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

4.8 from 55 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. Becca says:

    I’ve made this a few times with the totally lazy way (using Penzey’s taco seasoning) and it’s amazing. We serve it with cilantro lime rice and that puts it right over top! I have made double servings before and any left overs freeze beautifully.

  2. Electra says:


    I do not have a slow cooker. I’ve thought of first boiling the chicken breasts, then adding them to a normal cooker and execute the recipe as suggested. How long will it take for the food to get ready? Thanks

  3. Kristen says:

    This was amazing. Since we had rice the night before, we eliminated that and used corn chips. I received high praises for this one and said it was a keeper! Thanks for the recipe.

  4. Tarrah says:

    Love this recipe!!! I add an extra can of beans & a can or two of diced tomatoes if I need to juice it up! We love this & use it regularly! Thanks for the great recipe!!

  5. Erica says:

    This is great! I just subbed the rice for lettuce and made it a taco salad without all the work – because the crock pot did it for me. Thanks!

  6. Danyel says:

    Super good! My NEW crockpot is on crack and had this done in 2 hours on low… but very easy. My girls tossed everything in the crock and let it cook. I added extra black pepper, plus chipotle and ancho to spice it up at the end and we added a dollop of sour cream to each bowl but otherwise followed the recipe. Made the rotation.

  7. I’ve made this recipe a few times now, and it’s so easy and delicious every time. I find it’s done in 5-6 hours on low. We actually recently served it on top of corn bread, and it was our favorite way to eat it yet! The sweetness of the corn bread is a really great contrast with the chicken. Topped it with sour cream and guacamole…so yummy!

  8. Jamie says:

    This was seriously a BIG hit in my house! Even after I forgot to put this in the slow-cooker before I went to work, it still turned out amazing after 4 hours on high. I will definitely be making this again :)

  9. Dani swinyard says:

    Could I use frozen chicken?

    • It’s not recommended that you put frozen meat into a slow cooker because it takes too long to get hot and can become a food safety issue.

    • Joanie says:

      I use frozen chicken every time in the crock and never had an issue.

  10. Jenna says:

    Do you think if I added extra water, I could make this into a soup?

    • Hmm, yes, it might be kind of like chili! Maybe try adding a mix of broth and water, so that the flavor doesn’t get weak.

  11. Christiana says:

    Could you sub beef for the chicken in this recipe?

    • Yes, perhaps, although I haven’t actually tried it. I’m not sure how well ground beef holds up to the long cooking time. Maybe if you can find some sort of small roast or steak that will shred like the chicken does.

  12. Jina says:

    I roasted a whole chicken and have tons of leftovers…can I use that instead? How would I go about the sauce?

    • Yes, you can definitely use the precooked chicken in place of the raw chicken, with no other alterations to the recipe.

  13. Hi! Have you ever doubled the recipe? How long do you think it would take to cook in the crock pot?

  14. Ariel says:

    Can I use pressure cooker and cut the cooing time in half?

  15. Do you know how many calories per serving?

    • No, I’m sorry I don’t.

      • Terru says:

        If you go to and join, you can actually add the URL to Budgetbytes recipes, and it calculates all of the calories for you based on Beth’s recipe and the number of servings she makes. You can also adjust the recipe (I remove the rice, and add lettuce and tomato and serve this with soft taco shells) and the site recalculates.

        Everyone loves this when I make it.

        I was wondering if I cook this on medium in the slow cooker, what time can I cut from the final recipe?

  16. Can I cook this on high for 4 hours instead of low for 8?

  17. Just a word of warning for this recipe. Don’t use cheap Great Value or store brand salsa in something like this. It’s so salty it leaves a nasty lingering taste in your mouth and you’ll probably end up throwing the rest out like I did. You can skimp on all the other ingredients but the salsa. I made it a second time with a all natural salsa and it was great.

    • Terri says:

      I’ve found if I don’t use my own salsa, that those fresh salsas in the deli section are the best; and they conveniently come in 16 oz. containers.

  18. Lauren says:

    This recipe is so delicious! It was so easy to make and it makes quite a bit so I had plenty for leftovers. I like my food a bit spicy so I did spicy salsa, I also added kidney beans to the mix. Instead of the rice, I decided to do whole wheat flour tortillas and they were fantastic.

  19. Nicole says:

    Two questions:
    1) If I used dried beans instead of canned, would I need to cook them first?
    2) What suggestions do you have to replace the corn, because I have a food allergy to corn?

    • 1.Yes, I would cook the beans first because there is not enough liquid in this recipe to cook them through (plus cooking black beans makes everything turn black :) ).
      2.I think I’d just leave the corn out with no need to replace it with anything.

  20. Megan says:

    I just tried this but subbed the rice for grated cauliflower! Delicious!

  21. Sarah says:

    I just want to say that I follow a LOT of food blogs. A lot. But I recently found yours, and never have I made so many recipes from just one site! Smitten Kitchen comes close, but I’ve been following her for 4 years. Let me just say, it is GENIUS to suggest using the slow cooker in the summer! I previously had only pulled mine out in the winter for stews, roasts, and chilis. But, you suggested this chicken dish as a way of avoiding kitchen heat in the summer, and I never would have thought of it, and it’s totally brill. Mind blown. Any other suggestions for summer crockpotting? (I’d want to stick to chicken, to keep things light).

    • I plan to come up with some more summer crock pot recipes over the next month or so! Keep watch :) And thanks for your kind words!

  22. Carly says:

    hey I’m in Australia and I can’t seem to find black beans! is there an alternative??

    • Red kidney beans might not be that bad, or you can try pinto to keep with the southwest theme.

      • Johnny108 says:

        Beth M is right. Black beans are hard for me to find in Germany, I use red kidney beans all the time.

  23. Renee says:

    Can this be made with canned instead of frozen corn ???

  24. Hope says:

    Not tomtis–i don’t even know what that Tostito chips!

  25. Hope says:

    I make this every year while on Girls Trip to beach. Put all of this in crockpot, head to the beach all day, and after sun & many libations its ready for us to eat when we come up for showers & food. I serve it with rice, burritos, tomtits–they can fix it any way they like. It has been a must cook for us!

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