Crockpot Mexican Chicken

crockpot mexican chicken

This? Ohhhhh, this.


This is possibly the easiest homemade Mexican food. Ever. Also known as soul-warming, snuggle-up-and-get-cozy sweatshirt and blankie comfort food. Also known as my life, minus the sweatshirt and blankie. And never again will I use the word blankie in writing. Bleh.

Ironically it’s something like 110 degrees here, which is not a joke AT ALL and yet still I felt the need to use the sweatshirt analogy? Maybe I’ve been thinkin’ too much about those yummy sweatshirts from Albion Fit. <– pst, that’s a giveaway and you should enter.

This ridiculously easy 5-ingredient crockpot Mexican chicken recipe starts with my love of beans.


When I think of beans, I think of… well, first I think of lentils. I can’t even start on that one because we all know this post will be overtaken with lentil stuffs. And I mean Oooooovertaken.

But coming in at a close second is today’s beloved bean: the pinto.

Pinto beans and I have really gotten close in the last few years. I think it has something to do with these perfect veggie burgers that my friends Alex and Sonja introduced to me (seriously – they are perfect), and then the crockpot chalupas that have become a weekly part of my life, and just my love for Mexican-style beans and all Mexican food in general.

Dear Chipotle, I miss you.

crockpot mexican chicken

So how exactly is it possible that this recipe has just FIVE ingredients? I don’t even know.

What I do know is that somehow I still managed to get mildly stressed out trying to do a three minute grocery trip to find five ingredients. Bah! This is an unnecessary thought right now (that’s me cryptically reassuring my mom that I’m not pregnant) but sometimes I worry about what my life will be like when we have kids. Someone tell me it’s not just straight up chaos all the time. Someone?

When you need to slow your life down a little bit and not run all over the grocery store in a tizzy, because I’m sure you’re more capable at the hunt for five ingredients than I am, this is your winner.

Five ingredients stand between you and crockpot Mexican chicken. Unless you still need to buy a crockpot. Go! Go now.

crockpot mexican chicken

Speaking of slow, this guy needs to cook for a long time. Blame it on the beans – they take forever and a half to cook. I started to worry that my chicken was getting dry, so I took it out when it was done and just let it chill (yep) in the refrigerator while the beans cooked their slow selves away. Then a year later when the beans were done, I added the chicken back in the crockpot and shredded it up.

And before this post ends, I’m going to mention just a few of the endless possibilities for customizing this Mexican crockpot goodness into your favorite thing ever.

  1. Leave out the cream cheese.
  2. Add all the cream cheese.
  3. Add corn.
  4. Use canned beans: omit most of the water and reduce the cooking time.
  5. Add corn before cooking.
  6. Add sauteed peppers after cooking.
  7. Use homemade salsa.
  8. Use less beans.
  9. Use more chicken.

crockpot mexican chicken

TRUTH: the best thing you could give yourself with this warm, saucy crockpot Mexican chicken is a big ol’ burrito with a smashed avocado in there for good measure. I repeat: smashed avocado. Do you disagree? Too bad. Not allowed.

On second thought, I will also accept dipping with chips.

It’s unnatural how much I love Hint of Lime.

crockpot mexican chicken

By the way, how many of these ingredients do you already have?

Burrito, coming your way.

Crockpot Mexican Chicken

4.4 from 17 reviews
Crockpot Mexican Chicken
Serves: 16
  • 1 jar of your favorite salsa (I like to use 1½ jars... just because)
  • 3½ cups water
  • 1 lb. chicken breasts
  • 1 lb. dry pinto beans, rinsed
  • 2-3 tablespoons taco seasoning (1 packet if using store bought)
  • 2 ounces or more light cream cheese (totally optional - just adds creaminess)
  • salt to taste
  1. Place the pinto beans, salsa, and water in a slow cooker or Crockpot. Stir to get the liquid in and around the beans. Place the chicken breasts on top. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 7-8 hours.
  2. After about 3 hours, remove the lid and check on the mixture. Stir to keep the beans from sticking to the bottom and add a little more water if necessary. Don't open the lid more than once or twice - it adds to the cooking time.
  3. When the beans and chicken are cooked, gently shred the chicken with two forks. It should shred very easily. Add the taco seasoning and cream cheese and let the mixture sit for another 15-30 minutes. Serve with rice, tortillas, or chips. Top with avocado, cheese, and cilantro.
If you use canned beans, omit the water and reduce the amount of cooking time. Also, if you are worried about the chicken getting dry, remove the chicken breasts after 3 hours or so when they are fully cooked, store in the fridge, and add them back in at the end. I have tried it both ways and they've both worked fine.
This makes about 8 cups, so I'm roughly calculating 16 servings (about ½ cup each).

