crock pot ranchero chicken on a tostada with cheese

Honestly, a lot of crock pot chicken recipes worry me. I’ve made a couple where the chicken has turned out so try it’s like eating dust. Has that ever happened to you? Crock Pot Ranchero Chicken is anti-crock pot chicken dust. Juicy, tender, full of flavor, and healthy, too!

Boneless skinless chicken breasts are slow cooked in homemade Ranchero Sauce then shredded and stuffed into everything from tacos and enchiladas, or piled high onto nachos and tostadas, like I’m showing here today. This is an awesome low-fat crock pot recipe!

crock pot ranchero chicken on a tortilla chip with guacamole

What is Ranchero Sauce?

So Ranchero Sauce – let’s talk about it. Think thick, simmered salsa made with sauteed onions, bell peppers, jalapenos, and spices simmered with chicken broth and tomato sauce until thick and concentrated in flavor.

Have you heard of Huevos Rancheros? This is the sauce that’s used in that dish. I actually spooned some leftover Ranchero sauce over a couple eggs and bacon I had for breakfast a few days ago and it nearly rocked my face clear off.

While there’s jalapenos, cayenne pepper, and red chili pepper flakes in Crock Pot Ranchero Chicken, I didn’t find it to be too spicy and Lincoln even inhaled a decent portion the night I made it for dinner without a problem.

fork taking a bite out of a crock pot ranchero chicken tostada

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How to Make this Recipe

Start the Ranchero Sauce by adding shallot or onion, green bell pepper, and a jalapeno that’s been seeded and minced to extra virgin olive in a large skillet over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper then saute until the vegetables are tender, 5 minutes.

Add minced garlic, cumin, and cayenne pepper then saute for 1 more minute.

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Next add chicken broth and crushed tomatoes then bring the liquid to a boil. Turn the heat down just slightly then simmer until the mixture has reduced by half (about 3 cups,) which will take around 20 minutes.

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A splatter screen is really handy especially towards the end when the Ranchero Sauce gets very thick.

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Finally, stir in chopped fresh cilantro. Now, you can use the Ranchero Sauce right away, or stash in the fridge for up to 3 days.

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When you’re ready to make the Crock Pot Ranchero Chicken, to a 5-6 quart crock pot add chicken breasts, chicken broth, lime juice, salt and pepper, a couple good shakes of red chili pepper flakes, and a partridge in a pear tree. Just wanted to see if you were still reading. :) Add 2 cups Ranchero Sauce then place a lid on top and cook on low for 4 – 5 hours or until the chicken shreds very easily.

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Shred the chicken then slide back into the cooking liquid and cook for 1 more hour on low. It should shred with just the tap of a fork!

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Strain the chicken out of the cooking liquid then mix with the remaining Ranchero Sauce and use in everything from tacos and enchiladas, to nachos and tostadas. Got leftovers? Scoop into a freezer bag then freeze flat!

crock pot ranchero chicken tostada on a plate

Crock Pot Ranchero Chicken

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5/5 (2 REVIEWS)

Description

Crock Pot Ranchero Chicken is slow cooked chicken in a zesty Ranchero Sauce. Use for tacos, enchiladas, nachos, or tostadas!

Ingredients

serves 4-6

  • 2lbs chicken breasts
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper + shake red pepper flakes
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • For the Ranchero Sauce
    • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 large shallot or 1/2 onion, chopped
    • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
    • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 teaspoons cumin
    • 1/4 teaspoon (or more) cayenne pepper
    • 4 cups chicken broth
    • 15oz can crushed tomatoes
    • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

  1. For the Ranchero Sauce: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot, bell pepper, and jalapeno pepper, season with salt and pepper, then saute until vegetables are tender, 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and cayenne pepper then saute for 1 more minute. Add chicken broth and crushed tomatoes then turn heat to high to bring liquid to a boil. Reduce heat slightly then boil, stirring often, until sauce reduces by half (3 cups,) about 20 minutes. (A splatter screen is very helpful, especially near the end.) Taste then add salt and pepper if necessary, and then stir in fresh cilantro.
  2. To a large, 5-6 quart crock pot, add the chicken broth, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, lime juice, chicken breasts and 2 cups Rancher Sauce. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours then shred chicken and place back in the juices to cook on low for 1 more hour. Scoop chicken into a storage container then mix with remaining Ranchero Sauce. Use chicken as filling for tacos, enchiladas, nachos, or tostadas.

Notes

  • Ranchero Sauce can be made up to three days ahead of time.
  • A splatter screen is helpful to make sure sauce doesn't splatter on the stove. If you don't have a splatter screen, place a lid partially on top of the skillet.
  • The USDA recommends thawing meat before cooking it in the crock pot.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.

I used the chicken to create super simple tostadas. Spray corn tortillas with nonstick spray then drizzle with fresh lime juice and a sprinkling of salt, and then bake at 350 degrees for 4-5 minutes. Top with Ranchero Chicken and shredded Monterrey Jack cheese then either broil or microwave until melted. Top with a thwack of Lazy Girl’s Guacamole (fresh avocado mashed with garlic salt and lime juice y’all) then dig in! Enjoy!

photo collage of crock pot ranchero chicken