Allow me to introduce you to your new best friend, Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken. This right here is perfectly seasoned, perfectly juicy restaurant quality taco chicken, and it’s about to change your life and your meal plan for the better.
Look, friends, there are two things I need to tell you about this recipe for cilantro lime chicken:
(1) It’s cooked in the slow cooker and takes, like, 10 minutes to prep. Maybe 15 if you have a toddler hanging onto your feet, or you’re rocking some morning coffee while you prep, or you just DGAF and feel like takin’ it easy. NO SHAME.
(2) It’s the best freaking taco chicken you’ll ever cook. Yes, truly. My husband declared it such, and given that he is a taco connoisseur of the highest level, I’m just going to take him at his word. And for what it’s worth, I totally agree with his assessment, but sometimes third party validation is necessary, especially when donning titles like “best” and “restaurant quality”. (For the sake of comparison, he ranks it above this recipe for shredded crockpot chicken tacos, which was the previous reigning champ in our house!).
(3) I lied, three things. You will gladly eat this chicken for days, and so will your children. If mine did, yours will too! Therefore, your future self will thank you if you just double up on the sauce, pour it over some extra chicken, and tuck that little miracle into the freezer for safe-keeping.
Seriously, you will adore this easy slow cooker recipe for all of the aforementioned reasons, and also because you are smart. And you like really real, really delicious food.
Why The Slow Cooker?
Cilantro and lime. Lime and cilantro. It’s one of the most natural pairings in the world, and we are big fans. We love cilantro lime chicken grilled, baked, and stuffed into tacos. We love a lil’ bed of cilantro lime cauliflower rice to serve with said chicken.
But you know what we love more? Foolproof. Convenience.
Marinated and grilled cilantro lime chicken is tasty. But it also takes time, and chicken breasts can be…touchy. Chicken breasts are one of the most popular cuts of meat, but I often find them dry and bland unless they’ve been properly brined or marinated.
Enter the magic of the slow cooker, which solves our dry chicken problem with ease and elegance (see crockpot salsa chicken and slow cooker chicken tinga for more proof!).
Chicken breasts are slow cooked in a slightly spicy sauce until juicy and infused with flavor. Lime juice and salt tenderize the chicken as it cooks, and the result is restaurant-quality cilantro lime chicken that is so ridiculously easy to make you’ll be dreaming up ways to eat it monthly! (Don’t worry, we’ve got suggestions!).
- Olive Oil: to keep the chicken moist, and a bit of flavor in the form of a healthy fat.
- Lime Juice: fresh is best! Plan on juicing 2-3 limes.
- Jalapeno: with or without seeds; keep the seeds for a spicier chicken, or leave ’em out for flavor without the kick.
- Garlic: it just makes everything better!
- Cumin and Paprika: for depth and a smoky bite.
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts: boneless chicken breasts transform into incredibly tender bites in the slow cooker. We love ’em!
How to Make Cilantro Lime Chicken in the Crockpot
Allow your crockpot to transform boring, and often dry, boneless skinless chicken breasts into an easy, healthy, and incredibly flavorful dinner. Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken cooks low and slow in a blend of spices for deeply infused flavor and incredibly tender meat. Stuff into tacos, serve in bowls, make burritos and salads…the possibilities are endless.
- Make the crock pot sauce. Combine olive oil, lime juice, chicken broth, garlic, jalapeno, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper in a food processor and blend until very smooth.
- Pat the chicken dry, then arrange in a single, even layer in the bottom of the crock pot; pour the sauce over the chicken.
- Seal the crockpot, then cook on high for 3-4 hours, or low for 5-6 hours. The chicken will be very, very tender.
- Shred the chicken right in the pot using two works, then add the cilantro. Toss the chicken, sauce, and cilantro until well combined. Enjoy!
What to Serve with Cilantro Lime Chicken
This cilantro lime chicken is a weeknight workhorse, and there are so many ways to stuff it into your face. Here are my faves:
- Stuff it into a taco and top with queso fresco and avocado – no other fancy slaws or garnishes necessary!
- With Mexican green rice and/or Instant Pot Pinto beans.
- Make a low carb/keto bowl with Mexican cauliflower rice, avocado, and cojita cheese.
- Alongside Mexican street corn salad.
- Make an epic cilantro lime chicken salad – shredded romaine, chopped tomatoes, grilled bell peppers, cilantro lime chicken, and cilantro lime vinaigrette. WHOAH.
Can I Use Chicken Thighs?
