Sweet and Spicy Slow Cooker Chicken

Originally posted here, this meal definitely needed an updated picture. And since I manage to include this meal at least monthly in our menu, I figured it was worth another shout out to any who may be unaware such simple gloriousness exists.

Four ingredients, one slow cooker, eight hours of cooking – and you have tender chicken, swimming in a deliciously sweet and slightly spicy sauce that could be used in a myriad of applications.

What To ServeWe prefer this chicken tucked into flour tortillas and smothered with lettuce, sour cream, cheese and avocados. However, it would also be delicious in a salad, as a filling for burritos (perhaps with some beans thrown in there), or with nachos or tortilla chips.

Seriously, tasty.

P.S. Bloom – a fantastically practical and lovely site – invited me to do a guest post. You can check it out here.

Sweet and Spicy Slow Cooker Chicken

One Year Ago: Hot Hoagies

Sweet and Spicy Slow Cooker Chicken

Yield: Serves 4

Sweet and Spicy Slow Cooker Chicken

Note: leaving the tomatoes undrained makes for a fairly juicy chicken mixture. If you don’t want the finished shredded chicken mixture to be quite as liquidy, slightly drain the tomatoes before using them. Also, I nearly always double or triple this recipe because it freezes so well.


  • 1 pound (about 2) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 (14-ounce) can petite or regular diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (add more if you like extra heat – with this amount it is mild enough for my kids to eat it up but spicy enough to help offset the sweetness)


  1. Place the chicken in the bottom of the slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes, brown sugar and red pepper flakes. Pour over the chicken. Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 8-9 hours.
  2. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and shred with two forks. Return to the slow cooker and mix the chicken with the juices from the tomato/brown sugar sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Serve in flour tortillas with toppings of choice: lettuce, sour cream, cheese, avocados, etc.


Freezable Meal: I freeze the leftovers in a freezer-safe container and let thaw in the refrigerator overnight before serving the next day. I reheat over medium-low heat in a saucepan on the stove.


Recipe Source: originally from Prudence Pennywise

58 Responses to Sweet and Spicy Slow Cooker Chicken

  1. Kris McIntire says:

    My wife and I made this and maybe we did it wrong because the way everyone is raving about the taste, we didn’t have that same experience. We used pourable brown sugar and maybe that made a difference. I want to try this again. Maybe we need to use more red pepper flakes as well. Is there a better brand for taste of the diced tomatoes that we should use?

    • Mel says:

      I’m not sure what you mean by pourable brown sugar, Kris, but that may have something to do with it. Also, make sure to salt and pepper to taste at the end because that can make a huge difference in overall flavor.

      • Kris M says:

        I think that must have been it. I don’t think I seasoned with salt and pepper. I will do that next time. Thank you!

  2. Heidy A says:

    One of our staple meals for the past couple of years! Thanks for an easy, tasty one!

  3. […] Source recipe and image from www.melskitchencafe.com […]

  4. Carrie says:

    I’ve made this about 10-12 times, but I always add an entire small diced onion to the bottom of the slower cooker before adding the other ingredients. I almost always double the batch to freeze leftovers, and I also use frozen chicken breasts as well (because who has time for defrosting). This somehow makes for a little extra water in the mixture, but it’s not an issue when you can put it over rice or potatoes. I think adding the onion balances the brown sugar sweetness. Thanks for this staple recipe!

  5. Krista says:

    Thanks Mel! I added sautéed garlic, lime, a touch chili powder and pepper! Amazing!!! Such good flavor, I didn’t need cheese and that’s a miracle!

  6. Krista says:

    Question: Hey Mel, thanks for amazing dinners. I only cook from your sight now, lol! I love the white chicken chili, the red chicken chili, caprese chicken and so many more! I really want to try this BUT I can’t eat red pepper flakes. Any chance you have a recommendation on another spice to balance the sweet….chili powder???? Thank you!!!

