Last Updated on September 23, 2022 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD
These easy Shredded (or Pulled) Chicken Tacos are cooked in a Crockpot Slow Cooker with the best, crazy-delicious sauce. You don’t want to miss my tips for the best way to shred chicken, plus my 11 most-favourite chicken taco toppings. A Crockpot™ makes this recipe super simple and hands off.
This recipe is pretty darn great for any time of year, but I find it especially appealing for summer dinners when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen or stand over a stovetop all day. I think it’d be amazing for your Canada Day celebrations. All the prep is done well in advance of friends arriving, and saucy chicken tacos are such a perfect addition to a BBQ party. The tender shredded chicken taco filling has that slow-simmered flavour of being cooked all day. The sauce is rich and delicious and not too spicy. The kids inhale it.
You can warm the tortillas on the grill and throw on some corn, too. Be sure to offer lots of napkins!
Crockpot Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Ingredients:
The base for this taco filling is whole, fresh, ingredients and the result is really amazing. Simple and delicious. I love using chicken as a lighter alternative to ground beef. Here’s what you need:
- The Chicken: reach for chicken thighs for this recipe. They have more moisture and are less finicky with cooking time than chicken breasts. Using thighs will ensure your chicken taco filling stays moist and juicy.
- Onions and Garlic: in such large quantity that you might be skeptical. TRUST ME. They melt right into the sauce and you won’t know they are there.)
- Chili Powder or Taco Seasoning: And when I say chili powder, I mean the North American seasoning mix for making chili, not straight-up ground hot chilies (such as cayenne). You can alternatively use taco seasoning, which is a very similar blend of spices like chiles, cumin, oregano, cloves, and usually onion and garlic powder. The taco seasoning is great if you buy it in bulk or make your own homemade taco seasoning, but I wouldn’t open a packet to use just 1 1/2 tablespoons. And, yes, you can use beef taco seasoning on chicken.
- Chipotle powder. I love chipotle powder because it tastes the same in recipes as a whole chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, but you don’t have to worry about using the rest of the can. It adds tons of smoky flavour and heat even with just a small amount. Feel free to swap in cayenne if you want the spice without the smoke, or smoked paprika if you want the smoke but not the heat.
- Fresh tomato. It adds sweetness and yummy flavour.
- No liquid. You might wonder if it’s okay to put chicken in the slow cooker with no liquid and yes it is! No need for chicken broth. The chicken itself will release its juices as it cooks, and because there is almost no evaporation, you’ll be super surprised by how much liquid there is by the end.
How to Slow Cook Chicken Tacos
I made this recipe in partnership with Crockpot™ using my 3-Quart Manual Slow Cooker. Isn’t it pretty with its warm woodgrain aesthetic? The removable stoneware and glass lid are both dishwasher safe, so cleanup is a breeze. I love that it delivers the slow-braised flavour of having bubbled away all day without the hands-on effort.
To make chicken taco filling in a Crockpot Slow Cooker is an easy 3-step process:
- Take your time sautéing the onions and garlic. Getting the onions golden brown is key to adding sweetness to the sauce and making them melt right in. (You can do this step in advance and refrigerate until ready to cook if you like).
- Put the raw chicken straight into the Crockpot Slow Cooker (no need to brown it first) and let it cook away all afternoon unattended.
- Shred the chicken. I like to keep the slow cooker simmering the sauce to thicken it up as I do this step. Pull apart the chicken using a fork, set it aside to cool a bit, then pull it apart into bite-sized pieces before returning it to the sauce.
This Crockpot™ has a Manual warm setting to keep food at serving temperature until it’s time to eat, but if you want to make it ahead by more than 4 hours, refrigerate it and reheat just before serving. I remove the insert with the food, let it cool a bit and then put it in the fridge with the cover on. The stoneware bowl is microwavable, just take the lid off before you microwave it.
What is the Easiest Way to Shred Chicken?
Shredding chicken is always done after cooking, never uncooked. It’s easier to shred warm chicken than cold chicken, so I recommend letting it cool just enough to handle without burning your fingers.
The best tool for shredding chicken is simply a fork in each hand. Place the chicken on a cutting board, pierce it with both forks facing opposite ways, and pull it apart. Repeat until all of the pieces are bite sized.
How to Serve Crockpot Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos
This part is so fun. Serve this yummy filling up in a Mexican tortilla, or dish it up with wedges of iceberg lettuce as a dinner salad in bowls. You can even use it to top nachos or fill enchiladas. I would skip salsa as these Crockpot™ slow cooker chicken tacos are perfectly saucy and sufficiently tomato-y already. Here are some choices for your consideration:
More Super-Yummy Taco Recipes You Must Try:
Other Foodess Favourite Chicken Recipes:
Crockpot Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos: Quick, Easy and Flavourful
- 4 tbsp oil
- 2 medium onions finely chopped
- 2 tsp kosher salt divided use
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- I medium tomato diced
- 1 tsp ground chipotle powder
- 1½ tbsp chili powder or taco seasoning (the spice mixture, not ground cayenne)
- 1½ lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
- Heat oil in a heavy skillet then add onion and 1 tsp salt and cook on medium-high until onions are golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook a minute more. Scrape this mixture into a 3-Quart or larger CrockPot™ Slow Cooker and add tomatoes, chili and chipotle powder, chicken, and 1 tsp more salt. Slow cook on low for 4 hours.
- Use a fork to transfer chicken to a cutting board. Leave the sauce in the slow cooker on high to thicken a bit. When chicken is cooled just enough to handle, use two forks to gently pull it apart into bite-sized pieces. Return the chicken to the sauce and stir to coat.