Southwestern Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken

Southwestern Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken Recipe! This easy, unbelievably tender crockpot chicken recipe is sweet, smoky, and just a little spicy - flavored with cumin, chili powder, and coriander! Skip plain old bbq pulled pork or chicken and make this with chicken thighs! Great for a crowd!photo by Aran Goyoaga

This saucy, sassy Southwestern Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken recipe is straight from the pages of my COOKBOOK, Eating in the Middle, and I could not be happier to share it with you! The pulled chicken is just one part of a sandwich in the book, complete with slices of creamy avocado and a pile of cool, crisp cilantro lime slaw, but it’s hands-down the star of the show.

Now, I love pulled pork as much as a person can love pulled pork (I went to a pork festival not too long ago, OK?), but when I set about deciding which recipes I wanted to include in my cookbook, I loved my pulled chicken MORE than any pulled pork I could imagine. That’s telling you something. This recipe is flavor-packed, stays tender, and as a bonus, it’s lighter and lower in calories than any versions made with pork or beef. You’ll love it!

Southwestern Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken

Using chicken thighs is the key for tender meat – well, that, and cooking the meat low and slow until it falls apart at the very hint of a touch. My recipe is sweet, a little tangy, rich with tomatoes, and has a bit of a bit of a kick to it, thanks to one chipotle pepper in adobo. It gets its Southwestern flair from cumin, chili powder, and coriander. The secret to great smoky flavor? A splash of liquid hickory smoke. One teaspoon is all you need to give the chicken that deep, toasted warmth. It’s worth every penny to buy a bottle!

Aran Goyoaga photographs Eating in the Middle: A Mostly Wholesome Cookbook by Andie MitchellAran Goyoaga getting the perfect shot // photo by Jenn Elliott Blake

Friends, I hope you love this recipe as much as I do–and the whole cookbook, too! I have a feeling you will–it’s packed with lightened up comfort food with a few richer celebration meals and desserts, too (you know I had to make my mother proud). There are stick-to-your-ribs stews and chilis and soups, there are veggie sides and big salads, vegetarian meals, gluten free meals, about a million recipes under 500 calories…And every recipe has nutrition information. This whole book–from the writing (it’s me, so there are 5 essays!) to the recipes–is a real representation of how I think about food and the way I eat. Plus, it’s just gorgeous, and I know I’m saying that about my own cookbook, but Aran Goyoaga (my incredible photographer) and Jenn Elliott Blake (my stylist) are two of the most talented people I’ve ever met, and their passion and hard work show on every beautiful page.

Eating in the Middle Cookbook Shoot

It would mean the world to me if you’d preorder it! If you do, check back NEXT MONDAY for an exciting way to cook through the book with me starting in March!!

Where to preorder Eating in the Middle:

Barnes & Noble

Southwestern Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken

My recipe is sweet, a little tangy, rich with tomatoes, and has a bit of a bit of a kick to it, thanks to one chipotle pepper in adobo. It gets its Southwestern flair from cumin, chili powder, and coriander
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time8 hrs
Total Time8 hrs 5 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pulled chicken recipe, slow cooker southwestern pulled chicken, southwestern chicken
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 225kcal


  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 large onion chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 15- ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon liquid hickory smoke
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce from a can, chopped


  • Put the chicken in a 6-quart slow cooker. Scatter the onion over the chicken.
  • In a small bowl, combine the tomato sauce, vinegar, liquid smoke, garlic, brown sugar, coriander, cumin, chili powder, and chipotle pepper, and stir well. Pour the mixture over the chicken.
  • Cook on low until the chicken thighs are pierced easily with a fork, about 8 hours. Using 2 forks, shred the chicken.


Calories: 225kcal | Carbohydrates: 11.7g | Protein: 32.5g | Fat: 5.5g | Sodium: 634mg | Fiber: 1.6g | Sugar: 6.3g


9 thoughts on “Southwestern Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken

  1. Carol

    This looks wonderful and I’d love to see the slaw recipe as well. I especially appreciate that you don’t use bottled BBQ sauce (high fructose corn syrup) as I’m trying to eat “clean” when possible. Looking forward to your cookbook!

  2. Marni

    Yum! That recipe sounds delicious. I loved your book and I’m sure I’ll love your cookbook. I put myself on the pre-order list. So excited!

  3. Anne F.

    This looks divine! Can’t wait for cookbook release. Pre-ordered for myself and a friend’s birthday, belated. Keep us posted on those wedding plans! Hugs!!!

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