Healthy Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

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Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos are an easy weeknight meal, with a sneaky serving of veggies inside. The taco filling is so flavorful, no one will even notice that they are healthier!

chicken tacos in front of slow cooker

Tips for Slow Cooking Chicken

How do you slow cook chicken without drying it out?

Keep the chicken breast lifted up and away from the bottom of the pot, and cook at “low” heat in the slow cooker, so that it doesn’t get overcooked.

This comes from my experience with cooking Instant Pot Chicken Breasts. If you’ve ever tried it, you know that chicken breasts seem to turn out more tender when they are NOT in direct contact with the bottom of the pot.

How do you lift the chicken breasts up from the bottom of the pot?

With veggies! It’s practical, adds extra nutrition to your meal, and you don’t need to buy any special equipment.

In this case, you’ll add some shredded cabbage to the bottom of the slow cooker. If you use green cabbage, you can hardly tell it’s in there once you shred the chicken. Seriously, my husband had NO CLUE when he tasted these!

How Long Does it Need to Cook?

Chicken cooks quickly in the slow cooker, so I always recommend using a low setting to keep it as moist and juicy as possible. This will vary by the size of the chicken breasts you use, but it typically takes 2 1/2 to 3 hours for a 10-12 ounce chicken breast to reach an internal temperature of 165ºF.

Since most people plan to let their slow cooker run for at least 3 hours, it seems that cooking at low heat is a safe bet. If you need dinner done faster, I’ve cooked chicken in as little as 1 1/2 hours using the high setting. (This works well with my Slow Cooker Butter Chicken, if you haven’t tried it yet!)

Do you need to add water?

No! You don’t need to add any liquid to the slow cooker when cooking chicken breasts, because they will release plenty of juices as they cook.

How to Make Them

This recipe comes together quickly, especially if you start with a bag of pre-shredded cabbage. Grease the bottom of your slow cooker with a little olive oil, then layer cabbage evenly on top.

shredded cabbage with chicken on top

Place the chicken breasts on top of the cabbage in a single layer, without overlapping. Drizzle a tablespoon of lime juice over the chicken.

Stir together the homemade taco seasoning, then sprinkle half of it over the chicken. Flip the chicken breasts over and season the other side. Sprinkle any extra seasoning over the cabbage, so it’s all nicely seasoned.

seasoning mix over chicken in slow cooker

Set the slow cooker to cook on low heat for 3 to 4 hours.

You’ll know the chicken is done when it’s reached an internal temperature of 165ºF, but it’s okay if it goes a little higher than that, because the cabbage will help keep it moist.

cooked chicken shredded in slow cooker

Use two forks to shred the chicken. The ultra-tender cabbage will naturally mix in with the shredded chicken, and you can adjust any seasoning, as needed, at this point.

shredded chicken taco filling added to shells

How to Serve Them

Serve these slow cooker chicken tacos warm, in your favorite taco shell with any toppings you like. If you follow food combining, or are on a grain-free diet, you can also use lettuce leaves as the “taco shell” instead!

Here are some of my favorite topping ideas:

This taco filling also makes a great topping for a burrito bowl. Try my Instant Pot Quinoa Burrito Bowls for a protein-packed option. However you serve them, I hope you’ll enjoy this easy recipe soon!

slow cooker chicken taco lettuce wraps
slow cooker chicken tacos stacked together
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4.91 from 22 votes

Healthy Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos cook to tender perfection, with a sneaky ingredient inside. These healthy tacos make an easy weeknight dinner and are so flavorful!
Course Main Course
Cuisine paleo
Keyword slow cooker chicken tacos
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 166kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8-12 ounces shredded cabbage (I buy pre-shredded to save time)
  • 1.5 pounds boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cloves garlic , minced

Instructions

  • Grease the slow cooker with the olive oil, then arrange the shredded cabbage evenly on the bottom. Arrange the chicken breasts on top of the cabbage, and drizzle them with the lime juice.
    shredded cabbage with chicken on top
  • In a small bowl, stir together the paprika, cumin, chili powder, and salt. Sprinkle the seasoning mixture on both sides of the chicken, and dump any extra seasoning into the pot over the cabbage. Top with the minced garlic.
    seasoning mix over chicken in slow cooker
  • Secure the lid and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours. The chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165ºF in 3 hours, but it can stand being in there longer, if needed. Use two forks to shred the chicken, and toss it with the shredded cabbage directly in the slow cooker.
    cooked chicken shredded in slow cooker
  • Serve warm in taco shells or lettuce leaves, with all of your favorite toppings. Leftover chicken can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
    shredded chicken taco filling added to shells

Video

Notes

Nutrition information is for the taco meat only. This information is automatically calculated, and is just an estimate, not a guarantee.
You can use chicken thighs instead of breasts, if you prefer. They tend to stay more tender, without drying out in the slow cooker, so they can cook longer, if needed for your schedule.

Nutrition

Calories: 166kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 727mg | Potassium: 508mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 260IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 1mg

If you try these Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos, please leave a comment below letting me know how you like them. And if you make any modifications, I’d love to hear about those, too!

Reader Feedback: Do you have any other slow cooker requests? Let me know in the comments below!

