Six Different Ways to Make Delicious Chicken Tacos Using a Crock-Pot
Chicken tacos are simple stuff, requiring just tortillas, seasoned, cooked chicken and a few toppings. Yet with these few components there are countless variations encompassing the diverse flavors of Mexican cuisine, as well as the potential for chicken tacos inspired by other international fare. Cooking the chicken, seasonings and other choice ingredients in a Crock-Pot is a great option when you're a busy mom who wants a hands-off approach that also results in very flavorful and tender chicken. Using a Crock-Pot doesn’t limit your options when it comes to varieties of chicken tacos, as the following six recipes illustrate.
1. Easy Three-Ingredient Chicken Tacos
The three ingredients that this recipe calls for are chicken, sliced or diced; homemade or packaged taco seasoning mix; and salsa from a jar. Use any type of salsa you like, perhaps salsa verde or pineapple salsa for a change from classic tomato. Toss the chicken pieces into the seasoning in the bowl of the Crock-Pot, then pour over just enough salsa to coat the chicken. Cook everything on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours – or until the chicken is soft and tender. If you’re home, stir the pot once or twice while it's cooking. If you find there’s too much liquid in the pot, transfer the chicken to a serving dish using a slotted spoon, pressing the spoonfuls against the side of the pot to squeeze out excess juice.
2. Veggie-Packed Chicken Tacos
Along with chicken and taco seasoning, add a variety of chopped vegetables – the more the better. Good choices include onions, zucchini, bell peppers, corn, tomatoes and fresh spinach. You might also want to add a drained can of pinto, kidney or black beans. Diced potatoes make the tacos especially filling. Cook everything on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours. This approach not only gives your chicken tacos a nutritional boost, but turns a relatively small amount of chicken into enough taco filling to feed a crowd.
3. Buffalo Chicken Tacos
The distinctive, zesty heat of Buffalo chicken meets the whole-meal-in-your-hand goodness of tacos. Slow-cook chicken with your favorite brand of Buffalo sauce, a few tablespoons of butter and a little chicken stock until it's falling apart and saturated in a rich, spicy sauce. Crumbled blue cheese is the perfect topping, but you can use a good blue cheese dressing instead. Also, as a cool contrast to the spicy chicken, include some crisp shredded lettuce and thinly-shredded raw celery and carrots.
4. Cilantro-Lime Chicken Tacos
This recipe highlights the classic Mexican flavors of fresh cilantro and zesty lime. Add chicken to the Crock-Pot, along with salt, pepper, cumin, a little chicken stock, a can of mild green chilies and the juice of several fresh limes. Near the end of the cooking time – approximately 3 to 4 hours on high or 6 to 8 hours on low – pick the leaves off several handfuls of fresh cilantro. Add the cilantro to the pot for the final 15 to 30 minutes of cooking, just long enough for the herbs to wilt in the juices. Chunks of cool, creamy avocado offer a pleasant contrast to the zesty chicken, so pile some on top of your filled tacos.
5. BBQ Pulled-Chicken Tacos
Chicken tacos meet classic American barbecue in this very simple recipe, which involves slow-cooking chicken in your favorite barbecue sauce, either homemade or from a bottle, until it’s tender enough to be shredded with forks. Alternatively, prepare plain pulled chicken, cooked in the Crock-Pot with a little salt, pepper and dash of chicken broth, and let everyone add his own sauce. Put out barbecue-inspired toppings too, such as coleslaw, crispy onions and pickles. Another perfect topping is a simple relish made with fresh corn kernels, diced tomatoes and green onions.
6. Banh Mi-Inspired Chicken Tacos
The classic Vietnamese banh mi sandwich usually features crunchy shredded raw carrots and cucumbers, pickled jalapenos and fresh cilantro and mint leaves, plus a choice of meat or chicken, on a crusty French roll. Instead of bread, use soft or crunchy taco shells for delicious, flavor-packed banh mi-inspired chicken tacos. Cook chicken in the Crock-Pot with a mixture of Asian seasonings – a few dashes of soy sauce, minced fresh garlic and ginger, a little fish sauce and a teaspoon or two of honey or brown sugar. Pile the delicious slow-cooked chicken into the tortillas and top with all the classic banh mi accents.
A writer of diverse interests, Joanne Thomas has penned pieces about road trips for Hyundai, children's craft projects for Disney and wine cocktails for Robert Mondavi. She has lived on three continents and currently resides in Los Angeles, where she is co-owner and editor of a weekly newspaper. Thomas holds a BSc in politics from the University of Bristol, England.