Nutrition Chicken

A 5-ingredient crockpot recipe for Mexican-style chicken and pinto beans. Perfect for easy burritos, tacos, and enchiladas. 185 calories per serving.
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  1. I’m a bit odd in that I don’t like beans or salsa, leaving me just with the chicken, cream cheese and seasoning. Still sounds lovely. :)

    I love these pictures! I don’t know how you made a… not-so-beautiful food pretty. Go you!

  2. I agree with Erin, the pictures are so pretty. I could just dive into a giant plate of this!

  3. Recipes like this make me wish I ate chicken! I love the ease of a crock pot and Mexican food is basically my weakness.

  4. I really need to get a crock pot and soon! This recipe looks wonderful.

  5. Cheers to 5 ingredients!!! Love that guacamole in there too! :)

  6. This looks so easy and yummy

  7. SOLD – pinning this for dinner next week! And I’m all over those pinto beans. FEED ME! :)

  8. I kind of wish I was wrapped up in that burrito. SO MUCH YUM.

  9. it is constant chaos with kids, which is exactly why I love meals like this! And today happens to be a rainy, blustery day- perfect for sweatshirts, snuggling with a blanket on the couch, eating comfort food :)

  10. Love this easy dish. YUM!!! All I would need is a margarita to wash it all down :)

  11. This recipe will make my son very happy!! Thank you!!

  12. This is totally my kind of meal! Mexican food on the cheap and easy. Yum!

  13. Linds, I am totally going to try this out this week. It sounds like a step up from my 2-ingredient salsa chicken. YUM.

  14. Great simple recipe. This is a must try. I’ve pinned you.

  15. Yum. Yum. Yum. I love how simple and delicious this looks.

  16. I am ALL over this Lindsay! All the ways to adapt it sound wonderful. You could essentially have a new recipe for this every day of the week and then some. I have to make it! Pinning it for my new crockpot. :)

  17. I am all over beans as well. My husband keeps making fun of me. I love that dried beans are even cheaper than canned ones, but the long cooking time drives me nuts. Apparently a pressure cooker gets them done in minutes. Until I own one the canned kinds will have to do.

    • I would love something that cooks dried beans in minutes! Pressure cooker. I’m gonna check it out. The good news about lentils (if I may digress.. totally unrelated to this recipe) is that they cook really fast. :) Love those little things.

      • I followed the recipe to a tee in my new crockpot. Five hours later beans are still hard! Took the chicken out and put crockpot on for another couple of hours. How did everyone else’s recipes turn out so good?!

        • Hm, sorry to hear that Lisa. Apparently at the time I wrote this recipe I did not soak the beans but if I were doing it again today I would soak them overnight the night before to help them cook faster.

          • Hi Lindsay – thank you for replying to my pleas for help regarding hard beans! I ended up leaving them in the crockpot for a couple of hours, on warm as I ran errands. Came home, turned it back on (high) and within an hour they were just about perfect. I then followed the directions (shredded and added the chicken, taco seasoning and cream cheese). My husband said it was delicious (I’m a vegetarian so I didn’t have any!) I think soaking the beans overnight will work best next time (and thanks again for the reply)

          • I’m glad you could redeem them! :)

          • Even after soaking the beans the night before, AND cooking them for 7.5 hours on low, my beans still aren’t done!

