6-Ingredient Slow Cooker Enchilada Chicken
This easy recipe for shredded chicken for enchiladas is totally simple, completely delicious and the perfect weeknight crockpot recipe. Plus this chicken recipe is gluten-free and dairy-free, Paleo, and Whole30 compliant too!
5 star review
“This might be the answer to my prayers. I spend over an hour a night trying to make dinner using whole foods. This is so easy to make, so delicious, and then so versatile.”– Angela
About this Recipe
This Slow Cooker Enchilada Chicken recipe makes a regular appearance at our house because it is just so darn simple and versatile, and it’s one of my favorite crockpot recipes with chicken because it’s perfect for those nights when you want something easy but still bursting with flavor.
Plus it uses ingredients that you likely already have on hand in your pantry and fridge or freezer.
Meaning no special trip to the grocery store required!
Since this saucy chicken is also free of artificial ingredients, preservatives, and is gluten-free & dairy-free, it will work for just about everyone.
And even though my specialty is easy recipes (I’m looking at you 55+ dump & go slow cooker recipes) , this 5-ingredient wonder is hands down one of my favorite slow cooker chicken recipes I’ve ever made!
Plus, it makes the absolute best shredded chicken for these chicken enchiladas, and I love using it in this simple chicken enchilada skillet recipe, too!
Serving Tip: After you throw this easy recipe in the slow cooker just put out additional toppings such as avocado, guacamole, cilantro, radishes, sliced green onions, grated cheese, fresh tomato salsa and/or sour cream for a build-your-own bowls, tacos, burritos, or enchiladas night!
Process & Tips
If you’ve read my book, then you know I’m all about simplifying things.
Less decisions = less stress.
So at least one dinner a week, I make an easy slow cooker chicken recipe and this is one of my family’s favorites.
This enchilada chicken comes together with just 5 minutes hands-on prep time and can be used to build lots of different meals.
Since it’s a true dump and go crockpot recipe, all you have to do is add all your ingredients to your slow cooker and let it work its magic.
Before you know it you’ll have chicken tender enough to easily shred between two forks, then you can toss it together in the delicious sauce & squeeze over a bit of lime juice – and dinner is done!
Uses for Shredded Enchilada Chicken
Just like my easy slow cooker carnitas, we love that this makes a lot of leftovers that can be used lots of ways.
You can use it to make easy chicken enchiladas, chicken enchilada skillet, tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, serve over rice or with my easy slow cooker refried beans.
We enjoy this enchilada chicken tucked into warm tortillas, in lettuce wraps (Bibb or romaine lettuce work well), on brown rice, topping a heaping bed of greens, or atop baked potatoes to make it a complete meal.
Here’s a few more recipe pairings to get you inspired!
Easy Chicken Enchiladas (as a filling)
Chicken Enchilada Skillet (as a filling)
Fresh Tomato Salsa (Chipotle Copycat) (to top)
Easy 4-Ingredient Guacamole (to top)
Creamy Cabbage Slaw (on the side)
Sheet Pan Cauliflower Rice (on the side)
Skillet Sweet Potatoes (on the side)
Recipe Adaptations & Suggestions
If you like things a little spicy, go ahead and add a few healthy dashes of hot sauce, too.
A quick note that this recipe makes plenty of yummy enchilada sauce to go with the chicken, but if you prefer something a little less saucy, simply half the amount of tomato sauce used.
I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts for this recipe but you can also use chicken thighs if you prefer.
Instant Pot Tip: If you want to make this in the instant pot instead of your slow cooker, I have a full post walking you through the pressure cooker version.
Ingredients & Modifications
Chicken breasts: I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts for this recipe but you can also use chicken thighs if you prefer. If you want to use frozen chicken, be sure to fully thaw it before adding to your crockpot.
Tomato sauce: Be sure to use canned tomato sauce in this recipe. Diced or whole tomatoes will not work well. Tomato sauce brands are very inconsistent from thin to thick, so if you want a thicker sauce add less tomato sauce. If you’d rather use enchilada sauce, try this easy red enchilada sauce.
