Salsa Verde Chicken {Slow Cooker or Instant Pot}

January 6, 2020

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Salsa Verde Chicken! It’s delicious in tacos, burritos, tostadas, soup and more. It’s perfectly bright and deliciously seasoned and flavorful. Keep reading to see just how easy it is to make, the slow cooker or Instant Pot does most of work!

Love those salsa verde flavors? Then be sure to try this Salsa Verde recipe, it’s made with roasted tomatillos and peppers and it’s one of the best chip dips!

Row of salsa verde chicken in tacos.

Salsa Verde Chicken – Perfect for Tacos!

My go-to choice for serving this chicken is in tacos. Probably because tacos are one of my favorite foods but I love how it keeps that simplicity of the recipe going.

Just toss everything in the slow cooker then a few hours later shred the chicken and add to heated tortillas along with all of your favorite toppings. Easy breezy (and always cheesy)!

I’ve tested this chicken with many different brands of salsa over the years (and actually have even done a side by side taste test) and I’d have to say Pace salsa verde works the best here (not sponsored just personal choice here). Maybe that’s because it’s not so sour and it’s not so salty (some brands I can’t choke down, they taste like salt mixed with vinegar with hints of tomatillo flavor in the background). This version is actually mostly yellow tomato based with some tomatillos as well and I like that balance here.

Tip: I found it at Kroger and it’s available at some Targets as well let me know if you spot is somewhere else. And of course you can purchase it online as well.

Cheers to easy weeknight recipes! Couldn’t we all use more crock pot recipes in our busy lives lately?

Overhead image of salsa verde chicken in a black crockpot.

Ingredients for Salsa Verde Chicken

  • Boneless skinless chicken breast – boneless skinless chicken thighs would work here as well.
  • Salt and pepper – add to taste, remember the salsa already has salt added so add sparingly.
  • Ground cumin – in addition to this you can also add a little ground coriander or oregano for extra flavor.
  • Garlic – use fresh instead of powder for better flavor.
  • Canned mild diced green chilies – if you want it spicy you can go for the hot kind.
  • Anaheim pepper – yellow or green bell pepper could be substituted if preferred. Anaheim chilies aren’t very spicy though.
  • Bottled salsa verde – use one with yellow tomatoes and tomatillos for best flavor.
  • Fresh cilantro – this adds a lot of fresh flavor the to chicken I don’t recommend skipping it.

To Make Tacos You’ll also Need

  • Corn tortillas – if you like flour tortillas those will work great too.
  • Oil (optional, to heat tortillas if desired) – I don’t like dry to tortillas so I usually like to heat them with a little oil (especially for the corn ones), it also helps promote a little browning.
  • Monterey Jack cheese – a Mexican blend cheese will work well here too.
  • Avocado – of course guacamole can be used here instead, ditch the lime wedges if doing so.
  • Sour cream (optional) – Mexican crema is another great option.
  • Chopped red onion (optional) – add some if you like that extra bite.
  • Lime wedges (optional) – if desired use for another extra boost of bright flavor.

Ingredients needed to make Salsa Verde Chicken and tacos shown here.

How to Make Salsa Verde Chicken in a Slow Cooker

  1. Lay chicken into slow cooker (4 – 7 quart). Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper (you can add more later), and cumin, and garlic.
  2. Pour in salsa verde and sprinkle in canned green chilis and Anaheim chilis. Cover and cook on low heat 4 – 5 hours or high heat 2 1/2 – 3 hours or until chicken is tender and cooked through.
  3. Remove chicken from slow cooker (leave salsa mixture). Let rest on cutting board 5 minutes then shred. Return to slow cooker (I ladled out 1 cup of the salsa mixture but that’s optional), toss and let rest on warm heat 10 minutes or up to 30 minutes if time allows.

How to Make Salsa Verde Chicken in the Instant Pot

  1. Add 1/2 cup salsa to Instant Pot, add chicken and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper (you can add more later), cumin, and garlic. Then pour in remaining salsa, canned green chilis and Anaheim chilies over chicken to cover.
  2. Close lid, turn vent to “sealing” and set Instant Pot to “poultry” or “manual” setting then set to 13 minutes.
  3. Once cycle is complete use quick release method according to manufactures instructions.
  4. Remove chicken and let cool several minutes on cutting board then shred into pieces and return to juices in instant pot, let rest on warm setting 5 – 10 minutes if time allows.
  5. Sprinkle in cilantro, and toss chicken to coat.

Image of steps showing how to make salsa verde chicken in a slow cooker.

How to Make into Tacos

  1. Heat tortillas in a skillet in a little olive oil (or brush tortillas with oil then heat) over medium-high heat until golden brown spots appear then flip and cook opposite side. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  2. Lift chicken pieces with tongs and allow excess liquid to run off, then place in tortillas with desired toppings.
  3. Using tongs remove chicken from excess liquid in slow cooker and add in a row to center of tortillas. Add avocado, cheese and add sour cream and red onions if desired. Serve immediately after assembling with lime wedges for spritzing if desired.