  18. I love easy meals like this, especially in a slow cooker!

  19. I’ve been eating vegetarian lately but I might just have to make an exception for this, it looks so good! I hate to break it to you but it is chaos with kids. All. The. Time. I have three of them and there is no way I’m taking all three through the grocery store with me or I would never get the things I mean to. I still find time to blog though, so you might be ok in that area? Can’t wait to see the cute little babies you and Bjork have (someday!).

  20. How could I not make this after reading that wonderful blog? First of all, I will tell you life doesn’t have to be total chaos when you have kids, at least ours wasn’t. Second, do you have a good salsa to recommend?

    • I used Tostitos because that was the best option I had here in the Philippines, but I at home I’ve used the fresh salsa in the refrigerated section that is more like pico de gallo. Sometimes they have restaurant brands of that. I also really like Target’s brand, Archer Farms, for jarred salsa.

  21. I love anything Mexican that’s made in the slow cooker. How that thing transforms such simple ingredients into something so amazing I will never know but I’m happy to put it down to magic.

  22. Yum! I use my crock pot constantly and this is perfect for it! Looks delicious…

  23. If u use canned beans by how much should u reduce the cooking time by?

  24. Blankie is totally a funny word. But I know what you mean. And these burritos look HEAVENLY!!

  25. Oh Lindsay, every single time you post a crockpot recipe, I wish I had brought one with me to Bangkok. It’s 110 degrees here as well (how can it BE this hot), but you still can’t beat dinners this easy and without the need to turn on the stove or oven. I may need to give in and just buy a new one…if only so that I can make this!

    • I bought mine here (never would have dreamed of packing that thing) and the first one broke. Just straight up broke after one successful use. We were so dreading the hassle, embarrassment, confusion, etc. of the return and refund process that we just bought another one. Nothing’s ever simple on this side of the world. :) but so worth it! You gotta get one!

  26. Crockpot chicken is one of my fave things to make! I always love finding a new recipe!

  27. Why is it that almost every American I know misses Chipotle the most when living elsewhere? I was right there with you.

    Love the simplicity. I’m ever trying to like beans more; will have to give this a try!

  28. Melissa says:

    I made this today and I loved it! Thanks for posting the recipe!!


    can you freeze the finished result?

  30. This look so good! I am in love all mexican food and you photos are making me drool!

  31. This is too funny to me! I know I’ve said this before, you somehow you and I are linked in food-vibes or something. I JUST made a crock-pot taco chicken the other day and photographed it the same day you posted this. Yours looks so good! There is something so comforting about crock-pot + tex-mex, right??

  32. This sounds incredible!! Love the flavors, and how many different things you could do with the chicken. I just got a huge craving for chicken nachos!

  33. Nice and simple and tasty!

  34. this looks toooo good to be so easy! yum!

  35. It looks so delicious!
    Too bad I don’t have a crockpot, which speaking of crockpots, did you buy that over there or did you haul yours from the States? If you bought it in the Philippines, is it 220V? Desperately trying to find one here is not working as well so if you bought it in the Philippines, I might just have to take a quick trip to buy one. (yes I’m that desperate.)

  36. Did you soak the beans to soften the, or just rince? Hoping to make this tomorrow, It looks great!!

    • Hi Erica! I didn’t soak them (just rinsed) but I think I might try it next time…. it just took them a long time to get fully cooked. If you want to make sure they’re soft, you might want to soak them. :) Good luck!

  37. I made this on Wednesday and HOLY YUM. Seriously, one of the best things I’ve made in a while, and so dang easy. I used it in some freezer burritos but have been munching on the leftovers and the strangest times of day, because I just can’t get enough.

  38. Made this yummy recipe tonight for my family! Funny…. but it’s probably the first time I’ve made chicken! We are mostly vegetarian in our home, but this looked too delicious to pass up! Thanks for the super simple, yet amazingly tasty dish! It will be a family favorite… I can already tell!

    • Awesome! I actually almost always cook vegetarian recipes for us to eat (just because I don’t like preparing meat) but when all you have to do is stick it in the crockpot with some other stuff… I can do it. :) Glad to hear you guys enjoyed it!

