Slow-Cooker Chicken Tacos Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Slow-Cooker Chicken Tacos

Total Time
Prep: 10 min. Cook: 5-1/2 hours
This slow-cooker chicken tacos recipe is anything but boring or bland. Fresh lime juice, chili powder, salsa and corn give the tender chicken a burst of fresh flavor.

Updated: May 10, 2024

This is the only shredded chicken recipe you need for tacos. Seriously, it’s that good! The chicken breasts become juicy and tender as they slow-cook in a chili-lime seasoning. Then, adding corn and salsa takes the slow-cooker chicken taco recipe to the next level. Everything comes together to create a colorful, zesty filling that tastes amazing. If you end up with leftovers, the chicken is also fantastic for other Mexican chicken recipes like burritos or salads.

When you need to feed a crowd, this recipe is a perfect fit, but it’s simple enough to serve for taco night at home. The only thing you’ll have to worry about is which direction to go with the taco toppings!

How to Make Slow-Cooker Chicken Tacos

To make this savory chicken filling for tacos, simply add chicken breasts to the slow cooker with lime juice and chili powder. Technically, you don’t have to add any liquid to a slow cooker for shredded chicken. As the chicken cooks, it will create its own juices. However, we like to add some liquid to keep the meat moist. Lime juice is perfect because the acids break down the meat’s muscle fibers, helping the chicken become tender. Plus, it adds a delightful tangy taste to the meat.

Once you shred the chicken, toss it with corn and salsa. Then, it’s ready to layer into warm flour tortillas. Add garnishes like sour cream, pickled onions, shredded lettuce and cheese, if desired.

Ingredients for Slow-Cooker Chicken Tacos

  • Chicken: We use boneless skinless chicken breasts. Chicken thighs would also work in this recipe if you prefer dark meat.
  • Lime juice: Freshly squeezed citrus has the brightest flavor, but bottled lime juice works in a pinch. Depending on how juicy it is, one lime should create 2 to 3 tablespoons juice.
  • Chili powder: Chili powder is a blend of several herbs and spices, usually cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin, oregano and garlic.
  • Frozen corn: These sweet kernels add a pop of fresh color and a burst of juicy flavor to the taco filling.
  • Chunky salsa: The salsa you choose can significantly change the flavor of this dish. Keep it mild and fresh with garden salsa, or give the chicken a unique spin with spicy salsa, salsa verde or roasted tomato salsa.
  • Flour tortillas: This recipe calls for flour tortillas, but you could easily substitute corn tortillas. Make the tacos extra-special with homemade tortillas.


Step 1: Slow-cook the chicken

Adding spices to chicken breasts in slow cookerTMB Studio

Place the chicken in a 3-quart slow cooker. Pour the lime juice over the chicken, and sprinkle it with chili powder.

Cook, covered, on low until the chicken is tender, five to six hours.

Step 2: Shred the chicken

Shredding chicken with forks on baking trayTMB Studio

Remove the chicken from the slow cooker. When it’s cool enough to handle, shred the meat with two forks. Then, return it to the slow cooker.

Editor’s Tip: Don’t drain the juices from the slow cooker. The shredded chicken will absorb those juices, helping the meat stay moist.

Step 3: Season the chicken filling

Mixing other ingredients with shredded chicken in slow cookerTMB Studio

Add the corn and salsa to the slow cooker, and stir to combine. Cook, covered, on low until heated through, about 30 minutes.

Step 4: Build the tacos

Picking up shredded chicken mixture with tongs; taco shell in one handTMB Studio

Place the chicken filling on the tortillas with the desired toppings.

Editor’s Tip: Warm the tortillas in the microwave or a hot skillet to make them more pliable.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos served on plate; bowl of onion and lemon wedgesTMB Studio

What to Serve with Slow-Cooker Chicken Tacos

There are so many great toppings for a chicken taco recipe! Pick a few essentials, or create a taco bar with options galore. Because these tacos cook in the slow cooker, you’ll have plenty of time to create fun Mexican-inspired side dishes to go with them. Don’t forget how easy—and tasty—homemade guacamole is.

