Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken is one of the easiest recipes that every busy parent should have in their weekly meal planning rotation. All it takes is 3 ingredients, a crockpot, and you’ll have limitless dinner ideas all week!
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Many years ago I planned on making a different slow cooker Mexican chicken recipe, but I didn’t have all of the ingredients.
However, I did have a jar of salsa, a can of Rotel tomatoes with chilis, and chicken breasts. And, that my friends, is how slow cooker salsa chicken was born in my house.
Since then it’s become my go-to crockpot chicken recipe. I make it at least twice a month and use it in 4-6 dinners throughout the month.
This Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken is a huge time-saver, my kids love it, and it requires minimal effort.
Reasons You’ll Love This Recipe
- 3 ingredients. Honestly, you can even shave this down to 2 ingredients if you leave out the Rotel tomatoes. The Rotel diced tomatoes give it some extra texture and flavor but it’s not 100% necessary for the recipe. All you really need is chicken and salsa. I like to add some fresh lime at the end but, again, not necessary.
- Can be assembled together in 2 minutes. Literally, all you have to do is to place the chicken and salsa in the crockpot, turn it on, and go about your day.
- Cooks in the crockpot. Who doesn’t love a good crockpot recipe? While this does have a shorter cooking time than some slow cooker recipes, it’s still easy to assemble and hands-off. This gives it 5 stars in my book.
- Can be made ahead of time. Whenever I’m planning to make slow cooker salsa chicken you can bet it’s being made ahead of time on meal prep day or during a large freezer cooking stock up. I’ll give more meal prep tips below.
- Can be used a million ways. Like I said, this is my “go-to” slow cooker chicken recipe. I’ve used this salsa shredded chicken in enchiladas, quesadillas, salads, burrito bowls, pizzas, and many other recipes. It can be used in any Mexican-inspired recipe that calls for shredded chicken
Salsa – A 15.5-ounce jar of salsa (about 2 cups) is all that’s needed to cover 3 boneless chicken breasts. This recipe is very forgiving so it won’t make a difference if a little more or less is used.
Any salsa variety can be used in this recipe. Typically, I’ll just throw in a basic medium salsa to keep it kid-friendly. However, there are many varieties of salsa on the market so if you want to spice it up or get creative with flavors you certainly can.
To keep this recipe clean then look for an organic salsa or make your own using organic ingredients. Thrive Market sells a couple of different varieties of clean salsa at affordable prices.
Rotel diced tomatoes with chilis – A 10-ounce can of diced Rotel tomatoes gives the recipes a nice chunky texture from the tomatoes and extra flavor the chilis. Like I said earlier, if you don’t have a can of Rotel then leave it out.
Boneless skinless chicken breasts – I prefer to purchase organic high-quality chicken breasts to keep this slow cooker salsa chicken recipe clean.
My favorite source to purchase organic chicken is from Butcher Box online meat delivery. Hands down, this company provides the highest quality best-tasting chicken breasts.
- Don’t use frozen chicken breasts. It’s unsafe to use frozen chicken breasts in any slow cooker recipe because they don’t come up to temperature fast enough. This can cause bacteria to grow in the chicken which then makes the recipe unsafe to eat.
- Cook on low not high. So many slow cooker chicken recipes call for the recipe to be cooked on high for 4 hours or more. In my experience, using 4 different slow cookers, the best way to cook chicken breasts is on low for 4-6 hours. Most of the time, the chicken cooks perfectly ON LOW for 5 hours. Cooking chicken breasts on high in the slow cooker will result in dried-out chicken breasts.
- Bone-in chicken breasts and/or chicken thighs can be used. With both types of chicken, the cooking time might increase depending on the thickness. To be considered safe to eat chicken must reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees. If you’re unsure of the temperature then pick up a meat thermometer.
The simplicity of this slow cooker salsa chicken recipe is the reason I love it so. However, whenever I’m feeling fancy or creative here are some of the variations I use.
Add some black beans or corn – Both add color, texture, and flavor.
- Can use any salsa you want – Mostly, I’m just using up whatever salsa I have left in the refrigerator. But, you can get creative with all the salsa varieties available.
- Add some taco seasoning to the chicken – Recently, I sprinkled a couple of tablespoons of homemade taco seasoning over the chicken breasts before adding the salsa. This enhanced the Mexican flavor and it was very tasty.
- Stir in some sour cream. After the chicken is cooked, stir in ¼ – ½ cup of sour cream to create a delicious creamy salsa chicken
How to Make Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken
- Start with placing the chicken breasts onto the bottom of the slow cooker. I use 3 medium-sized chicken breasts. It comes to about 2 lbs. This gives me roughly 4 cups of shredded chicken breasts.
