Make Ahead Meal Starters: Slow Cooker Mexican Shredded Chicken Filling

The BEST Slow Cooker Shredded Mexican Chicken Recipe. Make a batch and freeze for future easy recipes.

Having  shredded chicken already prepared and waiting in the freezer is one of the many strategies I use to have nutritious food available for fast weeknight dinners. This also helps with making the dinner hour much less stressful because I do not need to spend the extra time preparing and cooking the chicken after a long day at work. All I need to do is incorporate it into whatever recipe I am using that night. For this reason, and because I hate handling and cooking raw meat (especially chicken), I try to batch cook shredded chicken 1-2 times a month.

The best way I have learned to batch cook shredded chicken for the freezer is by using my slow cooker. Prior to using a slow cooker I would either cook the chicken in a pan or boil it. Once it was cooked I would then chop or shred the chicken. While both of these methods worked fine I found using a slow cooker to be more productive as it allows me to set it and forget it. This way I can use the stove and my time for other meals I want to put together. Additionally, the slow cooking method makes it easier to cook larger batches of shredded chicken then if I were to cook it on the stove.

This recipe is for a Mexican flavored shredded chicken and was adapted from one of my favorite slow cooker cookbooks Slow Cooker Revolution by American’s Test Kitchen. The chicken turned out moist and with just the right amount of flavor. This was my first time making shredded chicken in the slow cooker and from now on will be my preferred cooking method.


You can use this chicken meal starter in recipes such as tacos, enchiladas, tostadas, Mexican lasagna, burritos, etc. Tonight I used it in chicken quesadillas and they were scrumptious. Really the sky is the limit on the number of ways you can use this shredded chicken. Basically, with having this chicken portioned out in your freezer you are ready to put together a healthy quick weeknight meal on a moment’s notice.

Now doesn’t that sound nice?

5.0 from 1 reviews
Make Ahead Meal Starters: Slow Cooker Mexican Shredded Chicken Filling
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Freezer Meal, chicken recipe, make ahead recipe
Serves: 12
  • 1 (15 ounce) can of tomato sauce
  • 1 cup of low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
  • 2 teaspoons dried minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 4 medium to large chicken breasts (about 3 pounds)
  1. Mix tomato sauce, chicken broth, and spices in slow cooker. Stir slightly until combined.
  2. Add chicken to the slow cooker and coat evenly with the sauce mixture.
  3. Cook on low for 6 hours.
  4. Take chicken breasts out of slow cooker, place in a medium to larger bowl, and shred with two forks then return to slow cooker. Mix together with the sauce until all the chicken is coated then serve.
Make Ahead Instructions

This recipe is a wonderful recipe to make ahead of time for the freezer. Just make recipe completely then cool and freeze into portions. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm in microwave and or on stove if needed. Then use in your favorite recipes.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 4 ounce serving Calories: 129 Fat: 2 Carbohydrates: 2 Fiber: 0 Protein: 24

Freezing Instructions

Let the chicken cool slightly then portion out into freezer containers and/or freezer bags and place into the freezer.

Reheating instructions

Take out night before and let the chicken defrost in the refrigerator. You can also defrost/or warm up in the microwave, or on the stove. Then just use in your favorite recipe.

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  1. I use split chicken breasts, I think they’re cheaper per pound! But chicken breasts are at least bone free so it’s a bit easier.

  2. I made this yesterday, on the stove actually, and it was AWESOME!!! So easy and good. Will for sure be a staple in my freezer. Thank you for this recipe.

  3. I found you two days ago and have tried 3 of your recipes, all of which were AMAZING! Us busy moms need easy options to keep our family’s healthy and happy. Thank you – I am so glad I found you 🙂

    • Thank you so much for your kind words and trying my recipes. I am so happy you liked them. Looking forward to having you here.

  4. A much easier version of this is to just throw the boneless skinless chicken breasts into the slowcooker with a jar of salsa. By the time they’re done cooking, the chicken just falls apart and is perfectly seasoned. Plus salsa adds almost no calories. Super easy and delicious!

  5. I made this on Thursday and used it for homemade enchiladas. I had a little over three cups left and I used that tonight in Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Tortilla Soup ( It was AMAZING!!! I’m certain that using this chicken instead of just baking and shredding some made a HUGE difference. I will definitely be making this again.

    • That is great!! I am so glad you liked it. I actually made a very basic shredded chicken in the crockpot the other night that I am going to share soon. Same concept just different flavoring. Keep in touch.

      • Hi Tammy, Can you please tell me where to find the recipe for the Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken (the basic one).please? I am having a hard time finding it. I am clicking on the link for Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Freezer Meal Starter & the recipe for Mexican Shredded Chicken comes up instead? Thanks, 😀

  6. LoneStarMelody says:

    Awesome chicken chili can be made by combining 1 lb of your chicken, 1 can of black beans, 1 can of corn, and one can of salsa style tomatoes with chilis, heat through and add one 8 oz brick of low fat or non-fat cream cheese and heat until melted. Approximately 4 servings. Serve with rice or over corn chips if needed to stretch further than 4 servings. (You can also make this from the start by layering skinless boneless chicken and a packet of chili seasoning in the bottom of the slowcooker and dumping everything else on top, then cooking on low for 6 hours and stirring to break up the chicken).

