Entertaining/ Main Course

5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

October 3, 2019
5-ingredient slow cooker chicken tacos on a rectangular white plate

Tacos are one of my favorite busy weeknight meals, since they can be so easy to make. They also play nicely with all kinds of fillings—some days I’ll do fish or shrimp tacos, some days ground beef, and some days a vegetarian black bean version. Often I’ll dress up the leftovers from a rotisserie chicken with some salsa, add a dollop of guacamole, and call it a day. But this crockpot version of chicken tacos is even more delicious because the chicken cooks in the salsa, keeping it moist and making it easy to shred. And with just five ingredients, some of which you probably already have in your pantry, this Slow Cooker Chicken Taco recipe is a dinner life-saver. 

You can make your salsa chicken in any slow cooker or crockpot, or with the slow cook setting on your Instant Pot. And once you have your chicken done, you need just 3 other ingredients to make the magic happen: black beans, avocado, and corn tortillas. You may not normally consider tacos a health food, but this combination of ingredients is packed with vitamins and fiber. You can of course use boneless chicken thighs if you prefer those over breasts. I usually do as well, for flavor and texture, but the addition of the salsa to the chicken breasts in the slow cooker means no overcooked, tasteless chicken and fewer calories than chicken thighs. 

How do you make 5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos?

This is an easy recipe that almost doesn’t require a recipe card. Once you do it a few times, you’ll have it memorized.

chicken breasts, corn tortillas, black beans, salsa, and avocado

Trim any large pieces of fat off your boneless skinless chicken breasts, and place them into your slow cooker. Add 1/2 jar of salsa.

chicken breasts in salsa in slow cooker

Turn the slow cooker on high, then cover and cook for 3 hours. If you are using an Instant Pot that just has a regular slow cook setting, you will probably need more like 4 hours. When chicken is fully cooked, use 2 forks to shred the chicken. If you are using an Instapot, set it to sauté for 5 minutes to boil off any extra liquid in your sauce. If you don’t have an Instapot, you can use a slotted spoon to scoop out your saucy chicken, leaving excess liquid behind. Or dump it all into a saucepan and cook for 5 minutes over medium-high heat to boil off the excess liquid. 

cooked, shredded chicken breasts in salsa in slow cooker

When you are ready to serve, drain and rinse black beans. Then cut around your avocado with a sharp knife and pull the two halves apart. Remove the pit, and make thin slices through the flesh on both sides of the avocado, then peel. Warm or toast the corn tortillas as recommended on the package. You can stack them, wrap in foil, and warm in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes, toast them in a dry skillet or over a gas flame or grill, or wrap them in slightly damp paper towels and microwave for 2 minutes. When they are warm and pliable, top each with chicken, black beans, avocado slices, and an spoonful of salsa, and serve.

Can I make slow cooker chicken tacos for a crowd?

Yes, absolutely! This is a great recipe for a party. You can easily double or triple the amount of chicken, and just double or triple the salsa as well. Rinse a few cans of black beans and put in a bowl for toppings. Fill another bowl with extra salsa. Wait until right before guests arrive to slice your avocado, since avocado will brown quickly. You can even replace the avocado with store-bought guacamole if you want to have something ready to go in the fridge when guests arrive. 

slow cooker chicken tacos with avocado, salsa, black beans, and corn tortillas

Are slow cooker chicken tacos gluten-free?

The ingredients in this recipe should all be gluten-free, but please check the salsa and corn tortilla labels carefully. Salsas can sometimes include soy sauce or other ingredients with gluten. Most corn tortillas are made with masa harina, which is a corn flour that is naturally gluten-free. However, many products made with masa harina are made and packaged in facilities where cross-contamination with wheat products can occur. So check the packaging of your corn tortillas carefully to make sure they are entirely gluten-free.

