Active time: 25 minutes Total time: 6 1/2 hours
Chicken pibil is a classic Yucatecan dish made with citrus juice, onion, tomato and a vibrant red paste of annatto seeds and mixed spices called achiote. The dish is tangy, sweet and full of warm spices. Traditionally, the chicken is marinated and then steamed in banana leaves for super-juicy, tender meat. Here, we are making a streamlined version of the Mexican classic using lower-fat boneless, skinless chicken breasts and a hands-off slow cooker.
The slow cooker keeps all of the moisture locked inside, so the chicken breasts shred easily and melt into the flavorful sauce. Don’t be intimidated by this recipe — it’s much easier than it sounds! Dump everything in your slow cooker before you leave for work, then come home to tender, fragrant chicken that is ready to shred and pile onto warm tortillas. The chicken also holds well on “warm” in your slow cooker, if it finishes before your work day ends.
Slow Cooker Chicken Pibil Tacos
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds/900g)
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup (178ml) sodium-free tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup (125ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 tablespoons achiote paste, crumbled
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 sprigs fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 cup (125ml) freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Optional serving suggestions:
- Small corn tortillas, warmed
- Crumbled cotija or feta cheese
- Green cabbage, finely shredded
- Small cilantro sprigs
- Lime wedges
- Hot sauce
Pat the chicken dry and set in the bottom of a 5–7-quart slow cooker. Season the chicken with salt. Scatter the yellow onion and garlic over the top. Add the tomato sauce, orange juice, achiote paste, coriander, cumin, oregano and 1/4 cup of the lime juice. Stir gently to combine. Cook on low for about 6 hours or until the chicken is cooked through and tender.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the sliced red onion with the sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the remaining 1/4 cup of lime juice and 2 tablespoons of water. Stir to combine, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until ready to use. If possible, stir every 30 minutes.
Using two forks, shred the chicken breasts in the sauce. Season with salt. Serve in corn tortillas, topped with crumbled cotija cheese, pickled red onion, shredded green cabbage and cilantro. Pass lime wedges and hot sauce at the table.
Make ahead: The chicken pibil can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently in a slow cooker or on the stovetop before serving.
Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 1 chicken breast
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 166; Total Fat: 2g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Monounsaturated Fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 58mg; Sodium: 40mg; Carbohydrate: 19g; Dietary Fiber: 2g; Sugar: 9g; Protein: 19g