Slow Cooker Taco Chicken Bowls

$10.31 recipe / $1.72 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.87 from 192 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.

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 to Use

I use a 6 quart Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker and this recipe fills it about halfway. 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 Beef Stew.

Side view of a Slow Cooker Taco Chicken Bowl being eaten

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Taco Chicken Bowls

4.87 from 192 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 minutes
Cook 8 hours
Total 8 hours 10 minutes

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.

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Notes

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

Nutrition

Serving: 1CupCalories: 651kcalCarbohydrates: 78gProtein: 46gFat: 17gSodium: 903mgFiber: 10g
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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 of 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 of 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 is one of our favorite recipes. I double everything but the chicken (maybe go up to 2 lbs on the chicken) and it still is hearty and you feel like you get shredded chicken in every bite.

  2. We repeat this recipe often! Question… can you use soaked dry beans instead of canned?

  3. I was looking through your archives and saw this where you mentioned Pinterest. I am pretty sure I saw this when it was posted when I was in college and made it all the time. In fact I have even changed it to just do the chicken part without the black beans- the chicken cooked in salsa is a great multipurpose shredded chicken and my husband affectionately refers to it as “Salsa chicken”. Now that I am a more experienced cook and make dinner almost every night and frequent your website, I know it was always meant to be :) Thank you for this!

  4. This is probably one of the most repeated recipes in my house over the years! Now that I have an Instant Pot, do you have times conversion if you’re wanting to make this in an instant pot instead? Thank you!

    1. Hi Victoria, Unfortunately we have not tested it in an Intant Pot and can’t give any guidance.

  5. This is so tasty. We did omit the corn but otherwise did not stray from the recipe (well…. we did serve it over cauliflower rice instead of traditional). Our salsa of choice is Herdez salsa ranchero, but I can’t wait to try different salsas. Can’t imagine it would ever disappoint.

    Thanks a million!

  6. Absolutely love this recipe! Wondering if anyone has ever made it completely following the recipe (pre-rice) and then froze? Thrown in crock pot to re-heat?

    1. I don’t suggest adding frozen food to a slow cooker without thawing first because it can take the slow cooker far too long to get the food up to a safe temperature, which poses a food safety hazard.

  7. This recipe was really good! I have a 3 quart slow cooker and it fit perfectly. My bf liked it too. Served it over quinoa because we did not have any rice