Slow Cooker Cowboy Chicken

I’m going to let you down easy before I start getting hate mail again (yes, someone was SO angry they actually emailed me a few obscenities). This is NOT a recipe from the Cowboy Chicken restaurant, it just what is considered Cowboy Chicken because it uses ingredients commonly used on cattle drives by real cowboys.

overhead of cowboy chicken recipe


 

I had no idea that restaurant even existed and have never visited. It is also not a cowboy chicken casserole, which is also apparently a thing. What it IS, is a delicious and easy family meal with easy cleanup that can be easily customized and is also freezer friendly.

Cowboy Chicken Recipe

My version of cowboy chicken came from one of those days when you took stock of what was in the pantry and fridge and then I threw it all in a crock pot. The ingredients, being mainly canned or shelf stable potatoes, seemed like a likely chuck wagon type of meal, minus the slow cooker, of course.

Beans, corn, tomatoes and potatoes along with zesty taco seasoning make up the base of this super tender base. It is easily customizable meaning you can omit or even double of on nearly any of the ingredients and still end with a winning and tasty rendition of Cowboy Chicken.

angle view of shredded chicken in a crockpot

What’s In Cowboy Chicken?

You will easily find all of the ingredients needed to make this cowboy chicken at your local grocery store.

  • Chicken breasts – I always like to use boneless, skinless chicken breasts. They’re super easy to shred which is perfect for this recipe. Boneless chicken thighs are also a great pick with a little more juiciness.
  • Taco seasoning – You can either make your own taco seasoning, or use two packets from the store.
  • Beans – I used a blend of both black beans and kidney beans. Make sure they are rinsed and drained. You can surely use all of one or the other, or another type of bean altogether.
  • Whole kernel corn – Just to simplify this recipe, I used canned corn. You can use fresh or frozen corn if you’d like. Frozen corn can stay frozen, it will thaw in the crock pot.
  • Plain tomato sauce – We aren’t using marinara sauce here, just plain tomato sauce without any seasonings out of the can.
  • Diced tomatoes – Make sure you do NOT drain these. You’ll want that extra liquid for cooking. Get one of the flavored varieties to add even more interest. The one with diced green chiles is a fan-favorite in my house.
  • Potatoes – You will want these diced into one-inch sections. I find russet potatoes are the easiest to use with the best starch content to not just fall apart. The trick is cutting them to the same size so they all cook uniformly.
  • Hot sauce – This is optional, but I find that it adds a delicious kick to the dish. Use your favorite brand.
  • Cheddar cheese – Cheese is optional, but it’s a great topping, along with sour cream, to bring some coolness to the dish. Freshly shredded will provide the best meltiness. Pepper jack or other varieties of melty cheese are good options too.

How to Make Cowboy Chicken

You are going to love how easy it is to make this one pan meal without even turning on the oven.

  1. Add ingredients to slow cooker. Place the chicken breasts, taco seasoning, beans, corn, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, potatoes and hot sauce into the slow cooker. Stir it to coat chicken and mix up a bit.
  2. Cover and cook. Cover and set on high for three hours (or five hours on low) or until chicken reaches a safe internal temperature.
  3. Shred chicken. Remove the chicken and shred, then return to the pot to coat and keep warm.
  4. Serve and enjoy. Serve with tortillas, as tacos or over rice with favorite toppings.
overhead of chicken soft tacos with avocado slice and cheese

How to Serve It

Is it a stew? A chili perhaps? Maybe you wrap it up like a burrito? Dip it with a tortilla? Pile it onto a bun as a sandwich or top off a hot dog? Serve over rice or even a salad.

It can be all of the above! This recipe is SO versatile, everyone in the family can eat it a different way. Call it whatever you want, it is good stuff!

You can serve it with a fresh green salad or other green vegetables like broccoli or green beans.

Them of course, add your favorite taco toppings. Here are our favorites:

cowboy chicken taco bar set up

Made in the Crock Pot

Next question… but it is shown in a cast iron skillet. Yes, it is, for pictures because let’s face it, slow cooker images just aren’t that pretty. But rest assured, we DID make it in the slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Cowboy Chicken follows my strict “10 minute rule”. We are all busy, which is why crock pots have been the saving grace for busy families over the decades.

But does it really save you any time if you have brown meat and do a lot of chopping, or even check on it throughout the cooking process? No!

overhead of three prepared soft tacos

Chicken in the Slow Cooker

Chicken is ideal for quick crock pot recipes because it takes a while to cook, needs to be cooked all the way through and when cooked slow and low, shreds beautifully. I tend to shy away from cooking chicken breasts because they are so uneven and overcook on one end before the center it done, but the slow cooker is the solution to this problem.

As long as it is in a tenderizing sauce, it is really difficult to hurt it. So even if the slow cooker ends up going an hour past when it is done, chances are, your Cowboy Chicken will be just fine. Any chicken in the crock pot, really.

close up of chicken, corn and beans in a slow cooker

Variations

There are plenty of ways for you to make this Cowboy Chicken recipe your own. Here are a few ideas.

  • Cheese – I like to use cheddar cheese, but you can use nay kind you’d like really. Melty monterey jack, pepper jack cheese or mozzarella would be great.
  • Vegetables – You can always add more veggies to this dish if you’d like. Bell peppers, fresh cloves garlic or green chiles are perfect options.
  • Seasoning – While this dish is packed with flavor, you can certainly add more. Paprika, dry ranch seasoning, oregano, cilantro, black pepper, garlic powder or onion powder are great spices to add.
  • Spice it up – In addition to the hot sauce, you can add some cayenne pepper, a couple teaspoons chili powder, fire-roasted tomatoes or black pepper to take the spice level up a notch.
side angle view of chicken soft tacos

Storage & Freezing

How to Store Cowboy Chicken

This is a make-ahead and freezer friendly meal. Store leftovers covered in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove top.

Can I Freeze Cowboy Chicken?

To freeze, place in an airtight bag or container and freeze for up to 3-6 months. This will depend on how much air it to exposed to as to how fast those pesky ice crystals form.

Thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat on the microwave or stove top or throw the whole frozen brick back into the slow cooker on low for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally.

cowboy chicken taco bar

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close up overhead shot of three slow cooker chicken tacos

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overhead of cowboy chicken recipe

Slow Cooker Cowboy Chicken Recipe

4.23 from 9 votes
Slow Cooker Cowboy Chicken is an easy chicken recipe your whole family will love packed with corn, potatoes, bean and a zesty taco seasoning! Serve over rice or as tacos.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Place the chicken breasts, taco seasoning, beans, corn, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, potatoes and hot sauce into the slow cooker. Stir it to coat chicken and mix up a bit.
  • Cover and set on high for 3 hours or on high (or 5 hours on low) or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
  • Remove the chicken and shred, then return to the pot to coat and keep warm.
  • Serve with tortillas, as tacos or over rice with favorite toppings.
  • If you've tried this recipe, come back to let us know how it was in the comments or ratings section!

Notes

For Instant Pot: Follow the same directions, but set to manual high pressure for 10 minutes, using quick release. 

Nutrition

Calories: 489 kcal, Carbohydrates: 64 g, Protein: 49 g, Fat: 6 g, Saturated Fat: 1 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2 g, Trans Fat: 1 g, Cholesterol: 96 mg, Sodium: 974 mg, Potassium: 1712 mg, Fiber: 16 g, Sugar: 11 g, Vitamin A: 710 IU, Vitamin C: 24 mg, Calcium: 99 mg, Iron: 7 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 489
Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: slow cooker chicken recipe
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
cowboy chicken for pinterest
close up of chicken tacos dressed with sour cream
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

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