This Crockpot Salsa Chicken comes together with just TWO ingredients and is perfect for weekly meal prep. You can make tacos, burrito bowls, salads and more using this pulled chicken!
How to make crockpot salsa chicken
Recipes like this salsa chicken are perfect for meal prep dinners. I mean, does making dinner get any easier than two ingredients that transform themselves into a delicious meal in your crockpot? I don’t think so!
To make this salsa chicken, all you need to do is add a bit of olive oil to the bottom of the crockpot, add your chicken and then add salsa of choice. It's really that easy, and an absolute no-brainer for an easy meal prep lunch or last-minute dinner idea.
You can then use the chicken for a variety of different dishes such as tacos, burrito bowls, salads, quesadillas and more. My fave is just eating it as a salad as it all comes together super easily and quickly but I have a few more ideas for how you can use this tasty chicken below.
Different cook times
You can choose different cook times for this recipe so there is flexibility if you're unable to wait the full 8 hours. Here are your two different options
Cook on low 6-8 hours: For the most tender chicken, I'd recommend cooking 6-8 hours. This timeline will depend on the size of your chicken breasts (read more on that below). Eight hours is the safest bet, and usually the time that works best for most people starting this recipe then going to work for the day. The chicken shreds super easily and is fall-apart tender. If you have smaller breasts though, 6 hours on low will work.
Cook on high 4 hours: If you need your chicken ready faster, you can cook on high for 4 hours. You still get tender chicken that falls apart when you shred it, and there's way less time to wait! Keep reading this post for pressure cooker instructions so you can have it ready even faster.
What size chicken breasts?
Though cook times vary slightly according to chicken breast size, there is a typical weight you can rely on. Typically, boneless skinless chicken breasts are 6oz each. I use 1lb of chicken breasts in this recipe, which usually ends up being about 3-4 medium-sized chicken breasts. Sometimes you can even use two very large chicken breasts – just make sure to cook on low for the full 8 hours so that they are cooked through.
I would not recommend adding more than 1 lb of chicken to the crockpot at a time because you want to ensure an even cook.
What kind of salsa should I use?
Fresh salsa that’s made-from-scratch can be very healthy. Authentic Mexican salsa usually includes tomatoes or tomatillos, plus fresh veggies like peppers, onions, chili peppers, cilantro, and other herbs. It’s finished off with a boost of citrus (usually lime juice). Here is a super easy homemade salsa recipe if you'd like to go that route.
You don’t need to make your own, though – it takes up a ton of time and that's time you can spend meal prepping other things. If you purchase salsa from a store, you might want to take a minute to read the labels. For a healthier salsa, steer clear of the brands with corn syrup and/or other sugars in them.
I prefer to use a fresh salsa from the grocery store such as Garden Fresh Gourmet (no, this is not an ad for them LOL! Just my fave brand). You can usually find salsa like this in with the fresh salad dressings and veggie dips, or sometimes in among the hummus.
You can also easily use jarred salsa too! Just remember that whatever kind of salsa you use, that's exactly what your chicken is going to taste like.
Can you overcook chicken in a slow cooker?
A slow cooker is one of the best ways to cook meats that have a lot of connective tissue because the long cooking time breaks down these tissues. Chicken breast doesn’t have a lot of connective tissue so it can easily be overcooked in a slow cooker and come out too dry.
To prevent overcooking, and to keep the chicken juicy, make sure that you add enough liquid to the crockpot with the chicken. In this recipe, the salsa will keep the chicken juicy and flavourful. No need to add anything extra!
Can you use chicken thighs?
You sure can! I would use boneless, skinless thighs though. The meat will be even more tender, but you will get a little less protein and a little more fat and calories with chicken thighs than you will with breasts.
You can also use chicken drumsticks but it will be a bit more work to remove all the chicken from the bone by the end of the cook time and again, you will be compromising a bit on calories and fat. However, you will have a meal prep recipe that's a bit more budget-friendly so it's best to weigh your options!
Optional add-ins for more flavor
You can season your chicken even more if you have the time and feel like adding some more spice. I usually make a homemade taco seasoning (2 tbsp chili powder then 1tbsp each of cumin, coriander, paprika and onion powder) then add 1-2 tbsp of this homemade taco seasoning to the chicken.
You can even just toss in a bit of chili powder and/or cumin alongside the salsa. You don't need much to spice this chicken up.
I also love to stir in cilantro towards the end to give a little extra pop of flavor, but all of the above suggestions are totally optional and only if you have the extra time.
