Slow Cooked Smoky Chipotle Brown Sugar Chicken

Smoky Chipotle Brown Sugar Chicken

When I slipped into my hostess dress* and threw a Mexican fiesta meets late ‘80s slumber party recently, this smoky chipotle brown sugar pulled chicken stole the show. I glanced around my dinner table and smiled, my friends licking sticky fingers.  

*obviously pajamas

Mmms and aaaahhhs and sighs and smiles and serious stains were setting in.

This chicken had simmered all day in my slow cooker, caramelizing as golden as the brown sugar and as fiery as the chipotle peppers.

Smoky Chipotle Brown Sugar Chicken

It’s smoky with hickory flavor, bright and aromatic from fresh cilantro, and thickened with fire roasted tomatoes.

Smoky Chipotle Brown Sugar Chicken

The secret really is in the sauce. I blended a handful of wild flavors, poured it over chicken breasts, and let them cook away all day long.

That night during our party, we had a taco bar with that chicken, with warm corn tortillas and toppings like  guacamole, crumbled queso fresco, shredded iceberg lettuce, caramelized red onion, and homemade salsa.

Sloppy bliss, friends.

The next morning we found ourselves in my kitchen, scooping cold chipotle chicken up into our mouths with salty tortilla chips as spoons.

No fork, no knife, no napkin. A sink full of dirty dishes. Three cases of bed head.

Six bags under our eyes altogether.

A half eaten pie that we rationalized was a balanced breakfast of toast (pie crust), eggs (custard), and fruit.

The whole day was beginning as happily as it had ended the night before in my living room.

Later that night when my girls were gone, I had just enough shredded chipotle chicken left over to make a sandwich with broiled sharp cheddar on top :)

Slow Cooker Smoky Chipotle Brown Sugar Chicken


  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 15 oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles recommended: Red Gold Original Tex-Mex Petite Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce finely chopped (from a can)
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke


  • Place chicken in the base of your slow cooker.
  • Puree all remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor until well combined and smooth.
  • Pour over chicken breasts and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Shred using two forks.


43 thoughts on “Slow Cooked Smoky Chipotle Brown Sugar Chicken

  1. Raquel

    I´ve never tried chipotle salsa! can you believe it? me either! O_O I´ll try to find it! In Spain, paradoxically, we don´t find so many mexican products :_(

  2. Nancy

    I am new to this blog. I am a weight watcher. Do you ever convert to points. This chicken dish looks amazing.

  3. The Chocolate Covered Kitchen

    Fantastically delicious. But with the chipotles: whenver I use them, I always end up with a molding can in the back of the fridge so I finally wised up. Now I puree them (with emersion blender, but upright or food processor would work) and freeze in ice cube trays. Unmold, put in freezer bag, label (you will forget and wonder what in the world they are) and freeze. Use often, in meats, sauces, chocolate truffles!

  4. Tara @ the pleased plate

    Those flavors together must taste divine!

    I love slumber parties! My best friend and I live 200 miles from each other, so each time we get together, we have a little slumber party with delicious food too!

  5. Caitlin

    You sound just like my group of girls. We often say our friendship revolves around food. You painted a beautiful picture here that had me wishing for more to read (and eat, obvs)

    How do you ALWAYS do that?

    Let’s have a sleepover soon….this chicken is definitely invited.


  6. Lisa

    The chicken looks fabulous! Thanks for sharing it with us. I love looking at your pictures.

    May I ask? Where was Daniel for the slumber party?

  7. HootieMcBoob

    No kidding, something told me last week to grab a can of chipotle peppers just in case. I have all ingredients on hand for a festive weekend. Viva los nom noms!!!!

  8. Lu @ Clean Slate to Who Knows

    That chicken looks amazing. I would absolutely eat it daily. Hearing about your slumber party reminded me of my youth. How one morning, back in the 80’s (geesh, I’m oldish) we woke to have Russell Stover chocolates for breakfast. Ahhhhh, those were the days.

  9. Amber W

    Love this idea! It’ll be going onto the grocery list the few ingredients I don’t have for when payday comes and I will have delicious chicken.

    Also: Love the idea of immersion blender re: chipotle peppers and freezing them. I’ll have to do that.

  10. Brooke @ Waiting to Rise

    Yum! What a recipe! I can’t wait to recreate this here at my house and to taste all the flavors of this chicken. I’m already daydreaming of the leftovers on a wrap, chips, pita…it goes on and on! Once again, great work! Take care!

  11. justine @ you're so martha

    this looks amazing. i am hosting a book club meeting this week and i was looking for something to make that i don’t have to be in the kitchen making, and it looks like i’ll be making this! how many would you say this served/how many tacos did this make? 2 pounds sounds like a good amount of chicken, but i need to make sure i have enough!

  12. Vickie C

    Made this recipe today for the parents at my son’s birthday party to have a dish special for them. It was a big hit – and hours later the birthday boy decided he wanted to try some and loved it. Definitely the perfect party dish!

  13. Grace


    Once again, another super scrumptious recipe. I gotta say, I also 100 percent fall into the I LOVE MUIR GLEN TOMATOES camp. Makes everything good. Both my chili recipe and huevos rancheros recipe depend on them.

  14. Amber W

    This is in my slow cooker now and the smells are oh so so fantastic. I can’t wait. I kinda feel like a little kid at Christmas waiting for the first peak at the presents..

  15. Kelly R

    Oh. My. Chicken.

    I made this yesterday to pack for lunches this week. My favorite thing is that when you chill it overnight, somehow the brown sugar and smoky flavors intensify, so that the little taste I stole as I was loading it from the crockpot to the Tupperware was NOTHING compared to my first bite of sweet and smoky chicken this afternoon. Paired with sliced avocado, queso fresco, tomatillo salsa and a squeeze of fresh lime juice was, in a word, heaven.

    Thanks for this amazing recipe!

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  17. Beverly {Flamingo Toes}

    I wanted to let you know that I made this and the enchiladas last week and we LOVED them both. I didn’t have time to make the salsa but I’ll try it next time. Thanks for the fab recipes – we have two new favorites now!

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  20. Linda K

    Made this yesterday for a friend who came over for dinner. It was a big hit for both of us – so flavourful and absolutely delicious! Great recipe :)

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