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Comments

Angela

Looks delish, would it work in instant pot you think?

Katie

Also here to see if there is an Instant Pot version 😀

Allison

Hi, Megan. Do you have an idea for a more nutrient dense replacement for the cabbage? I have a child with DS who has calorie restrictions, so I really try to use ingredients that will provide tons of vitamins/nutrients. I appreciate your thoughts, and I love your recipes. Thanks

    Megan Gilmore

    Hmm… I’d have to think about that! You can add more nutrient-dense calories with the toppings, like adding avocado or cheese, but I’m not sure what else might “blend in” as well as the cabbage does with the shredded chicken. Maybe cooked spaghetti squash?

CHRISTINE

I was so excited to try this and it did not disappoint! The flavor is amazing and it was so easy. I used the slow cooker function on my instant pot (I’m interested to hear if anyone tries this recipe with pressure cooking). Also my shredded cabbage had carrots in it which made it even more delicious and colorful. I did this for meal prep and I can’t wait to have it this week!

Stephanie

I loved this recipe! Super easy. You can’t taste the cabbage or really even see it once you shred the chicken and the chicken is super moist. I put avocado, onion, green onion, cilantro, lime and salsa on top. Will definitely make again.

Minda

Made these with chicken thighs that were only 1/2 defrosted🤦🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️ Cooked on low for 4-5 hrs since the chicken was partially frozen. Used shredded cabbage/carrots mix on the bottom & reserved some for taco assembly. This was such an easy, tasty recipe. Will definitely make this again! Thank you for another great recipe💕 PS. Made plenty, which were great leftovers!

Kate

The slow cooker chicken tacos were amazing. I am not a huge fan of cabbage but with the taco seasoning on it and mixed in with the shredded chicken it was great. Another recipe I am sharing with the rest of my family.

Kcjorj

I made this on Wednesday and it was excellent. My family loved it. We did it with your burrito bowl idea (brown rice in lieu of quinoa). This is a keeper!

Laura

I am amazed that no one on my family even noticed or commented on the cabbage in this! Frankly I’m shocked, as I have some picky eaters! This was delicious.

Sarah

Made this tonight and it was really yummy! So easy and quick to prepare and tasted delicious! Thanks Megan for another awesome recipe!

Jill

Absolutely love this recipe! It will now be in rotation at my house. It was super simple and flavorful. I love the idea of adding in the cabbage, you couldn’t even taste it, but having it there just added the extra veggies that we need. Thank you so much!!

Laura

These came together so quickly and were very tasty. Husband approved for the make again list!

Laura

These were so very good! Husband approved for the make again list!

Amanda

These are amazing! It took several weeks of prodding from Detoxinista’s newsletter to get me to try them, but I’m so glad I did. I used a full cabbage, at least twice what was called for, but they still came out great- super moist & flavorful.

This is a new family favorite that we’ll eat on repeat during the spring and fall when we receive lots of cabbage from our CSA. YUM!

Christian Mode

The chicken looks so tasty 🙂

Teresa

These are so incredibly good, and the extra bonus is that they are also so incredibly easy! We used the slow cooker function on our Instant Pot, and they came out great. We’re making them again this week. Y😋

Lori Hodgson

What do you use for taco shells?

Christa Hines

This was delicious and everyone in my family enjoyed it (which is a major win in and of itself!)Also, no one noticed that cabbage was in the dish and I never said a word. 😉 Simple to prepare and very good. I’ll be making this again.

Laurie

This is such a quick tasty meal, and it’s so incredibly easy!! The cabbage adds such a nice texture to the delicious chicken meat! Thank you!

Christina Roseli

This is my go to “Taco Tuesday” meal. My family loves it. I gave out this recipe to two others and they love it!

Valerie Golden

These are awesome! So impressive yet soooo easy. Thanks for another great recipe!

Sarah howaRd

These chicken tacos are a family favorite and weekly staple in our house!

Dawn

I made these yesterday – so delicious! I love crock pot meals especially on a Sunday when I am food prepping for the week, or just want a hands off meal. I let it cook on low for about 5 hours and the chicken was juicy and tender.

Kaye

This was delicious and super quick & easy to make.

K.BIrch

This was a great way to get even more veggies into my family’s diet. My kids (ages 6, 5 and 2) had no idea that they were eating cabbage. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

Veronica

This was amazing! I was a vegan for a long time and a vegetarian even longer. It is difficult for me to enjoy eating and cooking chicken. With that said, I decided to start cooking chicken at home to give my family a wider variety of healthy options to eat. I made tacos the first night and enchiladas the next day. Both were amazing! Thank you for an easy, fantastic, healthy recipe. I can’t believe that the cabbage blends so well with the chicken. I used a coleslaw mix and it worked perfectly even though there was purple cabbage. Definitely 5 stars!

Erika Sedlmair

Every time I make this recipe I don’t know what to do with the cooked cabbage on the bottom. Any ideas please?

    Megan Gilmore

    When you shred the chicken, the cabbage should mix into it. The cabbage should become part of the shredded chicken mixture, so you get extra veggies in each serving.

      Erika

      ahhhhhh SMART…. i feel silly, i threw the cabbage away 🙁 but we enjoyed the chicken! lol

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