I love the burrito bowls at Chipotle – they are pretty allergy-friendly there, and the food is tasty too. However, I can make pretty much the same thing at home, plus make it a little healthier. Mostly because I don’t have access to all that fresh guacamole! Still, when you want something warm and filling at the end of the day, there is nothing better than your slow-cooker.
This recipe is super simple, which is a big plus if you make it before leaving for work, or if you have a very busy day ahead of you. It’s a great twist and a little different from the same old tacos, too! I usually buy one pack of large chicken breasts (2 or 3 to a pack, about 1.5 pounds). My kids don’t eat a ton, so if you have a chicken-loving family, you may want to add more chicken to this. The dish makes about 4 large portions if you use 2 large chicken breasts.
First, I sprayed my slow cooker bowl and added the chicken breasts to the bottom. Then, I sprinkled the chicken breasts with a yummy spice mix made from a combination of spices that you probably already have in your cabinet: onion powder, garlic powder, ground cumin, chili powder, oregano, and black pepper. Feel free to use a gluten-free taco seasoning packet if you have one of those, instead. McCormick makes a gluten-free version of taco seasoning that I have used before and it works well.
After sprinkling the chicken with the seasoning, I layered on top of the chicken: one drained can of diced tomatoes (14 oz – you can use plain diced tomatoes since you are adding a lot of spices, or the fire-roasted diced tomatoes are really good, too); and one can of well-rinsed red kidney beans. If you need to stretch the recipe a bit, I’ve definitely added an extra can of beans, an extra chicken breast, and even poured in some frozen corn, too. After all the ingredients were in, I added one cup of low-sodium chicken broth.
After stirring everything lightly together, I put the lid on and set the slow cooker on low for 6 hours. I have cooked this longer than 6 hours before, and it works out totally fine. Because you are going for the goal of shredded chicken, it’s not a big deal to set the slow cooker for 8 hours on low, since you aren’t trying to keep the chicken breasts together, anyway.
Now, after the six (or eight) hours of cooking time is up, I usually do a few things. First, I take off the lid and use two forks to shred all the chicken inside of the slow cooker bowl. It should fall apart easily. Next, I always mix in some brown rice at the end of the six hours of cooking time, but you can of course serve that separately if you prefer to layer the mixture onto the rice (or not at all). I had some instant brown rice that I cooked quickly on the stove and then mixed into the slow cooker bowl, but I’ve also just added leftover rice or one of those already-cooked microwavable packs of rice. I made enough instant rice for 4 servings (or about 2 cups cooked; again if you are trying to stretch the recipe, you could add more rice).
Once the rice is mixed into the slow cooker, sprinkle a generous amount of shredded cheese on top, replace the lid, and set the slow cooker on low to melt the cheese. Once the cheese is melted, you’re ready to serve!
To serve, if the rice isn’t mixed in already, you can layer it on the plate with the yummy mixture on top, or add the mixture to corn tacos, or simply place it straight onto a plate (which is what I do). Then add all the extra toppings you can think of – shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, more cheese, sour cream, guacamole. It’s delicious, easily adjusted to your own tastes, and super simple since it’s in the slow cooker! My messy plate below has more cheese, salsa verde, and sour cream on top.
Easy Slow Cooker Chicken and Rice Bowls
• 1 ½ pounds of chicken breast
• 2 teaspoons of garlic powder
• 2 teaspoons of onion powder
• 3 teaspoons of chili powder
• 1 teaspoon of cumin
• 1 teaspoon of oregano
• ½ teaspoon of black pepper
• 1 can (15 oz.) of kidney or pinto beans, rinsed
• 1 can (14.5 oz.) of diced tomatoes, drained (can be plain or fire-roasted)
• 1 cup of chicken broth, low sodium
• 4 servings of rice or about 2 cups cooked rice
• Shredded cheese, to taste, for melting
Directions: Spray slow cooker bowl with cooking spray. Add chicken breasts. Combine the garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cumin, oregano and black pepper together (or if you would prefer, use a gluten-free taco seasoning mix instead), and sprinkle onto chicken. Then, add rinsed kidney beans, drained tomatoes, and chicken broth to slow cooker. Stir to combine. Set slow cooker on low for 6 hours (can also be set for 8 hours on low if necessary since you are planning to shred the chicken). Shred chicken at end of 6-8 hours and add cooked brown or white rice (it can be any kind of rice – instant made on the stove, microwavable rice, leftover rice). Next, add a few handfuls of shredded cheese to taste, and cover slow cooker. Set on low for a few minutes, until cheese has melted and rice is warmed through. Serve on plates or in taco shells – with shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, guacamole, sour cream, more cheese, and salsa.