Possible Variations

  • This uses medium salsa so it’s slightly spicy (but wasn’t too much for my kids), if you’d like it extra spicy add in a few seeded chopped jalapeños.
  • Stir in some softened cream cheese (I’d start with 4 oz) into the salsa verde mixture at the end before you return the chicken to the pot for creamy salsa verde chicken tacos, yum! Skip the lime because I don’t think you’ll need it.
  • Go the extra lazy route and serve in crispy corn shells instead (not heating required). Just be sure to drain well.

Shredded salsa verde chicken garnished with cilantro.

Can I Make it on the Stovetop?

Though I haven’t tested cooking this on the stovetop it should be fine to do that as well if you don’t own a Crockpot or Instant Pot, it just won’t be quite as tender. I would simmer in the sauce over low heat until cooked through, then shred and let rest off heat (covered) for a few minutes to absorb those flavors.

How to Store and Reheat

Store salsa verde chicken mixture in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave on 50% power until heated through or on the stovetop in the juices over low heat until warmed through, stirring occasionally.

Three salsa verde chicken tacos on serving plate.

More Easy Mexican Favorites to Try

Row of salsa verde chicken tacos.
5 from 1 vote

Salsa Verde Chicken {Perfect for Tacos}

This tasty, tender chicken is delicious in tacos, burritos, tostadas, soup and more. It's perfectly bright and deliciously seasoned and flavorful. So easy and perfect for busy days!
Servings: 6
Prep15 minutes
Cook5 hours
Ready in: 5 hours 15 minutes

Ingredients

For Chicken

  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 8 oz each)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (1 tsp)
  • 1 (4 oz) can mild green chilis, drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped seeded anaheim pepper
  • 1 (16 oz) jar salsa verde, highly recommend Pace brand salsa here*
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

For Tacos

  • 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • Olive oil or vegetable oil for cooking tortillas, optional
  • 2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese
  • 1 large avocado, sliced
  • Sour cream, chopped red onion, and lime wedges (optional)

Instructions

Slow Cooker Method

  • Lay chicken into slow cooker (4 - 7 quart). Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper (you can add more later), cumin, and garlic.
  • Pour in salsa verde and sprinkle in canned green chilis and Anaheim chilis. Cover and cook on low heat 4 - 5 hours or high heat 2 1/2 - 3 hours or until chicken is tender and cooked through.
  • Remove chicken from slow cooker (leave salsa mixture). Let rest on cutting board 5 minutes then shred.
  • Return to slow cooker (I ladled out 1 cup of the salsa mixture first but that's optional), toss and let rest on warm heat 10 minutes or up to 30 minutes if time allows. Toss in cilantro.

Instant Pot Method

  • Add 1/2 cup salsa to Instant Pot, add chicken and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper (you can add more later), and cumin, and garlic. Then pour in remaining salsa, canned green chilis and Anaheim chilies over chicken to cover.
  • Close lid, turn vent to "sealing" and set Instant Pot to "poultry" or "manual" setting then set to 13 minutes.
  • Once cycle is complete use quick release method according to manufactures instructions.
  • Remove chicken and let cool several minutes on cutting board then shred into pieces and (optionally ladle out 1 cup juice from the pot) return chicken to juices in instant pot, let rest on warm setting 10 minutes if time allows.
  • Sprinkle in cilantro, and toss chicken to coat.

How to Make into Tacos

  • Heat tortillas a skillet (as many as can fit in a single layer) in a little olive oil (or brush tortillas with oil then heat) over medium-high heat until golden brown spots appear then flip and cook opposite side. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  • Lift chicken pieces with tongs from slow cooker or Instant Pot and allow excess liquid to run off, then place in tortillas in a row in the center then top with toppings (lettuce, cheese, avocado etc).
  • Serve immediately after assembling with lime wedges for spritzing if desired.

Notes

  • *I tested four different bottled salsa verde's side by side and Pace salsa won easily. It has a well balanced flavor, not too salty, not too tart and tangy and not too spicy. It is yellow tomato based + tomatillos whereas others are just tomatillo.
  • Nutrition estimate based on 2 tacos per person, does not include optional ingredients.
Possible Variations:
  • Use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts if that's what you prefer.
  • This uses medium salsa so it's slightly spicy (but wasn't too much for my kids), if you'd like it extra spicy add in a few seeded chopped jalapeños.
  • Try it with Mexican blend cheese instead of Monterey Jack.
  • Stir in some softened cream cheese (I'd start with 4 oz) into the salsa verde at the end before you return the chicken to the pot for creamy salsa verde chicken tacos, yum! Skip the lime because I don't think you'll need it.
  • Go the extra lazy route and serve in crispy corn taco shells instead (no heating required). Just be sure to drain chicken well.
Nutrition Facts
Salsa Verde Chicken {Perfect for Tacos}
Amount Per Serving
Calories 473 Calories from Fat 171
% Daily Value*
Fat 19g29%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Cholesterol 118mg39%
Sodium 951mg41%
Potassium 1030mg29%
Carbohydrates 33g11%
Fiber 7g29%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 42g84%
Vitamin A 2121IU42%
Vitamin C 12mg15%
Calcium 237mg24%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.