Recipe: Slow Cooker Salsa Pulled Chicken

Recipe: Slow Cooker Salsa Pulled Chicken

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Meghan Splawn
Sep 22, 2017
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

This brilliant dinner hack is thanks to you, dear Kitchn readers. When we shared our recipe for slow cooker fajitas, many of you commented that your favorite riff on that concept was slow cooker salsa chicken. The premise is simply combining your favorite salsa with chicken breast in the slow cooker until tender. The result is deliciously seasoned, shredded chicken that's perfect for tacos, burrito bowls, or even taco salads.

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken: Watch the Video

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

The Short Secret to Better Slow Cooker Chicken

Most recipes you'll see online ask you to slowly cook the chicken breasts for anywhere from three to seven hours on low, or two to four hours on high. As you can see from the recipe below, the actual cook time was much shorter.

Yes, this means that you can't stick the salsa and chicken in the slow cooker in the morning and come home from work to succulent chicken simmering in salsa. You're better off cooking it the night before and then gently warming it for supper.

Fresh Salsa is Best

The big kicker here is knowing which salsa to choose. Go with a fresh salsa from the deli or refrigerator section over jarred salsa. They have more liquid than cooked and canned varieties, and help ensure the chicken breasts are nice and tender after cooking.

Slow Cooker Salsa Pulled Chicken

Serves 8 to 12; makes 6 cups

1 (16-ounce) container refrigerated fresh tomato salsa, divided
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast (3 to 4 breasts)
Chopped fresh oregano leaves, for serving (optional)

Pour 1/2 of the salsa into the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker. Nestle the chicken breasts into the salsa in a single layer. Pour the remaining half of the salsa over the top of the chicken.

Cover and cook on LOW for 2 to 3 hours, or HIGH for 1 to 2 hours. The chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 165°F.

Turn off the slow cooker and transfer chicken to a cutting board. Shred the chicken with 2 forks. Return the chicken to the slow cooker and toss with the salsa. Sprinkle with the fresh oregano if desired and serve.

Recipe Notes

  • Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.
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