  7. Kerri says:

    This looks so good, so easy, and I always have the ingredients. I can’t wait to try it.
    I bought a huge slow cooker before I knew that it has to be half full in order to cook evenly (which is usually an issue since it’s just me and hubby), so I’m really excited that I can triple it and freeze! 🙂

  8. sb7120 says:

    So simple, yet tasty! Many slow cooker recipes for shredded chicken have Mexican flavors. This sweet/spicy twist was a nice change. Like any of Mel’s other recipes that I’ve tried, I’ll definitely be making this again.
    TIP: I don’t have a timer on my slow cooker and due to my work schedule, I have to cook recipes for 10 hours. If I start with thawed chicken, the texture of the meat becomes rather mushy. The remedy? Start with completely frozen chicken breasts, cook on low for 10 hours, and the meat comes out perfect every time!

  9. Krystle Baker says:

    My daughters favorite….She is 6 so eating is NOT a priority but with this meal I know I can make it and never hear “how many more bites before I can be done??” This is the only meal she gets seconds on..EVERY TIME!! Thanks Mel!

  10. I am very sorry and you were right, when the recipe was published the hyperlink did not work, so I fixed and it is working now. I always try that everything published goes to the right place. I will put a comment in your website about this issue. Thank you very much.

  11. Amy Wolin says:

    Made with the tomato sauce instead of diced tomatoes and was still INCREDIBLE, making it again for tonight!!!

  12. Amy Wolin says:

    Hi Mel! I can’t believe in all my devoted attention to your amazing recipes, I’ve missed this one! I’m planning to try it after I hit the store in a couple days… Also, my hubby doesn’t like chunks of cooked tomatoes so I may sub tomato sauce in place of the diced tomatoes. So excited to try, hope the deliciousness survives my subbing!

  13. Sarah says:

    I’m so excited to make this tonight with ingredients I already had in our kitchen!

    Just wondering, have you ever tried adding shallots or onions to this? Seems like it would go well with the sweetness factor. I love both and am curious how they would taste. Might try it!

  14. Ellen says:

    This was my “what recipe of Mel’s can I make this week?” meal for tonight, and we all loved it. Very tender and juicy and great flavor. And I made a double recipe and am excited to have terrific leftovers. Into the rotation this goes.

    I threw the breasts into the crockpot frozen and cooked a little less than 4.5 hours on high…worked out beautifully.

  15. […] adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe Filed Under: chicken, slow cooker Tagged With: slow cooker […]

  16. Monette says:

    I made this but family did not like it.:( but the Ooey Gooey Coconut and Chocolate Brownies are the BEST!!!!!!

  17. Cara says:

    I love your blog, and have made several of your recipes and loved all of them, so I really wanted to love this one too but I found it way too sweet with 1/3 cup brown sugar to only one can of tomatoes and one pound of chicken. I used low sodium tomatoes, so maybe having less salt to balance the sweetness made it more pronounced? Anyway, I like the idea of it, so next time I will cut the sugar back and double the tomatoes and see if that helps.

  18. Menu Plan Monday - Plate4Eight says:

    […] – Sweet and Spicy Slow Cooker Chicken served in tortillas with sour cream and salad […]

  19. Adrienne says:

    Made this tonight for the jillionth time… One of my favorites, and so easy. Thanks Mel!

  20. Sarah says:

    This recipe has become one of my staples this winter! It is so hard to find slow cooker recipes that don’t involved cream based soups and other foods-with-long-labels. I try to cook mostly from scratch and this recipe is delicious and filling and my whole family likes it! Thanks so much for another winner.

  21. Vennesa says:

    This was really good. Do you mind if I link it from my website? So glad I found your site. Can’t wait to try more of your recipes. Thanks!

  22. […] Source: melskitchencafe.com […]

  23. Jamie says:

    Hi Melanie,
    I heard your blog praised by one of my Facebook friends. 🙂 I made this recipe last night for my husband and brother-in-law and his family. I was delighted at how easy it was and everyone loved it including our two little nieces! I had a bowl of buttery black beans and corn that we put in the tortillas with the chicken mixture and it was a 5 star success! Thank you so much for sharing your recipes!

  24. trevor says:

    This recipe was perfect, my wife is pregnant (cant cook since it makes her sick) and I am doing P90x so I need something easy and healthy(since I am a novice cook, this fit the bill, I didnt mess it up and it was tasty.

  25. Sara says:

    I love these, we eat them every month at least, now. I like them with the diced tomatoes with basil and oregano. Thank you!

