Recipe: Slow-Cooker Chicken Tacos

published Jun 16, 2016
Slow-Cooker Chicken Tacos
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(Image credit: Diana Yen)

Ready to make your taco game even stronger? Me too! The good news is that it’s not about fancy ingredients, an obscure recipe, or extra time in the kitchen — it’s all about the slow cooker, a few spices, and the toppings of your choice.

Keep It Simple and Fresh

When I think about chicken tacos, I want things simple, fresh, easy, and flavorful. This recipe hits all those requirements, with taco-spiced shredded chicken, fresh salsa and guac, and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro. It’s a relatively hands-off meal that’s just as easy to pull together for a weeknight dinner for two as it is to scale up and feed a crowd (hello, taco party!).

(Image credit: Diana Yen)

Because they’re so lean, chicken breasts can be easy to overcook into a dry heap of bland sadness — but not when the slow cooker is involved. Not only does the chicken always cook up tender, but it also slowly picks up the fragrant aromas of the spices and garlic.

(Image credit: Diana Yen)

Time to Top the Tacos!

All that’s left is to top the tacos. If you’re keeping things on the lighter side, some homemade guacamole, pico de gallo, and a twist of lime will do it. Upgrade with a dollop of sour cream or crema, a dash of Tapatio, or even some shredded cheese. This base is so flavorful and moist — think of it as a blank canvas for whatever your taco heart desires.

Make Your Own Taco Toppings

Slow-Cooker Chicken Tacos

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info


For the chicken:

  • 1 cup

    chicken stock or water

  • 5 cloves

    garlic, smashed

  • 1 tablespoon

    ground cumin

  • 2 tablespoons

    chili powder

  • 1 tablespoon

    smoked paprika

  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 2

    bay leaves

  • 4

    large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)

For serving:


  1. Place the stock or water, garlic, cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt, and bay leaves in the bowl of a 4-quart or larger slow cooker and stir to combine. Add the chicken breasts.

  2. Cover the slow cooker with the lid. Cook until the chicken is tender and registers an internal temperature of 165°F, on low for 4 to 5 hours or on high for 2 to 3 hours.

  3. While the chicken is still warm, transfer it to a cutting board or large plate and use 2 forks to shred the meat.

  4. Divide the meat between the tortillas. Top with guacamole, pico de gallo, and fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The chicken can be prepared 4 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Storage: Store leftover chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for 3 months.