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Slow Cooker Copy Cat Cafe Rio Chicken

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Slow Cooker Copy Cat Cafe Rio Chicken is made from boneless skinless chicken breasts simmered in a zesty flavorful Chili Verde sauce. It is a fantastic easy way to prepare chicken for tacos, burritos, and all your favorite Mexican dishes!

Confession time! (Yep…time for another “bird lady” confession) When I go to Café Rio or Costa Vida (let’s face it…they’re kissin’ cousins in the world of Tex Mex!) I ALWAYS order the grilled steak. If they’re out of steak…which seems to happen a LOT… I order the chicken! 

Chicken tacos from Copy Cat Cafe Rio Chicken
Copy Cat Cafe Rio Tacos

The Café Rio chicken is tender, juicy, and loaded with the most amazing flavors. I wondered for years how they made their chicken, and if it was possible to duplicate it at home? Good News…it is.

There are a lot of recipes out there for this particular dish…however, I honestly think this recipe is BEST! It’s easy to make and the most flavorful one out there! 

What you’ll need to make Slow Cooker Cafe Rio Chicken

  • Chicken Breasts
  • Zesty Italian Dressing
  • Ranch Dressing Mix
  • Cumin
  • Medium Salsa Verde
Ingredients for Cafe Rio Chicken

Let’s Make Copy Cat Cafe Rio Chicken

Haul out the Crock-Pot! It’s in the cupboard next to the bread machine, air fryer, Instant pot, and George Foreman Grill! 

In the slow cooker add 4-5 frozen, or thawed, boneless skinless chicken breasts.  If you’re using Costco Chicken Breasts… (Which I’m convinced come from the Poultry Plastic Surgeon for Hen Implants! I mean…those are some well-endowed Hens at the Costco Farm!)… You can just use three Costco Implants!

Frozen Chicken in slow cooker

Now let’s perk those chicken breast up with a good sprinkling of dry Ranch Salad Dressing mix and cumin. (My husband was totally perplexed the other day as to why I smelled like Ranch and cumin…what’s good for the goose  chicken…a girls gotta do…yada-yada-yada! Oh, you get my drift! Sad news…didn’t work!)

Dry ranch and cumin on breast

Add 1 1/2 cups of Zesty Italian Dressing. Yes I said “Italian Dressing”! I know… I thought the same thing first time I made a version of this recipe too. You’re just going to have to trust me. It’s AMAZING what a little Italian flavor can do to a Mexican dish!

Next up… 2 cups Medium Salsa Verde. 

Chicken in slow cooker with italian dressing and salsa

Cover and cook on low for 6 hours for thawed chicken breasts and 8 hours for frozen. Also, it will depend on the temperature of your slow cooker. They don’t all cook the same anymore. So be sure to check it after about 5 hours.

Your house is going to fill with the delicious smells of Tex Mex! Close your eyes and you’re on vacation! 

It’s the most heavenly smell. Every time I make this dish Mr. Nest asks what smells so good! It’s THAT amazing my friends. Truly amazing!

Cooked Chicken

Look how tender and juicy that chicken looks. Isn’t it spectacular?!!

Do NOT drain the juices! I know…it looks like too much liquid. It’s not! Again…it’s a trust issue in our relationship! Lol This chicken should be extra juicy.

I use an old-fashioned potato masher to shred my slow cooker chicken. It works like a charm. Just get in there and use all your elbow grease, pent-up issues…like hens with implants… and shred that chicken up right in the juices.

Shredding chicken

Combine the juices in with the shredded chicken. Cover and keep warm till ready to serve.

Crock Pot full of Cafe Rio Chicken

The Copy Cat Cafe Rio Chicken is ready for tacos, burritos, nachos, and even quesadillas.  This makes a big batch of chicken and is great for group parties, large family dinners, and pot luck dinners. I use half and freeze half. It freezes well and reheats beautifully.

Slow cooker cafe rio chicken tacos

To make Café Rio “soft tacos”…toast flour tortillas over a gas flame on your range or in a hot skillet. Add the slow cooker copy cat Café Rio chicken, top it off with shredded lettuce, grated cheese, fresh diced tomatoes, olives, sour cream and homemade Guacamole. Any and all of your favorite toppings.

It’s a quick easy recipe that can be used in multiple dishes and one the whole family will enjoy! I love its versatility, flavor, and ease. I hope you’ll enjoy it too! Be sure to leave a comment if you give this recipe a try! I’d love to hear from you.

Chicken Tacos

Favorite Slow Cooker Meals

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Happy Nesting!

Photo of Norine and her signature.
Yield: 10 servings

Slow Cooker Copy Cat Cafe Rio Chicken

Chicken tacos from Copy Cat Cafe Rio Chicken

Slow Cooker boneless skinless chicken breast in a flavorful zesty chili verde sauce. Tender, juicy, and perfect for all your favorite Mexican dishes.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 10 minutes


  • 4-5 boneless skinless chicken breast, thawed or frozen
  • 2 Tablespoons Ranch Salad Dressing mix
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups Zesty Italian Dressing
  • 2 Cups Chili Verde Salsa


  1. Place boneless skinless chicken breast in bottom of slow cooker. Sprinkle with Ranch dressing mix and cumin.
  2. Add Zesty Italian Dressing and Chili Verde Salsa
  3. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours for thawed chicken or 8 hours for frozen chicken. Shred chicken and mix with juices. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

Nutrition Information:


10 servings

Serving Size:

3/4 cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 255Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 645mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 0gSugar: 5gProtein: 22g

Norine’s Nest in no way provides any warranty, express or implied, towards the content of recipes in this website. It is the reader’s responsibility to determine the value and quality of any recipe or instructions provided for food preparation and to determine the nutritional value, if any, and safety of the preparation instructions.

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Susan Tuckett

Tuesday 27th of August 2019

Norine, printing the recipe card does not give it the flare that your narrative does. You are a kick! I love your commentary in the blog. Love the recipe!! An awesome way to use that Chili Verde Salsa! Thank you!

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Wednesday 28th of August 2019

Susan, Girl I love you! You are the best and biggest support! On days I'm struggling to keep going you send me a message and brighten my day. You are my life saver! Thank you so much. Love ya lady! ~Norine

Carrie Carson

Friday 28th of June 2019

This recipe was so EASY and amazingly good. Saw it featured on Instagram using the InstantPot, so I had to try it. I used 5 chicken breasts, 40 minutes, 15 mins natural release. So tender, so juicy. My daughter kept saying, “please don’t eat it all, I want it for lunch and dinner tomorrow!”

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Monday 1st of July 2019

Hi Carrie! Thanks so much for sharing this with me. I laughed knowing your daughter didn't want you to eat it all. That's truly a sign of a winner recipe! You are the BEST! Happy Nesting! Norine

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Tuesday 14th of May 2019

[…] Easy Slow Cooker Cafe Rio Chicken  […]


Thursday 28th of March 2019

Thanks for the recipie. I will have to try it soon

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Friday 29th of March 2019

Hi Stephanie! Oh my goodness! It's so nice to see ya here on my little corner of the web. Thank you so much for stopping by! Still thinking of that beautiful reception! You are so talented! Let me know if you like this recipe. My family loves it! I love how easy it is. Have a Great weekend! ~Norine

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