Crockpot salsa chicken is full of Southwest flavor and easy to make in the slow cooker! Serve juicy shredded salsa chicken over rice or as a filling in burritos, tacos, enchiladas, and more.
Why you’ll love it: This crockpot salsa chicken recipe combines juicy shredded chicken, chunky salsa, onion, and diced bell peppers. It’s nearly hands-free and super versatile!
How long it takes: 10 minutes of prep before your slow cooker does the rest
Equipment you’ll need: your crockpot or slow cooker, and forks for shredding
Servings: 7 servings (1 cup each)
- 1 Recipe Overview
- 2 Easy Crockpot Salsa Chicken
- 3 Why You’ll Love This Salsa Chicken Recipe
- 4 Ingredients You’ll Need
- 5 Salsa Chicken Topping Ideas
- 6 How to Make Crockpot Salsa Chicken
- 7 Is It Safe to Put Raw Chicken in a Slow Cooker?
- 8 Tips for Success
- 9 FAQs
- 10 Make This Salsa Chicken Recipe Your Own
- 11 How to Serve Crock Pot Salsa Chicken
- 12 Storage & Reheating Tips
- 13 More Crockpot Chicken Recipes
- 14 Get the Recipe: Crockpot Salsa Chicken Recipe
Easy Crockpot Salsa Chicken
Crockpot salsa chicken – affectionately known as “taco slop” in our household – is one of our favorite family dinners. It’s perfect for busy weeknights, made from simple ingredients like tender boneless chicken, chunky salsa, and diced veggies. We’ll often serve ours in tortillas topped with avocado. It’s wholesome, flavorful, and always hits the spot.
I make this crockpot salsa chicken at least twice a month. It’s not gourmet or fancy, but the flavors are super satisfying, bellies are filled, and it puts smiles on everyone’s faces. Salsa chicken is good food, plain and simple, and it couldn’t be easier to make in the slow cooker.
Why You’ll Love This Salsa Chicken Recipe
- Inexpensive ingredients. This recipe is slightly more involved than my 3-ingredient crockpot chicken tacos, but not by much! This Southwestern-style salsa chicken uses affordable, easy ingredients, and you can count them on one hand.
- Easy to make. The crockpot makes this recipe nearly hands-free. All it takes is a bit of prep followed by a long and low stint in your slow cooker. Come back to a juicy, tender, flavor-packed chicken dinner that’s basically ready to go.
- Versatile. Serve your crockpot salsa chicken wrapped in tortillas for tacos or burritos, spread over nachos, or dished over rice. It’s also delicious to eat as is! There are plenty of ways to customize this chicken recipe to suit your tastes, too.
Ingredients You’ll Need
Below, I’ll get you started with some quick notes on the ingredients for this crockpot salsa chicken recipe. Be sure to refer to the recipe card with the full ingredient amounts, recipe instructions, and nutritional info.
- Boneless Skinless Chicken – I use a combination of boneless skinless chicken breasts and thighs in this recipe. I love the extra juiciness that comes from thighs. Feel free to use all breasts or all thighs, whichever you prefer, as long as they’re boneless.
- Salsa – I recommend jarred chunky salsa. It can be the spicy or mild kind depending on what you prefer. Jarred salsa works better in slow cooker recipes than fresh refrigerated salsa, which contains more liquid.
- Taco Seasoning – Making homemade taco seasoning is easy to do with a handful of spices and herbs. However, you can use a package of your favorite store-bought brand, too. You could also use southwest seasoning for a different twist.
- Diced Veggies – Finely diced red bell pepper and onion are easy additions to crockpot salsa chicken. Veggies are optional, but I love to include them for extra nutrition.
- Fresh Lime and Cilantro – Add a splash of lime juice and a sprinkle of freshly minced cilantro to the shredded chicken right at the end, to brighten the flavors.
Salsa Chicken Topping Ideas
Depending on how you’re serving your crockpot salsa chicken, you’ll also need tortillas, rice, or tortilla chips, and your choice of toppings. We love taco toppings like shredded cheese, sour cream, scallions, green chilies, diced tomatoes, and avocado. See further on for more serving suggestions.
How to Make Crockpot Salsa Chicken
Who’s ready to make some Southwest magic happen? The crockpot makes this salsa chicken recipe so easy, it does sometimes feel like magic. Here’s how to make it:
Add the ingredients to the crockpot. Place your chicken into the bowl of your slow cooker, along with diced red pepper and onion (if you’re including veggies). Sprinkle in the taco seasoning, and stir.
Cook. Set the crock to cook on low for 6 hours. Once the chicken is cooked through, take it out of the pot and shred it using two forks.
Combine. Return the shredded chicken to the slow cooker, add lime juice and cilantro, and stir everything together.
Serve. Dish up your crockpot salsa chicken over rice, roll it up in tortillas, or serve it with chips and your favorite toppings!
