5 from 3 votes
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Mexican Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Recipe

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This Mexican Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken is such an easy recipe! You can easily add this to burrito bowls or pile it high on tortilla chips to enjoy. This is the best Mexican food and flavor ever!

Shredded chicken garnished with fresh cilantro.

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The best part about this Slow Cooker Mexican shredded chicken is that it’s such an easy crock pot recipe. There are so many different ways that you can use this great recipe, and I’m bound and determined to get through them all!

If you love recipes like this, you may also enjoy these Mexican Shortbread Cookies as a fun and sweet treat!

  • Perfect for pairing with chipotle peppers, green chilies, chili powder, or anything that you want.
  • An excellent way to make our stuffed poblano enchiladas for the first time.
  • A great way to meal prep a large batch of this chicken for use later in the week.

Ingredients For Mexican Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken

Ingredients for Mexican shredded chicken including black beans, hickory liquid smoke, and jalapeno peppers on the countertop.
  • Boneless skinless chicken thighs – You can use boneless chicken breasts as well.
  • Fired roasted tomatoes and green chilies – These are great options, but you can use less spicer versions, too.
  • Black beans – Great for added extra protein and texture.
  • Garlic – Garlic powder or minced garlic works great.
  • Jalapeno pepper – This will add some spice to your family dinner!
  • Hickory liquid smoke – The easiest way to add a smokey flavor.
  • Ground cumin – The flavor of cumin lasts a long time.
  • Chili powder – You can leave this out if you don’t want heat.
  • Smoked paprika – Regular paprika works just fine, too.
  • Dried oregano – Great for adding flavor to many slow cooker recipes.
  • Cayenne pepper – Kicks up the heat!
  • Salt and black pepper – To taste.
  • Limes – Adding lime juice adds a great citrus flavor.
  • Fresh cilantro  – Fresh cilantro and a little bit of sour cream on top are so good!

The complete list of ingredients, quantities, and instructions can be found in the printable recipe card below.

Substitutions and Variations

  • Vegetarian Alternative: Swap the chicken for a plant-based protein like quinoa or tofu to accommodate vegetarian diets.
  • Spice Adjustment: If you’re sensitive to heat, omit the jalapeno and cayenne pepper and choose a mild chili powder.
  • Kid-Friendly Version: Skip the green chilies and opt for plain tomatoes to reduce the spice level for children’s palates.
  • Creamy Texture: Add a dollop of cream cheese or Greek yogurt in the last 30 minutes of cooking for a creamier texture.
  • Extra Veggies: Stir in corn, bell peppers, or spinach during the last hour of cooking for additional nutrients and flavors.

How To Make Mexican Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken

  1. Place the chicken thighs into the slow cooker pot. Layer on the tomatoes, black beans, garlic, jalapeno, liquid smoke, and all the spices: cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, oregano, and cayenne. Adjust salt and pepper to your taste preference. Mix well until the chicken is well coated and immersed in the spices.
  2. Secure the lid on the slow cooker and set it to cook for 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. Approximate 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time, use two forks to shred the chicken directly in the pot. Stir to ensure it’s well mixed with the flavors.
  3. Once the cooking is complete, enhance the dish by adding a splash of fresh lime juice and freshly chopped cilantro. Give it a good mix and taste test, adding more salt or pepper if needed.
  4. Serve this delectable chicken by heaping it over a bed of simple brown rice, or give it a zesty lift with cilantro-lime rice. Drizzle with cilantro-lime sauce for an extra kick, and accompany with lime wedges on the side. Ready to be savored!
Shredded chicken with rice.

Recipe Tips 

  • Skin Choices: While boneless skinless thighs are recommended for juiciness, you can use skinless breast meat if you prefer a lower-fat option.
  • Spice Layers: For a deeper flavor profile, toast the ground cumin, chili powder, and smoked paprika in a dry pan before adding to the slow cooker.
  • Deglazing: If you sauté the garlic and jalapeño before adding to the pot, use a splash of chicken broth to deglaze the pan and pour it into the cooker for added flavor.
  • Herb Freshness: Add half of the cilantro at the beginning and reserve the rest to stir in just before serving to maintain a vibrant color and fresh taste.
  • Acidic Balance: A little more acidity can do wonders. Try adding a splash of apple cider vinegar along with the lime juice for an extra tangy kick.
  • Shredding Hack: Use a hand mixer on low speed to shred the chicken in the pot for a quicker, more uniform texture.
  • Smokiness: If you don’t have liquid smoke, consider a pinch of chipotle powder for a similar smoky effect.
  • Thicker Sauce: If you prefer a thicker sauce, mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with water and add during the last 30 minutes of cooking.
  • Layering: Layer the ingredients carefully with chicken at the bottom, ensuring even cooking and better absorption of flavors.

Alternative Cooking Methods

If you’re short on time on a busy day or don’t have a slow cooker, this recipe can be conveniently adapted for the Instant Pot. To cook using an Instant Pot, add all the ingredients to the pot and secure the lid. Ensure the valve is set to sealing and cook on high pressure for 25 minutes, followed by a quick release.

Shred the chicken in the pot, stir in the fresh lime juice and cilantro, and serve as desired. This method dramatically reduces the cooking time while still infusing the chicken with all the flavors of the original recipe.

Storing Tips 

Once this easy slow cooker chicken is done cooking, let it cool down and store it in an airtight container. The next day, you can enjoy these Mexican chicken thighs in every bite.

Ensure you eat leftovers within 2-3 days for the best flavor.

This Mexican slow cooker shredded chicken freezes exceptionally well, making it ideal for meal prep or saving leftovers. To freeze, simply allow the chicken to cool completely after cooking. Transfer the portion you want to freeze into a freezer-safe bag or airtight container, label it with the date, and store it in the freezer. It can be safely stored for up to 3 months.

