Creamy Taco Ranch Slow Cooker Chicken
October 9, 2020 by Nicole Collins
I have a real question today.
Why does slow cooker season happen during the fall and winter?
As soon as the temps start to drop, everyone dusts off the slow cooker; and it becomes the appliance of the season.
But why? Why wouldn't summer be slow cooker season? Wouldn't it make more sense to cook in an appliance that doesn't radiate any heat during the months where we can't stand to turn on the oven?
I don't know why after all these years that this question has started to bother me, but I really don't understand.
Is it because the slow cooker typically cooks “comfort food”? Is it because we can cook on the grill during the summer? I really want to know why we don't even give the slow cooker a second thought unless the temps are cool outside. I mean, I'm guilty of it, as well.
Inquiring minds want to know!
Well whatever the reason is, I'm glad that it's officially slow cooker season. Because, today's slow cooker meal is so simple and delicious, you'll want to make it all year long.
Today, we're making Creamy Taco Ranch Slow Cooker Chicken!
This chicken is so simple, uses just a handful of ingredients thanks to a little help from the grocery store, and it's so versatile. Plus, it makes a lot, so it can feed a crowd!
We start by giving our slow cooker bowl a spritz of cooking spray. Then, we add 2 pounds of chicken breasts to the bowl. Now, sometimes I feel like slow cooker chicken meals don't do a great job of flavoring the chicken on the inside and out. So, I like to poke the chicken all over with a sharp knife so that the seasonings can seep into the center of the chicken while it cooks.
To the chicken, we're going to add a couple store bought ingredients. 1 pack of taco seasoning, 1 pack of ranch dip mix, and 1 can of diced tomatoes with chilies all get poured over the chicken. Turn the slow cooker to low, and walk away for 5-6 hours.
Once the chicken is finished cooking, we're going to use two forks to shred the chicken right in the bowl of the slow cooker. Now, the liquid in the bowl is going to look really thin. And, that's exactly how it should look. We could stop the recipe right here if we really wanted to. The chicken has all of the flavor that it needs. But, why would we?
To make this chicken nice and creamy, we're going to add a block of softened cream cheese right into the chicken. Put the lid back on, and continue to cook on low for just 30 minutes more. We don't want to add the cream cheese until the very end, because we don't want it to separate and get weird. Creamy stuff doesn't do great for long periods of time in the slow cooker. After the cream cheese becomes nice and melty, we're going to stir, stir, stir until the cream cheese is completely mixed into the chicken and it's liquid. The end result is a perfectly creamy, saucy chicken.
When it's time to serve, we have soooooo many options for how to eat this chicken. If you have some self control and don't just hover over the slow cooker to eat the chicken straight from the pot; you could do sooo much with this chicken. It's great in tacos. It's delicious in a rice bowl. It's amazing over a baked potato with a little melty cheese on top. And, of course, you can't go wrong using this chicken as your protein for nachos.
This chicken is bursting with flavor. The taco and ranch mixes come together to mellow out the heat from the chilies in the taco powder and the tomatoes. And, the creamy component makes this chicken so warm and comforting while still being pretty healthy. It's not spicy at all, so it's you don't have to worry about this being too much for the kiddos.
And, bonus! This chicken freezes really well. Let it cool, put it in a freezer safe container, and pull it out the night before to thaw when you're ready to have it again. Talk about an economic meal! 8 servings for less than $15 total. I. AM. IN!
I can't wait to hear what other ways you guys come up with to use this chicken. Inspire me!
Enjoy, and let's eat!
Creamy Taco Ranch Slow Cooker Chicken
Serves: 6-8 Print
2 lbs chicken breasts, thawed if frozen
1 pack (1 oz) taco seasoning
1 pack (1 oz) ranch dip and dressing mix
1 can (10 oz) diced tomatoes with green chilies (like Rotel)
½ cup water
8 oz cream cheese, softened
Spray the bowl of a 5qt or 6qt slow cooker with cooking spray. Add chicken breasts to the slow cooker. Using a sharp knife, poke the chicken breasts a few times to help the flavors seep into the chicken while cooking. Sprinkle taco seasoning and ranch seasoning over the chicken. Pour diced tomatoes and water over the chicken. Close the lid, and cook on low for 5-6 hours.
While the chicken is still in the slow cooker liquid, use two forks to shred the meat. Break up the cream cheese into a few hunks, and top the chicken with the cream cheese. Place the lid back on, and cook on low for 30 minutes.
While the chicken is still in the slow cooker, turn off the heat, and stir well to incorporated the melted cream cheese into the chicken. It will look wet and like it's not mixing well at first, but keep stirring until the sauce is smooth and creamy. The sauce will thicken up as it cools. Serve!
*If you're pressed for time, you can cook this on high for 2.5-3 hours. Make sure to reduce the temp to low when you add the cream cheese for the final 30 mins.
*Cream cheese can be difficult to cut, and we need it to be softened a little bit before we add it to the chicken. I think it's easiest to get your hands dirty and use your fingers to break up and dab the cream cheese over the chicken. You could use a spoon to drop little blobs over the chicken too.
*You can use either full fat or low/fat free cream cheese. The lower fat cream cheese will take less time to soften, since it's already on the softer side.
*This chicken is super versatile and has lots of possibilities! It's delish on its own, but it's also great in tacos, nachos, rice bowls, on a baked potato, or on pasta. So basically, on everything!