Or, make your own! My friend and wonderful food blogger, Jen at Savory Simple, recently posted this recipe for homemade corn tortillas, which you should try—no tortilla press required. Of course, you can also serve your tacos on lettuce cups, which is a delicious way to go. 

Can I freeze the salsa chicken filling?

Yes, absolutely. If you double or triple your batch of salsa chicken, you can freeze any leftovers. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat in saucepan on stovetop when ready to eat. If you find the filling is too liquid-y after you have defrosted it, just cook off some of the liquid by simmering it over medium-high heat on the stove. Any extra liquid should evaporate quickly. Then proceed with the rest of the recipe. 

What salsa should I use?

Salsa is a personal preference—some people prefer chunky vs. smooth, or spicy vs. mild. Personally, I love the Frontera brand of salsa (not sponsored, I just love it!), especially the Jalapeño-Cilantro flavor. It’s great with this recipe, and also by itself with a bowl of tortilla chips. But choose whatever salsa you love to eat!  

If you’re looking for more great weeknight recipes, check out the following:

5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes

These slow cooker chicken tacos require only five ingredients: chicken, black beans, avocado, salsa, and corn tortillas. Delicious and easy! Gluten-free, and great for Instapot users.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 16 oz. jar salsa
  • 1 15.5 oz. can low-sodium black beans
  • 1-2 avocados
  • 8-12 corn tortillas, depending on size

Instructions

    1. Trim off any large pieces of fat from your chicken breasts, and place them into your slow cooker.
    2. Add 1/2 jar of salsa.
    3. Turn the slow cooker on high and cook for 3 hours. If you are using an Instant Pot that just has a regular slow cook setting, you will probably need more like 4 hours.
    4. When chicken is fully cooked, use 2 forks to shred the chicken.
    5. If you are using the slow cook setting on your Instant Pot, set it to sauté for 5 minutes to boil off any extra water in your sauce. If you don’t have an Instapot, you can use a slotted spoon to scoop out your saucy chicken, leaving excess liquid behind, or dump it all into a saucepan and cook for 5 minutes over medium-high heat to boil off the excess liquid.
    6. When you are ready to serve, drain and rinse black beans.
    7. Then cut around your avocado with a sharp knife and pull apart the two halves. Remove the pit, and cut thin slices through the flesh on both sides of the avocado. Then peel off rind.
    8. Warm or toast the corn tortillas as recommended on the package. You can stack them, wrap in foil, and warm in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes, toast them in a dry skillet or over a gas flame or grill, or wrap them in slightly damp paper towels and microwave for 2 minutes.
    9. When the tortillas are warm and pliable, top each with chicken, black beans, avocado slices, and an spoonful of salsa, and serve.

Notes

For a gluten-free recipe, make sure that you choose salsa and corn tortillas that are labelled gluten-free. Salsa chicken filling can be frozen for up to 3 months in an airtight container.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 738 Total Fat: 23g Saturated Fat: 4g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 17g Cholesterol: 145mg Sodium: 1133mg Carbohydrates: 68g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 21g Sugar: 6g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 68g
Nutrition information is provided as a general reference for users courtesy of the online nutrition calculator Nutritionix.

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  • Alexandra @ It's Not Complicated Recipes
    October 4, 2019 at 8:16 am

    Tacos are always a good idea, and these sound so delicious! Love that you did the chicken in the slow cooker!

    • Chef Molly
      October 8, 2019 at 10:04 am

      Yes! It’s one of my favorite ways to cook chicken, especially for tacos!

  • Jennifer Farley
    October 4, 2019 at 2:27 pm

    These sound amazing!!!

    • Chef Molly
      October 8, 2019 at 10:03 am

      Thanks! For a dead-easy recipe, these are quite delicious!

  • Jeff the Chef
    October 6, 2019 at 1:42 am

    What gorgeous photographs! Those tacos look delicious. I love the avocado addition.

    • Chef Molly
      October 8, 2019 at 10:02 am

      Thanks! I’ll put avocados on almost anything! 🙂