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Mexican food may not make you think immediately of your slow cooker, but Crock-Pot cooking lends itself well to lots of Mexican dishes, from carnitas to mole. We gathered 9 of our favorite Mexican slow cooker recipes for an easy Cinco de Mayo feast.
Between the quick hustle of the food truck and the casual fun of make-your-own taco get togethers, it’s easy to forget that the process behind making many of Mexico’s most iconic dishes is more than just tortilla + meat + topping. Mexican (and Tex-Mex) cuisine centers around braises, stews, and sauces that feature a crucial element along with the chilies and spice: time. Dishes like mole and barbacoa are famed for their low and slow methods of cooking, during which they build up layer upon layer of flavor. And while these recipes may have their roots in the stewing pot or roasting pit, luckily, we can also bring them into our own kitchens through the use of another device: the slow cooker.
The best part about these dishes is that they are ideal for warm-weather enjoyment, whether it’s on Cinco de Mayo or beyond. So don’t put away that crock pot just yet: here are nine slow cooker recipes that can be enjoyed with little more than a stack of fresh, warm tortillas at the ready.
Chicken breasts can easily turn bland and dry unless you pair them up with the right accessories. Chiles and citrus do the trick here, for taco meat that is light yet moist and flavorful. Get our Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos recipe.
This recipe is a two-in-one treat of oozy, sumptuous goodness. First, pork shoulder gets slow cooked into a tender, saucy heap. Then, it’s topped with tortillas and a mass of cheese and sour cream that seeps and creeps into the crevices. This one practically melts on the fork. Get our Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Enchiladas recipe.
If you haven’t tried cooking a whole chicken in the slow cooker, it’s well worth it. This chili gets infused with deep chicken-y flavor by nestling the bird on top of a mix of vegetables until the meat falls off the bone. Get our Slow Cooker Chicken Chile Verde recipe.
Sweet and spicy pork al pastor is usually grilled on a spit, but making it in the slow cooker is infinitely easier, and still incredibly tasty. Enchilada sauce, brown sugar, cumin, coriander, pineapple juice, and lime (plus plenty of onion and garlic) makes for a tender and super-flavorful taco filling. Get the Slow Cooker Tacos al Pastor recipe.
Traditional barbacoa is made by slow-roasting a whole animal in a pit in the ground, covered by maguey leaves (aka agave, the basis for tequila and mezcal). There’s no need to get out the shovel, however, if you’re looking to make it at home. Spare yourself the digging and simply nestle a brisket into the Crock-Pot—you’ll get nearly as big flavors at the push of a button. Get the Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef recipe.
Out of all the things you could do to pork, carnitas might just be the most delectable of them all. When done right, it consists of meltingly soft, delicately spiced meat and lightly crisped edges that need little more than a sprinkle of cilantro and a dash of salsa to finish. Get the Crispy Slow Cooker Carnitas recipe.
Traditional mole can be intimidating—it’s got a lengthy list of ingredients and, in some cases, can take days and lots of labor to prepare. But with a slow cooker in hand, it’s possible to do it all in a few simple steps, and cook the chicken to go with it while you’re at it, too. Get our Slow Cooker Chicken Mole recipe.
Cochinita pibil features the forward flavors of the Yucatan: a bracing glug of citrus, some earthy achiote, and an array of fragrant spices. Our slow cooker pulled pork cooks in a spicy marinade inspired by those flavors, with tomatillos along for good measure. Topped with pickled onions, this one is for the lovers of all things tart and juicy, and it’s just as good in a torta as it is in tacos. Get our Slow Cooker Spicy Pulled Pork recipe.
Although the slow cooker may be well-loved for churning out perfectly braised meats, it can also work its magic on soups and stews. Here, it makes the most out of taco seasoning and rank dip mix—so it’s not really Mexican, but it is delicious, and easy to put together. Get our Crock-Pot Taco Soup recipe. (Or for something slightly more involved, try this Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe.)