  39. Tried this one the other night and still enjoying leftovers. Quick, easy, and delicious! (Healthy, too!) Thanks!

  40. MMM…looks SO yummy with avocado on top :)
    If i use canned beans, would I add them drained or undrained? Since you mention to eliminate the 3 1/2 cups of water…


    • I would still keep some water, maybe just 1/2 cup and then add more as needed. I’d also drain and rinse the beans because the liquid inside canned beans doesn’t taste very good, in my experience. 😛 Good luck!

      • Yeah, definitely! I usually drain and rinse them too anyways, but use the same can for measuring my water hehe! Thanks!

  41. I LOVE your recipes! Your suggestions, the easy steps, the TASTE! I can’t wait to try this one out (paired just like you did with some amazing avocado!) I shared the deliciousness with my readers here: Thanks for the inspiration!

  42. This look so good, can’t wait to make it next week…

  43. made this for dinner tonight and loved it…so easy and delicious. a definite keeper!

  44. Oh my goodness! I stumbled upon your blog via someone’s pin on Pinterest for this recipe. I read through the entire years posting and pinned a bunch more recipes to try, but I made this one tonight for dinner…
    I couldn’t even wait for my poor hubby to get home! I didn’t use the cream cheese, but topped them with a Mexican cheese blend and fresh guacamole on flour tortillas YUMMMMMM
    It’s been a gloomy kinda day and should start storming soon, so this was perfect for today! :)

  45. I just made this last night and it’s so tasty! My roommate and I both loved it, but agreed next time we would use less beans because we thought it overpowered the chicken. And we added some corn, onion and bell peppers at the end. So yum!

  46. I threw this recipe into our crock pot yesterday morning and recieved a text message in the afternoon when my husband returned from work before me…

    “I don’t know what you did in the kitchen, but it smells AMAZING!”

    Thanks for this easy, yummy recipe!

  47. I’m trying this right now.. for a potluck at work tomorrow. The only real change I made is.. the bag of beans was 2 lb, so.. all went in, and I had an entire roasting chicken, 7 lb (on the bone), that also went in. *fingers crossed* I only started it about 30 minutes ago!

  48. catherine howes says:

    I make this but use frozen chicken breast, half a container of salsa, cook on high for 4 hours, shred chicken add the other half of the salsa, stir it up and its ready, lots less calories and can use in many things… might have to try adding some of your ingredients but I do like simple :)

  49. Its not straight up chaos all the time. They sleep a lot in the beginning. If you are not the type of parents who let their kids do what they say and not the parents you can get them into bed at a reasonable time. They go off to college. In my case the army they either go to live with someone or get married. That’s it.
    Then you worry about them in a different way and then the grandkids. And off we almost go again so no. It’s not complete chaos
    ALL the time. :-)

  50. How is was that? And delish :-) I used 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, 4 cups of water, 16 oz. salsa, the pound of dried pinto beans, 7 hours, packet of taco seasoning towards the end. The chicken shredded nicely, loved all the beans… Filling, healthy, great flavor! Love your blog :-)

  51. Have you ever substituted greek yogurt in place of the cream cheese? Curious if that would work!

  52. can I use sprouted mung beans? I have a whole bag and I’ve never cooked with them.

  53. I meant to also ask if I could use sour cream instead of cream cheese

  54. cory deventure says:

    Ladies, ladies, ladies….

    did you really make this recipe word for word like you said? Because from step 1, I was foreseeing a nightmare. I took a leap of faith, like I always do with these online recipes from moms/wives/etc….simple concept, epic failure.

    the chicken was cooked about 5hrs before the beans were….i knew before i even started this was going to be a problem. I said to myself “soak the beans overnight…before you go to bed”. But alas, I did not. Always listen to your gut, that’s what my mom told me when I was a kid. Why do i continue to ignore her???

    The salsa didn’t give the chicken any flavor hardly. I threw the chicken in a pan with some of Rick Bayless’ Frontera seasoning sauce made for chicken…just long enough to heat the sauce. I’d highly recommend his seasoning sauces! Whipped up some guacamole….shredded lettuce & shredded cheese. BAM. No beans though…because I didn’t listen to my gut. Thanks for the idea though. As is, it just didn’t agree with me. If you did say to soak the beans prior, I missed it and I apologize in advance. Cheers.

