Make Chicken Barbacoa Using A Slow Cooker

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Last Updated on March 28, 2024 by Share My Kitchen

For a simple and flavorful filling for tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and more, try this slow cooker barbacoa chicken cooked with chipotle peppers.

This barbacoa recipe assembles in just a few minutes. The smoky chipotle chilies make this slow cooker recipe unique!

Sometimes, there is not enough time in the day, no matter what you do. Do you remember a week like that?

When the plans to make slow cooker beef barbecue fell apart, finding an easy substitute was crucial. It also has to work with the ingredients and be put together in minutes.

You can make a quick barbacoa recipe using chicken with some frozen chicken breasts and a can of chipotle pepper adobo. You use smoky chipotles and simple spices to add the same depth of flavor as dried chilies.

It resulted in a straightforward and delicious dish.

Essential Ingredients for Chicken Barbacoa

Barbacoa in Mexico is traditionally goat meat. You may use many of the same spices to give the chicken an authentic barbacoa taste:

  • Chicken Breast: You may use any type of chicken, thigh or breast. Just make sure it’s boneless and skinless.
  • Tomato Paste: This thickens the sauce for the chicken.
  • Chipotle Peppers in Adobo: For an authentic taste, get the peppers in adobo. If you are unfamiliar with chipotle, these are smoked chipotle bell peppers in an adobo-style sauce. They are spicy and smoky and are the perfect accompaniment to this dish.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: The vinegar makes the chicken tender and gives it some acidity and brightness. You can substitute it with white vinegar if you don’t have ACV.
  • Garlic Cloves: I recommend using fresh ingredients whenever possible, but you can substitute a tablespoon of garlic powder for fresh garlic cloves if you are in a pinch.
  • Onion: You can use any variety of onion, and they will taste fantastic in this recipe.
  • Spices: You only need cumin, oregano, a bay leaf, salt, and pepper.
  • Chicken Broth: Use low-sodium chicken broth or chicken stock. You can substitute beef broth for chicken broth to get a more beefy taste, similar to traditional barbacoa.

Ingredients You Need

  • 2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 canned chipotles peppers in adobo sauce, minced (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and put it in the crockpot with the onion, garlic clove, and bay leaf.
  2. Mix the chipotles in adobo, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, cumin, oregano, and chicken broth. Then, add the mixture into the crockpot and stir well.
  3. Cook over low heat for 4 hours. Once the chicken cooks, take out the bay leaf and onions. Then, use two forks to put the chicken in the slow cooker for 10-15 minutes. It will let the chicken soak in the sauce.
  4. Finally, serve them as tacos, burrito bowls, quesadillas, and more.

Side Dish Ideas

Barbacoa chicken can be shredded and used in tacos or burritos. You can also pile it on top of mixed greens for a delicious taco salad.

As with other Mexican food, you can serve it with your favorite side dishes like refried bean, Mexican street salad, or creamy Mexican coleslaw.

Some Recipe Tips

These tips will ensure that your barbacoa chicken is always spicy and juicy!

  • You shouldn’t overcook the chicken. It cooks after 3–4 hours of low heat. The chicken may become tough to shred if left to cook longer.
  • You can use a slow cooker liner to make cleaning up easier.
  • An electric mixer makes shredding chicken a breeze. Mixing it on low for just a few seconds works like magic.

FAQs About Slow Cooker Chicken Barbacoa

These are some of the questions that readers frequently ask.

What other types of meat can I use in place of chicken?

This recipe uses any type of meat. You can make it with pork loin or beef roast. The key is to use the spices that will make the meat delicious. Also, as long as the meat is easy to shred, you can go ahead.

What are barbacoa tacos made of?

Barbacoas, a traditional Mexican recipe, are made with beef, goat, or sometimes lamb. It is usually seasoned with dried chilies, then slow-cooked until nice and tender.

Barbacoa tacos are customarily topped with onion, cilantro, and sour cream.

Can you use this chicken as part of meal prep?

Yes, barbacoa chicken can be a great addition to your meal prep plan. You can add it to food containers and leave it in the refrigerator for up to five days. You can then use it in a salad or make tacos with it. The chicken tastes better the next day after the juices and spices have cooled in the refrigerator and soaked into it.

Is this a low-carb recipe?

The chicken is naturally low in carbohydrates, so this particular recipe can be used on a keto diet. Serve it on top of lettuce to make a Mexican salad, or with some cauliflower rice on the side to make it keto-friendly.

Some people on a keto diet buy low-carb taco shells or make homemade shells out of cheese to eat tacos.

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