  7. When shredding chicken, I use a hand mixer (while the chicken is still hot). It’ takes about 30 seconds to shred a couple of pounds of chicken. I then freeze in 1 cup portions in sandwich zip lock bags for future buffalo dip, taco’s, or enchilada’s.

  8. this recipe looks great and very helpful for quick weeknight dinners! what would you use to make the rest of the enchiladas with this meat?? ive always doused my enchiladas in the canned enchilada sauce. how do you make yours??

  9. OMGosh! I made this overnight last night in the slowcooker, then made soft tacos today after church. It was soooooooooo good! I used canned refried beans, but will be making SMK’s homemade refried beans next time! Put the remainder of the meat in the freezer in two separate containers. Now I CAN’T WAIT to get them out and eat this delicious meat again SOON! 🙂

    • Denise that is awesome I am so glad you liked it. I actually made a batch of this today. It has become one of my “go to” freezer meal starters.

  10. I made this for dinner tonight and wanted to say how good it is! Me and my daughter both really liked it. Will be making this one again and again. Thank you.

  11. I made this yesterday and it is great!! This will definately be made again!

  12. Thank you for this and other recipes. I just put this in the crock pot for tomorrow. I LOVE your website!! Looking forward to using more of your recipes and helpful tips!!

  13. Sherri James says:

    Made nachos with this. As I was preparing the nachos, I could hardly keep my niece out of the crockpot!! She loved it!!

  14. I made this and was extremely disappointed. It was flavorless and the texture was grainy. We couldn’t even finish the batch — it was really unpleasant.

    • Oh no! Jamie I am so sorry that you had this experience. I have made this numerous times and never had that experience. From your description it sounds to me that it was possibly over cooked. Every slow cooker cooks differently – some are hotter than others and vice versa. It also depends how thick the chicken breasts are. Obviously smaller ones will cook faster. Chicken can overcook very quickly in a slow cooker. I think my recommendation would be to check the meat (especially chicken) a couple times towards the end times of the cooking process. I know that defeats the purpose of a slow cooker but when trying out a new recipe it is hard to say how your slow cooker will cook the meal compared to mine. Hope this helps. Again, sorry for your experience. Thanks so much for this feedback.

  15. Does the chicken need to be frozen or thawed?

  16. Made this tonight for the first time- thanks! Its a great starter for many meals and so easy!

  17. That sounds so delicious. The seasoning is very similar to a “taco” seasoning that I make in bulk and use for everything. I make the salsa shredded chicken and then then add the seasoning based on what I’m using it for. Your recipes are a great inspiration and everyone has turned out fantastic. Thankyou!

  18. Hello, I will be making this
    Slow Cooker Shredded Mexican Chicken
    My question is on step 4 it indicates
    To return the shredded chicken back to the slow cooker
    What length of time do you suggest to consider it done?
    I look forward to enjoy your recipes

  19. I skip cooking the chicken in the pan. I just put frozen chicken in the slow cooker for 4 hours, shred it, then add your yummy ingredients!

  20. Do you think I could put uncooked chicken breasts in the slow cooker and cook until done and then shred and continue with recipe? Maybe even adding all of the ingredients with the uncooked chicken? I’ve not really done a lot of chicken in the crockpot so if anyone knows if this would work let me know. Thanks – I love the ideas that are shared on this site!

  21. Every day food challenges says:

    I made this today and it’s fantastic. Moist and very flavorful. I can’t wait to use it in many recipes

  22. Do you seal the chicken breasts or just pop them in from raw?

  23. This was absolutely DELICIOUS! And this is so versatile, whether for tacos, quesadillas or nachos! So much better than using stuff from a jar, with all those yucky chemicals & additives in it. Will look up your other make-ahead recipes!

  24. How long should I cook the chicken in the slow cooker if it’s on high? Thanks!

  25. Is this spicy?

  26. Tina Stout says:

    Hi Tammy I was wondering on the serving size is it 14oz or is 1.4 oz I couldn’t figure it out so if you could help me out I would appreciate it thank you.

  27. Another delicious way to use this chicken recipe is to bake some potatoes and then use the chicken to make stuffed baked potatoes. You can add another other toppings you would like, such as cheese, sour cream, jalapenos…just whatever you want. Great way to feed a crowd, too.

  28. Hi! I have made this recipe several times, and my family and I love it! My husband asked me to make this for a customer appreciation luncheon tomorrow. In the interest of time, I wanted to make this on the stovetop and increase the amount of meat to 6 medium to large chicken breasts. Can you please help me with the conversions?


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