Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken

Chicken tacos in the slow cooker will blow your mind, especially when they’re made with juicy chicken thighs. What’s the secret? Pineapple juice! This slow cooker shredded chicken recipe is great for parties or taco night!

Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken recipe
Elise Bauer

So, what's your favorite taco filling? While I'm sometimes tempted toward chile verde or pulled pork, I usually pick the spicy shredded chicken.

Chicken Tacos Made Easy in the Slow Cooker

No need to go out for this though, it's easy to make at home, especially with a slow cooker! Ten minutes prep, slow cook for hours, then shred with a couple of forks.

Video: How to Make Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken


Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

Shredded Chicken Tacos: 3 Tips for Success

There are three elements to perfect shredded chicken—the chicken, the rub, and the sweetness.

  • For the chicken, we use boneless skinless chicken thighs because they have more internal fat, more flavor, and they hold up better to long slow cooking than breasts.
  • For the rub, we are using chili powder, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, allspice, cayenne, onion and garlic powder, and salt. Spices vary by brand and age, so you may need to experiment to get the right mix for you.
  • The "secret sauce" of this shredded chicken recipe is the addition of pineapple juice. Not only does pineapple juice add sweetness (needed for balance of flavors), but it also helps tenderize the chicken, making it even easier to shred. Pineapple is the essential ingredient in "tacos al pastor"—it works great with this shredded chicken.

Finally, it always helps to have an endorsement from an unsuspecting guest. My father dropped by for a taste and declared that it was excellent pulled pork. When I pointed out that it was indeed chicken, he couldn't have been more surprised!

how to shred chicken for taco with two forks
Elise Bauer

What to Serve With Chicken Tacos

Make your tacos with corn tortillas, warmed briefly in a dry skillet or in the microwave, and then top with any of the following:

  • Finely shredded cabbage
  • Thinly sliced radishes
  • Chopped avocado
  • Cilantro
  • Lime wedges

If you'd like, serve Cilantro Lime Rice or Spanish Rice on the side.

Also, this shredded chicken is perfect not only for tacos but also for burritos, tostadas, tamales, or even a taco salad.

Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Taco Meat with radish and avocado
Elise Bauer

Storing and Freezing Shredded Chicken Taco Meat

The shredded chicken keeps well in the fridge for up to five days and can either be reheated slowly in the slow cooker, over low heat on the stovetop, or in the microwave.

This chicken also freezes well. Package in freezer bags or other storage containers with as much air pressed out as possible to prevent freezer burn, and freeze for up to three months.

More Taco Recipes to Try

Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs 10 mins
Servings 6 to 8 servings

We're using boneless chicken thighs because they're easier to shred, and you don't end up with stray bits of hard cartilage in your shredded chicken. If you use bone-in chicken thighs, increase the amount by 1/4 pound and once the meat is done, cut away the bones before shredding the meat.

I recommend not removing the excess fat that comes with skinless chicken thighs. You'll need it to help keep the chicken from drying out and to help make it more flavorful. Please do use skinless thighs, otherwise, you'll have way too much fat.

If the shredded chicken is a bit liquid-y, don't worry. The chicken will absorb back more of the liquid as it sits, especially if you make it ahead and chill.


For the spice rub:

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled fine between your hands

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice (can sub a scant pinch of ground cloves)

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional, add more or less depending on how much heat you want)

The chicken:

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (do not remove excess fat)

  • 3/4 cup pineapple juice

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

To assemble the tacos:

  • Corn tortillas

  • Lime wedges

  • Finely shredded cabbage

  • Thinly sliced radishes

  • Chopped avocado

  • Cilantro


  1. Coat the chicken with rub and place in slow cooker:

    Whisk the rub ingredients together in a bowl. Dredge the boneless skinless chicken thighs in the rub. Place the chicken thighs in a slow cooker.

    taco meat rub for chicken
    Elise Bauer
    slow cooker chicken taco meat
    Elise Bauer
  2. Add the pineapple juice and tomato paste:

    Pour the pineapple juice over the chicken. Add the tomato paste to the juice.

    pineapple juice for slow cooker chicken tacos
    Elise Bauer
    how to make chicken taco meat in crock pot
    Elise Bauer
  3. Cook:

    Cover and cook in the slow cooker for 3 hours on high setting or 6 hours on low.

  4. Shred the chicken meat with forks:

    When the chicken is done, it should be fork tender. Use 2 forks to shred the meat completely in the slow cooker bowl.

    juicy slow cooker taco meat
    Elise Bauer
    how to shred taco meat
    Elise Bauer
  5. Serve:

    Use the taco meat with heated and softened corn tortillas, sprinkle with lime juice, adding garnishes of finely shredded cabbage, thinly sliced radishes, avocado, and cilantro.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
415 Calories
21g Fat
32g Carbs
32g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 415
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g 27%
Saturated Fat 5g 23%
Cholesterol 138mg 46%
Sodium 441mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 32g 12%
Dietary Fiber 10g 37%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 32g
Vitamin C 53mg 263%
Calcium 103mg 8%
Iron 3mg 18%
Potassium 993mg 21%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.