tacos
- Recipe Variations
- How to Make Crock Pot Salsa Chicken
- How to Make Crock Pot Chicken Tacos
- So Many Ways to Use Shredded Mexican Chicken
- Success Tips
- More Favorite Recipes
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- 📖 Recipe
This delicious slow cooker Mexican shredded chicken is soft and moist, and super flavorful.
It's also ridiculously easy to make with just a few minutes of prep. Just dump everything into the slow cooker and walk away.
This easy salsa chicken recipe comes together with a handful of ingredients: chicken thighs, chicken taco seasoning, fresh lime juice, and the perfect amount of your favorite salsa.
One half cup of salsa is just enough to add zesty flavor without becoming too watery.
And there no limits to the delicious meal ideas for this flavorful, tender chicken.
Crock Pot salsa chicken makes a great base for countless easy dinner recipe ideas like chicken tacos, enchiladas, chicken casseroles, burrito bowls, shredded Mexican chicken sandwiches, or a chicken taco salad.
It's also a pretty healthy slow cooker recipe and a great one to make ahead. Just stash the leftovers in the fridge or freezer and turn them into fast and easy dinner recipes on busy weeknights and lazy weekends.
More Taco Night Recipes
Why You're Going to Love This Recipe
This easy chicken recipe makes the BEST shredded chicken tacos
Great recipe to throw into meal prep containers or freeze and use for later
Easy slow cooker salsa chicken recipe with 4 simple ingredients
Versatile recipe you can use a ton of different ways
Easy crockpot salsa chicken comes together with just 4 ingredients -- and one optional ingredient.
Boneless skinless chicken thighs. I like to use boneless chicken thighs because they are so moist and flavorful and don't dry out as easily as chicken breast meat.
Chicken taco seasoning. My recipe for chicken taco seasoning is smokey, zesty, and easy to make with simple herbs and spices. And it makes the best chicken tacos. You can also use store-bought taco seasoning.
Lime juice. Fresh lime juice brightens up the zesty, smokey flavors.
Salsa. Use your favorite store-bought or homemade salsa recipe. Red salsa or salsa verde will both be delicious in this recipe.
Fresh cilantro or parsley, optional. A sprinkle of cilantro or parsley adds a bright finish to the saucy cooked chicken.
How to Season Shredded Chicken for Tacos
Chicken taco seasoning is a simple seasoning blend that adds smoky, zesty flavor to the shredded chicken. It's also really easy to make with simple pantry ingredients.
My homemade recipe comes together with:
- Chili powder
- Ground cumin
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Ground coriander
- Black pepper
- Cayenne pepper and/or crushed red pepper flakes, optional
Get the recipe here -- and be sure to make a triple batch so you have some leftover for taco night!
Chicken. You can use boneless skinless chicken breasts in this recipe. Be sure to watch the temperature so they don't overcook and become dry.
Seasoning. Give the taco seasoning a little taste before adding it to see if it's missing something you love. Then amp up the flavors with more cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, red chili flakes -- whatever your family loves.
Chipotle peppers in adobo. For rich, smoky flavor, add one or two finely chopped chipotle peppers with adobo sauce.
Beans. Add a can of drained and rinsed black beans or pinto beans for even more Southwest flavor.
Corn. Stir in frozen or canned drained corn for bright pops of sweetness.
How to Make Crock Pot Salsa Chicken
1. Prep the slow cooker.
Spray the insert of a 6-quart Crock Pot with nonstick spray.
2. Dump everything in.
Place chicken thighs in a single layer in the bottom of the slow cooker.
Add the lime juice and sprinkle the chicken taco seasoning over the chicken. Pour the salsa evenly over the top of the chicken.
Cook on high heat for about 2 hours or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Exact cook time may vary depending on your slow cooker and the thickness of the chicken. Check on it early to make sure it doesn't overcook.
3. Shred chicken.
Use tongs to remove the hot chicken from the Crock Pot and place it on a cutting board. Let it rest for 5 minutes, then use two forks to shred the chicken.
If it's easier for you, go ahead and shred the chicken right in the slow cooker. I use the cutting board because I'm short and my arms get tired reaching into the Crock Pot, lol.