  26. Amy says:

    Oh, and I used frozen chicken breasts, cooked on low for 5 hours and it was done. My crock-pot cooks fast though. I kept it on warm until dinner and mixed it all up and the flavor was perfect.

  27. Amy says:

    Ahhhhhhh. YUM. We had this last night, but put it on brown rice. It was soooo yummy! We’ll be trying it again when I have some tortillas in the house! Thanks!! Another one of your recipes added to my tried and true fav’s.

  28. SJ says:

    I am making this tonight, subbing a smallish pork roast from Costco for the chicken. I have done it before and loved it! Thanks again for such an easy recipe.

  29. Amy M says:

    This was super easy to throw together and I will definately make this again but with a few modifications since it was too sweet for us even after after adding extra red pepper flakes at the end to try to give it contrast. I’m going to try next time with half the brown sugar & adding more at the end to taste if needed.

    Thank you for posting slow cooker receipes! Good ones are hard to come by especially those that don’t require you to open a bunch of soup cans or bottles of salad dressing.

  30. Emily says:

    This was a perfect week night meal! I loved this both in a burrito and as nachos. Thanks for a great recipe!

  31. Kensi says:

    We ate this tonight and loved it! It doesn’t get any easier than this! Thank you Mel!

  32. Stephanie says:

    Made this for the first time tonight. HOLY WONDERFUL!! It was such a great meal! My picky eaters scarfed it up in seconds. 😀 Loved it! Thanks for such an easy, tasty meal. 😀

  33. Sarah says:

    I think I might try this tonight!

  34. stacy says:

    does the chicken need to be defrosted?

  35. Missy says:

    One of my favorites! I LOVE this meal! We have it at least once a month (and more in the summer!) This is what I make when I have to take dinner to someone … and I find out that same day. I buy my tomatoes by the case (during case lot sales) so I alway have the ingredients on hand. Love it, love it, love it!

  36. Erin says:

    Yea! More crock pot recipes, please:) but I love all your recipes!

  37. grace says:

    awesome–there are four fabulous ingredients, all of which i always have on hand. i’m glad you brought this one back, melanie–i needed to learn of its existence. 🙂

  38. Kira says:

    We love this too! We put the chicken mixture on buns, top with cheese and broil in the oven. Add a few fresh slices of avocado and some lettuce, then eat it up. It is such a great recipe. Thanks! We have tried 26 of your recipes (so far) and loved each and every one. From pancake mix to breads to pastas to desserts we love them all. Thank you for sharing your talent with us. My recipe collection keeps growing and growing and every single addition is yours!

  39. Janet says:

    Perfect for dinner tonight; and I have some left over pineapple I’m gonna use with it .

  40. Barbara says:

    I don’t have a slow cooker any more, but imagine I could do this slowly in the oven as well.
    Looks delicious! And I love being able to freeze leftovers. (Sometimes they are better after they are frozen, actually.)

  41. Alisha O says:

    I make this often in large batches & freeze it for easy meals later. Love love love it.

  42. Loralee says:

    Yet another recipe that I’m going to have to try! And I loved your guest post on Bloom. What a cute blog she has.
    Have a great day. (I hope the weather is as beautiful there as it is here today. If not today, then very soon. I treasure the beautiful clear blue days, don’t you?)

  43. Kim in MD says:

    Wow…this looks so good (and so easy)!

    I loved your Bloom post, Melanie! Thanks for sharing your fabulous tips with us! 🙂

  44. Thanks for sharing such an easy 4-ingredient dish! I can’t wait! I might make it with a pork tenderloin tonight…have you tried that?

    • Mel says:

      DessertForTwo – I haven’t made this with pork but I’m guessing it would be equally delicious. Let me know if you try it!

  45. Shauntel says:

    This is one of our favorites – I make it AT LEAST once a month. We love it as tacos or quesadillas. And my husband loves it all by itself. It’s so delicious and a great versatile Mexican chicken.

    Oh man. Now I’m craving it. And it’s 9:35 a.m.


  46. Angie says:

    Ironic that you reposted this today since I have it on my menu for later this week! Divine recipe that everyone in our family loves….

  47. The list of things I am making from your site just keeps growing and growing and growing…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *