Slow Cooker Taco Chicken Bowls

$10.31 recipe / $1.72 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.87 from 177 votes
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This taco chicken bowls 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 Slow Cooker Taco Chicken Bowls 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.

Recipe, prices, and photos updated 8/27/16

Close up of a Slow Cooker Taco Chicken Bowl with melted cheese and sliced green onions

Set it and forget it…

Taco Chicken Bowls are 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.

How to Serve Taco Chicken Bowls

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 still hope. Just stuff the chicken mixture inside of a tortilla with a little cheese and roll it up 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.

Taco Chicken Bowls are Freezer Friendly

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

What Size Slow Cooker Should I Use?

I use a 6 quart Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker (affiliate link) and this recipe fills it about half way. I would suggest using a 4-quart or larger slow cooker.

Okay, one more thing. If you for some strange reason need this taco chicken bowls 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.

More Slow Cooker Dinners: Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka MasalaSlow Cooker Italian Chicken and PeppersSlow Cooker White Chicken Chili, and Slow Cooker Rosemary Garlic Beef Stew.

Side view of a Slow Cooker Taco Chicken Bowl being eaten

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Taco Chicken Bowls

4.87 from 177 votes
Slow Cooker Taco Chicken Bowls are the ultimate "set it and forget it" easy weeknight meal that the whole family will love.
Servings 6 (1 cup chicken mixture, 1 cup rice, plus toppings)
Prep 10 mins
Cook 8 hrs
Total 8 hrs 10 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs. chicken breasts ($2.60*)
  • 1 16oz. jar salsa ($2.15)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced ($0.16)
  • 1 15oz. can black beans ($0.69)
  • 1/2 lb. frozen corn ($0.73)
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder ($0.30)
  • 1/2 Tbsp ground cumin ($0.15)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano ($0.05)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper ($0.03)
  • Freshly cracked black pepper ($0.03)
  • 6 cups cooked rice ($0.60)
  • 8 oz. shredded cheddar ($2.59)
  • 3 green onions, sliced (or fresh cilantro) ($0.23)

Instructions 

  • Place the chicken breasts in the bottom of a 5 quart or larger slow cooker. Drain the black beans and add them to the slow cooker along with the salsa and corn. Add 1/4 cup water, plus the minced garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, cayenne, some freshly cracked pepper (about 10-15 cranks of a pepper mill).
  • Give the ingredients a brief stir to distribute the spices. Secure the lid on your slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
  • After 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high, carefully remove the lid of the slow cooker. Stir with a fork to shred the chicken (it should be very tender and will shred easily). Taste the chicken mixture and add salt if needed.
  • To build the bowls, place one cup of rice in the bottom of a bowl and top with 1 cup of the shredded chicken mixture. Top with a little cheddar cheese and a sprinkle of sliced green onions.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Notes

*I buy my chicken breasts on sale and freeze them until I'm ready to use them.

Nutrition

Serving: 1CupCalories: 724.87kcalCarbohydrates: 78.8gProtein: 50.87gFat: 22.87gSodium: 1827.1mgFiber: 11.78g
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @budgetbytes or tag #budgetbytes on Instagram!

This is definitely one of my favorite meals to keep in the freezer for busy days!

Overhead shot of a Slow Cooker Taco Chicken Bowl

How to Make Slow Cooker Taco Chicken Bowls – Step by Step Photos

Chicken breasts in Slow Cooker

Place two large chicken breasts (about 1.5 lbs.) in the bottom of a slow cooker. I always buy my chicken breasts in large packs on sale, then individually wrap and freeze them for later.

Salsa, Beans, and Corn in the slow cooker

Drain one 15oz. can of black beans and add them to the slow cooker along with a 16oz. jar of salsa and 1/2 pound of frozen corn (no need to thaw the corn first–the small kernels thaw quickly once the slow cooker is turned on. Do not, however, use frozen chicken breasts because they may take too long to come up to a safe temperature in the slow cooker.)

Roasted Salsa jar

I usually just use a generic salsa for this dish, but I like generic salsa just fine. The type of salsa you use will greatly impact the flavor the of the overall dish, so make sure you use one that you like. This time around I found a “fire roasted” generic salsa, so I got that for a little extra smokey flavor. :)

Add taco seasoning spices to slow cooker

Add 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 Tbsp chili powder (mild), 1/2 Tbsp cumin, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, and some freshly cracked pepper (about 10-15 cranks of a pepper mill).

Quick Stir ingredients in slow cooker

Add about 1/4 cup water to help the ingredients combine when you stir. Briefly stir to distribute the spices.

After 4 hours on High in slow cooker

Secure the lid on your slow cooker and cook on high for four hours or low for eight hours. This is after 4 hours on high–doesn’t look much different!

Shred Chicken

BUT by this time the chicken is SO tender that just stirring the mixture will make it fall apart. Stir the pot or use two forks to shred the chicken.

Shredded Chicken finished

When all the chicken is shredded it’s time to eat! You can taste the mixture and add salt if needed (this will depend on the salt content of your beans and salsa. I didn’t add any this time.)

Slow Cooker Taco Chicken Bowl being eaten
To build the taco chicken bowls, place one cup cooked rice in the bottom of a bowl and top it with one cup of the chicken mixture. Sprinkle a little shredded cheddar cheese on top followed by a few sliced green onions. Done! How easy is that?

front view of a Slow Cooker Taco Chicken Bowl

Or you can eat the Taco Chicken Bowls not as a bowl, but as an actual taco. Just stuff the chicken mixture into a tortilla, top with cheese or sour cream, and you’re good to go!

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  1. This has become one of my kids favourites. They keep asking for it and I love how easy it is to make. I always have everything on hand so it’s perfect. Can’t wait to try more of your recipes

  2. Is the 1 cup nutrition info 1 cup of the chicken mixture or does it include rice?

  3. Wondering if using course black pepper in the place of cranking a peppermill is a possible substitution. If so, how much?

    1. Hi Eliza! Feel free to substitute to taste. Approximately the same amount. XOXO -Monti

  4. I’ve made this many times before- it’s always satisfying and super easy. Most recently, I needed to use up about half of a rotisserie chicken, so I combined it with all the ingredients listed and heated it all up in a skillet. Swapped the black beans for cannellini beans, and the green onions for diced yellow onion, as that’s what I had on hand. It turned out fantastic!

  5. What is the best way to freeze this? Follow recipe and then freeze in freezer bags, thaw and re-heat? Or put all “raw ingrediants” in freezer bag and throw in crockpot to cook for 4hrs high or 8 hours low?

    1. I’ve never tried freezing it before cooking, only after. :) I usually freeze it after cooking and dividing it into single-serving portions so I can just reheat it one at a time in the microwave.

      1. Ok, thank you! I will cook and then freeze, then just use crockpot to re-heat for large crowd! :)

    1. Just divide into portions as if you were going to eat them, but put them in freezer-safe containers, and freeze. :)

  6. I no longer own a slow cooker. Any idea if this would work in an instant pot and if so how long I would cook it for? Thanks!

        1. The more I hear about the extra costs associated with instant pots the less I want one. How can a kitchen appliance be listed as an 11-in-1 device if it doesn’t come with all the accessories necessary to use all 11 different functions?

          1. Because you can pressure cook this exact recipe on high for 22 mins and achieve the results of 4 hrs in a slow cooker (and if cooking the chicken from frozen, cook for 27 mins on high). That’s why.

  7. This recipe is a lifesaver when I can’t bear to actually cook a meal. I add tons of sour cream to my finished bowls and it’s even better.