- Pour 1 (15.5-ounce) jar of your favorite salsa over the chicken breast. If you’re using Rotel tomatoes then add it at this time too.
- Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.
- Remove the chicken from the slow cooker insert and shred it using two forks or a hand blender.
- Add in ¼ – ½ cup of the slow cooker liquid for flavor. This also keeps the shredded chicken juicy. Squirt with lime juice to add a burst of brightness.
- Use in your favorite Mexican-inspired chicken dinner recipes.
The recipes ideas that can be served up from salsa chicken are endless.
Here are my favorites:
- Burrito Bowls
- 5 ½ – 6-quart Slow Cooker. This programmable crock pot works great.
- Ello Glass Storage Containers. I have the meal prep containers and larger containers that I use for food storage.
- Souper Cubes – these are great for freezing into 1-cup recipe-ready portions.
- Meat thermometer – to assure the chicken is cooked properly.
Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken
- 5 1/2 quart slow cooker
- Mixing Bowls
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts about 3 medium chicken breasts
- 1 15.5 ounce jar of salsa about 2 cups
- 1 10-ounce can of Rotel tomatoes with chilis
- 1 lime
- Place the chicken breasts on the bottom of the slow cooker insert.
- Pour the salsa and Rotel tomatoes over top of the chicken breasts. Flip the chicken breasts a couple of times until the chicken is covered.
- Place the lid on tightly and cook on low for 4-6 hours.
- Remove the chicken from the insert and place it into a bowl. Using two forks, or a hand mixer, shred the chicken. Add in 1/2 cup – 1 cup of liquid from the slow cooker for flavor and to keep the chicken juicy. Squirt in some lime juice.
- Use in your favorite Mexican-inspired recipe.
Meal Prep tipsAfter the chicken is cooked and shredded then place it in glass containers and store in the refrigerator. Warm the chicken up in the microwave before using it in your favorite Mexican-inspired recipe.
Freezer tipsThis can be made ahead and frozen in a few different ways. First, you can place the salsa chicken, along with tortillas and cheese, into a large freezer bag and freeze it as a slow cooker quesadilla freezer kit. When you’re ready to cook, first thaw completely, and then follow the rest of the directions. Last, you can create a slow cooker freezer kit by putting all of the ingredients into a freezer bag and then storing the kit in the freezer. When you’re ready to put this recipe on the meal plan then take it out 1-2 days beforehand to thaw in the refrigerator. Then continue with the recipe. Second, you can freeze the cooked shredded salsa chicken into recipe ready portions. When you’re ready to cook with the chicken simply let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then use it in your favorite Mexican-inspired recipe.
Meal Prep Tips
After the chicken is cooked and shredded then place it in glass containers and store in the refrigerator. Warm the chicken up in the microwave before using it in your favorite Mexican-inspired recipe.
This can be made ahead and frozen a few different ways.
First, you can place the salsa chicken, along with tortillas and cheese, into a large freezer bag and freeze it as a slow cooker quesadilla freezer kit.
When you’re ready to cook, first thaw completely, and then follow the rest of the directions.
Second, you can freeze the cooked shredded salsa chicken into recipe ready portions. When you’re ready to cook with the chicken simply let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then use it in your favorite Mexican-inspired recipe.
Last, you can create a slow cooker freezer kit by putting all of the ingredients into a freezer bag and then storing the kit in the freezer. When you’re ready to put this recipe on the meal plan then take it out 1-2 days beforehand to thaw in the refrigerator. Then continue with the recipe.
Hi Tammy! Do you have the calorie count for this recipe? I want to try it soon! Thanks!
I’m from Australia and unsure what ‘rote tomato sauce’ is. Is it tomato sauce you would put on a pie or tomato sauce you would put in a pasta?
Susan C says
“Rote” tomato sauce is just a brand name called ‘Rotel’–which is simply stewed plum type tomatoes with green chiles. Hope that helps.
Fay Martin says
This looks Delicious! Thanks for all these great recipe ideas.
Made this last night to put into tacos. So good!! 🙂 After pulling it apart somewhat with a fork, I used my hand mixer to shred it the rest of the way. Worked great!
We add a can of black beans drained plus a can of corn. We also serve over rice, sprinkled with cheese.
Trying this right…..now! Thanks!
Love this! I make this all the time and sometimes use an extra salsa and put the chicken over rice
Over rice sounds delish! Someone on my FB suggested adding cream cheese at the end for some creaminess. I thought that sounded great. I might try with Greek yogurt. Thanks for your comment.