When you’re ready to enjoy your chicken again, defrost it in the refrigerator overnight. For reheating, you have several options. The microwave is quick; simply place the chicken in a microwave-safe dish, cover it with a microwave-safe lid or paper towel, and heat on high for 2-3 minutes, stirring halfway through to ensure even warming. 

Alternatively, you can reheat the chicken in a saucepan over medium heat until thoroughly warmed. Add a splash of chicken broth if needed to keep the chicken moist. If you’re concerned about drying out the chicken, cover the pan with a lid to trap moisture inside.

Serving Suggestions

This dish is so versatile and would be great with so many things! Options are always great! Enhance the dish by serving it with a side of avocado or chipotle guacamole for a creamy contrast to the spicy chicken.

Use this delicious recipe to make baked rolled tacos, taco salad, or even taco roll-ups with corn tortillas! Pair with cheddar cheese, brown rice, Rotel tomatoes, refried beans, and more!

Shredded chicken with rice on the side sitting on a white plate.

Recipe FAQs

Is it possible to make this dish spicier?

If you enjoy more heat, add extra jalapeño, include a diced habanero pepper, or increase the cayenne pepper according to your taste preference.

Can I use frozen chicken for this recipe?

It’s best to use thawed chicken to ensure even cooking and the best texture. However, if you’re using frozen chicken, add at least an extra hour of cooking time on low and keep an eye on it to make sure it shreds easily and is fully cooked through.

How can I make this dish more kid-friendly?

For a less spicy version more suitable for children, omit the jalapeño and cayenne pepper. Instead, add a mild salsa or just a touch of chili powder for flavor without the heat.

Are there any alternatives to black beans?

If black beans are not your preference, you can substitute them with pinto beans, kidney beans, or even corn for a different twist on the recipe.

How can this chicken be used for meal prep?

This shredded chicken is perfect for meal prep! Store individual portions in airtight containers along with some brown rice and veggies. When you’re ready to eat, reheat and enjoy. It’s also great for filling in wraps, salads, or burrito bowls for various weekly meals.

Need More Mexican Recipes? Try These:

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White plate of Shredded Chicken with fresh cilantro.
5 from 3 votes

Mexican Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Recipe


Author: Kim Schob
Course: Main Dishes, Slow Cooker & Crockpot
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 15 minutes
This Mexican Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken is such an easy recipe! You can easily add this to burrito bowls or pile it high on tortilla chips to enjoy. This is the best Mexican food and flavor ever!

Ingredients 

  • 2 lbs (907 ⅕ g) boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 10- oz (340 ⅕ g) cans Rotel fire-roasted diced tomatoes & green chilies undrained
  • 2 15- oz (482 g) cans black beans rinsed and drained
  • 3-4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper finely diced
  • T (1 ½ T) hickory-flavored liquid smoke
  • 2 t ground cumin
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 t smoked paprika
  • 2 t dried oregano
  • 1 t cayenne pepper
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 limes quartered
  • ¼ c (4 g) fresh cilantro chopped

Instructions

  • Place the chicken thighs into the slow cooker pot. Layer on the tomatoes, black beans, garlic, jalapeno, liquid smoke, and all the spices: cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, oregano, and cayenne. Adjust salt and pepper to your taste preference. Mix well until the chicken is well coated and immersed in the spices.
  • Secure the lid on the slow cooker and set it to cook for 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. Approximate 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time, use two forks to shred the chicken directly in the pot. Stir to ensure it’s well mixed with the flavors.
  • Once the cooking is complete, enhance the dish by adding a splash of fresh lime juice and freshly chopped cilantro. Give it a good mix and taste test, adding more salt or pepper if needed.
  • Serve this delectable chicken by heaping it over a bed of simple brown rice, or give it a zesty lift with cilantro-lime rice. Drizzle with cilantro-lime sauce for an extra kick, and accompany with lime wedges on the side. Ready to be savored!

Notes

  • Skin Choices: While boneless skinless thighs are recommended for juiciness, you can use skinless breast meat if you prefer a lower-fat option.
  • Spice Layers: For a deeper flavor profile, toast the ground cumin, chili powder, and smoked paprika in a dry pan before adding to the slow cooker.
  • Deglazing: If you sauté the garlic and jalapeño before adding to the pot, use a splash of chicken broth to deglaze the pan and pour it into the cooker for added flavor.
  • Herb Freshness: Add half of the cilantro at the beginning and reserve the rest to stir in just before serving to maintain a vibrant color and fresh taste.
  • Acidic Balance: A little more acidity can do wonders. Try adding a splash of apple cider vinegar along with the lime juice for an extra tangy kick.
  • Shredding Hack: Use a hand mixer on low speed to shred the chicken in the pot for a quicker, more uniform texture.
  • Smokiness: If you don’t have liquid smoke, consider a pinch of chipotle powder for a similar smoky effect.
  • Thicker Sauce: If you prefer a thicker sauce, mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with water and add during the last 30 minutes of cooking.
  • Layering: Layer the ingredients carefully with chicken at the bottom, ensuring even cooking and better absorption of flavors.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 467kcal (23%) Carbohydrates: 26g (9%) Protein: 33g (66%) Fat: 26g (40%) Saturated Fat: 7g (44%) Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g Monounsaturated Fat: 11g Trans Fat: 0.1g Cholesterol: 148mg (49%) Sodium: 156mg (7%) Potassium: 800mg (23%) Fiber: 9g (38%) Sugar: 2g (2%) Vitamin A: 989IU (20%) Vitamin C: 16mg (19%) Vitamin D: 0.2µg (1%) Calcium: 85mg (9%) Iron: 4mg (22%)

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