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Slow Cooker Crispy Chicken Carnitas

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There’s a reason these Slow Cooker Crispy Chicken Carnitas are a dinner winner in our house. This low-fuss chicken recipe is tender, juicy and crispy, not to mention so tasty! I love how well it freezes, making it a great tasty dinner option in a flash! And there are so many ways to us it too!

Crispy Chicken Carnitas - top down shot in a baking tray

I’m super excited to share this recipe with you guys today because I’ve been making it for so long and it’s one of those recipes I really rely heavily on, on those nights I can’t be bothered cooking. And we all have those nights! Take it out of the freezer, thaw and the serving possibilities are endless!

Before we get stuck into this delicious chicken recipe, I have a great pork version of this on the blog which is made in a slow cooker. Really tasty and just as easy to make!

What are Chicken Carnitas?

Carnitas translate to ‘little meats’ in Spanish. This is a Mexican dish which is so easy to make and so tasty! This is by no means the traditional way to make it, but rather my way.

  • Low fuss slow cook recipe!
  • Crispy – I love how crispy this recipe is. Once it’s slow cooked, you shred it up and then crisp it up in a super hot frypan with a little oil.
  • Tasty – the flavors used are pretty simple. This recipe is by no means traditional, but rather it uses the technique and similar flavors so that it’s versatile to use in lots of different ways. Speaking of!
Crispy Chicken Carnitas - close up in a frypan

How To Serve Slow Cooker Crispy Chicken Carnitas

  • Keep it simple! Crisped up with a yummy side salad!
  • Wraps! This goes really well in a wrap! So tasty!
  • Sandwiches – mix it with finely chopped red onion and some mayo and you’re onto a tasty lunch time winner!
  • Souvlaki – I love adding this to a souvlaki or gyro. I have you covered with a soft and fluffy pita recipe and my best ever tzatziki recipe!
  • Soft Shell Tacos! This is by far my favorite way to serve this yummy recipe. Stack it in soft shell tacos with tangy pico de galo salsa!
Crispy Chicken Carnitas - close up shot

Ingredients For Slow Cooker Crispy Chicken Carnitas

Note: the whole recipe, including the ingredient quantities, can be found at the bottom of this page – just scroll down to the bottom, or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.

Crispy Chicken Carnitas - ingredients image
  • Chicken thigh – you can use chicken breast for this recipe, however chicken thigh is a fattier chicken and therefor much tastier and juicier. Make sure you feel for any bones and cut them away before cooking.
  • Vegetable stock – I use vegetable stock and not chicken stock because I find it to be tastier. You can make your own quick chicken stock with chicken stock cubes and use that.
  • Salt – I used fine salt
  • Olive oil – you can use any type of oil you like but I gravitate toward olive oil for this recipe for it’s favor.

How to make Slow Cooker Crispy Chicken Carnitas!

Crispy Chicken Carnitas - instructional image 01
  1. Feel for any bones and cut them away
Crispy Chicken Carnitas - instructional image 02
  1. Batch cook
  2. Once all the chicken is cooked, put it all back in a deep pot
Crispy Chicken Carnitas - instructional image 03
  1. Cover with stock
  2. Cook 2 hours until 3/4 of the stock is cooked away
Crispy Chicken Carnitas - instructional image 04
  1. Shred
  2. Crisp up on a hot skillet with oil
Crispy Chicken Carnitas - lifted out by tongs

Tips and Tricks For Recipe Success!

  • Make sure you feel for bones in the chicken thighs before cooking. Some thighs, depending on where you buy them, may have little bones left in them.
  • This recipe can be made in a slow cooker. Simple cook the chicken the same way then slow cook on low heat for 3 hours.
  • Serve up in soft shell tacos with pico de galo. Easy week night dinner!
  • This freezes so well! Simply portion into 8 freezer bags and freeze. Thaw completely and crisp up fresh.
Crispy Chicken Carnitas - in a frypan

Frequently Asked Questions about Slow Cooker Crispy Chicken Carnitas

What does it taste like?

