This easy crock pot chicken recipe gets a punch of flavor from spicy salsa! Perfect for busy weeknight meals and goes well in tacos, pastas, salads, and sandwiches.
Slow cooker food in the summatiiiiiime has me like ?????.
(Oh, also, I learned how to use emojis on my desktop computer yesterday. You’ve all been warned?).
We don’t have air conditioning, which means turning on the oven this time of year is kind of a no-no, which means that sometimes I go CRAZY because making salads is nice and all but it kind of feels more like assembling than actual cooking, y’know? And since we don’t have a grill, the whole outdoor-cooking-fun-times thing is pretty much out too. So me and the slow cooker get to spend some quality time together. Generally, that quality time comes in the form of me slow-cooking some chicken that we can keep in the fridge and recycle into our meals for the rest of the week.
We don’t eat a whole lot of meat, but it’s nice to have some protein on hand that we can toss in with pasta, or onto pizza, or use on some salads and sandwiches. I’ll do a few different kinds 0f slow-cooked chicken – this BBQ variety, for example, or plain with olive oil and salt and pepper, or with lemon and herbs – but the most frequent choice is probably this salsa concoction. It’s easy, you get a lot of flavor from the salsa without much work, and bam! Protein for the week = handled.
PS – one of my favorite ways to eat this chicken? Super simple: toast a whole wheat slider bun, top with a scoop of chicken, some fresh arugula, and maybe a dollop of plain Greek yogurt. Done aaaaaand delicious. Observe:
Totally unrelated (but somewhat related) side note: do you call it a “slow cooker” or a “crock pot?” I always want to say “crock pot” but then, that’s just a brand of slow cooker, and so that’s not really accurate? Right? And my slow cooker isn’t even a Crock Pot brand – it’s more like the “unlabeled-$10-bargain-bin-at-Target-when-you’re-19” kind of brand. Naming slow cooker/crock pot recipes is always the WORST. Darn you and your fabulous branding, Crock Pot!
I’ve been making this slow cooker (crock pot? blergh, whatever) chicken since a roommate in college blew my mind one day when she dumped a bunch of chicken in her slow cooker with a jar of salsa and then six hours later handed me the hands-down best college-era taco to ever come out of our apartment kitchen. Flash forward to having an actual kitchen and slightly more grown-up taco standards, and this chicken is still easily one of my top 5 most-cooked recipes.
And, okay, to call it a “recipe” is probably a bit generous – more like “put two things in a bowl and mix, then wait for a slow cooker to do all the work” – but the real fun comes after the chicken is cooked and you get to work it into a bunch of different meals during the rest of the week. I’ve got some great slow cooker salsa chicken meal ideas comin’ atcha over the next few days – so get your chicken ready and then check back on Wednesday for all the deets! ?
- 3-4 pounds uncooked chicken breasts (approximately 4 large breast pieces, but feel free to use any cut of chicken you like)
- 1 cup of your favorite salsa
- salt and pepper to taste
- Toss all ingredients together in a slow cooker.
- Cook on low for 4-6 hours until chicken is cooked through and comes apart easily when you shred it with a fork.
- Turn off the slow cooker and let chicken cool for 20 minutes or so, then shred the chicken with two forks until you don't have any big pieces left. Taste and add seasoning if necessary.
- Use immediately if you like, or let chicken cool completely on the counter before transferring it to airtight storage containers and putting it in the fridge. Chicken will keep for up to a week and is great in salads, tacos, burritos, and pasta!
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are easy to use in this recipe, but if you want a little more flavor from the meat itself, look for some bone-in cuts of chicken. I'll often use a few boneless, skinless breast pieces and then add a thigh or drumstick cut for extra flavor.
If you want to leave this in the slow cooker all day while you're at work (~8 hours) I recommend doubling the recipe - too long in a slow cooker can dry the chicken out, so if you need to leave it for a longer time give it some extra chicken to cook so you can avoid some of that dryness!