Is It Safe to Put Raw Chicken in a Slow Cooker?
Yes, according to the USDA, it’s safe to put raw chicken in the slow cooker. Crockpots are designed to cook raw meat using direct heat and steam over lengthy cooking times. It’s enough to destroy bacteria and makes the slow cooker a safe option for cooking raw chicken.
It’s important to note that the same can’t be said for frozen chicken. Chicken that’s not thawed completely will not cook fast enough in low heat and can lead to food-borne illness. Always thaw the chicken first!
Tips for Success
Follow these quick tips for perfectly tender crockpot salsa chicken, every time:
- Use boneless chicken. Use white meat, dark meat, or both, but boneless, skinless chicken will be easiest to shred.
- To make this recipe super simple, leave out the veggies and use only chicken and salsa. It will still turn out juicy and flavorful. This is handy if you have picky eaters!
- Check that your chicken is done by taking the temperature at the thickest part of the breast (or thigh) using an instant-read thermometer. Chicken is finished cooking when the internal temperature reaches 165ºF.
No. According to the USDA, meat or poultry must be thawed completely before it’s added to the slow cooker. This is because frozen chicken doesn’t come to a safe temperature quickly enough, which can cause dangerous bacteria to develop.
Overcooking can cause the chicken to come out of the crockpot tough, dry, and/or rubbery. Make sure to set your crock to cook on low, and check the chicken for doneness as it nears the end of the cooking time.
Make This Salsa Chicken Recipe Your Own
One of the things I love most about crockpot recipes like this one is that this cozy salsa chicken is easy to customize to your tastes. Try these fun variation ideas:
- Bulk up crockpot salsa chicken by adding rinsed and drained black beans and corn kernels to the chicken after shredding. Stir them in and continue to cook for another 30 minutes to an hour.
- Wilt in chopped spinach at the end of cooking for a nutritious dose of greens. You don’t really taste the spinach, and it adds lots of vitamins and minerals.
- Make it spicy. Use hot salsa or kick the heat levels up a notch with diced jalapeños.
- Use salsa verde in place of regular salsa, and make crockpot salsa verde chicken instead. The flavors will be fresh and tangy!
- To make creamy salsa chicken, stir in cream cheese.
- Looking for a faster alternative? Try Instant Pot shredded chicken. It’s ready in no time and so handy for food prepping.
How to Serve Crock Pot Salsa Chicken
Serve shredded salsa chicken in soft tortillas or taco shells for quick and delicious chicken tacos, loaded up with toppings like shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, and avocado. Or, bundle everything into a flour tortilla with refried beans for a hearty chicken burrito! Slow cooker salsa chicken is even delicious served over homemade nachos.
Another tasty option is to serve salsa chicken over a bed of cilantro lime rice (try cauliflower rice as a low-carb option). It’s yummy over rice bowls, too, garnished with tomatoes, shredded lettuce, guacamole, and a squeeze of lime. For an easy side, pair it with corn on the cob or Mexican corn dip served with tortilla chips.
Storage & Reheating Tips
- Fridge. Leftover crockpot salsa chicken can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 4 to 5 days. It’s quick and easy to reheat in the microwave, or in a saucepan on the stovetop.
- Freezer. Cool the salsa chicken to room temperature (not more than 2 hours) before storing it in a freezer-safe container or bag, and placing it in the freezer. Leftover chicken can be stored frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost leftovers in the fridge before reheating.
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 pound boneless skinless thighs
- 2 cups (16 oz) chunky salsa (the jarred variety works better than fresh refrigerated salsa)
- 2 tablespoons taco seasoning (or a 1 to 1.25 oz package)
- 1 cup finely diced red bell pepper, optional (about 1 bell pepper)
- 1 cup finely diced onion, optional (about 1 small onion)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, optional
- ¼ cup minced fresh cilantro, optional (more for topping)
- rice, tortillas, or chips for serving
- cheddar cheese, scallions, fresh tomatoes, avocado and/or sour cream for topping
- Put chicken, salsa, red pepper (if using), onion (if using), and taco seasoning in slow cooker. Stir to combine.
- Cook on low for 6 hours.
- Remove chicken, shred using two forks, and return to slow cooker. Add lime juice and cilantro, if using.
- Serve over rice, tortillas, or chips with desired toppings.
- You may use all dark or all white meat, whatever you prefer, as long as it’s boneless.
- Nutrition information is based on crockpot ingredients only, not garnishes or what you choose to serve it with.
- If you want to REALLY simplify this, you can make it with just the chicken and the salsa, and omit all other ingredients.
- If you want to make this more substantial, add 1 can (15-ounce) black beans, rinsed and drained and 1 can (15-ounce) corn kernels, drained, to the chicken after shredding. Cook for an additional 30 to 60 minutes or until heated through.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.