Slow Cooker Taco Chicken Bowls

$10.66 recipe / $1.33 serving

This recipe is definitely “slow-cooker 101″. It’s probably one of the first recipes that most people learn to make in their slow-cooker. In fact, some version of it is probably included in that little mini recipe book that comes with the slow-cooker when you buy it. BUT, I had to post it because I know there are probably a lot of you who haven’t made it yet and I can’t bear the thought of you missing out.

This recipe is great for bachelors, students, or the chronically busy because it’s a “dump and heat” recipe. All you do is dump all of the ingredients together in a pot, and let it cook. Of course you’ll need to make the rice separate but even if you’re one of those people who can never get rice right, there is hope. Just stuff the chicken mixture inside of a tortilla with cheese for a quick burrito or fold it over in a tortilla and crisp it up in a skillet like a quesadilla. Presto. Easy, delicious, cheap food.

I’m a black bean lover so next time I’m going to use two cans (or two can’s worth of homemade) beans and extend the recipe even further.

Oh, also, this freezes well. Cheese and all. Then just nuke and stir for a couple minutes until hot. Instant freezer meal!

Okay, one more thing. If you for some strange reason need this recipe to be even easier or you don’t have a well stocked spice cabinet, just substitute a packet of taco seasoning for all of the spices and herbs that I used below.

Slow Cooker Taco Chicken Bowls

Chicken Taco Bowls

4.9 from 94 reviews
taco chicken bowls
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $10.66
Cost Per Serving: $1.33
Serves: 9
  • 1½ lbs. chicken breasts $2.90
  • 1 (16 oz.) jar salsa $1.99
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained $1.19
  • ½ lb. (8 oz.) frozen corn $0.57
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder $0.15
  • ½ Tbsp cumin $0.07
  • ½ Tbsp minced garlic $0.10
  • ½ tsp dried oregano $0.03
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper $0.02
  • ¼ tsp salt $0.02
  • to taste cracked pepper $0.02
  • 2 cups dry rice $0.66
  • 8 oz. shredded cheddar $2.49
  • ½ bunch cilantro (optional) $0.45
  1. Add everything except the rice, cheese, and cilantro to the slow cooker along with ¼ cup of water (for good measure). Give everything a good stir and make sure the chicken is covered in the mixture.
  2. Secure the lid on your slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hrs.
  3. Near the end of the cooking time, cook the two cups of rice according to the package directions (Bring the rice and 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot with a lid in place, as soon as it reaches a boil, reduced the heat to low and let simmer for 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving).
  4. After 8 hours of cooking, carefully remove the lid of the slow cooker. Stir with a fork to shred the chicken (it should be super tender and will shred easily). Build the taco bowls by placing rice on the bottom, then the taco chicken mix, shredded cheese and fresh cilantro.

taco chicken bowls

Step By Step Photos

raw chickenThis is the chicken that I bought. I usually buy a 5 lb. package to get a good price but even this 3 lb. package was priced super low! I used half and froze the other half for another recipe later. You can also use chicken thighs for a richer flavor (more fat) or bone in chicken and then just remove the bones after cooking.

add chickenPlace the chicken in the bottom of the slow cooker. Easy.

add the restAdd the rest of the ingredients (salsa, drained beans, corn, herbs & spices) plus 1/4 cup water. Easy.

stirStir everything together and then make sure the chicken is pushed down below the sauce. Easy.

cookSecure the lid and cook on low for 8 hours. Easy.

shred chickenStir it up and give it a few good pokes with a fork to shred the chicken. It will be so tender that it will practically shred on its own. Easy.

cook riceCook some rice. Semi-easy.

build taco chicken bowlPut the rice, taco chicken mixture, cheese, and cilantro in a bowl. Eat. BAM. Easy.

I can’t wait to make this again and again and again… and experiment with different salsa flavors. I keep thinking about chipotle peach or PINEAPPLE! YUM!


  1. Sara says:

    The kids request this often, so it’s one of our go-to, easy meals.

  2. Tracey Stakem says:

    This is the most amazing recipe. I have made it numerous times and my family devours it every time! With two hungry boys and hubby, I am always looking for good, filling meals. I am so happy that I have found this wonderful website!
    Keep up the GREAT work!!!!

  3. Hannah says:

    I’ve made this recipe several times now and every single time it’s turned out amazing. I was entertaining at my new place for the first time last week and made this dish – there was plenty for 5 people and it was such a hit!

  4. Natasha M says:

    I’m a newlywed and trying to become a great cook for my husband! I am interested in making this dish, but I am wondering if it will taste okay if I cook it on high instead of low…If so, how long should it take?

  5. Kate says:

    I love this recipe and make it pretty regularly, because it’s SO EASY and it reheats really, really nicely on the stovetop. (No microwaving here!) In fact, I think I like it better on day two.

