Slow Cooker Chicken Carnitas

Now tacos for dinner are even easier. Make chicken carnitas in the slow cooker and spend only minutes assembling dinner.

Now tacos for dinner are even easier. Make chicken carnitas in the slow cooker and spend only minutes assembling dinner.

These Slow Cooker Chicken Carnitas are guaranteed to be your family’s next go-to meal for future taco nights. Each bite will leave you craving more. Even though traditional carnitas are made with pork, the low and slow method of making carnitas in the slow cooker (we really like this slow cooker) makes the chicken just as flavorful.

The citrus juice paired with savory spices give the broth a great base. Once the chicken is done cooking, save the broth to drizzle over the tacos, infusing even more flavor into the chicken.

You can totally make up some basic shredded chicken in the slow cooker to put into pasta dishes and on salads, all kinds of things. It’s such a great ingredient to have on hand. However, when I want Mexican, I want some shredded chicken with crunch. I want chicken carnitas!

The key to adding a satisfying crunch to slow cooker chicken carnitas is using the broiler for the final step. Set an oven rack to just below the broiler. I adjusted it to about 6 inches away and turned the broiler on just before I transferred the chicken from the slow cooker to a cookie sheet (I use a 17×11 inch cookie sheet, like this one), which gave the broiler enough time to warm up.

To get an even crunch to the chicken, you’ll have to stir the chicken occasionally and put it back in the oven. Drizzle a little of the broth over it each time to avoid drying it out too much. No one likes dry chicken. Pick off any burnt pieces and continue until you get your desired crunch. I found that it was a longer first cycle and two more shorter cycles that led to perfection. Finish with a little more broth and you’re ready to go!

Slow Cooker Chicken Carnitas

Yield: 6 servings

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 4-6 hours

Total Time: 4-6 hours 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 lbs. chicken breast  
  • 1/2 onion, diced  
  • 1 cup chicken broth  
  • 2 limes, juiced  
  • 1/4 cup orange juice 
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin 
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder 
  • 1 tsp. oregano 
  • 2 bay leaves   
  • 1 tsp. salt 
  • 1 tsp. pepper

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-7 hours.
  2. With 30 minutes left, remove the chicken and shred with forks. Remove the bay leaves. Place chicken back in the slow cooker for the remaining 30 minutes. 
  3. Move an oven rack to 6 inches below the broiler. Set broiler to high. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken and place it on a cookie sheet.  
  4. Place chicken under broiler for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, spoon 1/4 cup of broth from slow cooker onto chicken and toss. Place back into oven for 2 minutes. Spoon 2 tablespoons of broth onto the chicken and toss. Place back into oven for 2 minutes. Spoon 2 tablespoons of broth onto the chicken and toss. Repeat until chicken has a nice crunch in places.

Sam Ellis

Sam blogs at The Culinary Compass where she loves to try new recipes and ingredients from around the world. She thinks trying new dishes and spices is the easiest way to travel! She loves coffee so much that she often goes to bed excited for a fresh cup in the morning.