This recipe is by no means as flavorful as traditional carnitas which is made with orange juice and a whole bunch of yummy spices. Instead is simply seasoned so that it remains versatile in the ways it can be used. It also keeps it kid friendly for fussy eaters! For a truly authentic carnitas recipe, check out my Pork Carnitas recipe!

Can I use an oven to crisp up the chicken?

Yes! Evenly spread the shredded chicken on a large baking sheet, pour 1 cup of the reserved slow cooker liquid on top. Grill/broil for about 5-10 minutes.

How do I store this?

Store this in an aright container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Portion and freeze in freezer bags for up to 2 months. They won’t last that long though, they’re too delicious!

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Crispy Chicken Carnitas - close up shot

Slow Cooker Crispy Chicken Carnitas

This Slow Cooker Crispy Chicken Carnitas is a staple in our house. It’s really easy to make, tastes so yum, crisps up well and can be used in so many ways!

Serves 8 people

5 from 2 votes
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 2 hours
Total: 2 hours 30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Calories: 417kcal

Ingredients

Slow Cooked Crispy Shredded Chicken

  • 6 lbs / 3 kg skinless and boneless chicken thigh, (see notes)
  • 8 cups / 2 litres chicken or vegetable stock
  • Salt to sprinkle
  • Olive oil to drizzle


Instructions

Slow Cooked Crispy Shredded Chicken

  • First off, this recipe is easily scalable. If you want to halve the ingredients that will work. Cooking time will lessen by about half. Just make sure the chicken is covered in stock when you begin cooking.
  • If using chicken thigh, feel for any bones before cooking. Cut away if you find them.
  • Drizzle 1 tbsp of oil in a very lot frypan or deep pot and cook chicken in batches taking care not to overcrowd your pan. Cook on each side until golden. Place in a bowl and continue cooking until all the chicken is cooked. Salt the top of the chicken with each batch.
  • Place all the chicken back into a deep pot and cover with chicken or vegetable stock. Place a lid on top and cook on medium low heat for 2 hours. If cooking less chicken the cooking time will be about half. You’re looking for about 3/4 of the stock to have cooked away and for the chicken to be soft and fall apart.
  • Use two forks to shred the chicken.
  • To freeze – if you want to freeze the chicken, portion it into 8 freezer bags and freeze for up to two months. Thaw and crispen up fresh.
  • To crispen – drizzle a very hot, non-stick skillet with oil and add a portion of chicken. Continue stirring until crisped and golden. Serve with salad, in a warp, sandwich, gyro or in your favorite dish! My favorite is in a soft shell taco with pico del galo and some yummy mayo.

Notes

Chicken – I swear by chicken thigh for this recipe. It’s a tastier meat and has a little more fat which melts away when slow cooked and leaves the chicken juicier and tastier. You can use chicken breast but it will be a little dryer. 
Storage – Chicken can be stored in an airtight container, in the fridge for up to three days. Freezes really well when portioned in freezer bags. Freeze before crisping, thaw and crisp up for a fresh experience.
Nutrition – is based on per serving. This recipe makes a large portion of chicken for freezing and serves 8 people.
A note on measurements – all ingredients in this recipe are offered in Australian cup measurements and weight measurements. Weight measurements are created by me, in my kitchen here in Melbourne Australia. The best way to get recipe success is to measure ingredients by weight, using kitchen scales. To access weight measurements, click on the ‘metric’ button in the recipe card located under the list of ingredients.

Nutrition

Calories : 417kcal
Carbonhydrates: 3g
Protein: 66g
Fat: 14g
Saturated Fat: 4g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g
Monounsaturated Fat : 5g
Trans Fat : 0.1g
Cholesterol: 323mg
Sodium: 1243mg
Potassium : 833mg
Sugar : 2g
Vitamin A: 582IU
Calcium: 31mg
Iron: 3mg
Nutrition Disclosure
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