Yes. They may take closer to 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low to become tender enough to shred. Do make sure they’re boneless and skinless, and do make sure you trim any large fat deposits first.
Can I make This a Freezer Meal?
Yes, definitely and totally encouraged. Place the chicken breasts into a gallon sized freezer bag, pour the marinade over the chicken, press out the air, and seal. Store in the freezer for up to 2 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight, dump into the crock pot, and cook on low 8 hours or high 4 hours.
Is the Chicken Spicy?
Honestly, not really! The instructions call for seeding the jalapeno, which removes most of the heat. It has a kick, but it won’t leave your mouth on fire.
How Can I Make This Recipe Spicier?
Keep some of the seeds from the jalapeno, double the jalapeno, and/or add a teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
Is Cilantro Lime Chicken Healthy?
Y’all know I’m not a fan of the term “healthy”, so let’s just say that this recipe is most definitely clean. No processed ingredients, no sugar or additives – just a very short list of tasty whole foods. It’s also low carb, Whole30, and gluten free, so if any one of those dietary persuasions is your thing, you’re totally covered. We eat this for days and days on a Whole30 – it’s that good!
Did you make this Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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- Food Processor
- Place the chicken broth, olive oil, lime juice, garlic, jalapeno, salt, cumin, paprika, and pepper into a food processor. Blend until the garlic and jalapeno are pulverized and the sauce is well incorporated. (See Note 2)
- Lay the chicken in a single layer in the crockpot. Pour the sauce over the chicken.
- Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5-6 hours, until the chicken is very tender and easily pulls with the tines of a fork.
- Using two forks, shred the chicken right in the pot. Add the cilantro, then toss until well combined. Serve warm, right away. Enjoy!
- Note 1. If you prefer spicier chicken, keep the jalapeno seeds and/or double the jalapenos. You may also want to add up to 1 teaspoon chili powder to the sauce.
- Note 2. If you don’t have a food processor, finely chop the jalapeno and garlic, then whisk all ingredients until emulsified (very well combined).
Hello, this looks amazing! I just wanted to know the serving amount to go along with the nutritional facts. 266 cals for how much?
Hi Alissa – it’s about 4 ounces of cooked chicken per serving. Hope that helps, and that you enjoy it!
Have you tried this same recipe in the instant pot? If so, how long would you recommend cooking for?
Unfortunately I haven’t, as I don’t own an Instant Pot. I’m looking to convert some of my slow cooker recipes to the IP over the course of this year, however! I know that doesn’t help you right now, but it’s definitely on the radar.
I put it 11 minutes in the IP
For frozen or thawed chicken? Probably a silly question but🤷🏽♀️
Looks yummy. I prefer to use chicken thighs with bones. How long do you recommend on low? I also like to sear the thighs before adding liquid. Thanks!
Definitely 8 hours for bone-in chicken!
Do I shred the chicken in the juice/sauce? Why did I think you have to discard the liquid in the crock pot? It looks like it was fine to keep?
Yes, shred the chicken in the sauce – you don’t need to discard! It’s definitely safe to eat, and super delicious 🙂
Delicious! I like my food spicy so I left the seeds in my pepper and added a second. Definite ‘make again’ recipe! Thank you!
You’re so welcome, so glad you enjoyed it!
Really good! Mine was done after 7 hours…dont think i had enough lime but looking fwd to trying again….thank you!
More lime is always a win in my book! 🙂
Hello!! Iiiii am a crockpot newbie. If I half the recipe, do I still cook for 8 hours on low?
Yes, that will work!
I made this today with bone in thighs and legs. I cooked on high for 4.5 hours and the meat fell off the bone! We were having tacos, so I crisped it up in a pan with a sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of lime, similar to what I do with pork carnitas. It was definitely a crowd pleaser in our house!
When you crisped it up didn’t it dry out?
This looks super easy especially for the crock pot! I will definitely be making this for my weekly protein prep next week!
Made this into a bowl with black beans, brown rice, lettuce and avocado it was AMAZING! Thank you so much for the recipe I think it’s a hit for my household 😍
So easy and delicious! I made this Sunday for dinner on Monday. Everyone loved it. We only used a little bit of the jalapeño seeds bc we did not want it too spicy. It was perfect! We made bowls with rice and beans and avacado! So good!
I made this last night for dinner and my husband and I loved it! It was amazing ! I will definitely make this again very soon!
Yay! so glad you enjoyed it, thanks Beth!
