Crock Pot Salsa Chicken

Last Updated: April 22, 2024

5 from 1 vote
This 4-ingredient crock pot salsa chicken recipe offers a simple yet delicious way to prepare a flavorful meal with minimal effort. It combines boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, salsa, lime, and goat cheese for a dish that cooks to perfection in a slow cooker.
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4-ingredient crock pot salsa chicken
Why I love this crock pot salsa chicken

Looking for a foolproof way to impress at your next gathering or simply spice up your weeknight dinner routine?

This 4-ingredient crockpot salsa chicken is the answer.

You simply toss boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs into a crock pot, smother them in your favorite salsa and a squeeze of lime juice.

Then let the slow cooker do its thing to create juicy chicken that absorbs all those spicy and tangy flavors.

Top with some extra salsa and creamy goat cheese before serving and you have a dinner that everyone will rave about.

Or shred and serve in tacos or burritos for a tasty Mexican dish.

All with minimal work.

Ingredients

crock pot salsa chicken ingredients

This recipe will make 6 servings.

Here is your shopping list:

  • Meat – 2 pounds (about 6) boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • Jarred goods – 2 cups (16 ounces) of salsa – we’ll use most of it in the crockpot, but reserve part of it to spread on the chicken before serving.
  • Fresh produce – 1 lime
  • Dairy – 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese

Chicken breasts work best if you want to shred the chicken for use in tacos or burritos. However, it is harder to gage when its done and it cannot be left in the crockpot too long or the chicken will dry out and fall apart.

Chicken thighs are much more forgiving, and can be left in the crock pot on the warm setting after they have finished cooking. So this is one recipe where I actually prefer the thighs.

Substitutions

  • To make 2-ingredient salsa chicken: For the simplest version of this recipe, you can eliminate the lime juice and the cheese. However, I think these extra ingredients definitely enhance the flavor.
  • Cheese: Substitute feta cheese for the goat cheese if you prefer.

How to make crock pot salsa chicken

1 | Prep work

slow cooker liner in a crock pot

If you have one, put a slow cooker liner inside the crock pot. This will make cleaning up a breeze as you can simply remove the liner and dispose of it, leaving your crock pot clean.

Alternatively, a quick spray of the interior with cooking spray will prevent the chicken and salsa from sticking to the sides, making it easier to clean later.

2 | Add the ingredients

salsa and chicken thighs in a crock pot

Arrange the chicken pieces in the bottom of the crock pot.

Sprinkle some salt over the top of them.

Add 1½ cups of the salsa to the crock pot, leaving ½ cup to use as a topping later.

This salsa will serve as the cooking liquid and flavor base for the chicken, infusing it with a rich, tangy taste as it cooks.

lime being squeezed into a crock pot with chicken and salsa

Then, juice the lime into the crock pot. It will add a bright, citrusy flavor that complements the salsa beautifully.

3 | Cook

slow cooker with salsa chicken in it

Now you’re ready to cook the crock pot chicken and salsa. The cooking time and temperature will depend on the type of chicken you’re using.

For chicken breasts, which are leaner, cook on a low temperature setting for 1 to 2 hours.

You cannot leave them in the crock pot for an extended time as the meat will dry out and fall apart.

So it’s important to start check the chicken breasts at about 1 hour and then every 15 minutes to see if they are done.

Chicken thighs, which have more fat, should be cooked on high for 3 hours.

They are much more forgiving so you do not have to check them.

And they can be left on the warm setting for a while after they have finished cooking with no problems.

4 | Add toppings

crock pot salsa chicken topped with extra salsa and goat cheese

Spoon some of the leftover salsa and goat cheese crumbles over each piece of chicken before serving.

Serving suggestions

4 ingredient crock pot salsa chicken served on rice with asparagus

Serve this 4-ingredient slow cooker salsa chicken atop a fluffy bed of cilantro lime rice, with a mandarin orange romaine salad or a side of grilled asparagus.

Chicken breasts can also be shredded, mixed with extra salsa and wrapped in warm corn tortillas to make tacos or burritos.

Storage

After allowing the 4-ingredient crock pot salsa chicken to cool to room temperature, transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight or using the defrost setting on your microwave.

Then reheat the chicken gently on the stove or in the microwave until heated through.

A close up of slow cooker salsa chicken topped with goat cheese
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Frequently asked questions

Can I use frozen chicken for this crock pot salsa chicken recipe?

No, it is not recommended to put frozen chicken in a crock pot because it can invite bacteria. It needs to be defrosted before cooking.

What type of salsa works best for crock pot salsa chicken?

You can use any type of salsa you prefer, whether it’s mild, medium, or hot, depending on how spicy you like your chicken. Chunky salsa gives a nice texture, while smoother salsa makes for a more sauce-like consistency.

Can I make this dish ahead of time and freeze it?

Absolutely! Crock pot salsa chicken freezes well. Just cool it down after cooking, then transfer it to a freezer-safe container. It can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or using the defrost setting on your microwave before reheating.

Is it possible to overcook the chicken in a crock pot?

While slow cookers are generally pretty forgiving, it is possible to overcook chicken, especially chicken breasts which don’t have much fat. For the best texture, aim for the lower end of the recommended cooking time range and check the chicken’s tenderness often. Chicken thighs are much easier to manage so you do not have to watch the time as closely.

crock pot salsa chicken topped with goat cheese on a plate

Crockpot Salsa Chicken

5 from 1 vote
Servings: 6 servings
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 1 hour 30 minutes
Total 1 hour 35 minutes

Ingredients
  

  • 2 pounds (6 pieces) boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 2 cups salsa divided
  • 1 lime
  • 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese

Equipment

  • slow cooker liner or non-stick cooking spray optional
  • measuring cups
  • 5 to 7 quart slow cooker

Instructions
 

  • (optional) Put the liner inside the crock pot or spray the inside with cooking spray.
  • Layer the chicken on the bottom of the crock pot.
  • Add 1½ cups of the salsa.
  • Juice the lime into the crock pot.
  • Cook chicken breasts on low heat for 1 to 2 hours, checking occasionally to see if they are done. Do not overcook since they will lose their texture and fall apart if overcooked.
    Chicken thighs should be cooked for 3 hours on high heat, and can be left on the warm setting until you are ready to serve.
  • Spoon some of the extra salsa and the goat cheese crumbles over the top of the chicken just before serving.

Notes

  • Chicken breasts cannot be left in the slow cooker too long or they will lose their texture and start to fall apart. So they aren’t a “set and forget” type of crock pot meat.
  • Chicken thighs are much more forgiving and can be left in the crock pot longer.
  • Cooked salsa chicken can be shredded and served in tacos or tortillas if desired.
Nutrition Facts
Crockpot Salsa Chicken
Serving Size
 
1 piece
Amount per Serving
Calories
251
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
8
g
12
%
Saturated Fat
 
4
g
25
%
Trans Fat
 
0.02
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
2
g
Cholesterol
 
105
mg
35
%
Sodium
 
814
mg
35
%
Potassium
 
799
mg
23
%
Carbohydrates
 
7
g
2
%
Fiber
 
2
g
8
%
Sugar
 
4
g
4
%
Protein
 
37
g
74
%
Vitamin A
 
662
IU
13
%
Vitamin C
 
7
mg
8
%
Calcium
 
62
mg
6
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutrition values are estimates only, using online calculators. Please verify using your own data.

authorWanda Simone
courseMain Course
cuisineMexican
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Have comments or questions about Crock Pot Salsa Chicken? Tell us in the section below.

This post was originally published on July 20, 2015 but was updated with new content on April 22, 2024.


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