Easy Slow Cooker Shredded Mexican Chicken

Easy Slow Cooker Shredded Mexican Chicken simmered with Mexican spices, salsa and green chilies for amazingly flavorful chicken for tacos, burritos, nachos, soups, salads, etc. and all you do is dump and run!  You NEED this in your back pocket!

Crockpot Mexican Chicken Recipe Video

Shredded Mexican Chicken on a wood cutting board.


Need is a strong word.  But when it comes to food and recipes, I am convinced you NEED this go-to, easy, crazy delicious Slow Cooker Shredded Mexican Chicken at your fingertips. In fact, it is the only all purpose, Slow Cooker Shredded Mexican Chicken you will ever need!  It joins the cast of my other stellar back-pocket Mexican staples of Tacos Al Pastor, Carne Asada,  Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas, Baja Fish Tacos, Beef, Bean and Cheese Burritos, Chicken Fajitas, Steak Fajitas, Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas and Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef.   And of course, every one needs a killer Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe. 

After all, tacos, burritos, nachos, tostadas, chimichangas, enchiladas, etc. are only as good as the meat and this Mexican Chicken is stellar.   It will be the star of your Mexican dishes and bonus! – it is super easy and fabulous for make-ahead or even freeze-ahead meals.  Use the chicken plain in your recipes or top them all off with Guacamole, Homemade Salsa, Salsa Verde or Pico de Gallo for an added layer of YUM!

The perfectly flavored chicken cooks in a Mexican spiced bath of salsa, green chilies, diced tomatoes, brown sugar and a splash of liquid smoke.

Showing how to make Shredded Mexican Chicken in the slow cooker.

The chicken cooks until its fork tender, then shredded and added back to the seasoned juices to re-absorb the flavor in every crevice.

Shredded Mexican Chicken in the slow cooker being scooped out.

At this point, you drain any excess liquid.  I like to save the seasoned liquid to cook my rice in like I first did in my Slow Cooker Fajita Chickenso good – some of the best rice you will ever eat!  The chicken is perfect as is for tacos/burritos or if you are serving plain over rice, I love to stir in some enchilada sauce.  It is also fabulous with Restaurant Style Mexican Rice or Cilantro Lime Rice with Black Beans.

A large scoop of Shredded Mexican Chicken.
Shredded Mexican Chicken with cilantro and tomatoes.

This Slow Cooker Shredded Mexican Chicken is ready to make all your Mexican dishes more delicious…

Like these Smothered Baked Mexican Chicken Burritos aka “Skinny Chimichangas” with Cheesy Green Chili Sour Cream Sauce

Shredded Mexican Chicken in a burrito with cheese.

But don’t wait, your taste buds want you to make this chicken now!  or tomorrow, or as soon as humanly possible…

Looking for more crockpot shredded chicken recipes?

Easy Slow Cooker Shredded Mexican Chicken simmered with Mexican spices, salsa and green chilies for the BEST Mexican chicken perfect for tacos, burritos, tostadas, salads, etc. Couldn’t be any easier!

Slow Cooker Shredded Mexican Chicken

Easy Slow Cooker Shredded Mexican Chicken simmered with Mexican spices, salsa and green chilies for amazingly flavorful chicken for tacos, burritos, nachos, soups, salads, etc. and all you do is dump and run!  You NEED this in your back pocket!
Servings: 6 servings
Total Time: 4 hrs 5 mins
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 4 hrs

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  • 2 pounds chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup mild salsa (medium if you like spicy)
  • 3-4 tablespoons brown sugar **
  • 1 4 oz. can mild diced green chilies
  • 1 14.5 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained (or regular)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tsp EACH ground cumin, garlic powder, onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp EACH smoked paprika, dry oregano, pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper (optional for more heat)
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • Hot sauce to taste


  • Rub chicken breasts with oil and place in the bottom of your slow cooker. Add all of the remaining ingredients except for the hot sauce. Cook on high for 2-4 hours or on low for 6-7 hours or until chicken is tender enough to shred.
  • Shred the chicken and let it cook on low for an additional 20 minutes to absorb some of the liquid/juices. Drain all excess liquid (see note***). Taste and add hot sauce to taste if desired.




Cook on high pressure for 13 minutes then let release for 15 minutes.  Shred and pressure cook for another 5 minutes.

