With just five ingredients and five minutes of prep, crockpot shredded chicken tacos are a meal you’ll reach for again and again! Make a big batch—Mexican shredded chicken freezes well and is delicious in tacos, bowls, enchiladas, and salads.

Shredded chicken tacos made in the crockpot, served on a small plate with lime wedges and tortilla chips.

Taco night is a menu staple, and when the filling is easy and cooks itself? Even better!

Crockpot shredded chicken tacos are the perfect way to make this meal almost completely hands-off. It seriously requires just five ingredients and five minutes of prep. Dinner doesn’t get any easier than that!

Mexican shredded chicken is also very versatile and a terrific meal prep. Make it once and enjoy throughout the week, or freeze the extra for a rainy day.

Ingredients & Common Substitutions

Chicken breasts, taco seasoning, chopped red onion, and salsa in prep bowls

Here are a few notes and shopping tips about the ingredients you’ll need to make crockpot shredded chicken tacos, as well as possible substitutions:

  • Chicken breasts. Boneless, skinless. Don’t worry if they’re on the thick side; they’ll still cook well in this recipe. You can substitute chicken thighs, but the cooking time will be longer.
  • Salsa. This recipe works well with just about any kind of salsa you like, including homemade pico de gallo or blender salsa. The salsa really influences the finished flavor, so use your favorite, whether medium, mild, or hot.
  • Onion. A bit of onion adds depth to the flavor of this chicken. You can use red, yellow, or white — whichever you have on hand and like best.
  • Taco seasoning. Homemade taco seasoning is a pantry staple here, because it is insanely easy to make, packed with flavor, and allows you to control the level of salt to your liking. A packet of store-bought taco seasoning works, too!
  • Lime juice. A small squeeze of lime juice at the end may seem superfluous, but that little bit of citrus really livens up all the other flavors. And you can use the rest of the lime for wedges for serving.

Help! What can I substitute for taco seasoning!? I’m all out!

If you don’t have taco seasoning at the ready, swap in 2 teaspoons of chili powder, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of paprika, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon dried minced onion, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and a pinch each of garlic powder and cayenne pepper. This roughly replaces 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning in this or any recipe that calls for it.

That said, if you have all of these spices on hand, you can just make a larger batch of your own taco seasoning. Store it in a jar — it keeps for six months if your spices are fresh to begin with — to stave off future taco emergencies!

How To Make Crockpot Chicken Taco Meat

Slow cooker meals are a great way to simplify meal prep and minimize clean up, because it all cooks inside, low and slow. This recipe is especially easy because there’s no searing or other prep to do on the stovetop.

You’ll begin by combining salsa, diced onion, and taco seasoning in the bowl of your slow cooker. I use this 6 quart model — it’s inexpensive, without many bells or whistles, but works perfectly for my everyday needs and family of 4.

Add the chicken breasts. Nestle them in and spoon some of the salsa mixture on top of each one so it’s more or less covered.

Let the slow cooker work its magic!

How long to cook chicken in the slow cooker?

Chicken breasts typically cook in 6-7 hours on a slow cooker’s low setting, or in 3-4 hours on high. Of course, these times can vary depending on your slow cooker and how full it is, but these are good rules of thumbs. No matter how long the chicken has been on, your goal to know it is cooked through and safe to eat is for the chicken to hit 165° F. At that temperature, it is safe to eat according to the USDA.

Shred the meat — I usually just remove each piece of chicken to a cutting board, pull it apart with two forks, but there are several other methods, as well. Return the shredded chicken pieces to the crockpot, squeeze with lime, and stir well.

At this point, you can leave the shredded chicken on the slow cooker’s low or keep warm setting for about an hour. It’s ready to serve but the flavors will only deepen as it rests and the chicken absorbs more of the salsa mixture.

Close up of Mexican shredded chicken transferred from a slow cooker to a serving bowl.

Serving Suggestions

This Mexican shredded chicken makes delicious tacos with any of your favorite toppings: our favorite combo is a bit of extra salsa, Cotija, and avocado. A sprinkling of cilantro and extra lime wedges are the perfect finishing touch.

A few of other Mexican favorites:

Storage and Freezing

  • Storage: Refrigerate leftover chicken in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat as much as you need at a time in the microwave or in a small saucepan.
  • Freezing: Mexican shredded chicken freezes very well. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator, or defrost quickly in the microwave on 50% power, stirring frequently.
Small plate holding three shredded chicken tacos.

Can you put raw chicken in a slow cooker?

Yes! The slow cooker or Crockpot is a great way to cook raw chicken without having to babysit it. Raw chicken can go into the slow cooker and cook on either the low or high setting; as long as it reaches a temperature of 165° or higher, it will be safe to eat.

Can you put frozen chicken in a slow cooker?

Yes, you can place frozen chicken directly into a Crockpot or another slow cooker, but for best results, only do so when you have time to cook them on the low setting, and plan to add another 1-2 hours to your recipe’s stated cooking time. If chicken changes temperature too quickly, it can develop an unappetizing, rubbery texture; cooking it on a slow cooker’s low setting helps to avoid that.

Can you overcook shredded chicken in a slow cooker?

Yes, it is technically possible to overcook shredded chicken using a slow cooker. If left to cook far longer than the necessary cooking time, the meat can begin to dry out. Cooking this Mexican chicken in salsa helps keep it moist and tender for a long time, but it’s still best to stay in the ballpark of the stated cooking times: 6-7 hours on low, and 3-4 hours on high.

More Easy Taco Recipes

Who doesn’t love taco night, especially when it’s quick and easy!? You’ll also love these healthy fish tacos, simple black bean tacos, sweet potato black bean tacos, and crispy chickpea tacos with sunset slaw.

Craving more chicken? Baja chicken tacos always hit the spot. Instant Pot fan? These Instant Pot ground beef tacos are an easy, delicious, classic!

Small plate holding three shredded chicken tacos, surrounded by extra tortillas, cotija, and chicken

If you make these Crockpot Shredded Chicken Tacos, don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. I love hearing how recipes turn out in your kitchen, and it helps other readers, too.

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Crockpot Shredded Chicken Tacos

With just five ingredients and five minutes of prep, these shredded chicken tacos are a crockpot meal you’ll reach for again and again! Make a big batch—Mexican shredded chicken freezes well and is delicious in tacos, bowls, enchiladas, and salads.

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 cups salsa
  • 1/2 medium onion diced, can use red, yellow, or white
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice

Instructions

  • Add salsa, chopped onion, and taco seasoning to the bowl of your slow cooker. Stir to combine. Add chicken breasts across the bottom in a single layer and spoon a bit of the salsa mixture on top of each one.
  • Cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
  • Remove chicken from the slow cooker and shred. Return the meat to the slow cooker, add lime juice, and stir well. Serve immediately, or leave mixture on the low or keep warm setting for up to 1 hour.

Notes

  • Salsa: This recipe works well with just about any kind of salsa you like, including homemade pico de gallo or blender salsa. The salsa really influences the finished flavor, so use your favorite!
  • Storage: Refrigerate leftover chicken in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat as much as you need at a time in the microwave or in a small saucepan.
  • Freezing: Mexican shredded chicken freezes very well. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator, or defrost quickly in the microwave on 50% power, stirring frequently.
  • Nutrition: The estimate above does not include tortillas or toppings.

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 115kcal, Carbohydrates: 3g, Protein: 20g, Fat: 2g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 58mg, Sodium: 420mg, Potassium: 446mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 261IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 16mg, Iron: 1mg
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