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Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

July is right around the corner, and summer is nearly in full swing here in Texas. And with that heat, it means it’s time to shut the oven off and keep the heat low in the kitchen. So today I’m sharing a great way to make flavorful high protein chicken tacos in a slow cooker.

Each serving has 17 grams of protein with just 155 calories, leaving plenty of room for your favorite tortillas and all the fixin’s. Or if you’re feeling more creative, this chicken also makes awesome baked tortilla chip nachos, loaded tostadas, or burrito bowls. Let’s dive in and get cooking!

squeezing a lime wedge over a slow cooked chicken taco

Seasoning Chicken for Slow Cooker Tacos

This chicken takes a page out of my Texas pulled beef recipe’s book by using a seasoning lineup similar to Mississippi pot roast, but with a Tex-Mex spin.

You start with boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts and toss them with thinly sliced onion, crushed tomatoes, ranch seasoning, chili powder, cumin, Mexican oregano, and a bit of hot sauce or pickled jalapeño peppers.

If you’re wondering where the chicken broth, water, or cooking liquid is, there is none! The juices from the chicken and water in the onion provide enough cooking liquid to get the job done without having soupy chicken.

boneless skinless chicken thighs in a slow cooker with ranch seasoning, spices, sliced sweet onion, crushed tomatoes, and hot sauce

If you have picky eaters in the house or would prefer your chicken didn’t have slices of onion, you can dice the onion small or even throw everything in a food processor before adding to the chicken. My rotisserie chicken tacos recipe uses a blended sauce with similar ingredients, if you’d like to see an example.

Speaking of blender sauces, you could also play around with other ingredient combos like al pastor or tinga to slow cook your chicken.

How Long to Cook Chicken in a Slow Cooker?

While an internal temperature is a good target for chicken breast (160ºF to 165ºF), the chicken thighs in this recipe are much more forgiving. I like to cook them until the chicken nearly falls apart when moved around with a fork. The internal temperature typically ends up in the 180ºF to 190ºF range for shredded chicken thighs. In my slow cooker, that took about four to five hours on its low heat setting.

shredded slow cooked chicken with forks

If you’re using chicken breast, use temperature as a guide. For chicken thighs, just let it ride and check periodically until it’s fall apart tender.

I like to transfer the cooked chicken to a separate bowl to shred and protect from any accidental burns on the sides of the slow cooker.

Once the chicken is shredded, I recommend adding it back to the remaining onions and sauce to hang out for 20-30 minutes before serving. The chicken will absorb some of the juices and thicken things up.

slow cooked shredded chicken in a pot

And as a final quick note about the sauce and picky eaters, you can also use an immersion blender to create a homogenous sauce in the slow cooker while the chicken is in another bowl. You can also add fresh herbs and things like bay leaves to remove before serving like I mentioned in my slow cooker Korean chicken recipe.

I really love the jammy onions here, though!

Tips for Serving and Using Leftovers

I like to keep it simple with warmed tortillas (I like to toss them over a low flame on a gas range), cilantro, queso fresco, and limes. The serving size in the nutrition facts will make BIG tacos (pictured below), so you can either load them up or split the servings into smaller portions.

holding a chicken taco on a sheet pan with three other chicken tacos garnished with chopped cilantro and queso fresco

Mexican rice and beans are great side dishes that can also be made macro friendly. You can also make salsas, dips, and baked tortilla chips to round out your Taco Tuesday.

Dips and Salsa Ideas: Jalapeño Ranch, Zucchini Salsa, Avocado Salsa Verde

Other Ways to Use Leftover Slow Cooker Chicken

This chicken also works great on baked tostadas with refried black beans and pickled onions, loaded nachos, baked tacos, quesadillas, and all kinds of creations. Check out my Tex Mex recipes category for more creative ideas like stuffed peppers, casseroles, meal prep bowls, empanadas, and more.

two slow cooker chicken tostadas with pickled onions

To make a meal entirely in the slow cooker, I have recipes for both shredded chicken and beef enchilada casseroles that would work great with this chicken. Just toss chopped corn tortillas and shredded cheese with the pulled chicken, top with a bit more cheese, and cover for 20 minutes to melt the cheese.

Get creative and have fun! If you have a question about making or tweaking these slow cooker chicken tacos, leave it in the comments below. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy.

And don’t forget to leave a recipe review if you try this recipe and love it!

four chicken tacos on a sheet pan with chopped cilantro, queso fresco, and lime wedges

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

Yield: 12 Servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 15 minutes

Tex-Mex slow cooked boneless chicken thighs for tacos, burrito bowls, nachos, and more.


  • 2 1/2 pounds Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs*
  • 1 large Sweet Onion, cut into thin strips
  • 15 oz can Fire Roasted Crushed Tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons Ranch Seasoning
  • 2 Tablespoons Hot Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt


  1. Add everything to a Crockpot or slow cooker and toss together to evenly coat the chicken.
  2. Cook on low heat for 4-5 hours** until the chicken shreds easily with a fork.
  3. Transfer the chicken to a bowl to shred before adding back to the remaining sauce.
  4. Set your slow cooker to its keep warm function and let the chicken rest in the sauce for 20-30 minutes before salting to taste and serving.
  5. Serve on warmed tortillas with cilantro, queso fresco, and lime wedges.


*If you use chicken breast instead of chicken thighs, keep a closer eye on the chicken and use temperature as a guide. You can pull the chicken at 160ºF to 165ºF to prevent overcooking.

**I used the slow cooker function on an Instant Pot. I've found this cooks a bit faster than a traditional Crockpot. My Crockpot Mexican chicken, for example, takes about 6-8 hours on low for a similar amount of chicken.

The nutrition facts are for the chicken only. One of the tortillas pictured in this recipe has 100 calories, 4g protein, 15g carbs, and 3g fat. With one serving of chicken and 1/2 oz of queso fresco, each taco has 295 calories, 24g protein, 22g carbs, and 13g fat.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 6 oz of chicken
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 155Total Fat: 7gCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 17g

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