Instant Pot or Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken Tacos

June 28, 2017

Salsa Chicken Tacos are one of the easiest dinners you can make, and yet they are still perfectly flavorful and everyone will love them! This recipe includes methods for both the Slow Cooker and Instant Pot, so use the one that works for the equipment you have.

Salsa Chicken Tacos on plate with lime wedges

Instant Pot Salsa Chicken for Tacos and More

This salsa chicken recipe isn’t just great for tacos. Try it as a filling or topping in nachos, enchiladas, tostadas, quesadillas and burritos (and burrito bowls!).

This chicken filling is so easy to throw together, and it uses a few simple ingredients and requires minimal prep.

And did I mention the instant pot salsa chicken is perfectly tender, flavorful and even juicy? You can’t go wrong with this salsa chicken tacos recipe!

The other thing I really love about this recipe is that my entire family loves these pulled chicken tacos! My kids can be picky, but these tacos are 100% kid approved.

And if you don’t get too crazy with the toppings (like cheese/sour cream) then they are healthy too — just stick with the corn tortillas over white flour ones.

instant pot Salsa chicken filling shown here after cooking.

Salsa Chicken Ingredients

For the instant pot salsa chicken (or slow cooker, whichever you prefer!), you’ll need:

  • Chicken breasts
  • Spices (ancho chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper)
  • Garlic
  • Bottled salsa
  • Fresh cilantro

And for serving these tacos, you’ll need:

  • Corn or flour tortillas
  • Shredded cheese
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Guacamole or avocado
  • Sour cream
  • Hot sauce

instant pot Salsa chicken after shredding garnished with cilantro.

How to Make Salsa Chicken Filling

  • Place chicken in Instant Pot or slow cooker.
  • In a bowl, mix the spices together.
  • Sprinkle spices and garlic over chicken, then pour salsa over chicken to cover.
  • Cook 13 minutes in Instant Pot or 5 hours in slow cooker.
  • Let chicken rest briefly, then shred. Return to salsa mixture, sprinkle in cilantro, and toss.
  • Add salsa chicken to your choice of tacos, burritos, and more!

How to Cook Tortillas

I’m not a big fan of just warming corn tortillas and eating them dry, so I just brush them with olive oil and cook them in a skillet until lightly golden on each side (or just pour about 1 tsp oil into the skillet per side).

Flour tortillas I just warm briefly, about 10 seconds per side, then stack and cover.

Just don’t omit those toppings because they are what makes a taco a taco. As in, bring on the guacamoleeee (or sliced avocados on a lazy day)!

Can I Make This Recipe with Fresh Salsa?

If you’d like to make Instant Pot salsa chicken with fresh salsa instead of bottled, that’s fine! You just may need to add 1/4 cup broth (give or take) to make up for the lack of moisture in the fresh salsa.

Can I Make This Recipe With Chicken Thighs?

Definitely! You’ll want to trim off any excess fat before cooking the chicken though.

Salsa Chicken Tacos

Tips for the Best Salsa Chicken

  • Although you can technically add frozen chicken to the Instant Pot, you’ll want to thaw the chicken for this recipe before cooking it in either your Instant Pot or slow cooker.
  • If you’d prefer to make slow cooker chicken tacos, make sure to cook the salsa chicken on low heat. I don’t like to cook chicken on high heat in the slow cooker because I find it doesn’t become quite as tender.
  • I haven’t made a double batch of this recipe yet, so I can’t say for certain how doubling the ingredients would affect the cook time.

More Mexican Recipes You’ll Love:

More Instant Pot Recipes to Try:

Salsa Chicken Tacos (Instant Pot or Slow Cooker)

4.95 from 38 votes

These Salsa Chicken Tacos are one of the easiest dinners you can make and yet they are still perfectly flavorful and everyone will love them! Likely to become a new go-to weeknight dinner for you!

