Easy Mexican Chicken Crock Pot Recipe

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.



This Mexican Shredded Chicken is a need

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.

Shredded Mexican Chicken in the slow cooker being scooped out.

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

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.

Crockpot Mexican Chicken ingredients

  • Chicken: Both chicken breasts or chicken thighs will work in this recipe – your preference! If using chicken thighs, you’ll likely need to reduce the cooking time.
  • Olive oil: Just 1 tablespoon helps insulate the chicken and prevent it from drying out while cooking.
  • Salsa: Use your favorite salsa, whether chunky or smooth. Use mild if you don’t like spicy foods or use medium if you crave some heat.
  • Diced tomatoes: Use fire roasted diced tomatoes if your grocery store carries them. They boast a complex smokiness with a touch of sweetness and lower acidity. Fire roasted tomatoes are located next to the traditional diced tomatoes.
  • Chopped green chiles: These come in a 4 ounce can and are delightfully tangy. Use mild as opposed to spicy so it’s easy to control the heat.
  • Brown sugar: A little sugar is needed to balance out the tangy heat in this dish. If you must omit the sugar, it will still be tasty, just tangier.
  • Liquid smoke: This adds a delightfully subtle smoky flavor that makes the recipe. Liquid smoke comes in a bottle and is located next to the barbecue sauces at your grocery store. I use mesquite but hickory will also work.

Seasoning Chicken for Crockpot Mexican Chicken

This Crockpot Mexican Chicken is seasoned with a mixture of chili powder, chipotle powder, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper season the chicken to perfection. A few notes on these seasonings:

  • Chili powder: This is where most of the flavor comes from so please use a quality brand such as McCormick. INTERNATIONAL WARNING: American Chili powder is a blend of chilies, cumin, garlic powder, and herbs with a ratio of one-part cayenne to seven parts the other spices. Chili powders sold in other parts of the world, however, are 100% chile pepper and 8X hotter than chili powder! So, please use American-style chili powder to make this recipe or your mouth will be on FIRE!
  • Chipotle powder (pepper): I suggest you keep this seasoning stocked because I use it ALL the time in my recipes! It is smoked and dried jalapenos ground into a powder. It adds a sublime smoky heat instead of just pure heat. If you don’t have any, then add a pinch-¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper. You will need much less because cayenne pepper is much spicier. I would start with less and add more to taste.
Showing how to make Shredded Mexican Chicken in the slow cooker.

How to make Mexican Shredded Chicken in the Crock Pot

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

Mexican Chicken Crock Pot Variations

  • Use chicken thighs: Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are also excellent. You may need to reduce the cooking time, so watch closely.
  • Add beans: Add your favorite beans such as black or pinto. You may need to add additional salt to taste.
  • Add corn: Fresh, frozen or canned corn will all work.
  • Add more green chiles: Add an additional can to up the tanginess!
  • Swap in salsa: Swap the diced tomatoes for additional salsa if your family doesn’t like tomato pieces. Use mild and start with ¼ cup as this is also adding additional flavor.
  • Add jalapenos: Instead of hot sauce, add heat with jarred jalapenos.
  • Add Enchilada Sauce: Add some enchilada sauce at the very end and heat through for saucy Mexican Chicken.
  • Add cheese: Stir in shredded Mexican cheese blend, cheddar or pepper Jack cheese for CHEESY Mexican Chicken.
  • Add rice or quinoa: Stir in cooked rice or cooked quinoa for added texture. You’ll like want to add additional salt and salsa as well.
Shredded Mexican Chicken in a burrito with cheese.

Ways to serve this Shredded Mexican Chicken

This shredded chicken recipe is seasoned simply, but it’s flavorful and will work in any recipe that calls for shredded chicken. Some of my favorite ways to use shredded chicken include: 

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

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

Storing and Reheating Shredded Mexican Chicken

  • To store: Let the Mexican chicken cool completely then transfer with the liquid to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 5 days.
  • To freeze: Let the chicken cool completely, then transfer in the liquid to a freezer safe container or portion it into smaller containers. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
  • To reheat: Warm chicken in the microwave for 1 minute then at 20 second intervals until warmed through or simmer gently on the stove until warmed through.
  • Slow cooker: Reheat on low for 1-2 hours until warmed through, stirring occasionally.

Looking for more crockpot shredded chicken recipes?

More Favorites from Carlsbad Cravings

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!

Crock Pot 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 hours 5 minutes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours

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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. Cheerful says

    Absolutely love this recipe! I actually use the left-over juices as a mix in for Mexican Rice…so good!