Onions: Since we’re using so few ingredients, I love the extra savory and home cooked feel that the onions add to this dish. Plus it’s great that you don’t have to saute or brown them before adding to your slow cooker! But if you can’t have or don’t like onions, feel free to skip them.
Cumin: Together with the lime juice and chili powder, the earthy flavor of the cumin creates the delicious flavor for this shredded enchilada chicken.
Mild chili powder: This recipe is not spicy. If you like it hot, swap the mild chili powder for hot, and top with your favorite hot sauce.
Garlic powder: I love the convenience and ease of using granulated garlic powder in this recipe, especially since it cuts down on the prep time. But you could use fresh garlic in its place if you prefer.
Lime juice: The lime juice adds a nice brightness and tanginess to this enchilada chicken, and really helps to lift up all the flavors after the low & slow cook time. You could also use lemon juice in its place.
Kosher salt: Look for kosher salt with the regular iodized salt at the grocery store (it has a subtler flavor). Use less iodized salt if that’s what you have on hand.
More Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Recipes
Slow Cooker Peach Chicken with Basil
Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken with Tomatoes and Basil
Slow Cooker Lemon Herb Pulled Chicken
Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken with 5-Ingredient Peanut Sauce
5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Apple Cider Pulled Chicken
6-Ingredient Slow Cooker Enchilada Chicken
- 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
- 1 (28-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon mild chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, or thighs
To Add at the End
- Juice of 1 lime
- Fresh Tomato Salsa
- Easy Guacamole
- Hot sauce
- Add the sliced onions, tomato sauce, salt, cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder to a 6-quart slow cooker, stirring to combine.
- Nestle the chicken into the slow cooker, making sure it is well covered by the tomato mixture.
- Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-7, until the sauce has thickened, the onions are soft, and the chicken is falling apart.
- Remove the chicken and shred with two forks. Add the shredded chicken back to the slow cooker, stirring to combine.
- Add the lime juice and additional salt if desired. Serve warm, adding hot sauce to taste. Serve as is, tucked into warmed tortillas, or as a filling for chicken enchiladas or chicken enchilada skillet.
Hi Lia. You can find it by clicking Recipes (under Real Food), then Main Dish.
This twin mama thanks you for this tasty and quick meal option. My 10 month old twins thought it was tasty too so I froze small portions to serve along side some rice as they navigate feeding themselves:) Great for a baby led weaning chicken option.
Erin, you’re so welcome! LOVE the idea of freezing little individual portions and so glad your twins liked this one. 🙂
I think that I am just going to have to try this next week as I love enchiladas and having MS by doing it in the slow cooker means that I don’t have to stand up for long.
I will post pictures after I have cooked it and let you know my families verdict. Hope it ends up looking as good as yours.
Amanda, looking forward to hearing how what and your family think! Love those recipes that can be prepped in just a few minutes!
Trying this one this week!!
Yay! I hope the whole family love it. 🙂
Great and easy recipe! We used it to make tacos and nachos. The chicken was very tender and delicious. We were working in our back yard while it cooked. Every time we opened the door, it smelled so good! Thanks for sharing! We will definitely make again.
Lori, love the idea of using this for tacos and nachos, yum! Thanks so much for leaving a review!
I just put everything into my slow cooker! I am so excited because it smells so good! Thank you so much for this recipe. I am subbing the lettuce leaves with corn tortillas.
Yay, I hope you enjoy Janice. Lettuce wraps sound like a perfect substitute! 🙂
Just made, smells amazing! Will this freeze well?
Jessica, yes, leftovers freeze well!
Do you think I could throw it in the insta pot for 20 min?
Vanessa, you can definitely try! I’ve found that some Instant Pots have a very sensitive burn sensor, and the tomato sauce starts to burn to the bottom before the recipe is finished cooking. If you give it a try and it works let us know, though!
Do you think it would work just as well to cook on high for three hours?
