Cilantro Lime Chicken for the Crock Pot

Sometimes my recipe inspiration comes from unlikely sources. In this case, I first saw this recipe from my friend Samantha (not her real name, but her chosen alias. I’ll give you a second to digest the fact she has a need for an alias). Sam is one of my oldest friends, and once upon a time, she was the Lucy to my Ethel. I could (and probably should) write a whole book devoted to Sam, but today I’ll just share this one story.

Sam’s mother wasn’t much of a cook, so she was not trained in the art of Thanksgiving since childhood. I helped talk her through her first Thanksgiving back in 1993 or 1994. I had thought I covered all of my bases. We went over the recipes and the shopping list and the How To’s, and I believed my little birdie was ready to fly. Then around 5:00 pm, while I was entertaining my own guests, the phone rings.

Sam: I don’t understand! The turkey has been cooking FIVE HOURS and it’s still not done. It’s still pink and bloody and not brown like the pictures.

Me: Wait, FIVE HOURS? I thought you had an eight pound bird. That doesn’t sound right. Maybe your oven is broken. Did you set it for 325 or 350?

Sam: Uhhhh. I thought I was supposed to set the oven for 165 degrees. That’s the number you kept saying. Is that not right?

Me: SAAAAMMMM!!!! 165 is the INTERNAL temperature. Remember? I said you needed a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature of 165. The OVEN needs to be at 325. No wonder your turkey is raw. I didn’t even know an oven could be set so low.

Sam: I thought internal meant INSIDE THE OVEN, not INSIDE THE TURKEY.

Me: We will laugh about this one day. Enjoy your Thanksgiving pizza!

Perhaps the above illustrates my surprise and delight that my little Sammy has come so far and is now picking out recipes on Pintrest and posting them on Facebook. Hey, it’s a start.

This recipe has all of my winning elements: crock pot, flavorful, easy. Added bonus: My whole family loved it. The only change I made is that I used boneless chicken thighs, as I absolutely hate boneless breasts done in the crock pot. I firmly believe that if you are crockpotting chicken, you either need to go for bone-in breasts or boneless thighs. Not everyone agrees with me, but I feel compelled to share this opinion with you. I served this over rice with a dollop of sour cream, and it was perfect. The author suggests using it for chicken tacos, and I think that’s a brilliant idea.

Cilantro Lime Chicken for the Crockpot (original recipe by Megan from Pip & Ebby here)

In crock pot, mix together:

One 24-ounce jar medium or mild salsa

Juice from one lime

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

One 1.25-oz. package taco seasoning

2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped (optional)

2 to 3 pounds of boneless chicken thighs or 3 – 4 bone-in chicken breasts


Mix together first five ingredients in crock pot. Cover chicken with mixture. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours. Shred chicken with a fork (removing any bones if necessary) and return to the crock pot for at least another 20 minutes. Serve with rice or as a taco filling. Top with more fresh cilantro.

I have a thing for cilantro and try to grow some every year. This should be ready in a few more weeks.

I also have a thing for limes, lemons’ classier green cousins.


Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

I first had this chicken at Ed’s nephew’s house during an Eagle’s football game, and I knew right away I would be serving it often. We are lucky to have many of my husband’s relatives close by, so we get to socialize quite a bit. While I am technically “the aunt,”  I think of them more as friends than as kinfolk. In addition to being great friends and family, they are fabulous entertainers who give me some of my best ideas. Thanks for this one, Tiff!

This is from the June 2006 Cooking Light magazine, and you can certainly serve it as is with outstanding results. I, however, like to crockpotify almost anything I can get my hands on, so after I post the regular recipe, I will explain how I modify for the crockpot.

Pulled Chicken Sandwiches



  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • Cooking spray


  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • Remaining ingredients:
  • 8 (2-ounce) sandwich rolls, toasted
  • 16 hamburger dill chips


  • Prepare grill.
  • To prepare chicken, combine first 7 ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Rub spice mixture evenly over chicken. Place chicken on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; cover and grill 20 minutes or until a thermometer registers 180°, turning occasionally. Let stand for 5 minutes. Shred with 2 forks.
  • To prepare sauce, heat canola oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cook for 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in 2 tablespoons sugar and next 5 ingredients (through pepper); cook 30 seconds. Stir in ketchup, vinegar, and molasses; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Stir in chicken; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
  • Place about 1/3 cup chicken mixture on bottom halves of sandwich rolls; top each serving with 2 pickle chips and top roll half.
Note: The chicken and sauce can be made up to two days ahead and stored in the refrigerator.

David Bonom, Cooking Light
JUNE 2006

Dawn’s Crockpotification and Notes Follow:

Rub spice mixture above onto both sides chicken thighs and place in crockpot on low.

After several hours, chicken will look like this. Don’t be alarmed!

Remove chicken from crockpot and place on a plate. Drain most of the liquid from the crockpot. Return chicken to crockpot, and pull it apart using two forks. This should be very easy and look like this once you’re finished:

You’re almost done! Add the barbecue sauce, and keep on lowest setting until serving. The barbecue sauce is very easy to make and has a great flavor, so I highly suggest giving it a try…but I won’t judge you if you use something from a jar!

p.s. I have to apologize for the poor lighting on these pictures. It was a dreary day yesterday, and the natural light was minimal. Looking at them today, they have a bit of a creepy and unappetizing vibe, but trust me, it is a good recipe!

Hungarian Chicken Paprikash for the Crockpot

This dish represents The Great Marriage Compromise. Ed always had an affinity for heavy ethnic dishes that I would pooh pooh, such as Beef Stroganoff and Turkey Tetrazzini and (shudder) Tuna Casserole. All of those dishes represented bad cafeteria memories from school, and I could not imagine eating them willingly as an adult unless forced to at gunpoint.

But one day he suggested Chicken Paprikash, and somehow that made it on to my acceptable list. More amazingly, the kids loved it, and it is a much requested family favorite. Despite the fact that there is a major heat wave in the Northeast at the moment, they asked for it again this week. Since it’s a Crockpot meal, the heat isn’t too much of a factor in preparation. Warning: This is NOT a pretty dish, as evidenced below, but it is good old fashioned comfort food. I am serving it tonight with brown rice and green beans from our garden.

Hungarian Chicken Paprikash for the Crockpot

2 Onions, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 Tablespoons Hungarian paprika

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

1 garlic clove

3 pounds chicken (breasts or legs, bone in)

½ teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

½ cup chicken stock

½ cup sour cream

Stir together onions, ½ teaspoon salt, paprika, cinnamon, sugar and cayenne. Spread in the bottom of Crockpot.  Rub garlic over chicken, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. In frying pan over high heat, heat butter and oil. Add chicken and brown, approximately 3 minutes per side. Transfer to Crockpot atop onions.

In same unwashed frying pan over high heat, bring stock to simmer, scraping up brown bits. Pour over chicken and cover. Cook on low five to six hours. About 30 minutes before serving, remove chicken from bone in large pieces and return to pot. Stir in sour cream right before serving. Serve over rice.