There is a certain Mexican restaurant that’s very popular in our hometown, and maybe in yours. Its also very popular in my house, and maybe in yours. Sweet Pork Barbacoa Salads? Creamy Tomatillo Dressing? Chile Roasted Beef Burritos? Ring a bell? Maybe you know what I’m talking about…
This recipe started out as a copycat Café Rio Chicken recipe, but in my kitchen it’s become so much more. This Crock-Pot cilantro lime shredded chicken is a staple in my house. I usually prepare a large batch and divide it into smaller portions to store in the freezer. I use it for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, rice bowls, salads and more.
In its most basic form, this recipe is something you’ve probably seen before: chicken breasts, salad dressing, and salsa cooked in a Crock-Pot then shredded. It’s so simple you don’t even really need a recipe. What sets this one apart is using a homemade marinade instead of pre-mixed store bought salad dressing. It takes only a few extra minutes, and it makes such a difference! One thing you won’t find in this recipe that you will find in most copycat Café Rio Chicken recipes is ranch dressing mix. I personally don’t really care for ranch dressing, and the marinade is so flavorful I don’t think it’s really necessary.
One of the things I love most about this Crock-Pot cilantro lime shredded chicken recipe is that it’s so easy to make a BIG batch of chicken. It’s way too much for my family to eat in one sitting, so I always reserve at least half in the freezer. Then when the clock strikes 5 on yet another night that I’ve forgotten to plan something for dinner, I can just grab a bag of chicken out of the freezer and I’m ready to make simple tacos, enchiladas, burritos, nachos, salads, and Mexican haystacks.
Crock-Pot Cilantro Lime Shredded Chicken
- About 3 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts (can be frozen)
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 4 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup salsa
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 ½ tablespoons minced garlic
- 1/3 cup fresh chopped cilantro
- 1 lime juiced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Place chicken breasts in a slow cooker.
- In a bowl combine water, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salsa, and Italian seasoning. Pour marinade over chicken. Sprinkle chicken breasts with chili powder and then with garlic.
- Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.
- When cooking in complete, gently move the chicken breasts from the slow cooker to a large bowl. Pour the liquid from the slow cooker in a separate bowl and set aside.
- Shred the cooked chicken with two forks. Pour enough of the reserved cooking liquid over the chicken so the chicken is moist and flavorful but not soggy.
- Add the chopped cilantro and lime juice and continue to shred until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired.
- To freeze chicken, let it cool to room temperature then distribute meal sized portions of chicken into Ziploc bags and freeze for future use.