Tips for Success

  • Liquid Smoke is found next to the BBQ sauces in any grocery store and adds a wonderfully smoky flavor.
  • Use 3 tablespoons brown sugar if using mild salsa and not using ground chipotle chili pepper. Use 4 tablespoons if you are using medium salsa and/or the ground chipotle chili pepper. The brown sugar balances out the heat. I use both medium salsa and the chipotle chili pepper and it has a kick but not overly spicy in my opinion – perfect to be smothered in cheese. I had a comment that the chicken is not spicy at all if you leave out the chipotle pepper – perfect for kids.
  • When I drain my excess liquid, I top a large bowl with a strainer and add slow cooker contents, pressing down on chicken to get rid of all of the excess moisture. I then use drained liquid plus additional needed water to cook my rice for AMAZING flavored rice.
  • If serving over rice, try stirring in some enchilada sauce after you drain your chicken for some saucy Enchilada Mexican Chicken.
  • Chicken freezes beautifully.  Transfer to a freezer bag, squeeze out excess air and freeze for up to 3 months.  Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using. 

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  1. Ariel says

    This recipe is foolproof!! And so good!! We make tacos with it or serve over rice and top with shredded cheese, cilantro, avocado, etc. Only takes me 15 min to get it in the crockpot. So easy!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Ariel, I’m so pleased it’s a favorite!

  2. Becky says

    This is one of my favorite recipes! I make it for myself to eat all week fairly often, but brought it for a potluck at work today and it was a huge success.

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Becky, I’m so happy to hear it’s a repeat favorite!

  3. Apolonio Molina Romero says

    I Love ❤️ Your Food Recipes !!!

  4. Savilla Smith says

    We love this recipe and make it all the time. We have a large group coming for a party next weekend and wondering if you have ever doubled it with success?

    • Jen says

      Hi Savilla, I haven’t personally double the recipe but it shouldn’t be a problem at all. Whenever I double a recipe I start with less salt and heat and then add more to taste. Good luck!

      • Susan says

        I’ve always doubled this recipe and it makes some of our very favorite dishes. We’ve been making this recipe for a few years now. We have tacos one evening, nachos or quesadillas the next and make chicken sour cream enchiladas for the grand finale. I spread sour cream on the bottom of a 9”13 baking dish. Add the shredded chicken, sour cream, shredded cheese and green chili’s with left over sauce from cooking the chicken to make the filling for the enchiladas. Spread sour cream on the top of the rolled tortilla, sprinkle with cheese, cover and bake for 30 min. So easy and a huge hit!
        My family never complains about left overs as the left over Mexican Chicken taste great in each new dish.

        • Jen says

          Thanks so much for taking the time to comment Susan, I love hearing this recipe is a repeat family favorite! Your chicken sour cream enchiladas sound fantastic, thanks for sharing! I am excited to try something new with this recipe – thank you!

  5. Natasha says

    I’ve made this many times and it is a favorite. I don’t use liquid smoke because I’ve never cared for it and I substitute the chipotle chili pepper for chipotles in adobo sauce since that has some of that smoky flavor. I love to use this for my meal prep.

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Natasha, I love hearing this recipe is on repeat. Chipotles in adobo sound fabulous!

  6. penny Goldberg says

    I am looking for your receipe for amazing rice. I am cooking the receipe now for the mexican chicken. It smells soooo good.

  7. Susan says

    This was really good but there wasn’t enough liquid in the recipe for the instant pot. I got multiple burn warnings and had to add broth and restart. it came out great in the end but just a word for warning for instant pots that it needs more liquid. Thank you for another tasty recipe!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much for the heads up Susan! I’m sure your review will be very helpful to others.

  8. Lauren N says

    Could I use a Dutch oven? If so do you know the time difference?

    • Jen says

      Hi Lauren, I would bake at 350 degrees, covered, for about 45 minutes or until the chicken easily shreds. Good luck!

  9. Joy says

    I have made this recipe many times! It is easy to make and easy to increase for a larger party. I have even substituted chicken with beef and it was also delicious.

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Joy! I love that you’ve even used beef, yum!

  10. Lisa says

    This was the first recipe of yours I discovered from you a year or two ago, and I’ve been making it regularly ever since. Then somehow I lost your site and only recently rediscovered it. Since then I have made at least a dozen of your dishes (SO FAR) and every last one has been added by my whole family to the Hall of Cooking Fame list. Any time I want to wow, I come here first. Thanks for all you do and cheers!