So this was an incredibly quick and tasty dish that my kids loved. My 21 yr old son came out after grabbing a bowl and exclaimed “it tastes so fresh!”
My morning got hectic but I knew I wanted to make this and so I ran to the grocery store and made it back home with in 45 minuets…just as my massage client showed up. we have been working together a long time so she said she would wait while I literally threw this together and it took all of 15 minuets!
This is a keeper. Also, we ate these as bowls cause our tortillas didn’t hold up and we added mango and green onions which was incredible!! And I was able to add 2 more small breast to the same amount of sauce…probably could have gotten a way with one more…all that to say 3 pounds of chicken for larger family will definitely work with this!
Thanks for adding to my quick go to list of dinners!
I loathe the texture of slow cooker chicken and omg this is soooo not like any other recipe. I left the seeds in and it’s h o t but so tasty. It reheats super well also. Two picky eaters approved!
Can I use frozen chicken breasts?
I have personally not cooked from frozen in the slow cooker, but a few people commented above that they’ve done it with success. I would err on the side of more time (8 hours) and be sure to check the internal temperature with an instant read thermometer (the chicken should be at least 165°F when fully cooked).
made it tonight! my husband ATE non stop
Our husbands are of one mind (belly?) hahha! So glad y’all enjoyed it.
Very good and not too spicy! This is a keeper.
Yay, thanks Karla!
I’m not a fan of spicy food, so I left out the jalapeno. The recipe came out great! Super simple, throw everything in and forget about it. It’s ideal for people who like to meal prep enough food for a week. Will definitely make this again.
Thanks Katy! It’s even better the next day, so it’s definitely a winner for meal prep.
Really good recipe!
Unfortunately I forgot and did not adjust the salt level for the amount of chicken I used (maybe 1.5 lbs instead?) so it has come out nearly unbearably salty. All of the other flavors and seasonings are just fine though, and other than that came out juicy and delicious. Looking forward to remaking it with the right proportions! 🙂
Oh no! I hope it turns out perfect the next time. I’ve had a couple of comments lately about the salt, so I’m going to make a note to start with 1 tsp since different salt varieties can vary in “saltiness”, and more can always be added to the finished chicken. Thank you for the feedback!
My chicken breasts dried out after 2 1/2 hrs on high. WHY!! I know it will be better after I shred it, but what is the secret to crock pot chicken?
I always start my crockpot chicken recipes with frozen chicken breasts. I’ve made this recipe 3 times in the last month and the chicken is unbelievably tender – can’t even pick it up as a whole piece, it just falls apart. I accidentally used half of a bell pepper instead of a jalapeño the first time and I still fell in love with the finished product and that’s how I make it now!
I used to start with frozen chicken breasts too, but read in more than one place that it’s a little iffy from a food safety perspective. Hope this doesn’t sound critical; it’s not meant to. Just wouldn’t want you to get sick! https://www.today.com/food/food-myths-safe-cook-frozen-chicken-crock-pot-t123084
Omg DELICIOUS! A little salty for my taste because I used 2 tbsp, I don’t use much salt in my diet. Next time I will use less. I will definitely make this again and again!
do you have to put the ingredients in a food processor? Would a regular blender work or just mixing them in a large bowl work?
I made my sauce in the blender and it turned out great. This is my new favorite meal! My family enjoys it with rice or as a taco, but I love it with salad.
A regular blender would work fine just make sure you chop the jalapeños really fine.
My family loves this. I’m not a huge fan of spice so instead of jalapeños I use a 4oz can of diced green chilies and it’s great that way.
Fantastic and delicious. I have to make extra portions because we run out quickly every time !
Absolutely the WORST online recipe I have ever made. There is zero flavor. Do not waste your time or money!!
Agreed. This had zero flavor I, going to throw the rest in tortilla soup to try and save it.
It wasn’t bad, the chicken did not have a ton of flavor. I added Cayenne pepper and chili powder. I put it on top of cilantro lime rice with avocado, bell pepper, and tomatoes. I had to cover it in hot sauce though to amp up the flavor. Sort of just bland.
I agree – it needed something else. I wish I would have seen your recommendation!
Excellent and extremely flavorful! I used smoked paprika instead of regular and it was delicious.
Randa Lejeane Waller
This was so good my family loved it !!!
My whole family loves this recipe! We made cilantro rice to go with it and make rice bowls!! It’s a family favorite!
I’ve made this twice and it is so delicious!
