Spice up your life! Or hey, take it down a notch. Crockpot Salsa Chicken is there for you either way. Boneless breasts slow cook down to tender, juicy shredded chicken in a customizable blend of chiles, salsa, and seasoning to build a bold base for endless combos in bowls, burritos, and salads. This chicken and salsa recipe is Whole30, paleo, and keto-friendly.
- The Crockpot Makes the Most Tender Shredded Chicken
- How to Make Salsa Chicken in a Slow Cooker
- Chef’s Tips
- How to Serve Crockpot Salsa Chicken
- Can I Use Frozen Chicken in a Slow Cooker?
- Can I Use Chicken Thighs?
- What’s the Best Way to Shred Chicken?
- Is Salsa Chicken Spicy?
- More Shredded Chicken Recipes
There are people in this world who will give you grief for things like box cake mix and dino nuggets… and then there’s me who’s like “Lemme just dump this here jar of salsa over some chicken and see if that’s a thing.”
And lo and behold, ’twas something indeed. Something not only supremely tasty (once I zhooshed it up with some chiles and cilantro of course – I’m not a neanderthal), but y’all… I could eat and serve crockpot salsa chicken a million different ways and not get tired of it.
We started with chicken and salsa in the crockpot one particularly lazy Taco Tuesday, and never looked back. Be it burritos, bowls, burrito bowls, salads or platters, slow cooker salsa chicken a completely versatile protein for all your Latin/Mexican/Tex-Mex/Southwest-inspired dining needs because it doesn’t rely on any one-other-thing to make it work as a meal.
Now reader, there are many other chicken salsa crockpot recipes out there on Beyonce’s internet, so let me be clear with you up front: at no point during the making of chicken salsa do you need to throw a brick of cream cheese into your crockpot.
You’ve got plenty of chances to slap on some dairy later if you’re so inclined, so start it clean, and finish it dirty. Or, ya know…something like that.
For a condensed post with just the ingredients and step-by-step recipe photos, click to view the web story for this recipe!
The Crockpot Makes the Most Tender Shredded Chicken
I LOVE shredded chicken from the slow cooker. It’s incredibly tender, it infuses with flavor, and it’s so moist and juicy. It practically falls apart on its own so less work for me. Plus, this zesty salsa chicken is kind of its own one pot wonder, because you can go as hard or as light as you need to on this meal.
If you’re in your 20’s and single, please feel free to just stand over your slow cooker and pick at the shredded chicken with a fork (it’s kind of a rite of passage); if you’re a busy parent who wishes you could still pass that off as mealtime, just slap some chicken in a bowl with a few fixins and call it a salad. Voila!
How to Make Salsa Chicken in a Slow Cooker
If you’re a flavorful over fast kinda person, then Crockpot Salsa Chicken is about to become your new favorite flexible mealtime friend. Slow cooker recipes don’t get much simpler than this – just season, “sauce,” and shred. Bonus meal suggestions below.
- Arrange chicken in your slow cooker in a single, even layer.
- Sprinkle evenly with taco seasoning.
- Pour salsa and canned chiles over the seasoned chicken.
- Slow cook on high 3 hours, or low 5-6 hours, until the chicken is very tender.
- Remove the chicken and shred.
- Return the shredded chicken to the slow cooker and toss with the cooking juices and fresh, chopped cilantro to taste. See serving suggestions below.
- Use hot or mild salsa – whichever your prefer depending on your level of spice.
- Similarly, either chunky or smooth salsa – homemade or store-bought – can be used. Look for “clean” salsas with only real, whole food ingredients – they’ll taste better, and have great texture (plus they’re better for you!).
- Go green. You can mix it up with salsa verde too!
- Feel free to omit the canned chiles if you’re trying to keep the flavor on the milder side.
How to Serve Crockpot Salsa Chicken
I love this shredded chicken in a burrito-type bowl (as pictured above). We served it over steamed rice with avocado slices and a simple black bean salsa (drained/rinsed canned black beans, defrosted frozen corn, chopped tomatoes, and a squeeze of lime juice).
But you don’t even need to be that “fancy” – you can just as easily turn it into a chicken taco salad with fresh veggie favorites, like lettuce, tomato, red onion, radish and avocado, with homemade ranch. (And, of course, tortilla strips, if you’re not counting your carbs.)
Another family favorite is serving this salsa chicken recipe over Mexican cauliflower rice or cilantro lime cauliflower rice with avocado slices for a Whole30, paleo, and grain free meal. Definitely add a dollop of sour cream and/or shredded cheese if you consume dairy products. (Mmmmm. Dairy.)
Need a meal prep friendly duo? Slow cooker salsa chicken pairs perfectly with our Southwestern Quinoa Salad for a lunch that will last all week!
Can I Use Frozen Chicken in a Slow Cooker?
Unfortunately, no. Bacteria can easily flourish in a “low and slow” environment. Don’t do it. Unlike the fast blast of heat and pressure in an Instant Pot, defrosting and then slow cooking in the crockpot for up to 6 hours is like making your chicken in a petri dish. Pass on this “hack”.
Can I Use Chicken Thighs?
Yes! An equivalent amount (i.e. in weight) of chicken thighs works just fine, or use a combo of both. Just be sure to use boneless for easy shredding.
What’s the Best Way to Shred Chicken?
Shred your chicken while it’s still warm! Cold, or even room temperature, chicken doesn’t shred nearly as well as warm. Try one of these three methods:
- Your Hands: my favorite kitchen tool! Shred with your (clean) hands for nice, big chunks of juicy chicken.
- Two Forks: for a finer shred, use two forks to shred the chicken.
- An Electric Mixer: If you have a hand mixer, set the speed to low so you have more control over the size of the shreds, and process for 15-30 seconds. If you have a stand mixer, transfer chicken to mixer bowl and use the paddle attachment on low speed for 10-20 seconds.
Is Salsa Chicken Spicy?
That’s totally up to you! Spice it up (or down) by using hot (or mild) salsa, including or excluding canned chiles, etc. If you’re making taco seasoning for your salsa chicken from scratch, you can also adjust the level of heat in this preliminary step. Or even add fresh sliced jalapenos to the finished meal! Whatever works for you.
More Shredded Chicken Recipes
- Instant Pot Shredded Chicken
- Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken
- Shredded Buffalo Chicken Wraps
- Slow Cooker Chicken Tinga
Did you make this crockpot salsa chicken? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 4 tbsp taco seasoning, homemade (see below) or store-bought
- 1 cup salsa, mild or hot
- 1 4-oz can chopped green chiles, optional
- ¼ c chopped fresh cilantro, or to taste
- lime wedges, to taste
- Arrange the chicken breasts in the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker in a single, even layer.
- Sprinkle the chicken with taco seasoning, salt, and pepper. Pour the salsa and chiles (if using) over the chicken.
- Cover and seal the slow cooker. Cook on high 3 hours, or low 5-6 hours, or until the chicken is very tender and can be easily shredded with the tines of a fork.
- Remove the chicken breasts and shred. Return the shredded chicken to the slow cooker; toss with the cooking juices and fresh chopped cilantro to taste. Season with fresh lime juice just before serving. Enjoy!
- Leftovers will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 4 days.
- Freeze salsa chicken in an airtight container (we use gallon ziplock freezer bags) for up to 3 months.