    I just wanted to add: I only have a tiny 1-1/2 quart slow cooker, so while I use a whole can of beans and jar of salsa, I cut down on the corn and can barely cram two breasts in there. I usually just use one breast, and the chicken is cooked and easily shreddable at about 6, 6.5 hours on low. Update for those of us who cook for just ourselves, or two people max, regularly. That said I often let it go for eight hours and it comes out just fine still.

  6. Kenny says:

    Thank you for your blog and these recipes!
    I’m preparing to go to college and I finally know how I’m going to put good food in my stomach at a low price and I’m excited about it!
    This recipe is relish. I served it to my mom and dad and they were blown away. It tastes exactly like a bowl you would buy at Chipotle or Qdoba for $10. Highly recommended

    • Kate says:

      Congrats on your college transition! Let the slow-cooker be your best friend! I love the freaking thing and don’t know what I would do without mine! It’s the perfect kitchen contraption, year-round.

  7. Dylan says:

    Hi Beth!

    I have some frozen chicken and I wanted to give this recipe a try but I haven’t worked with frozen meats while using a slow cooker, so I was wondering what’s the best course here? Do I let the chicken thaw then put it in the slow cooker?

    • I definitely suggest thawing first. If you put frozen meat into a slow cooker it can make the whole pot take too long to heat to a safe temperature and you risk bacterial proliferation.

  8. Yvonne says:

    Made this today and really enjoyed it! My 12 month old daughter loved it and gobbled it up! I served hers with a bit of rice, but ate mine as a burrito – really good. Plenty of leftovers in the freezer!

    Next time, I would probably add more corn and black beans.

  9. Bree says:

    I made this on Saturday and it was delicious! Hubby and kiddos approved. We had some left over and the kids wanted it the next day.

    Will definitely make it again. :)


    for real though this was incredibly tasty and i look forward to the leftovers for lunch tomorrow as well as the next batch. I used a pineapple salsa this time for a nice twist but i want to try regular salsa next time. I also used some chihuahua cheese instead of cheddar.

    • I’m all about what tastes good and am not really concerned about what’s traditional. Cheddar tastes great! I’m sure chihuahua does too, but it’s much harder to find. :)

  11. Jason says:

    I just started my real journey into cooking this week. I have made your freezer breakfast burritos, slow cooker whole chicken and broth, honey mustard chicken salad, and tonight is chicken noodle soup. I never thought I could actually cook! One question I have is how do I substitute in cooked shredded chicken when I have so much I am trying to use? Thanks again. I’ve tried on and off over the years to start cooking and this is the furthest I’ve gotten.

    • Congratulations! For precooked shredded chicken, you won’t even need to use the slow cooker. You can just combine the ingredients in a pot and heat through. The slow cooker just facilitates getting the chicken to the point where it is shreddable. :)

  12. Lizzie says:

    This looks incredible!! My slow cooker is only a 4-qt. Should I half the recipe, or will this fit?

    • I think it will probably fit. It didn’t fill mine very far and mine is somewhere between 5-7 quarts.

      • Dawn says:

        I’m so wanting to try this, but I was gifted a 3 qt slow cooker. Can you think of any alterations I would need to make?

        • You could try just reducing everything by half, but if you don’t want to use half a can of beans, you can still add the whole can. :)

  13. Mark Reynolds says:

    Hi Beth,
    I love your website and all of your recipes. I am not much of a cook but your recipes are easy for me to tackle. I made this dish once and liked it. I’ve also done your lentil soup and dragon noodles a few times. I tried someone elses slow cooker cilantro chicken but didn’t care for it. I am sticking with your recipes as I know they are good. Thanks.

  14. Kathleen says:

    I just made another batch of bowls for freezing. It’s so comforting to have full meals tucked away for when I am tired. I make the budgetbytes cilantro lime rice to go with this, as I am not super fond of plain white rice. I have tinkered with this recipe to find what works for me and am very pleased with it! The idea is genius.

  15. Really nice recipe, sounds kinda not-overloadad with saturates and sodium – will defo give it a try and come back with more comments after the weekend.

  16. MrsRovey says:

    This looks incredible, but my husband is highly allergic to corn. What would be a good substitute for the corn? I love corn in dishes like this because it adds a nice color, and of course, a little sweetness… so I would hate to just leave it out and not replace it with something else. Thanks!

  17. Sara Gomez says:

    I also just visited your website from buzzfeed and oh my goodness!! You are awesome! I am a sophomore in college and next year I will be living in an apartment cooking for myself so I am SO grateful to have found your awesome website! You have just guaranteed that I don’t starve next year. I’ll be sharing your site with all of my friends.

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