Amy, it depends a bit on your particular slow cooker and the size of the chicken breasts you’re using. 3 hours may be enough, so it’s worth giving it a shot!
Sounds amazing, just wanted to query the tomato sauce. Are you talking something like Heinz tomato ketchup or a plain tomato passata style sauce? I am in New Zealand and think the terminology is getting lost in translation! 🙂
Kristie, something closer to a plan tomato passata style sauce! Ingredients along the lines of a smooth tomato puree, salt, garlic, onion. Hope this helps! You just want a seasoned, thick tomato sauce.
Hi Robyn, I didn’t see anywhere in your article or recipe on the amounts for the all ingredients, how many servings does this make?
Hi Catherine, you should be able to view the ingredients and recipe instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of the post. The recipe serves 4-6.
Has anyone tried this in the Instant Pot? Can the chicken be frozen, or does it need to be thawed?
Hi Melissa, this one will work in an Instant Pot as long as yours doesn’t have a sensitive burn function. Some IPs have a very sensitive burn function and the tomato sauce will burn to the bottom and ruin the dish. Some will work fine, though, so I’d say try it if you think your work for a tomato sauce heavy recipe.
Easy quick and delicious
So glad you enjoyed this one, Mel!
I buy frozen chicken breasts at Costco, how much longer should I plan to cook it since the chicken is frozen?
Hi Dana, for food safety reasons, it’s not recommended that you cook chicken from frozen in the slow cooker. If you defrost the frozen chicken in the fridge overnight you should be able to use the amount called for in the recipe.
Hi!. I have a question about the ingredients. In one place it says tomato sauce in another it says tomato paste. Could you clarify, please?
Actually it say tomato purée not tomato paste.
Yep, that should be tomato sauce. I’ve made the update in the recipe. Thanks!
Hi Melanie, it’s tomato sauce! I’ve made the update in the recipe for clarification purposes as well.
Has anyone ever tried adding kidney beans? If so, was wondering when you’d put them in?
I’m excited to try 🙂
Hi Jessica, I haven’t, but I have a similar recipe with kidney beans so I think it will work! Add 1-2 cans, drained and rinsed, to the recipe along with everything else. If you try it let us know how it turns out!
We loved this one! Ate it for days afterwards which says Delicious in our house 😊 I mixed the sauce first in a bowl to get the right amount of heat. Thanks for this…we will be eating it again and again!
Jennifer, yay, so happy to hear this one was a hit! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a review!
Hi Robyn, this may be a silly question but I am new to cooking in general 🙂 I am wondering if this would work for green enchiladas if I swapped out the tomato sauce and used a green chili sauce instead? Thanks much!
Hi Dana, I haven’t tried it but I think that would work wonderfully! If you give it a try let us know how it turns out. 🙂
Yes, it works great. I used the big 28oz can of LaPalma green chile sauce, some garlic powder & cumin. At the end, I added about a cup of chopped roasted green chiles (peeled & seeded). Yum!
Jan, love the idea of adding roasted green chilis. Yum! Thanks so much for leaving a review!
I love this recipe. My daughter has Celiac Disease. Most canned enchilada sauce is not gluten free. I love how I can make the chicken and sauce all at the same time, and it is really easy and quick. I use this to make chicken enchiladas. My mom can’t eat salt, so I use the no salt added tomato sauce and don’t add salt. Mom requested it again. I just came back here to print a fresh copy of the recipe and see you have instant pot instructions, so I am trying that tonight. Thank you!
Kris, so happy to hear this one is a hit with your family and so great you’re able to adapt it to be salt-free. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a review!
Very easy to make and tasted amazing! It did however feel like it was missing something but I’m not sure what. If you’re looking for a great dinner that’s easy to make and leaves you with tons of left overs this is the dish for you!
Xander, glad this was a hit, and thanks for leaving a review!
This might be the answer to my prayers. I spend over an hour a night trying to make dinner using whole foods. This is so easy to make, so delicious, and then so versatile. I’d recommend spicing it up a bit but it was nice to have the option to make it spicier for adults and the kiddos could have the tame version.