  • Shredded lettuce or cabbage: Add crunch to the tacos. You can also use coleslaw, like cilantro lime slaw.
  • Diced tomatoes: They’re fresh, they’re juicy, and they taste fabulous on tacos.
  • Sliced avocado: Avocados add a bright color and give the tacos a creamy finish. Here’s how to tell if an avocado is ripe.
  • Chopped onions: Choose mild green onions, crunchy yellow onions or bright pickled red onions.
  • Sliced or pickled jalapenos: Give the tacos a little heat with spicy peppers.
  • Grated cheese: Some of our favorites are cheddar, Monterey Jack, Cotija cheese and queso fresco.
  • Sour cream: A dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt is a perfect way to add a cooling, tangy element to this slow-cooker chicken taco recipe.
  • Salsa or pico de gallo: You can’t go wrong with a homemade salsa, roasted corn salsa, pico de gallo or salsa verde.
  • Cilantro: Finely chop the cilantro, or leave the leaves whole for a rustic look.
  • Lime wedges: A spritz of fresh lime juice will take these tacos to the next level.

Recipe Variations

  • Use other seasonings: Make your own custom chili seasoning, or swap in other seasoning blends like taco seasoning.
  • Make them spicy: If you like things on the spicy side, add cayenne pepper, hot sauce or jalapenos. Use a spicier type of pepper like serrano chiles or habanero peppers if you really love heat.
  • Skip the salsa: Instead of salsa, toss the chicken with a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles.

Can you make slow-cooker chicken tacos ahead of time?

The tacos will get soggy if you assemble them in advance, but you can make the chicken filling ahead of time. In fact, the chicken seems to taste better a day or two after it’s made. Transfer the shredded chicken to an airtight container. Store it in the refrigerator for up to four days (or in the freezer for up to six months). To serve, reheat the chicken in a saucepan over medium heat, adding water or broth as needed.

Slow-Cooker Chicken Taco Tips

top shot of Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos TMB Studio

What are other ways to use this slow-cooker chicken recipe?

This slow-cooker chicken recipe is great for tacos, but it tastes good in so many other dishes. Use it to make easy chicken enchiladas, queso baked nachos, chicken quesadillas or your favorite taco salad recipe. It’s even wonderful if you want to build a burrito bar for a party.

Can you put raw chicken in a slow cooker?

Yes, it’s perfectly fine to put raw chicken in a slow cooker. Some recipes cook the chicken in a skillet first, but that step is usually for added flavor—not for food safety. The slow cooker’s direct heat (plus lengthy cooking time) will destroy bacteria from raw meat.

How do you keep chicken breasts from drying out in a slow cooker?

After shredding the chicken, toss it with the cooking juices in the slow cooker. If you accidentally discarded the juices, you can use a little chicken broth or warm water. Chicken breasts are very lean, so they will dry out if they’re overcooked. But even perfectly cooked shredded chicken can dry out when it is exposed to air, so keep those juices handy.

Watch how to Make Slow-Cooker Chicken Tacos

Slow-Cooker Chicken Tacos

Prep Time 10 min
Yield 6 servings.


  • 1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 cup chunky salsa
  • 12 fat-free flour tortillas (6 inches), warmed
  • Optional: Sour cream, pickled onions, shredded lettuce, sliced avocado and shredded cheddar or Cotija cheese and lime wedges


  1. Place chicken in a 3-qt. slow cooker. Pour lime juice over chicken; sprinkle with chili powder. Cook, covered, on low until chicken is tender, 5-6 hours.
  2. Remove chicken. When cool enough to handle, shred meat with 2 forks; return to slow cooker. Stir in corn and salsa. Cook, covered, on low until heated through, about 30 minutes. Place filling on tortillas; if desired, serve with sour cream, pickled onions, lettuce, cheese and lime wedges.

Nutrition Facts

2 tacos: 291 calories, 3g fat (1g saturated fat), 63mg cholesterol, 674mg sodium, 37g carbohydrate (2g sugars, 2g fiber), 28g protein. Diabetic exchanges: 3 lean meat, 2-1/2 starch.

Our fun, simple recipe is perfect for taco Tuesdays or a relaxing dinner with friends. If we have any leftover filling, I toss it into a garden-fresh taco salad. —Tracy Gunter, Boise, Idaho