This Crock Pot Beer Chicken Taco Salad With Cilantro Vinaigrette is an easy, fresh and delicious dinner! Perfect for those days when you don't want to turn on your oven.
We are huge fans of the classic Taco Salad, and for meal prep, these Turkey Taco Lunch Bowls are my go-to. For those days you want something just a little different, this beer chicken taco salad (with herby cilantro lime vinaigrette) is absolutely perfect!
This is ever so slightly different from a classic taco salad; we are swapping taco meat for slow cooked beer chicken, and the salsa for a light and tangy cilantro lime vinaigrette. It's a subtle but delicious change!
Load it up with the taco regulars: cheese, avocado, black beans, tortilla chips and more!
And this recipe is absolutely perfect for the summer as there is no need to turn on the oven; let the slow cooker do all the hard work!
Reasons you'll love this beer chicken taco salad:
- there's no oven required, so it's perfect for summer
- it's light, fresh, and incredibly delicious
- super easy to customize with your favorite toppings
Wondering how this recipe comes together? Watch this 1-minute video to see how easy it is to prep! You can find more recipes on my YouTube channel.
Don't forget to pin this post and save it for later!
Getting the party started
Start by cooking the beer chicken in the slow cooker, as it will need 3-4 hours to cook through. In a rush? Throw it in the Instant Pot and pressure cook for 8 minutes with a quick pressure release.
After cooking through, shred the chicken with an electric hand mixer or two forks, and toss with a bit of the leftover cooking liquid.
Beer adds a 'malty' kind of flavor to the salad, but don't worry, it's quite subtle.
- chicken - use your pick of boneless skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs.
- beer - use your favorite alcoholic or nonalcoholic beer; a lighter-tasting beer will have the best flavor without being too overpowering.
- canned green chiles - I've used Old El Paso chopped green chiles, which are very mild here in Canada. I do believe in other countries, there are varying levels of spiciness, so use your judgement when selecting a can.
- chili powder - not to be confused with pure powdered chilis, this is a chili powder spice blend. If you are unable to find this in your grocery store, here's a great looking option!
- salt, and pepper- to bring out all the other flavors.
This recipe calls for a single pound of chicken to be cooked in a small, 2.5 quart slow cooker (though 2 lbs are pictured in photos and the video). If you do not own a small slow cooker, you may have issues with your sauce over-reducing and burning in a larger (ie 5 or 6 quart) slow cooker.
The star of the show
Is the herby, tangy cilantro lime vinaigrette. It brings a freshness to this salad, and is really what makes it stand out from a regular taco salad. I do not recommend skipping it, however if you must, a great shortcut would be a bottled avocado or cilantro lime dressing.
- cilantro leaves – to bring a herby and fresh flavor to the salad
- white wine vinegar – to give the dressing that ‘tangy’ flavor
- olive oil – or a good quality extra virgin olive oil
- garlic – for another level of flavor
- lime juice – to pair with the cilantro and add some citrussy flavor to the salad
- honey – provides a hint of sweetness and balance everything out. Swap for maple syrup or brown sugar
- dijon mustard – sounds strange with these flavors but acts as an emulsifier to keep the olive oil and vinegar from separating
Load up your salad
You can customize this recipe with whatever fresh veggies and toppings you have available. I recommend including a combination of:
- tortilla chips
- romaine lettuce
- cherry tomatoes
- red onion
- jalapeno slices
- black beans
- sour cream or Greek yogurt
- avocado or guacamole
What are your favorite taco salad toppings?
Can I make this a vegan salad?
Absolutely! I bet this tofu taco meat would be amazing on this taco salad.
Will chicken taco salad work well for a meal prep?
Yes, but I recommend that you keep the dressing separate until you're ready to eat. This will make sure that the tortilla strips and other ingredients will stay nice and crispy.
Layering in a jar like this taco salad recipe might work, but I have not yet tested. Let me know in the comments if you give it a try!
What's a good cilantro-free dressing suggestion?
The honey lime dressing from this southwestern chopped kale salad recipe would probably be really good.
More meal-sized salads
- Strawberry and Arugula Salad with Steak & Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Black Bean and Corn Salad
- Kale, Barley, and Feta Salad with Honey Lemon Vinaigrette
- Southwestern Wild Rice and Sweet Potato Sald
- Kale Caesar Salad with Garlic Chickpeas
Beer Chicken (see *notes)
- 1 lb chicken breasts (roughly 2 chicken breasts; boneless thighs work as well)
- 6 oz beer (I recommend a light beer)
- 0.5 teaspoon chili powder
- 4.3 oz can of green chiles
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup cilantro leaves (loosely packed)
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 clove garlic (minced)
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 3 tablespoons honey (maple syrup or brown sugar may be swapped)
- ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 cups romaine lettuce
- 2 cups tortilla chips (or strips)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes (halved)
- 1 cup cheese (shredded)
- 1 cup black beans
- 1 cup corn
- 1-2 avocados (cubed)
- jalapeno slices (optional)
- salsa (optional)
- red onion (minced; optional)
- Place the chicken breasts, beer, chili powder, green chiles, salt and pepper into a small (2.5 quart) slow cooker. Stir to combine.
- Cook on low 3-4 hours.
- Transfer the chicken to a bowl and shred with two forks or a hand mixer.
- Toss with cooking liquid and enjoy!
- Combine all ingredients in a blender, food processor, or cup of an immersion blender.
- Blend until smooth.
- Toss the vegetables and chicken with the cilantro vinaigrette.
- Serve with nachos, sour cream, guacamole and/or salsa.
- leftover chicken may be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
- Ingredient prep- You can prep the vinaigrette, chicken, lettuce, cheese, corn and black beans up to 4 days ahead, to make putting it all together super easy.
- For jar salads- layer in a 1 quart jar in the following order: vinaigrette, chicken, corn, black beans, cheese, cherry tomatoes, romaine. Keep tortilla chips separate. Shake out into a bowl, toss it all up in the dressing and enjoy. Keeps for up to 4 days before serving.
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