Yay, so happy to hear this recipe will help you cut down on cooking time! And yes to adding more spice to fit your and your family’s tastes. Cheers!
This recipe was so easy and really did come out amazing. The flavor was so good and all the seasoning measurements were spot on. We used the initial chicken batch for tacos and plan on using the leftovers for enchiladas. This ended up in our dinner favorites folder.
Yay, so happy that you enjoyed this one – great idea to use the chicken for multiple dinners. So smart! Thanks so much for leaving a review!
I’m making this tomorrow but plan on adding a can of Black beans, corn and green chili. I will wrap it in corn or flour tortillas! Mexican fiesta at my home tomorrow:)
I will say, I made a similar dish, but the recipe included taco sauce instead of the natural spices indicated in this recipe. I, much rather use natural, clean spices. Rather than use a jar with preservatives.
Vanessa, I love the idea of adding beans, corn and green chilis. Yum! And I agree, I definitely lean on real spices over pre-packed when I can. I hope it’s a hit!
Could I substitute enchilada sauce for the tomato sauce?
Karen, I haven’t tested it, but I think that sub would work just fine! You may not need to add the cumin and garlic powder, but either way it should be fine. If you give it at try let me know how it goes!
I made this today, cooked the chicken on low in the crock pot for about 6 hours, skipped the onion and lime bc I didn’t have any and it came out amazing. Thank you!
Fantastic, Lindsay, great to know the recipe worked for you with even fewer ingredients. Love those easy weeknight wins! Thanks so much for leaving a review!
I’m cooking now….can’t wait to eat and share this 😋😋 can I freeze this?? Thank-You
Linda, yes, this enchilada chicken freezes well, and should last about 3-4 months frozen. Hope you enjoy!
It looks yummy.
What would you serve this with
Hi Kathy, I like to serve the chicken taco style in warmed tortillas with toppings, on white rice and beans, or as a topping for baked potatoes, or to make enchiladas. I hope you enjoy!
Has anyone tried with ground chicken?
Hi Becca, I haven’t tested it with ground chicken, but I think it would work. Just cook the chicken first seasoned with some salt and pepper, then add the enchilada sauce and proceed with the recipe. If you give it a try let me know how it turns out!
How would you recommend using this to make the enchiladas? I normally mix chicken with cheese wrap in tortillas and cover with a white sauce before baking. Could this sauce be used as a substitute for the white sauce?
Meghan, yes, this chicken makes a delicious filling for enchiladas! I actually have a recipe and exact instructions for using it to make these chicken enchiladas. I hope you give them a try and enjoy!
Eek . . . I only had diced tomatoes so I tossed them in the blender with the spices. A thicker consistency – seems like it’ll work.
Sara, that should work, but it may turn out a bit more watery, but should still taste good! You may need to add additional salt as well, since you’ll be missing the salt from the tomato sauce. Hope you enjoy!
So good! I used it with your enchilada recipe- I put them in the air fryer in a pan for about 6 minutes and they came out amazing! Definitely will make again.
Teresa, yay, happy to hear you enjoyed this recipe and the chicken worked well in the enchilada recipe. Great idea to cook the enchiladas in the air fryer, I’ll have to try that next time. Thanks so much for leaving a review!
Hi can you recommend a good tomato sauce to use with this. Thanks!
Hi Katie, I love the Kirkland brand if you’re a Costco member. Hunts is a great option, as is Muir Glen.
This chicken is amazing!! I make multiple batches and put them in the freezer for quick and easy meal prep.
It’s such a great staple recipe, isn’t it Melissa? Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a review!
This was absolutely amazing! My sister in law made this recipe and i had to have it. It is a staple now in this household. Sooo soo good. I add cilantro and sour cream as toppings and a lil hot sauce
Ashley, yay, so happy to hear you enjoyed this recipe and that it’s going to be a family staple. Love that! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.