Easy Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken in Salsa for Tacos, Nachos, & Burritos
Chicken in Salsa
Here is an easy and delicious way to prepare chicken for enchiladas, chalupas, burritos, tacos, nachos, taco salad, etc. I made it to use in an enchilada casserole. Beef or pork can easily be substituted for chicken.
All you really have to do is put the chicken in the slow cooker in the morning, add the salsa, and turn the crock pot on. That's all there is to it. Go on about your day, and come back later to shred the chicken and add the vegetables.
I've also included recipes for both red and green salsa, if you want to make your own for a fresher tasting meal. And as a bonus, there is also an easy recipe for cooking barbecue chicken in the slow cooker. It's great on sandwiches; you can pack them for lunch, and they even taste good cold.
- 1 (4 oz.) can diced green chiles
- 16 oz. Salsa Verde (Sometimes I substitute enchilada sauce).
- 1/2 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
- 2 - 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 large green bell pepper, sliced
- 1 large red bell pepper, sliced
- For extra flavor, you can also add some chili powder, ground cumin, and a little ground coriander.
- Pour the chiles and half of the salsa into the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the chicken. If using spices, sprinkle them over the chicken. Pour the remaining salsa on top. Place the lid on the slow cooker, and turn it on low. Cook for six hours.
- Enjoy your day!
- Using two forks, shred the chicken. Add bell peppers, onion and cilantro. Stir. Cook for an additional 30 minutes on low.
Reynold's Slow Cooker Liners
I love these things, and I highly recommend using them in your slow cooker or crock pot. They make clean up so much easier; nothing sticks to the crock, and it won't smell like whatever you cooked last. These cost less if you buy them online, but you can find them in most supermarkets (or your local Walmart). Look for them near the Saran-Wrap and Zip-lock bags.
- When buying prepackaged chicken breasts, it's difficult to find exactly two pounds, even if you buy two smaller packages. This recipe can be made with as little as two pounds of chicken (anything less than that, and you might find it's a little too juicy), all the way up to three pounds of chicken. Anything over three pounds, and you'll need to use more salsa.
- If the chicken isn't shredding easily, it needs to cook longer.
- If you don't mind the bell peppers and onions being mushy, you can place them in the crock pot with the chicken, instead of adding them later. I like to add the onions with the chicken, so that they cook for a long time, but I don't like the peppers to be quite as soft, so I add them when there is about 45 minutes of cook time left.
- I don't bother pulling the chicken out of the slow cooker to shred it but, if you are using a crock pot liner, move the chicken onto a plate to shred it. Then, you can place the chicken back into the slow cooker to stir it in with the salsa mixture.
- Fresh cilantro really makes it special, so I don't recommend using dried. However, if dried is all you have on hand, it's better than NO cilantro.
- If you are using the chicken in tacos, nachos, or anything that you will be picking up and eating with your hands, it's advisable to drain the chicken in a colander before building your meal. Otherwise, it's very juicy and messy.
- I've also substituted the salsa for enchilada sauce, and added cumin, chili powder, and cayenne to the chicken to make it more flavorful.
This makes 12 ounces or so—depending on the size of the tomatillos. It tastes so much better than store bought green salsa. My husband devoured most of it in no time.
- Prep time: 10 min
- Cook time: 5 min
- Ready in: 15 min
- Yields: 6
- 5 tomatillos
- 1 large jalpeno
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/4 cup diced onion
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- Remove the husks from the tomatillos. Put tomatillos and jalapeno into a small pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes. Drain. Remove the stem from the jalapeno.
- Place all ingredients into a blender, and mix until well blended. Pour into a refrigerator safe container and chill overnight.
How to Shred the Chicken
Here's a helpful two minute video clip on how to shred chicken. She's holding the chicken with her hand, but I used another fork to hold it. The chicken will be hot and covered in salsa when you remove it from the slow cooker.
Homemade Salsa Roja (Red Salsa)
Depending on the size of the tomatoes, this makes about 3 cups, give or take. The ones I used were on the larger side. I loved the fresh taste of it as opposed to salsa out of a jar, but I thought it was nowhere near as good as the home made salsa verde. That is going to be hard to top.
- Prep time: 5 min
- Cook time: 15 min
- Ready in: 20 min
- Yields: 8
- 4 medium to large Roma tomatoes
- 6 cloves minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 small jalapeno
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- Place tomatoes into boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and remove stems. Also, remove the stem from the jalapeno.
- Return tomatoes to the pot, add remaining ingredients, and crush the tomatoes. Stirring frequently, simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the mixture has reached the desired thickness. Chill overnight.
Note: Since I used the salsa in the crock pot instead of serving it as a dip or garnish, I simply put all of the ingredients into the blender, instead of cooking the mixture. It was very tasty after being slow cooked with the chicken.
Salsa: Verde or Rojo?
Do you prefer green or red?
A Special Ingredient
As you can see from my intro photo, the green salsa doesn't add any color to the chicken. (However, I can assure you it is VERY flavorful). This is another batch I made, and I added about three tablespoons of Frank's Original Red Hot Sauce after I shredded the chicken. The sauce gave it a little bit of color and a bit more of a kick.
Chicken Tacos - Shredded Chicken in Red SalsaClick thumbnail to view full-size
Easy Barbecue Chicken for Sandwiches: Another Option for Shredding Chicken
Here's another shredded chicken option, if you're not in the mood for Mexican food. Place the chicken into the crock pot with your favorite barbecue sauce. (We like Stubb's). I like to add a diced onion for a little more flavor. To make this recipe, follow the same directions for the chicken in salsa, but you don't have to wait to add the onion.
When it's all done, serve it on whole wheat buns or rolls. While it's cooking, make a batch of potato or macaroni salad, and you'll have a nice lunch to take to the beach or the park.
Suggestions for BBQ Sauce
I'm really picky about my BBQ sauce—I don't like Kraft or any of those cheap sauces. I like the ones they have at really good barbecue places, and the following sauces remind me of those.
Stubb's: The original is awesome, and it also comes in several different flavors. We've tried a few and have enjoyed each one.
Blue Front: This is my favorite. It comes in hot or mild. It's not too sweet or too vinegary.
Tom's Barbeque Sauce: This one is similar to Blue Front, but it costs less.
© 2011 Sara Krentz