    • Thanks for the feedback Cory! I think you’re right – if I made it again I’d soak the beans.

      • Bravo, Cory! The consistent gist of the comments from people who have actually MADE this is that the recipe, as stated, is a failure. Wrong about the cooking time for the beans, and wrong about the seasoning.
        I truly don’t get the point of a comment section in which the majority of the content is from people who are reacting to irrelevancies. “I love the pictures! 5 stars!” “I just love the way you write! 5 stars! “I can’t wait to try this! 5 Stars!” “I love the idea of adding avocado! 5 Stars!” “Yes, you WILL live in chaos when you have a kid. 5 Stars!” This is the dumbest recipe site I’ve ever encountered.

      • I think the beans don’t soften due to cooking them with tomatoes.

  55. Ok, so you are an amazing writer totally engaged me and now im so craving this dish and im getting the blankie out heheheh! Thanks for the awesome recipe!

  56. I have never given a 1 star review before. I always kinda thought that people who gave 1 or 2 star reviews were just grouchy and negative about everything. But I was so disappointed in this recipe.

    I saw that it was rated 4.5 stars. And it is in the Top 25 Recipes of 2013 EBook. And it is in Lindsay’s Favorite Mexican foods. So it should be tested, tried and true, right?

    Wrong. I soaked my beans all night. I cooked them on low 7.5 hours. By then it was dinner time and they still weren’t done so we ate scrambled eggs and toast for dinner. And I turned the crock pot up to high and cooked them 2 more hours. They still aren’t soft. And the cream cheese is in clumps.

    I noticed that 5 out of the 10 ratings were from people who hadn’t even made this dish! Why rate a recipe you have’ made?! Are you rating the food or the photography?!

    And Lindsay, you say that if you made it again, you would soak the beans. Have you only made this once? Where is the QA?

    I have found a few recipes on PoY that I like so I have been very excited to try more. Now I am Leary though. :(

    • Hi Sarah! I’m sorry to hear about this, and I’m really surprised that the beans didn’t cook after soaking overnight AND cooking for 7 hours. That should have been more than enough time. It’s really hard for me to say why when I am not there in the kitchen to see what’s going on – sorry I can’t fix it for you!

  57. I love this recipe! I only have canned beans on hand – conversion chart says 4 15oz canned beans to 1 lb dried. Agree I should use 4 cans here? Thanks.

  58. Wellll… Regarding the bean controversy, I have made this recipe at least once a month for the past year. I never soak my beans and they always turn out great. One of my fave easy and healthy crockpot standbys.

    • Thanks Kimba! Appreciate the feedback.

      • This might be attributable to different varieties of beans and the freshness thereof. Black beans (in dried form) require no presoaking. Other beans benefit from soaking from 1 to 24 hours. Joy of Cooking calls for soaking pinto beans before cooking them. A little more precision is called for here.

  59. Lauren Sullivan says:

    I am thinking I will just do canned beans since I see so many people struggling to cook the beans fully.

    If I use canned pinto, how much do I reduce the cooking time (on Low)?
    And how many cups of water?

    Please let me know! I want to do this ASAP.

    • Blythe Hefferan says:

      I cook for 4 hours on high and do not add any water (just rinse the beans). The salsa seems to give it enough liquid but I guess that might depend on what kind you use. I remove the chicken close to 4 hrs and puree the beans, mix in cream cheese, and add the chicken back in after it is shredded. My once a week go-to that everyone eats!

  60. Made this exactly as the recipe called for (sans cream cheese) and it came out great! I ate it like a chipotle bowl and it was so good.

    I think one of the issues with the beans might be due to possible differences in crock pots. I have one with a locking lid, so that might have helped.

    Only thing I would change is that it was a little bean heavy for us. I will probably cut the beans in half and the water accordingly.

  61. It’s embarrassing how much I make this recipe! I add black beans and corn (both canned and drained) at the end. Love, love, love that my husband requests this meal so often!

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