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Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

Simplify your dinner routine with this unbelievably easy and delicious Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken recipe. With just two simple ingredients, you’ll have a mouthwatering meal bursting with flavor, perfect for those busy weeknights when you need a quick and satisfying dinner solution.

Bowl of slow cooker salsa chicken surrounded by tortillas, rice and condiments.

The true beauty of this Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken lies in its incredible versatility. I’ve used it to craft mouthwatering burrito bowls, amp up the flavor in enchiladas, and create quick and delicious tacos. Its simplicity also makes it the perfect option for meal prep, ensuring that you have a savory, two-ingredient wonder ready to elevate your lunches or weeknight meals. Whether you’re a busy parent, a working professional, or simply a fan of delicious, fuss-free cooking, this recipe is your ticket to a world of culinary possibilities.

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken in corn tortillas with condiments on top.

Ingredients for Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast: Provides a protein-rich foundation, absorbing the vibrant salsa flavors during cooking.
  • Salsa: Delivers a zesty blend of tomatoes, peppers, and onions, infusing the dish with a lively and bold taste. Opt for jarred salsa for ultimate convenience.
Ingredients displayed on counter.

Making the Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

  1. Chicken prep – Begin by placing the boneless, skinless chicken breast in an even layer at the bottom of the slow cooker. This sets the stage for even cooking and flavor absorption.
  2. Salsa layer – Generously pour the jar of salsa over the chicken, ensuring that each piece is well-covered. Seal the lid to keep those enticing flavors inside the slow cooker.
  3. Slow cook – Set the slow cooker to the low heat setting and let the chicken simmer in the salsa for 4-5 hours. Cook until the chicken’s internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F, ensuring it’s tender and succulent.
  4. Shred it – Gently remove the cooked chicken from the slow cooker, then use meat claws or two forks to shred it. This step prepares the chicken for its return to the salsa.
Collage showing four steps to make the chicken.
  1. Combine and enjoy – Return the shredded chicken to the slow cooker and stir well to blend with the flavorful salsa and its juices. This ensures every bite is a burst of flavor.
  2. Serve as desired – Your Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken is now ready for your enjoyment. Serve it warm over rice, in tortillas, or as a tasty addition to your favorite salad. With endless meal options, this dish always delivers outstanding flavor. Enjoy your versatile and fuss-free creation!
Collage showing two steps to make the chicken.

Variations and substitutions

Salsa variations – Try different types of salsa, such as mango salsa, pineapple salsa, tomatillo salsa, or salsa verde, to change up the flavor profile.

Homemade salsa – If you’re feeling adventurous, try making your own salsa from fresh ingredients. You can personalize it to your liking, whether you prefer it mild, spicy, or somewhere in between. It’s a rewarding twist that adds a personal touch to this simple recipe.

Chicken thighs – If you prefer chicken thighs, feel free to substitute them for chicken breasts. Keep in mind that boneless, skinless chicken thighs may require a slightly longer cooking time compared to breasts. However, the result is succulent and flavorful.

Seasonings and spices – Enhance the dish with additional seasonings like cumin, chili powder, paprika, or garlic powder for extra depth of flavor. Add fresh herbs like cilantro or oregano for a burst of freshness.

Cooking methods – If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can make this recipe in an Instant Pot using the pressure cooking function. Cook on high pressure for 10-15 minutes, followed by a quick release. In a pinch, you can also prepare it on the stovetop by simmering the chicken and salsa in a covered pan over low heat until the chicken is tender.

Spoonful of salsa chicken being removed from the slow cooker.

Tips for success

  • Adjust cooking time – Because many slow cookers can cook differently, it’s important to be flexible with the cooking time. Depending on your slow cooker’s temperature settings and the thickness of your chicken pieces, the cooking time may vary. Remember to check the chicken’s internal temperature with a meat thermometer to ensure it reaches 165 degrees F before serving. If it hasn’t reached this temperature, it’s not ready and needs more cooking time to ensure safe and succulent results.
  • Don’t overcook – While slow cooking is great for tenderizing meat, overcooking can lead to dry chicken. Once the chicken reaches the desired temperature, remove it promptly to maintain its juiciness.
  • Use the right salsa – When selecting the salsa for your Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken, choose one that aligns with your taste preferences, whether it’s mild, medium, or hot. The flavor of the salsa plays a pivotal role in shaping the final dish, so go with the option that suits you best. If you’re opting for a store-bought salsa, I recommend splurging on a high-quality one, as that’s where all the flavor in this dish originates. Investing in a top-notch salsa can make a noticeable difference in the overall taste of your meal.
  • Shredding techniques: Shred the chicken while it’s still warm for easier and smoother shredding. Meat claws or two forks work well for this task.
  • Boneless, skinless chicken: Selecting boneless, skinless chicken, whether breasts or thighs, is recommended for this recipe. It’s not only a leaner option but also makes the shredding process much simpler since you won’t need to deal with bones. This choice ensures your dish remains fuss-free and delicious while keeping it on the healthier side.
Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken used in a burrito bowl.

Storage

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

To freeze any leftover Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken, allow it to cool completely before transferring it to airtight containers or freezer bags. Remember to leave some room for expansion and label with the date for easy tracking. You can safely store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, thaw it in the refrigerator.

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken FAQs

Can I use frozen chicken?

The short answer is no. Starting with frozen chicken in a slow cooker is generally not recommended for food safety reasons, as it may spend too much time in the “danger zone” temperature range, promoting bacterial growth. However, using chicken that has been safely thawed in the refrigerator beforehand is a viable and safe option. Thawing chicken first ensures it reaches a safe cooking temperature more quickly, reducing the risk of food-borne illnesses. So, while frozen chicken is not ideal, thawing it before cooking in the slow cooker is a safer and more practical approach.

What can I do if the chicken turns out too dry?

If your chicken turns out drier than you’d like, there are a few ways to revive it. When reheating, consider adding a bit of additional salsa or chicken broth to the chicken. This extra moisture can help rehydrate the meat and infuse it with more flavor. Alternatively, a dollop of sour cream can also contribute a creamy richness, making your dish more succulent and enjoyable. These simple adjustments can bring back the moisture and tenderness to your chicken, making it just as delicious as when it was first cooked.

How should I serve slow cooker salsa chicken?

Get creative with your Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken by using it in tacos, burrito bowls, enchiladas, salads, quesadillas, or even as a baked potato topping. The options are endless, allowing you to enjoy a variety of delicious meals.

Looking for more easy dinner ideas?

Check out these great recipes.

Bowl of slow cooker salsa chicken surrounded by tortillas, rice and condiments.

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

Author: Mandy
Elevate your weeknight dinner with this easy, two-ingredient Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken. From tacos to burrito bowls and more, this versatile dish adds a burst of bold flavor to your favorite meals. Perfect for hassle-free cooking and meal prep.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6 Servings
Calories

Ingredients
  

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 (16 ounce) jar of salsa (2 cups)

Instructions
 

  • Place the chicken in an even layer in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  • Pour the salsa over the chicken and cover with the lid.
  • Cook on low for 4-5 hours or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
  • Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and shred it with meat claws or two forks.
  • Return the shredded chicken to the slow cooker and stir well to combine with the salsa and juices.
  • Serve warm over rice, in tortillas, or add to your favorite salad.

Notes

  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Disclaimer: Nutrition information is estimated based on automated calculations and should be considered as an approximation. These estimates are provided as a courtesy. Please use your own brand’s nutritional values to verify accuracy.

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