You can also use your hand mixer to shred the chicken.
4. Stir the chicken into the cooking liquid.
Return the chicken to the slow cooker and stir it together with the cooking liquid. Cook on low heat for 30 minutes to let the shredded chicken absorb the flavorful liquid.
Optional step, stir in ¼ cup chopped cilantro -- or parsley, if you're like me and can't tolerate cilantro.
5. Serve and enjoy!
Use salsa chicken for chicken tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, and nachos, spooned over Mexican rice, or stuffed into baked sweet potatoes.
How to Make Crock Pot Chicken Tacos
Our favorite way to use slow cooker salsa chicken is in shredded chicken tacos. It's a super fast and easy weeknight dinner that comes together in minutes.
While the shredded Mexican chicken is finishing up in the Crock Pot, I heat up the tortillas in my cast iron skillet.
Heating Corn Tortillas in Pan
Warming up corn tortillas on the stove is fast and easy and adds toasty flavor. Here's how to do it.
Just warm up a dry nonstick skill or cast iron pan over medium to medium-high heat. Heat each tortilla for 20-30 seconds until warm, flip it with tongs and repeat on the other side.
If you're just warming them up, flip them before they start to turn brown. But if you like them a little bit toasted (like me!), leave them on until you see a few dark brown spots and they start to smell toasty.
Wrap warm tortillas in a clean tea towel to keep them warm while you heat the rest of them.
Serve shredded chicken tacos with warm corn tortillas, pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream, tomatoes, onions, and all of your favorite toppings.
So Many Ways to Use Shredded Mexican Chicken
There are about a million easy weeknight dinner recipes you can make with Crock Pot salsa chicken.
- Chicken taco salads
- Over rice
- Stuffed into baked sweet potatoes
- Stirred into macaroni and cheese
- Stuffed peppers
- Chicken taco casserole
- Shredded chicken nachos
- Tucked into tostada cups
Store leftover salsa chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Freeze cooled chicken in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator.
Reheat in a covered bowl in the microwave for 1-2 minutes or in a small saucepan on the stovetop until warmed through. Add a little salsa, water, or chicken broth, if it seems dry.
Placing the shredded chicken back into the slow cooker with the cooking juices allows the chicken to absorb all those rich flavors.
Place the chicken in a single layer in the crock pot to ensure it cooks evenly cook in this tiny amount of liquid.
Yes. This slow-cooker salsa chicken recipe is a great dish to make ahead of time and have on hand for throwing together quick dinners.
You can cook the chicken in the slow cooker then store it in the refrigerator or freezer until you are ready to use it. Warm it up in the microwave or on the stovetop.
No. The USDA does not recommend placing frozen chicken in a slow cooker.
According to their website, "Always thaw meat or poultry before putting it into a slow cooker." Why? Because you want to limit the amount of time the chicken spends in the "danger zone" of 40 to 140 degrees F, when harmful bacteria grow exponentially. The guidelines go on to say that the "slow cooker may take several hours to reach a safe, bacteria-killing temperature."
Cooking time can vary depending on your Crock Pot and the size of the chicken, but it typically takes about 2 hours on high heat to cook boneless skinless chicken thighs until they are tender enough to shred. This time equates to roughly 4-6 hours on the low setting, but be sure to check it early so it doesn't overcook.
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Crock Pot Salsa Chicken
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 4 tablespoons chicken taco seasoning homemade or store-bought
- ½ cup salsa
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro or parsley, optional
- Spray the slow cooker with nonstick spray. Place the chicken thighs in a single layer in the Crock Pot. Add the lime juice and sprinkle the chicken taco seasoning over the chicken. Pour the salsa evenly over the top of the chicken. Cook on high for about 2 hours or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165.
- Shred the chicken with two forks on a cutting board or in the slow cooker. Or use a hand mixer to shred the chicken right in the slow cooker. Stir the shredded chicken with the cooking liquid and warm on low heat for 30 minutes to let it absorb the flavorful juices. If desired, stir in ¼ cup chopped cilantro or parsley. Serve in warm corn or flour tortillas and your favorite taco toppings. Or use to make enchiladas, nachos, quesadillas or spoon over rice or baked sweet potatoes.