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
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours


  • 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.
  • Remove chicken to a cutting board, and let rest 5 minutes before shredding (there will be liquid remaining). Return shredded chicken and let 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. Candice says

    This is an awesome recipe and even better the third time around when I bought the chipotle chili pepper. It made all the difference. I usually double the sauce part in the slower cooker as I feel the chicken is too dry otherwise. I used medium salsa and added five tablespoons of brown sugar. My husband and I both stated it was the best burrito we have ever had!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much for your awesome review Candice! I’m so pleased this chicken is such a hit!

  2. Andrea says

    These sound delicious, but my daughter can’t eat chicken. Could I substitute pork tenderloin?rea

    • Jen says

      Hi Andrea, I would suggest pork butt/shoulder over pork tenderloin as tenderloin is extremely lean and doesn’t shred well. Good luck!

  3. Katrina says

    I’ve made this twice now and it’s so good! The first time we used it for burritos and the second time for Christmas Eve tamales. For tamales, I used chicken thighs, which made it even better–more tender and easier to shred. In place of ground chipotle, I used chipotle chiles in adobo, which was delicious. This is a great go-to Mexican chicken. Thank you! Your recipes never disappoint!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment Katrina, I’m so pleased you’re enjoying my recipe and that this Mexican chicken is on repeat! I love the swaps of thighs and chipotle chiles in adobo – yum!

  4. Mimi says

    If not using a crockpot, could I slow cook it in a pot over the stove ?

    • Jen says

      Absolutely! Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 20-30 minutes (will depend on size of chicken breasts), or until chicken is completely cooked through and easily shreds with a fork.

  5. Chris D. says

    Made this in the Instapot today. 2 breasts (probably 2.25 pounds). Omitted the brown sugar as we prefer savory as opposed to sweet and didn’t have Chipotle seasoning. It turned out well. I could see the addition of black beans or corn as mentioned by others. Definitely looking forward to burrito bowls this week. Cooked on high pressure for 13 minutes then let release for 20 minutes (I got busy so I wasn’t paying attention). Shredded, added salsas and pressured for another 5. Foolproof.

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much for the review Chris and sharing your Instant Pot instruction! I know others will find that helpful!

  6. Martin says

    Hi Jen! Love your recipes. What temperature is low and high?

    • Jen says

      Hi Martin, crockpots can vary but in general, LOW is around 190 degrees F and High is around 300 degrees F.

  7. Cheryl Stephenson says

    How can I adjust this for Instant Pot?

    • Jen says

      I have not personally tried it but a reader commented this is how she did it: “2 breasts (probably 2.25 pounds). Cooked on high pressure for 13 minutes then let release for 15 minutes. Shredded, added salsas and pressured for another 5. Foolproof.”

  8. Bridget says

    What size crockpot do you recommend? Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Hi Bridget, a 6 quart should work great.

  9. Becky says

    Can you post the calories/fat content ?
    Thank you

  10. Kristen Wiley says

    I’d like to make this as a freezer meal. Can I put all the ingredients (including raw chicken) in a freezer bag and cook it at a later date? Thank you! This is a wonderful recipe!

    • Jen says

      Yes, that will absolutely work!

  11. Susan agoebel says

    Yum, yum, yum! Insta pot on high pressure for 15 minutes, natural release for 15 minutes, quick release to finish.

    • Jen says

      Thanks Susan, I’m so pleased it was a winner! Thank you also for the instant pot instructions! (PS I’m so sorry for the late response, my site was being transitioned so everything was frozen!)

  12. JULIE says

    this recipe is awesome, cant tell you how many people ask for the recipe. Do you think you could use the same recipe and substitute a chuck roast or beef?

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Julie, I’m so pleased it’s a favorite! Yes, you could absolutely use the same recipe on chuck roast/beef – yum!

  13. Allison says

    How long would you cook in a crockpot vs an insapot?

    • Jen says

      Hi Allison, the recipe is for the crockpot and there are directions for instapot in the notes. Enjoy!

  14. Amy says

    Do you use light or dark brown sugar?

    • Jen says

      Hi Amy, I use light brown sugar. When a recipe doesn’t specify, it means to use light ;). Enjoy!

  15. Faith Bublick says

    The slow cooker Mexican chicken recipe was fantastic! I wonder if you could substitute a chick roast for the chicken and make Mexican beef? This recipe is definitely a keeper!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Faith! I think this would absolutely work with chuck roast!

  16. Kara Nelson says

    LOVE this chicken! It has become a family favorite and a part of our regular rotation. I’ve used it in the Smothered Baked Burrito recipe here and also make it to use in tacos or on nachos! Super easy and delicious!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Kara, I love hearing this recipe is a repeat family favorite!

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