Slow Cooker Chicken in Chile Verde

Slow Cooker Chicken in Chile Verde made with a homemade green tomatillo salsa comes together in less than 10 minutes and couldn't be more delicious. Jump to Recipe

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Tender chicken in a homemade chile verde sauce that's made right in the slow cooker.  This easy to make dish has so much authentic flavor, is easy to make, and is incredibly versatile.

Back before I really started cooking, my roommate and I went through at least one package a week of Trader Joe's Chicken Chile Verde. Not only was it easy and relatively healthy, we could heat it up at work in the microwave in about 4 minutes. For first-year teachers, this was the pressure test for a passable lunch.

Fast forward to the present and here I was again, finding myself craving the Chicken Chile Verde again, but instead of running to Trader Joe's, this time around I knew I could make it my own, and create my own recipe at home.

In my mind, chicken in chile verde should be chunkier than a traditional chicken in salsa verde. I wanted the vegetables to be soft and tender, yet still maintain some of their integrity, and I knew that the dish should definitely be spicy. In fact, when I make this just for myself, I like to use not 1 but 2 unseeded chopped jalapenos or serranos to really pack in the heat.

Crockpot chicken chile verde in a bowl with cilantro, white rice, and a fork.

How to serve Slow Cooker Chicken in Chile Verde

Back when this was a lunch staple in my early working days, I ate it as-is right out of the package. But now that I have more than 4 minutes, I have learned to embrace a few different ways to serve this spicy chicken dish.

  • When you think chicken cooked in any kind of spicy sauce, I think of tacos. Add them to corn or flour tortillas, and top with your favorite taco toppers. I like cilantro, sliced green onions, a little cheese, and hot sauce, of course.
  • You can also eat this dish over rice, any style will do. White, brown, a fragrant variety, or even cauliflower rice will taste just wonderfully.
  • Add a big spoonful over the top of some salad greens and top like you would a taco. No need for dressing — I think you'll find this dish to have enough of its own natural "dressing" when you add it on top.
  • Have a salad on the side and instead add the Chicken in Chile Verde to the top of a baked potato or a baked sweet potato. Again, I like to top with sour cream, some queso fresco a few chives or sliced green onions and dive right in.
  • Serve this shredded chicken on noodles if you like. Low-carb pasta, high-fiber noodles, veggie noodles, whatever you like.
  • Chicken in Chile Verde also makes a great stuffing. You could stuff bell peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, or squash boats with this yummy chicken recipe.

Can you freeze this?

Yes, if you've made a big batch of this slow cooker chicken or have some leftover that you just won't be able to finish before it goes bad, you can certainly pop it in the freezer. I recommend you let it get to room temperature after cooking and then put it in an airtight container before freezing.

When you're ready to eat it again, thaw the chicken in the fridge and reheat on the stove or microwave.

Can I use only boneless skinless chicken breasts?

As you know, I'm a big fan of boneless, skinless chicken thighs because they offer so much more flavor than just chicken breasts alone. But, if you'd rather only use chicken breasts, that's okay too. Use two pounds of breasts instead of one pound each of breasts and thighs.

Can you make Chicken in Chile Verde in the Instant Pot?

Yes, if you want to use your Instant Pot instead of the slow cooker, you can do that too. What I recommend doing is to add all the same ingredients to the Instant Pot as you would the slow cooker.

Also, add to this a cup of chicken broth so that the Instant Pot has some more liquid to pressure cook this spicy chicken dish. Put the lid on and turn the valve to the sealed position. Use the "manual" setting and set the timer for 10 minutes. Let it naturally release for 5 minutes, and then vent the rest of the pressure. Serve as you normally would.

Chicken chile verde in a bowl with tomatillos, chile peppers, onions, garlic, white rice and cilantro.

Recipe Tips and Ideas

  • If you want a less spicy option, leave out the jalapeno pepper and replace one of the poblano peppers with a green bell pepper.
  • If you can't find fresh tomatillos, you have few options. First, you could use green tomatoes. The flavor is slightly different since green tomatoes are simply unripe tomatoes and tomatillos are a different fruit altogether.  You could also look for canned tomatillos, which are sometimes easier to find, usually in the Mexican section of the grocery store or online. For a last resort, use a mild green salsa, which is made with tomatillos. You could use red tomatoes, but then it won't be chile verde.
  • The soy sauce in the recipe adds a slight umami flavor and saltiness. If you prefer to leave it out, just season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • This recipe will work with all chicken thighs, all chicken breasts, and even pork tenderloin or lean pork shoulder. 
  • Although not traditional, you can add a can of white beans or pinto beans if you like.
  • For a more saucy, soup-like, version, add 1-2 cup of chicken broth.  

Looking for more slow cooker Mexican chicken recipes?

The Recipe
Slow cooker chicken chile verde with tomatillo salsa in a bowl with rice and cilantro.

Slow Cooker Chicken in Chile Verde

COOK TIME: 4 Hours
TOTAL TIME: 4 Hours, 10 Min
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  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 3/4 lbs. tomatillos, husked and quartered
  • 2 U poblano peppers, seeded and chopped (use bell peppers for less heat)
  • 1 U jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped (leave seeds in for more heat)
  • 1/2 U onion, sliced
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 U garlic clove, minced (more to taste)
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce (coconut aminos for Whole30®)
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • Salt and pepper

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Place the chicken in the slow cooker and top with the remaining ingredients.


Cook for 4 hours or until chicken shreds easily with a fork.

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Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 3/4 cup chicken and sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 204
Calories from Fat 12
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 4g
Saturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 103mg
Sodium 300mg
Total Carbohydrate 8g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 4g
Protein 32g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

† SmartPoints™ calculated by Slender Kitchen; Not endorsed by Weight Watchers International, Inc.
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About the author Meet Kristen Mccaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tired and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
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