I have made this so many times. It is excellent! I have found that if I am prepping everything the night before, do not mix the sauce with the chicken overnight. I think the lime juice must “cook” the chicken and it ends up with a weird texture. Just keep the sauce separate and pour over the chicken in the morning right before you turn on the slow cooker and it will be perfect. Amazing!!
I made this for my husband and me this past week – really easy to follow recipe, I did not change one thing. Only used 1TB of Salt, (not 2), and this did not take 8 hours to cook for 2IBS of boneless chicken breasts. Not sure if the 8 hour direction was meant for frozen and/or bone-in? Put mine in at 10:37am and it was done at 4:30pm – we had to keep the slow cooker on warm for a while. I kept the seeds in the jalapeño, but something was still missing. Maybe chili powder? In the end, this needed some additional flavor.
This was delicious! Great flavors. Wouldn’t change a thing.
Found this recipe a year ago and we make it every single week! We love ours over rice or as tacos.
Made this recipe tonight. The flavor wasn’t bad, and it smelled delightful. The chicken was a bit dry. After cooking for 5.5 hours, the thermometer was reading at 190/200°F. I probably would check in at 4 hours, if I tried this again. Will try some others on the site.
my kids love it, they get so excited when I tell them we’re having chicken tacos for dinner!
How many pounds of chicken do you think you can fit in a pressure cooker? In my meal prep I eat 8lbs of chicken a week so I’m wanting to do this in bulk. Not sure I can do that all in one batch?
So easy and delicious! Always a hit! Makes fantastic burrito bowls as well as tacos!
Moya Dunham Nash
My husband does not like chicken because most of the time chicken is dried out. This is not your traditional dried out chicken.
Our daughter made this recipe for our grandson’s wedding because it is his favorite recipe. She shared the recipe with us and now I make it. My husband loves it and asks for it! Thank you for sharing your recipe!
This is seriously a staple at our home! We LOVE this chicken! The jalepeno is just a slight kick but I just eliminate it when I have a spicy sensitive person over – which isn’t often because what, why are we friends? 😛 Thanks for the great recipe!
This is delish! I tweaked a wee bit…added onion, and was out of if cumin, so used my homemade chili seasoning, and added more cilantro (because cilantro is awesome!). I see myself making this A LOT. Thanks for sharing. 🙂
Most delicious and easy to make. This is the perfect meal to meal prep with for the work week!
2022 and still LOVING this. It is a great thing to serve a large group so when my whole family gathers it is great and easy to make. I have doubled and even trippled the recipe and even had two crock pots going at once. Everyone begs to take left overs home. When i make two pots i always make one hotter than the other for the heat lovers. Before covid I even took it to work when we didba taco pot luck and was asked to always bring it. It makes fantastic chicken nachos too!
I don’t have a crockpot. But I do have instant pot. Can I make this in instant pot ?
Yes. You can either use the slow cooker feature on your instant pot, OR you can follow the instructions in this post (the meat for the tacos is an instant pot version of this cilantro lime chicken): https://oursaltykitchen.com/whole30-chicken-tacos/
I love, love love it! I also made cauliflower rice with cilantro and lime so good! It’s a keeper for me
Turned out great. I don’t like jalapeños so I substituted green chilies and added Cajun seasoning. Served with rice that had black beans, tomatoes, onions, garlic and cilantro in it. Served with lime wedges.
Leftovers will be used for tacos.
Can this recipe be made in an instant pot?
If so how much time?
Funny you should ask, as I’ve been testing an Instant Pot version the last couple of days! It still needs a few tweaks, but if you want to try ASAP, here is my best adaptation so far: prepare the sauce as instructed but OMIT the broth; pressure cook 15 minutes, then allow the pressure to release naturally for 15. Shred in the pot, and mix in the cilantro as directed. If you try it, please let me know what you think!
I’m making this in the instant pot right now! I added about 1/4 c water just to rinse the seasoning off my measuring cup and to hopefully prevent the burn notice! I’m using frozen breasts and hoping 18 minutes on high will be enough. I am also grilling some onions and peppers to top a salad mix! Looking forward to having this for the next few days!
Have you changed the recipe for the instant pot? I want to make it tonight!
Yes, it’s slightly different. The Instant Pot version can be found here: https://oursaltykitchen.com/whole30-chicken-tacos/
Thank you! I made it tonight and it was fabulous! We made bowls with rice, black beans, lettuce, avocado, cheese and sour cream. Everyone made their own and it was perfect for watching football.