    • Jen says

      Sorry for the delayed response Lisa, but thank you so much for taking the time to make my day! I am honored you are loving my recipes so much and they are making it to the Hall of Cooking Fame List- wow, so cool! Thanks for allowing my recipes to be part of your family dinners!

  11. Veronica says

    This is the best slow cooker chicken – so flavorful and juicy and delicious. We used some of it for your smothered burritos, and the leftovers for chicken quesadillas. It made the whole house smell amazing. Now I need to go look and see what other slow cooker recipes you have!!

  12. Michelle says

    I love all of your recipes and would like to try this but my husband does not prefer “chunky” tomatoes. Is there something I could substitute for the diced tomatoes or would it still work if I left them out? Thank you so much!!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Michelle! The tomatoes add some moisture to the chicken, so I would add an extra 1/4 cup salsa, Enjoy!

  13. Niki says

    My new “go to” recipe for family parties, and im a truck driver so I cook on Sundays for the entire week and this is nice and easy, allowing me time to cook other meals at the same time and also is easily stored in ziploc bags which is important when I only have a tiny refrigerator in my truck. Looking forward to trying more of your recipes. I also baked some with Mexican blend cheese to use as a dip for crackers and it was amazing as well

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Niki, I’m so pleased it was a convenient tasty winner! I love crockpot meals for throughout the week!

  14. Amie says

    You’re recipes are AMAZING!! This is one of my favorites! I wish you had a cookbook- seriously I’ve tried many of your recipes and literally each one is off the charts delicious! Anyhow… I have an abundance of boneless skinless chicken thighs- can I substitute them in place of breasts?

    • Jen says

      You’re too kind Amie, thank you!!! I’m playing around with the idea of customizable e-books, so stay tuned! Yes, you can absolutely use chicken thighs in this recipe – you might even like them better ;). I usually list chicken breasts for crockpot recipes because that’s what most people ask for, but I love chicken thighs too.

  15. Yelena says

    Have you tried cooking this in the instant pot?
    Any tips on how to make it work?

    • Jen says

      Instant Pot Instructions in the notes 😉

  16. Rachel says

    Making this today and I accidentally put too much liquid smoke… is that going to ruin it?

    • Jen says

      Hi Rachel, it just depends on how smoky you can handle 😉 You can toss it with some enchilada sauce at the end to dilute the smoke – good luck!

  17. Didina Gnagnide Angorinie says

    Could I substitute salsa for enchilada sauce? I don’f have salsa jars sold in supermarkets here and tomatoes are not good enough yet to make salsa with. But enchilada sauce I can whip up.

  18. Lori says

    This is the best Mexican chicken I’ve ever had or made!! Easy, yet the taste is perfection!! Thank you for this!!

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome Lori, I’m so pleased you love it!

  19. Renee says

    What a yummy recipe ! I made this today and had it for dinner tonight and it was delish ! I made it using my own homemade salsa and Rotel instead of the fire roasted tomatoes . Those were the only changes I made. The spice level was perfect for me having used the exact ingredients suggested with 4T of brown sugar. I put the meat in a soft flour tortilla and used the juices for dipping . So good!! I am so glad I found this site and tried this recipe . Thanks

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment Renee! I’m so pleaded you loved this recipe and I love your idea of using the juices for dipping – yum! I hope you enjoy exploring my other recipes!

  20. Jessica says

    AMAZING!!!!!! I absolutely love this recipe. I have been searching for a long time for the best Mexican shredded chicken, and you have done it. So good, it is now my go to. I did make 1 small adjustment, because I love the flavor and spice chipotles in adobo give, I added 2 chopped chipotles and 1 tsp of the sauce.

    • Jessica says

      I forgot to note, I also added 1/2 cup of chicken broth. I made mine in the instant pot and the burn food warning popped up. After I added the chicken broth, I didn’t have any issues. I also saved the juice to try in rice, just like you suggested.

      • Jen says

        Thank you so much for the helpful tips with the Instant Pot!

    • Jen says

      YAY! I’m so pleased your search for the best Mexican Chicken stops here, thanks Jessica! And I love your addition of chipotles in adobo – so good!

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