Servings: 5
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 cup fire roasted jarred salsa
  • 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro

For serving

  • 10 corn or flour tortilla shells warmed
  • Shredded monterey jack or Mexican blend cheese
  • Shredded romaine lettuce
  • Diced roma tomatoes
  • Guacamole or diced avocados
  • Sour cream and hot sauce optional

Instructions

  1. Place chicken in Instant Pot. 

  2. In a small bowl whisk together chili powder, cumin, coriander and 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper (some bottled salsas are super salty that's why I recommend only starting with 1/4 tsp then adding more later).
  3. Sprinkle mixture evenly over both sides of chicken and sprinkle garlic over chicken, then pour salsa over chicken to cover. 

  4. Close lid, turn vent to "sealing" and set Instant pot to "poultry" or "manual" setting then set to 13 minutes. If using a slow cooker cook 5 - 6 hours on low heat.

  5. Once cycle is complete use quick release method according to manufactures instructions.

  6. Remove chicken and let cool several minutes on cutting board then shred into pieces and return to juices in instant pot. 
  7. Sprinkle in cilantro, and toss chicken to coat. Season with more salt to taste if desired. 
  8. Lift chicken pieces with tongs and allow excess liquid to run off, then place in tortilla shells with listed toppings.

Recipe Notes

  • Although you can technically add frozen chicken to the Instant Pot, you'll want to thaw the chicken for this recipe before cooking it in either your Instant Pot or slow cooker. 
  • Recipe source: Cooking Classy
  • Nutrition includes corn tortillas. Toppings aren't included.
Nutrition Facts
Salsa Chicken Tacos (Instant Pot or Slow Cooker)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 288 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Fat 5g8%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 87mg29%
Sodium 561mg24%
Potassium 771mg22%
Carbohydrates 27g9%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 30g60%
Vitamin A 540IU11%
Vitamin C 3.1mg4%
Calcium 71mg7%
Iron 1.8mg10%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Salsa Chicken
Author: Jaclyn
This post contains an affiliate link.

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123 Comments

  • Joni

    First time I made it it was amazing and turned out perfectly. Unfortunately I just got the burn notice with my second batch 😩 I actually add more than the cup too of salsa. Little bummed and not sure why it happened.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Sorry that happened. Did you use a different brand of salsa, maybe it wasn’t as runny with enough liquid. Next time you could try adding a little chicken broth, maybe 1/3 cup and that should help.

  • Beth

    Really easy recipe.
    I have a large family, so I doubled it. My weight for chicken was 4 1/2 pounds of chicken, then doubled the rest of ingredients per recipe. I cooked it for 25 minutes in my IP on high.
    Tasted great and the family gave 2 thumbs up. minutes

    Thanks for the new recipe for my kitchen.

  • Christine G.

    Super easy and fast flavorful chicken tacos. Taste like the chicken cooked all day. I make these 3-4 times per month!

  • Norah

    This is one of our easiest, fastest, and tastiest regular dinners. We eat gluten and dairy free. We use the meat over rice for burrito bowls, in tacos, and on chips for nachos. Can’t recommend enough!

  • mj

    thoughts on making this and then freezing it in ziplock bags so it can just be thawed later for a quick meal? would it turn out? I am making meals for some new moms and this would be an awesome alternative to all the hotdish type meals that they’ll be receiving. Thanks for any advice!

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      I haven’t tested but I’ve seen similar recipes that do that so it should work fine.

    • Christine G.

      I’ve done that multiple times with no problem. Ziploc works the best because you can get the most air out of the package before freezing.

  • JMFS

    I tossed it in for another 2 minutes of pressure cooking on low after shredding the chicken because mine was still a wee rubbery. The extra time fixed it right up.

  • James MacBakerson

    This recipe was delicious. I made burritos, substituting coleslaw for lettuce, adding sriracha, smoked Monterey Jack and some homemade refried beans. Soooo good! A definite keeper.
    P.S. I added 1/2 a cup of water, as I was afraid of not enough liquid to build sufficient pressure. Poured off a little before mixing back with meat.