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!
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
- 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.
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
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)
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (do not remove excess fat)
3/4 cup pineapple juice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
To assemble the tacos:
Finely shredded cabbage
Thinly sliced radishes
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.
Add the pineapple juice and tomato paste:
Pour the pineapple juice over the chicken. Add the tomato paste to the juice.
Cover and cook in the slow cooker for 3 hours on high setting or 6 hours on low.
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.
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)|
|Servings: 6 to 8|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 21g||27%|
|Saturated Fat 5g||23%|
|Total Carbohydrate 32g||12%|
|Dietary Fiber 10g||37%|
|Total Sugars 6g|
|Vitamin C 53mg||263%|
|*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.|