With only three ingredients, a crock pot, and 5 minutes of prep, you can make delicious shredded chicken tacos or nachos. So simple, cheap, and healthy, you will repeat this recipe over and over.
Taco Tuesday or the game watch party has never been so easy. Easy enough for a weeknight family dinner but great for the casual company get-togethers.
Excellent Mexican is always in demand at my house. But I prefer to cook once and eat several times, so this recipe produces enough for four large servings. It is easy to double or triple and does store well. So cook for just a few or larger groups.
A great crock pot recipe is gold in most kitchens. The five rating might be a little generous, but we loved it.
Ingredients for Crock Pot Chicken Tacos
Raw skinless boneless chicken breast works great with this recipe. You can also use chicken thighs. Both will cook well in the crock pot.
If your chicken is frozen, thaw before starting to cook. The frozen chicken will cook unpredictably, and there have been reports of the ceramic breaking when cooking frozen chicken.
Yes. Most of the cooking time is spent cooking the raw chicken, so the total time goes way down.
Two skinless boneless chicken breasts will make 3-4 cups of shredded chicken. To use pre-cooked chicken, add all the seasoning to the shredded chicken and cook for 1 hour to infuse with flavor.
Use a salsa you like. I suggest a chunky salsa, and you can add some heat with more spices if needed.
Absolutely. I initially used Rotel for this recipe and find it is still a good fit. If you use Rotel, it comes as 10 oz cans, and I suggest draining off an ounce or two of liquid.
The easiest is one package of taco seasoning. While it is quick and easy, I suggest a few individual spices like chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and cumin. You will be much happier with the intense taste.
How to Cook Shredded Chicken Tacos in a Crock Pot
This is a smaller crock pot recipe and works well in a 2 to 4-quart crock pot. You can cook in a larger crock pot. It may cook a bit faster.
A double or triple recipe works well in a 6 to 8-quart crock pot if you are cooking for a larger crowd.
I suggest low. A few crock pots tend to run very hot on high.
You can use high but watch the chicken breast temperature.
You have several points to adjust the heat.
First, your choice of salsa will affect the spiciness. Choose the heat level you want.
Second is your choice of taco seasoning mix or the other seasonings I suggested. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper if you want.
Chicken needs to be fully cooked to shred. On low, most crock pots will get whole chicken breasts to 165° in 4-5 hours. On high, it will take about half the time.
Please remove the chicken from the crock pot and shred it when the chicken is cooked. Then return the shredded chicken to the crock pot to cook a bit longer and pick up seasoning and flavors.
You can overcook chicken breast, and they will come out dry and tough.
Yes. You can add about 1 cup of frozen corn or rinsed black beans with the shredded chicken for the last hour of cooking.
Serving and Storage of Chicken Tacos
Make soft tacos in flour tortillas or corn tortillas, or fill up a crunchy taco shell, then top with your favorite toppings.
We generally make nachos. Spread corn chips on a plate, top with your shredded chicken taco meat, and cover with cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a good Mexican cheese blend. Then a minute in a microwave to melt the cheese. Add toppings to finish your delicious dinner.
You can also use the chicken taco meat in burritos or enchiladas. You can also top a salad or rice bowls.
Commonly used toppings are diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, salsa, Pico de Gallo, shredded cheese of your choice, guacamole or chopped avocados, sour cream, hot sauce, or cilantro.
Just refrigerate covered for 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave.
Yes. Seal in an airtight container and freeze for 3-4 months—Thaw before reheating.
🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Start with two medium-size skinless boneless chicken breasts. These can be fresh or thawed if frozen.
In a smaller crock pot, mix 1 cup of salsa or Rotel with chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
Nestle the chicken breast into the crock pot and spread the mixture over the breasts.
Cook on low for 5 hours. About 4 hours into the cooking and if the chicken is 165°, remove the chicken breasts, place chicken on a chopping board, and shred with forks. If not 165°, cook longer before shredding.
Mix the chicken back into the liquid. It there is too much liquid, remove some and leave the crock pot lid ajar to vent moisture.
Serve in tacos or spread over nacho chips and top as desired.
Crock Pot Chicken Tacos
- 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts - medium size
- 8 oz Salsa - or RoTel
- 1 package premixed taco seasoning
Spices to Replace Packagd Taco Seasoning- Recommended
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ cup drained black beans
- ½ cup frozen corn
- Start with two medium-size skinless boneless chicken breasts. These can be fresh or thawed if frozen.
- In a smaller crock pot, mix 1 cup of salsa or Rotel with 1 tablespoon chili powder, ½ teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon onion powder, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Mix well.
- Nestle the chicken breast into the crock pot and spread the mixture over the breasts.
- Cook on low for 5 hours. About 4 hours into the cooking and if the chicken is 165°, remove the chicken breasts, place chicken on a chopping board, and shred with forks. If not 165°, cook longer before shredding.
- Mix the chicken back into the liquid. If there is too much liquid, remove some and leave the crock pot lid ajar to vent moisture. Add optional black beans or corn if used. Finish the 5 hours of cooking.
- Serve in tacos or spread over nacho chips and top as desired.
My Private Notes
- This recipe fits in a 2 to 4-quart crock pot. For a double or triple recipe, use a 6 to 8-quart crock pot
- You can use chicken thighs for this.
- If using precooked rotisserie chicken, use 3-4 cups to replace the 2 chicken breasts. Cooking time goes from 5 hours to only one hour.
- The corn and black beans are optional and should be added with the shredded chicken
- If using Rotel, drain out about 2 oz of liquid before adding.
- Good refrigerated for 3-4 days and frozen for 3-4 months.
- Nutrition analysis is for meat only and doesn't include chips or toppings.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Editor's Note: Originally Published September 13, 2015. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.