If you are anything like me, at this point in the fall you've already reached your limit of beef stews and hearty chilis. Break the monotony with a familiar mix of herbs and spices, a splash of buttermilk, some cream cheese, and a couple of boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
Although you could certainly pull a packet of pre-made ranch seasoning off of the grocery store shelf, I encourage you to make batch or two of this DIY ranch seasoning and store it in your spice cabinet for the duration of slow cooker season.
By making your own ranch seasoning you control the amount of salt and eliminate the addition of MSG (a common flavor enhancer often found in ranch seasoning mixes), and you can personalize it. Not a fan of dill? Just use less and substitute more parsley or chives. The herbs and spices you will need for the ranch seasoning are so common, I would bet that even a well-stocked Airbnb would have them tucked away in a cabinet.
Get the recipe: DIY Ranch Mix
Making This Recipe Work for You
Using a slow cooker means the chicken stays moist and gradually soaks up the flavors of the herbs and spices, but this is not a dish you will want to pop in the slow cooker before a long day at the office. I have found that when boneless, skinless chicken breasts are slow cooked for too long, they turn tough, dry, and mealy.
Get a jump start on tomorrow's dinner by tossing everything in the slow cooker while you clean up from dinner, shred the meat before going to bed, and the next day simply warm the meat on the stovetop and pile high on a chewy kaiser bun with a few salty strips of bacon and a handful of broccoli slaw.
Slow Cooker Ranch Chicken Sandwiches
Makes 6 sandwiches
- For the ranch seasoning:
dried onion flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons
freshly ground black pepper
- For the chicken sandwiches:
1 1/2 pounds
boneless, skinless chicken breasts
cream cheese, cubed
apple cider vinegar
broccoli slaw (about 6 ounces)
medium jalapeño, seeded and minced (optional)
Stir all the ranch seasoning together in a small bowl.
Pour 1/4 cup of the buttermilk into a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Sprinkle in 1 tablespoon of the ranch seasoning. Season both sides of the chicken breasts with another 1 tablespoon of the ranch seasoning. Place chicken in the slow cooker, turn to coat, and arrange in a single layer. Scatter the cubes of cream cheese around 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 registers 165°F.
Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 1/4 cup of buttermilk, oil, vinegar, sugar, and remaining ranch seasoning together in a large bowl. Add the broccoli slaw and toss coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Turn off the slow cooker and transfer chicken to a cutting board. Shred the chicken with 2 forks. Whisk the sauce in the slow cooker together until smooth. Return the chicken and jalapeño, if using, to the slow cooker. Toss to coat the chicken in the sauce.
Divide the chicken mixture evenly among the kaiser rolls, then top each sandwich with 2 slices of bacon and a pile of slaw.
Make ahead: The ranch seasoning mix can be made up to 3 months in advance and stored at room temperature in an airtight container. The chicken can be cooked and shredded up to 2 days in advance. Refrigerate in the sauce and gently warm on the stovetop before serving.
Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.