Meal prepping salsa chicken
This is the best meal prep recipe ever because you just dump in your 2 ingredients, then set it and forget it! After that you shred the chicken (it should easily fall apart after slow cooking 8 hours), then you add whatever other ingredients you'd like. I've pictured this slow cooker chicken as a meal prep taco salad above, adding black beans for more protein then some corn, cherry tomatoes and lettuce.
I find you don't even really need a dressing because the chicken is so flavorful so you have an amazing low-calorie meal prep recipe that's perfect for work week lunches.
Pack everything up in glass meal prep bowls, then store in the fridge up to 5 days. SO EASY!
Can I freeze slow cooker salsa chicken?
Salsa chicken can safely be left in the refrigerator for up to five days but if you won’t be using it up during time, then it’s best to freeze the leftovers for future use.
Divide the leftover chicken into meal-sized portions and place them into airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags. The cooked chicken can be kept in the freezer for up to three months.
To defrost, leave it in the fridge overnight then heat for 2-3 minutes in the microwave, or you can reheat in the microwave frozen up to 5-7 minutes, stirring halfway through. When reheating I also recommend you sprinkle some water overtop as it helps to keep the chicken from developing that “leftover” taste.
Can you make salsa chicken in the Instant Pot?
Yes you can! If you'd like detailed instructions, head on over to my sister site that focuses solely on Instant Pot recipes called Eating Instantly. My Instant Pot Salsa Chicken recipe is extremely similar to this crockpot chicken version but it's ready in less than 30 minutes.
What about frozen chicken?
I wouldn't recommend using frozen chicken breasts and cooking them in the crockpot. The cooking times would likely take more than 8 hours and at this point you would have been better off defrosting your chicken in the fridge overnight. I only recommend using fresh or defrosted chicken for this recipe.
If using the Instant Pot, however, you can add 5 extra minutes of cook time then a natural pressure release and that should do it.
How can I use this crockpot salsa chicken?
Yes, you can use pulled crockpot salsa chicken in a variety of ways! Here are just some suggestions found on my site – just substitute the meat in the recipes for the chicken:
Use it as a pizza topping! Instead of traditional pizza sauce, you can use enchilada sauce on the crust. Add the salsa chicken, your favourite veggies (peppers and onions would be delicious on a Mexican pizza), and add Mexican cheeses instead of Mozzarella.
Bake it into a pie. My Super Easy Mini Chicken Pot Pies look adorably impressive and are super easy to make. Give them a fun twist by using leftover salsa chicken in them!
Stuff some zucchini boats. Replace the turkey sausage with pulled salsa chicken to give some bold flavor to these Easy 30-Minute Zucchini Pizza Boats.
Make burritos. My Pulled Chicken Burritos are always a favourite, but you can take them to the next level with salsa chicken! Everyone will love adding their favorite toppings to the burritos.
Make tacos. Everyone will look forward to Taco Tuesdays when you use pulled crockpot salsa chicken instead of ground beef or turkey. Set up a taco bar and serve them alongside Instant Pot Cilantro Lime Pulled Chicken Tacos.
Other Crockpot Recipes to Try
Love Crockpot chicken recipes? These other ideas will be right up your alley!
You may also want to check out this round up of Crockpot Chicken Recipes – they will make meal prep day super easy!
Meal prep tools for this recipe
- Grab some glass meal prep bowls if you plan on turning this 30-Minute Ahi Poke Bowl into your weekly lunches.
- I get all my free-range chicken from Butcher Box, conveniently delivered to me frozen.
- Get a meat thermometer to make sure your chicken is cooked through
- Use these Ziploc bag holders if you're marinating the chicken then freezing it
- Freeze this recipe in glass microwave-safe bowls up to 3 months
Meal prep course
If you'd like some more help with meal planning, then you'll love my free 5-day meal prep challenge! It's basically a free course that will teach you how to meal prep and cook healthy meals at home with some PDF bonus materials. Over the course of the challenge, I'll send you a free meal planner and shopping list templates so that you stay on the right track with meal prep (plus more goodies of course!)
Sign up for free below:
Crockpot Salsa Chicken
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 chicken breasts
- 1 (500mL) container fresh salsa
- Romaine lettuce, chopped
- Sliced avocado
- Black beans, rinsed and drained
- Sliced jalapenos
- Shredded cheese
- Sour cream
- Corn tortillas
- Cooked rice
- Add olive oil, chicken and salsa to crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours. Remove chicken breasts after cook time is finished, shred, and add back to crockpot, stirring well.
- Serve with toppings of choice. Will keep in glass meal prep bowls in the fridge up to 4-5 days.
- If freezing chicken: wait for chicken to cool closer to room temperature then freeze in small glass containers with lids. Defrost in the fridge overnight and reheat in microwave for 2-3 minutes to serve.