    • Jen says

      I’m so pleased it’s a repeat favorite, thanks so much!

  2. Anick says

    Since I discovered this recipe a year ago, I made it my mission to share it with all my people. So damn good and so simple with ingredients usually on hands.

    Made it with chicken and tried it as well with beef : success all around, every time. Thank you very much for this recipe! (Milles merci du Québec)

    • Jen says

      Thank you Anick for sharing my recipe with so many, you rock! I hope to visit beautiful Québec some day!

  3. Raven says

    Your recipes are amazing! Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Jen says

      You are so kind, thanks for making my recipes Raven!

  4. Elenore says

    This recipe was amazing! My whole family loved it and I enjoyed having the house slowly fill with the delicious smell of it cooking. I found it looking for ways to use some ingredients we had already and we will definitely be making this regularly. Thanks for the great recipe. My husband said “This is the best thing you’ve ever made in the crockpot”

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Elenore for the ultimate compliment of being the best thing you’ve made in the crockpot! I’m so pleased it will be on repeat!

  5. Wanda says

    This was a winner, winner chicken dinner served with homemade Spanish rice and Quesadillas. I will definitely make it again , Thank you for the recipe !

    • Jen says

      Thank you for taking the time to comment Wanda, I’m so pleased it was a winner!

  6. lucien Auger says

    I guess you use boneless, skinless chicken? Thanks

    • Jen says

      Yes, when not specified in a recipe, that is always what you should use. Enjoy!

  7. Vanessa DeMoss says

    Hello making this recipe for the first time n crockpot smells gud already I knw we will enjoy it will let u knw how it came out n a few hours!

  8. Karen says

    Mind if I scoot the other 416 comments aside while I praise the master chef? I have made this recipe a few times recently but never gave you, Jen, the admiration you deserve for sharing such a terrific recipe with all of us. This recipe MAKES all my mexican food outstanding: tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, mexican casseroles, etc. It’s flavorful and comes out wonderfully seasoned that always brings a smile to my family’s face. Thank you! xo

    • Jen says

      LOL! Thanks Karen, I love hearing it’s regular family favorite!

  9. Beth Arnold says

    I made this for dinner last night. I followed the recipe exactly, using four Tablespoons of brown sugar and I did use the Chipotle chili powder. It is delicious and had great flavor. Would be great to use for nachos too, just drain well. This will go in my regular rotation for dinner.

    • Jen says

      Yay! Thank you, Beth! I am so happy it’s a repeat! Thank you for making my recipes and taking the time to comment!

  10. Shara says

    Can you make this with verde salsa with the same success? Any changes or omissions to the recipe?

  11. Chef Jess says

    I moved to Colorado from Tennessee, back in Tennessee we had a Mexican restaurant that had my favorite chimichangas, I have been using your recipe for my chimichangas since then! It’s been quite awhile now, the chicken taste identical to the ones from the restaurant back in Tennessee!! It’s been a repeat favorite at our home!! You have some wonderful recipes, thank you for sharing them!!

    • Jen says

      My pleasure, thanks for making them! I’m so pleased this chicken is on repeat!

  12. Ashley says

    Hello, I’m doing low carb and used swerve brown sugar instead of regular brown suager and it was still amazing. I used 3 tablespoons and still used the Chipotle powder. We love a little heat. Love this recipe!

    • Jen says

      Thanks for sharing, I’m so glad swerve works great!

  13. Nikki says

    Clearly there are many reviews because this is such a great recipe! Made this for my family this weekend and EVERYONE liked it!!! That is a rare thing in our family. I paired it with rice (cooked with the leftover drippings from the chicken…so good!), black beans, sauteed corn niblets and a creamy avocado lime dressing. This will be a regular in our rotation going forward! Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much, Nikki! I am thrilled this recipe is a keeper and that it was such a hit with everyone!

  14. Sheri Myers says

    Love all of your recipes. This was another winner. The only thing I would change next time is use less liquid smoke (I used 1 tsp.) and I think I would omit brown sugar. The chicken tasted a little too bbq chicken for our taste. It didn’t feel like it should be in a tortilla…instead in a bun. But this was just our personal tastes.

    • Jen says

      Thank you, Sheri! I am so happy this was another winner! I hope your changes make this even more enjoyable for you!!

  15. Cindy says

    Made this for a family gathering. It was delicious and loved by all!

    • Jen says

      Thank you, Cindy! I am so happy you and your family loved this!

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